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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
'My life as an online gamer'
After China introduced measures to combat addiction to online role-playing games, gamers from around the world gave the BBC News website their perspectives on addiction, sleeplessness and life as a gamer.

Li Yang
Li: I once spent 48 hours in one go at a game
Li Yang, a software engineer from Beijing, says the rules will not affect the addicts.

I think I am addicted. I've got to the stage where I feel that without gaming, I have nothing interesting to do.

On weekdays, I game for about five to seven hours a day and in the weekends I will spend 15 hours a day gaming online. I once spent 48 hours in one go at a game. It's crazy, I know. I was at university then and full of energy.

Sometimes I get no sleep. Ever since I started playing, my physical condition has deteriorated. I get a lot of colds as I don't really exercise.

But playing games online means that other people are playing live with you. You work as a team and it gives you a unique sense of responsibility. It's a little society.

Gaming is a serious problem in China. Many students skip school to go to internet cafes. Some of these places are huge and the atmosphere is smoky. Many people found in these places have problems with communication in the real world.

I have mixed feelings about the curbs. They might help me find different ways of passing the time. But you can get around the rules. When my time is up playing as one character, I can just continue playing as another character. So these rules won't affect the addicts.

Brandon Hipsher
Brandon Hipsher says he interacts with people around the world
Brandon Hipsher, who lives in Indiana, says that gaming is no more addictive than watching television.

I am not comfortable with the term "addict" for online games. There are people who spend five or six hours a day watching television. Why is gaming considered addictive when other activities are not?

On weekdays I spend about four or five hours a day gaming. On weekends it ranges from a couple of hours to 15 or 16 hours a day.

Gaming helps me escape from whatever happens to be bothering me. It's a great stress reliever, a safe outlet to pursue some of my more aggressive tendencies. One of the names I use online is "Shiva" - the powerful Indian god of destruction.

But it's also really sociable.

I live in a small town and gaming is a way to interact with and meet people from all over the world. I have met players from Sweden, Australia and Korea. I've now heard a lot of opinions I would not normally have had access to. I know how people from around the world view the US.

Perhaps this is what is behind China's new rules. The average Chinese citizen might have less access to other viewpoints and cultures than I do. Perhaps the freedom of an online gaming environment is a challenge.

The rules seem to be another way of the government trying to dictate to the people.

Gaming is such a positive experience and it's a lot of fun. Not enough people make fun a priority in their lives. Gaming lets me make it one.

Final Fantasy game
Sylvia says the games are emotionally involving
Sylvia from Beijing has now quit gaming, but says that role-playing games made her the centre of a virtual universe.

I started gaming seriously when I was at university in Beijing and I got my first computer.

I became fascinated with role-play games set in the heroic kung fu era. I always played the part of a boy who would meet powerful gods and beautiful women. It's like watching a movie, but you are participating in it. I really took the emotions on.

I played endlessly only stopping to sleep or eat. It affected my studies. I never went to class and I didn't even get to know my teachers.

Games help you avoid thinking about the problems of life. Sometimes when you make friends in real life it is not as easy as when you are online, playing in one team.

Gaming helps you fulfil a fantasy of what you think you should be. You are the centre of this virtual world.

But I have quit playing now because I wanted to be the centre of a real world. I think people who play games are innocents of a sort - they lack any cynicism.

I came to realise that in real life there is no black and white. You can't actually advance just because you are powerful. People can dislike you for no reason. There are no gods and dragons to slay.

Life is just not that simple.

Naveed Khan
Naveed: Playing online games can give you a power trip
Naveed Khan from London says that gaming can be as serious an addiction as alcoholism.

I'd get withdrawal symptoms within five minutes of leaving the game.

I'd only leave for a drink but I'd run back to my machine. I was having my breakfast right in front of the computer. At work I'd visit online forums about the game.

I'm playing less now. My wife is pregnant and needs a lot of attention. It wouldn't look good if I put my energy into World of Warcraft.

But I have one message for people who say gamers don't have a life. I would just invite them to play for a few days and then try to pull themselves away.

I call the experience a virtual drop. You just sink and sink.

But you can't deny the buzz. In a game like World of Warcraft you spend a lot of time acquiring certain items that give you points and kudos. Those who do well achieve a celebrity-like status in the game with other players who are online too. It's a real power trip.

And it's difficult to let go. It's potentially never-ending. There's always another quest and the makers are always updating the game adding new levels.

I think the Chinese government rules are very good. Some people need to be compelled to stop. It's like alcoholism.

If people knew they would become an alcoholic, would they still make that first step? I think not.

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