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Monday, December 20, 2010

World of Warcraft Addiction - Time to Take Stock

I was walking through an airport a few weeks ago admiring the many accomplished, professional-looking people who were traveling.  And I wondered how many of them play World of Warcraft -- or, how many of them even know anything about World of Warcraft.  And I couldn't imagine that many of them had the time to spare on anything as inconsequential as a video game.  Surely some of them were players.  WoW is too popular to find a gathering of people without a few who have played.  But even if they had played, the thought that these were the individuals spending every spare moment grinding toward better gear, more gold, more status -- it didn't seem like it was a possibility.

I'm writing about it today because the World of Warcraft Cataclysm expansion is about two weeks old and I'm betting there are a lot of players who are feeling some WoW fatigue for having played so much recently.  And I even wonder if that fatigue is what others might refer to as a World of Warcraft addiction -- that you know you shouldn't be playing so much, but something in you keeps pulling you to it.

I think one of the saddest, most humbling websites on the internet for a gamer is WoWDetox.  Basically, it's story after story of broken relationships, broken promises, and realizations of the enormous time-loss that comes from allowing yourself to be *too* involved with what should be a fun diversion.  After reading some of the entries you begin to wonder:  how many children don't have parents because one of their parents couldn't pull themselves away from the game?  How many girlfriends are now alone, shocked that a game became her boyfriend's whole wide world?  How many Yo-Yo Ma's will never find their cello?

All that said, I'm not suggesting that World of Warcraft is evil.  But, I am saying that it brings out the worst in some people, and before they know it they've lost years of their life to something that they aren't able to build on, that they aren't able to carry with them with any pride or satisfaction.  The moment that World of Warcraft is used to fill a void in your life is the moment you've started down a slope that is very difficult to climb back up.

With the arrival of the holidays, maybe it is time to do a reality check and make sure that World of Warcraft hasn't become more than what it is supposed to be for you.  Is it still fun?  Or do you feel like playing is a necessity?  Is the sense of awe and excitement that you had when you first played still with you?  Does the game help you relax and provide the down-time that makes you better in the things that count in life?

World of Warcraft is always going to be here.   It will be, or something even better will be.  It doesn't need to be beaten tonight.  And it can't be.  You can't "win" at World of Warcraft, much as power-gamers might argue otherwise.   In the eyes of Blizzard, a player with ten level 85 characters is as much a winner as someone who has one level 25 character.  They pay the same price, though, I would contend that one of them pays a much bigger price than the other, and that's something that Blizzard, as a business, doesn't have the power to recognize.  World of Warcraft addiction is as powerful as any other addiction.  Now is a perfect time to do the math and make sure you haven't stumbled down the wrong path.

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