A reader writes:

I'm 23 years old and have been playing MMOs since I was 13.  While I don't play 55 hours a week, I can assure you that this is not uncommon.  I specifically remember when I was about 14 years old and had befriended a blacksmith in Ultima Online.  One day, he told me his weekly schedule.  From Monday through Friday, he worked from home for 8 hours, then played Ultima Online for 10 hours, then slept for 6 hours.  On the weekend, he played for 18 hours, then slept for 6.

It's easy at first glance to take these numbers and think that there is something serious wrong, which is why so many people start calling it an addiction or a disease, but it is important to understand the full picture.  Most people who play excessively do so, because the social life in these games is more valuable than the one they have in their "real life".  They, sadly, had little to do with their spare time and would spend it watching t.v. or some other mindless activity.  With MMO's, they have the opportunity to build relationships, be challenged, and have a great time when they aren't at their 9-5 and at a very low cost.  These MMO's such as World of Warcraft and Everquest are not popular because they are a drug, rather, they are popular because they add real value to someones life.  These worlds are not fake, they're merely intangible.

I don't actually know how you feel about them, but I'm hoping I have shed some light on why 55 hours a week is neither unbelievable nor bad.