Saturday, 10 December 2011

The life drain of the MMO...

So its 10-something in the morning and I've not long got up. I cleaned up the house abit, sat down to my PC to check a few things before starting 3D where I left off last night and the thought occurs. Just a few years back I would of done something very different. I, like so many others, was absorbed into the life drain of the MMO, namely World of Warcraft (WoW). A few years ago my morning would consist of, waking up, then immediately sitting at my PC to spend the entire day playing WoW. Hours, days, weeks would float by and my characters would level up and get better items, that was it.

Looking back I find it really hard to understand how or why WoW became everything I did for those years. The game in itself isn't the best or most enjoyable I've ever played and yet its the one game I've devoted the most time out of my life for, why? I'd like to know that myself.

The concern over World of Warcraft is far spread with addictions to it being contributing factors in some deaths. These people will be the extreme cases but its been estimated at least 40% of people who play WoW are addicted to it, having played it myself I would think that's a hefty understatement.
It doesn't take much looking to find news about people who've died due to causes apparently linked to WoW, like this story from the Daily Mail's website -

"An Internet computer game has been condemned as being as addictive as cocaine after a teenager who played it 24 hours non-stop had convulsions. World of Warcraft has been hugely successful in capturing the imagination of players by drawing them into a virtual universe of battles and quests.
However, it is at the centre of a growing problem of computer game addiction. Many players will sit alone in their rooms for hours at a time, immersed in the lives of their fantasy character creations - or Avatars.
Some 11milion around the globe play World of Warcraft - making it the world's most successful 'MMORPG' - massively multi-player online role-playing game. However, a report from Sweden's Youth Care Foundation describes it as 'the most dangerous game on the market'. "

Read more:
The media does tend to exaggerate and overlook other factors and put more blame on something than is due, but there are websites out there to help people overcome WoW addictions and the thousands of members telling their own stories means its a wide problem. Not everyone is going to play till they die but just how does WoW manage to pull in 11 million players worldwide and keep them coming back for more?

Its a difficult thing to try understand and break down, people are going to be addicted for different reasons so all I can do is think about why I was so absorbed by it.
I was addicted to WoW pretty quickly after starting to play, I didn't know anyone else playing and didn't bother interacting with alot of the other players so it wasn't about social interaction with me to begin with. What got me was the reward system WoW uses. The way you play, quest, level up, get better stronger gear- and repeat. Then you start getting into guilds and raids and even when you are the maximum level there will always be better gear and items out there for you to get, and they don't make it easy to obtain. Even if you somehow managed to get all the best gear, your sucked into playing with guild members and helping them out and showing off how awesome your character and gear is. Then Blizzard release a new dungeon or expansion and all those months you've spent becoming the best are wasted because there is better stuff out there, and now you need to go get it! Its just never ending there will always be something you need to do or need to get inside WoW. The world in itself is massive with different races and classes to play giving it masses of re playability. With accomplishments and feats of strength to try achieve theres even more to do. I played for a few years and I didn't really scratch the surface of how much there is to actually do and complete in WoW, I never even played the Alliance faction, which is essentially half the game.

Blizzard have managed to nail WoW over the years into a perfectly formed, money generating life drain. Everyone will have their own reasons for playing WoW but the way in which it manages to addict so many of us will be the same. There are warnings to take breaks in it and the options of parental control, but we should be able to control ourselves. WoW seems to take that away from us, it plays on our weaknesses and addictive habits as humans to the point some people's lives really suffer.

I no longer play WoW, its about the time I stopped playing that my life starting moving forwards again and I went to college. I do miss WoW, being able to waste the days away questing and raiding, but life is infinitely better without it. My advice to people playing WoW, stop. My advice for people thinking of playing WoW, don't.

Interesting piece on how World of Warcraft works -

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