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I think most of us have been in this position.  Few gamers that I know play only one game and only one character.  I suffer from two main forms of Itis:

  1. Altitis
  2. Gameitis


This is also referred to as: altism, altoholic, altoholism.  It's having the urge, nay, the need to roll another character in a game.  It doesn't matter how much you love your main or countless other alts, you just want to explore another.


Those who are familiar with this particular affliction may affectionately refer to themselves as being polygamerous.  It's the desire and/or urge to explore multiple game worlds. This can manifest across gaming platforms and genres.  For one reason or another, you want to play with 'em all!

What Causes Them?

From my experiences, I have narrowed it down to three causes:

1 – Fun/interesting character creation screens

I'm guilty of spending way too much time with great character creation screens. If there are a lot of options offered and high customizablility, I will spend hours using it.  In fact, I will use it so much it is a detriment to my actual playing time.  Yes, I have spent more time creating characters than actually playing them.  I've even spent time creating characters for a look and name I like with absolutely no intention of ever playing those characters.

2 – Marketing

Lots of money and promotion goes into marketing games.  Sometimes the ads are misleading or even offensive.  But they catch our attention. They make us curious about what the game world has to offer.  Sales promotions are quite helpful as well, Steam does a great job with this… “Oh, I've got to try this now that it's only ten bucks!”  And let's not forget other shiny incentives…special items, bonuses, etc for pre-orders!

Marketing doesn't apply just to gameitis, y'know.  It applies to altitis as well.  I mean, I'm sure you've heard of World of Warcraft's “Recruit-A-Friend” and bind on account items, yes?  Now, “Recruit-A-Friend” is also a point for #3 of my causes, but it also entices you, the veteran, to roll an alt for the sweet experience bonus, so it applies to marketing as well.

3 – Friends

Despite the stereotypes of basement dwelling gamers, we are a social sort; even if our social butterfly selves come across better online than in person.  We like to play games with others (hello MMOs!) and we like to talk about games with others (hello blogs, forums, podcasts!)  If our friends are playing something we are not, we're more likely to try it.

Take Aion, for instance, I got interested in it due to friends that were playing the closed beta.  This heavily influenced my decision to pre-order it for the open beta and headstart days.  They also have started a referral program now.  Taking a step in a different direction… look at iPhone and Facebook games.  Those are all focused on getting your friends to play with you.  And what is easier: to start a new FB game that no friends are playing and try to recruit all of them, or to join up a game a bunch of them are already playing?

What about alts? Besides my own deep-seeded need to roll a new character at odd time intervals, friends have been a cause of this too.

Find out some friends play on a different server? Roll an alt.

Hooked someone up with “Recruit-A-Friend?” Roll an alt.

Meet a bunch of awesome people and decide to create a special guild? Roll an alt.

Your dad favors the opposite faction than you, but you still love him with all your heart? Roll an alt.

What about you? Do you suffer from either of these itises? Have you been led astray from your main (character and/or game) due to reasons other than the three I listed here?

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  • I have biiig altitis. I’m on 6 level 80s now, just finished levelling my warlock which I’m enjoying to bits but STILL considering which alt I should level next.

    I’m also guilty of spending too long on character screens. I made 4 characters in Aion, only ever playing the one (my spiritmaster). I have alts on other servers which I made for a “I might play here one day” but realistically, I just wanted to play with the creation screen.

    It’s why I got the Sims 3 in the end, I love creating characters too much.

  • I’ve always got an itis of some kind, no matter what I’m doing.

    WoW: Creating and leveling Alts
    D&D: Character Creation, Magic Item design
    Magic TCG: Deck Creation, Combo discovery
    Programming: Commenting and Documentation
    Doing Dishes: Procrastinationitis

    It just doesn’t matter what I’m doing, there’s always something I always get caught up in.

  • I think I should start a support group 😛 I’m glad I’m not the only one though!

    I think I will be posting more on this subject… I have plenty I can say about it…

    @Jaedia – omg Sims… definitely. At least I can create a TON of Sims and just put them in the neighborhood without playing all of them! 😀

    @Psynister – I suffer from procrastinationitis as well! Although sometimes it is less procrastination and more “I have so much… where to start?!” and then nothing gets done. >.<

  • City of Heroes/Villians had the best character creation screen ever. The game was meh, and the fact that the character pretty much always looked the same, regardless of ‘gear’ sorta got boring. But the customization was ridiculous. I made tons of heroes/villians and never played em.

  • So I got on this big diatribe on my blog on how I like Horde so much better than the Alliance. And my guy sits there awkwardly and quietly. A few days later he confesses that he misses playing his Gnome. So next thing I know he transfers that Gnome to our Horde server and is playing Alliance. Then he rolls a Dwarf Paladin. Then a NE (!!) Druid.

    Ugh, right? So I roll a Draenei Shaman so I can keep his Druid company. Then when he starts playing the pally, I roll a Gnome Mage (kill me now) so he’s not lonely.

    I could barely handle two Horde characters. Now I’m doing those 2 and the 2 Alliance characters. Help!

  • I’ve never really suffered from either of these afflictions, really. In BC I only had two 70s and one 67, among two other alts I never played. In WotLK, I have one 80, and that’s it. My only other toon is my bank. Who has time for an alt when you’re busy whoring achievements?

    I only really branch out into other games when I’ve hit a lull in WoWtertainment. If I’m not raiding and I’m sick of heroics and dailies, I’ll see what games I have on Steam to tide me over, or I’ll plug in my Playstation or SNES and get into some old-school RPGs. Since my computer is broken at the moment (illegal use of work computers ftw), I have no WoW to play. So I’m playing through the Suikoden games again. Because I <3 them.

  • @Valgav – I totally agree! I spent almost my whole trial creating characters. The highest level I had gotten was about 7 and just didn’t really get into the game… but creating characters… oh!

    @Kimberly – That can definitely be tough. I’ve certainly created alts specifically to play with certain people, but I usually suffer from an urge to make new ones for no real reason. I’m *trying* to get a high level Alliance character, but Horde is my first love.

    @Forthepie – hahaha!

    @Nim – I like to spread the love around… then I never really get bored with any game or character… usually. Or at least, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! 😛

  • I’m definitely an altoholic >grins> I don’t play any other MMO these days. At times, Finding the time to play WoW can be tough. I occasionally manage to squeeze in a FPS now and again (that’s my first love.)

    I keep promising that I’ll go back to The Elder Scrolls. It’s a beautiful single player game that I never grow tired of.

  • @Moondancer – That can be the hardest part – trying to spread the love around so no game nor character feels neglected! 🙂


We are a family of gamers. Mom (Darcy/Syrana) and Dad (Brian/Sideshow) have been gaming for as long as they can remember back when you only had a joystick to use and saved your games to cassette tapes.

They've been gaming together since they met in 2002. Sometime after 2006, they both started playing World of Warcraft and did that for many years. They started this blog, originally called Sideshow & Syrana which has now transitioned to the new Stay-At-Home Gamers site, while keeping all of the original content.

Starting in 2010, two more gamers came along (now known as Princess Boo and Mr. X) and they are now old enough where they both enjoy playing games and watching others play games. They are both excited to have others to watch them play their favorite games. Come along with us and let's enjoy these games together!