"Good Evening brothers and sisters of The Planetary Federation.  I'm Metallogie Q. Sunstrike, and  I have another tragic story to report to you tonight on the consequences of Internet game addiction. Yes, despite medical and scientific advances, it's still the disease that won't go away. 

Fortunately, unlike so many of these stories, no one has had to die yet in this one. Two lives were shattered, however, perhaps beyond recovery. These two men have only today learned that they have lost track of over 20 years of their lives while they were busy getting their screen time, fighting each other, having online adventures, and competing with their enemies in a game without an ending.  Tragic and pointless, no?  Yes, today we'll  hear from these two brothers,  victims of the old crack cocaine-like game  of the earlier years of this millenium, World of Warcraft, WoW,  or Warcrack as it was called back in the day when over 40 percent of the people who played it became addicted to it.

"The drama is still playing out right at this moment as family members try to comfort the addicts  as they wait to be picked up by FlashSpeed Cyberaddict Recovery Services for detox and rehab treatment.  One might expect that after 20 years or more of using, it will be a long detox and rehabilitation period. 

"The men are Zoroaster and Zola Chand, of the 3500 block of South Michael Jackson Lane.  They were found wandering half-naked and confused this morning by a neighbor, who identifies himself as Henry Higginsworth.  Mr. Higginsworth found them going from house to house looking for a spare computer they could use after both of theirs died around the same time.  They were getting hysterical and crying because they could not play WoW.

WoW was once recognized by Guinness Book of World Records as the most popular MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role-playing game, in videogame history.  Of course this was back in 2010.  Today we have the new record for popularity as well as addiction in the 2019 game, "Fifty Bucks A Month Or You Die," and this despite the fact that we now have medication that can entirely eradicate the addiction if taken before or during playing any competitive game that causes Dopamine to be released into the brain.  What is wrong with people?  Do they choose to become addicts?

"As long as we are talking about Internet addiction history,  our home audience might be interested to know that WoW once had 10 million registered players and only cost fifteen dollars a month to play.  The other game at that time that was equally as addictive, according to social scientists, was Everquest, called Never-Rest for its negative effect on normal sleep cycles.  That game, a granddaddy of the MMORPGs came out as long ago as 1999.

"Internet game addiction afflicts approximately 40 percent of those who play, the same percentage as before we had the Dopamine inhibitors that stop addiction if taken properly.

"Who knew when these two discovered Super Mario Brothers that saving a beautiful princess could lead to a zombie life of degradation, loss and ruin?  And now we're told the brothers, don't know what year it is or acknowledge that 20 years have gone by unnoticed while they were deep into their virtual world.

This, of course, comes as quite a shock to their grown children, Sabine, the eldest daughter of Zola told me,  and she was taking it hard.  Together the men have five children.  Zola's are Sabine 20, Rickie-Q 19, and Ernie-Zee 17.  Zoroaster has a son Cliff 19, and a daughter, Zee, 17."

"We are going to try to get some of these kids to go on camera and talk to us about what they've suffered while growing up and currently.  Certainly they must be embarrassed today.  We feel deeply for them."

"Oh here comes Sabine and one of the other ones heading towards us now.
Sabine, and who is this with you?  Okay, Cliff.  Could you please come on and talk for a few minutes about what this nightmare has been like for you.  I know it had to have affected you for most of your lives."

"Hell and damnation, Lady," Cliff's voice was raised, "My childhood was worse than for someone whose Dad had the decency to leave if he wasn't going to be present and show up for the family. We were stuck with this grinning idiot on the couch pushing his carpal syndromed thumbs like it was going to change the world or something.  I know I couldn't stand looking at his worthless face and that body that never got up and moved around or went anywhere--like maybe to some place where he might earn some money.  No, he left the job of supporting us entirely to my mother.  It was important that he get his screen time, and we were raised to understand that nothing could stop the game or interfere with it."

"And how about you, darlin'" Metallogie turned to Sabin.

"Same thing.  Lights were on but nobody was home. I don't think my father knew what age I was, what grade I was in, if I was dating, if I got in trouble...   My mother raised us by herself.  She didn't bother trying to even discuss us with him, because he had no interest in anything but WoW and he made that clear.  That hurt!"

"You poor kids..." Metallogie began, but out of the corner of her eye she saw the brothers wandering in a mental hospital shuffle way towards her.  Then as if tackling the quarterback, a man leaped on stage and landed spread-eagled.

"Mr. Ned Cassidy, the men's uncle, wants to say a few words, "Yeah, well I'm Ned Cassidy of the 3800 block of Michael Jordan Boulevard over in Let-Us-Rock-You, California.  "It started innocently enough for Zo and Zoro when they were boys and used to spend hours playing paper ball wastebasket basketball.  But they were kids.  You don't think much of it.  I used to have a few Freezies to relax, and bet with my drinking buddies on which boy which make which baskets.  No harm in that.

When they got older it moved up to Beer Pong and  it wasn't long before Guitar Hero was moved over to play the first generation of original Disc Junkie edition of Starcraft."

"Thank you, Mr. Cassidy.  That is helpful."

"Yes, that was the beginning.  I'm Ned Cassidy and that Starcraft or was it Halo was the true beginning of their decline into slavery and madness."   He clearly was on a roll now and meant to get his few minutes of fleeting fame if he had to break the TV personality's arm.     

Metallogie had dealt with his type many times before.  She quickly made the sign to go to commercial, and then punted him off the stage with her boot.  She was back on camera smiling and collected as the commercial ended.

"The neighbor reports being shocked to discover that one of the brothers, the one he describes as having 'large pieces of bagel hanging in his waist-length beard,' mentioned that the computer was purchased new in 2002'  and then, sadly, added that it  was 'only a few years old.'  He said it probably was still under warranty and he planned to have Macro-Apple replace it.   Good luck with that fellows.  Not too many warranties are good for 18 years of non-stop usage.

"But the brothers have finally made it over here to say a few words now.  Let's begin with you Zola.  I understand you had quite a shock today."

"Yes, I was shocked that my sonofabitchin' computer quit on me and I couldn't get my screen time."

"Wasn't there something else that happened today?  Something about your wife Jonesie?"

"Yeah, she left me a note saying she was leaving me.  I was all like crying and upset but then one of my kids, maybe it was Sabin, pointed out that the letter was dated back in 2014 so why am I acting like it happened today?  I have enough problems today.  I was going to get to the next level today, and then this went and happened.  I'll never buy another computer from Macro-Apple I'll tell you.  Garbage.  Just got the thing too.

"Besides, as far as Jonesie goes, she told me a long, long time ago that it was over when I told her I didn't want to be bothered with my sexual husbandly duties.  I couldn't focus on anything but WoW, and it just made me cranky to have to be away from the game that long.  I don't know why it took her so long to leave.  Listen, are they just jackin' me around or is it really 2020? 

"No, Zola it really is 2020.  You've been in virtual reality since the early part of this millenium."

"I'll be damned.  The time flew by."

"Addiction is a thief of everything a person has, and we must bear that in mind.

"The two emergency workers for the FlashSpeed Cyberaddict Recovery Services are here with the men now.  I'm going to see if we can get them to say a few words about their evaluation of the brothers.

"Well as I am sure you can see for yourself, both Zola and Zoroaster have not been taking care of themselves physically while living in their virtual world.  They are emaciated, suffering from malnutrition I don't doubt, have untreated bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, report ongoing acute and chronic migraines, and Zola says that a doctor once told him he had a deep vein thrombosis from sitting so much.  The rest of their medical problems will be determined by physicians at the recovery center.

"I have seen cases where people have lost time before due to Internet addiction, but never quite as much as 20 years.  True, they don't hold down jobs, but both of them have children who have grown up while they were lost in Cyberville, and their bodies have aged, people close to them such as their parents have died, we've had a world war which they seem to have taken no notice of, and they haven't a clue that there are medications you can take today which prevent Internet game addiction by thwarting the Dopamine elevation if you do go ahead and take the risk of playing anyhow.

"It will be one tough road back for these two guys, I'm afraid."

"Thank you.  Thank you all for watching and remember this story if you are ever tempted to play Internet games.  That's it for tonight.  Peace and Higher Consciousness, I'm Metallogie Q. Sunstrike."

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