Shawn Woolley

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Shawn Woolley was an EverQuest player from Wisconsin who became an hero on Thanksgiving of 2001 while the game was still running on his computer. Shawn had been previously diagnosed with epilepsy and ADHD. No one gives a rat's ass about that though.



The game that ruins lives.

Before EverQuest, Shawn was diagnosed with ADD and epilepsy but controlled it by medicine. Apparently, he seemed to do fine for someone with learning disabilities while playing every other game. That was, until he started EverQuest.

His mother, Liz, noticed once he quit his job. Then, he decided he'd rather pay the monthly fee instead of paying the rent and was evicted from his apartment. While living with his mother, she noticed Shawn had seizures often when playing the game for long periods of time. From there, Liz sent him to a voluntary group home for addictive behavior. Of course, Shawn left.

Soon, he purchased a gun, which his mother did not know about until after Shawn went linkdead IRL.

After breaking his door's chain lock with a crowbar, his mother found him dead, and the game was still running. Shawn was surrounded by pizza boxes and notes strewn everywhere pertaining to the game. Since she wasn't a basement dweller, Shawn's mother had no fucking clue what any of it meant. But she had decided "that damn game" had killed him.


With the assistance of EQ players, Liz was able to gather information on what may have caused him to become an hero. On Halloween, the possibility that Shawn had an e-girlfriend arose. On the Vallon Zek server, he created a character that looked like him called "ILUVEYOU" (he is so much of a retard that he could not spell "love" right) and used it for three hours, and then left the server, never to return. Even today, nobody knows why he did it. Was it shame? Was it for the lulz? The world may never know.


Angry at EverQuest's developers, Sony Online Entertainment, Liz wanted to sue. After talking with multiple psychologists and SOE's president, John Smedley, Smedley had this to say:

When I spoke with Ms. Woolley, I expressed my condolences. And it's really one of those terrible things that happens. And there's just nothing to suggest that EverQuest had any role in his death. EverQuest is a game. And I don't see any connection between a form of entertainment and somebody's tragic suicide. It's entertainment. Is a book dangerous? Is a TV show dangerous? I think the answer is no. People need to take responsibility and say, 'Hey, you know, this is too much. Enough's enough.' It's a game.


—John Smedley; on logic.

While Smedley has a lot of controversy surrounding him, especially with Star Wars Galaxies, this one quote pretty much earned him at least 100 Internets. Even still, Shawn's mother bawwwww'ed and wanted SOE to include a warning on the box saying that the game was addictive.


Final Fantasy XI's warning.

Of course, Shawn's self-pwnage caused a big uproar in the then-smaller MMO community. A Yahoo! group called EverQuest Widows sympathized with Liz.

Liz Woolley created this site after her son's death.

In EverQuest itself, Smedley had the developers implement a timer so people could set their own limits. (The sequel has one of these, too, but nobody uses it in either game.) Even in other MMORPGs, such as Final Fantasy XI, a notice told players to not forget their friends, family, school, and work - one could only assume this spawned from Shawn's suicide. (Ironically enough, FFXI is probably the most time-consuming MMORPG out there.)

Liz decided she would begin a lulzy program called On-Line Gamers Anonymous and create support groups for the recovering MMORPG addicts and their families. Within her site, you could find such gems as:

This step states the membership requirement of O.L.G.A. We use gaming to avoid our pain.

We live in a fantasy world. We cannot cope with our real life. Our denial kept us from seeing how powerless and unmanageable our lives had become.

We must admit that our lives are disturbed. We must accept the fact that we are helpless before the power of gaming. We must admit that we are licked as far as gaming is concerned and that we need help. We must be willing to accept the bitter fact that we cannot game like other people. And we must make, as gracefully as possible, surrender to the inevitable fact that we must stop gaming. Is it difficult for me to admit that I am different from "social" gamers?


And that's just the first step! She's going to mention a higher power, isn't she?

Anyway, I knew that I needed a power greater than myself to overcome this self-defeating behavior of continuing to talk to someone who was abusive and also continuing to invest large chunks of time in game, which I could not afford. I had tried to some degree to sever ties with the person, only to end up talking again, and the same attempts failed with regard to the game. However, from previous 12 step experience, I knew that my Higher Power would help me overcome both problems. I knew deep within that of myself I didn't have what it competely took to overcome my problems but with faith and reliance on my faith I could.

a) In your journal, write down what makes you believe that your Higher Power can take away your gaming issue. b) Than, write down any reservations that you have, regarding your Higher Power's ability to take away these issues. c) Think about who your Higher Power is. Write down the attributes and characteristics of your Higher Power.



The users of the site provide some excellent lulz fodder, too:

I had a bad problem of powerlessness.

Way back when, after the release of Kunark, I finally got my chance to start taking too the planes for the famed planar armor. ( Back then it was sort of the high class armor for those who were at the top, but not the uberl33t ) I would try to do a pickup raid every now and again, thinking i would get lucky, but I quickly learned that in order to even have a chance to get armor with the seniority rating, I would have to go.. a lot.

Now for the Valorium Armor which was the paladins plane armor, existed on things called fetid fiends, and were a normal melee mob in the plane of fear. There were a total of 13 of them in a full spawn, and there were male and female kinds. The ratio of male to female was completely random, and only the male drops the armor. And on the male, the armor is a rare drop. So on a good night, two to three pieces may drop, and on a normal night, one or no pieces droped.

See the pattern here? Verant's devilish schemes in the work.


—AremUlosia; on how Verant is devilish.

The entire site is good for laughs, whether you play EverQuest, World of Warcraft, or no MMORPG at all!

YouTube Video: 11 PM Action News

11 PM Action News discusses World of Warcraft and EverQuest addictions - Liz Woolley appears at 1:35.

I guess my big thing is my anger towards the gaming companies, because they're using this as a drug and they're getting their own customers addicted so they can make money.


—Liz Woolley, pointing out the obvious.

But on the other hand...

Millions of people play these games every day and they don't have a problem playing it. But then there are certain people who, you know, lack of connected-ness to real life.


—Kristen Dudley; psychologist.

See Also

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