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How Warcraft Doesn't Have To Wreck Lives 274

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-not-all-bad dept.
robustyoungsoul writes "From the same guild leadership as the fellow who started an internet storm with his post about his experience in WoW comes a different point of view: it doesn't have to consume your life." From the article: "I got a Masters degree in policy from one of the most difficult schools in the country while at the same time playing WoW and working a part time job. I would come home from a busy day and think about how to use what I learned to make the guild work better. It was a way for me to practice what I was learning and to discover what was involved with leading people (mostly getting all the blame and no thanks, it seems :P). I've learned the lessons of clear communication, sacrifice, compassion, tough love ... and balance. I plan to use these skills in my professional life. So in short, I play the game because I get something tangible out of it."
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How Warcraft Doesn't Have To Wreck Lives

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  • yeah OK (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:31AM (#16516749)
    and I bite my nails for the added protein
  • All it takes is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Broken scope (973885) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:35AM (#16516815) Homepage
    self control and the ability to tell a guild to go to hell. I have work to do.
  • Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scoser (780371) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:35AM (#16516819) Journal

    +1, Obvious.

    It's all about balance, people. I love my gaming time, but I don't give up food, sleep, work, etc. just to play my two MMORPGs (SWG and Eve Online). Maybe it's just that my games don't require 4 hour instances at the end game or maybe I just know when I'm tired, hungry, or have other commitments.

    Sometimes you just have to say "Hey guys, I'm starving/tired/going to do something else for a while, see you later."

  • by everphilski (877346) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:38AM (#16516865) Journal
    from a respected school in Aerospace while holding down a full time job (often with overtime), a wife and kids and playing Everquest (occasionally WoW. My friends play, but I prefer EQ). It all comes down to self-control. The game is not the problem. It is individual people's lack of self-control and lack of priorities that cause problems.
  • by shirizaki (994008) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:42AM (#16516955)
    WoW doesn't wreck lives, people wreck their own lives. If you have an addictive personality and can't set prorities, then you shouldn't play WoW. I know people who play MMO's all the time who lead productive lives. If you aren't one of those people, take responsibility for your own actions instead of blaming them on what you're using.
  • Re:Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:47AM (#16517031)
    I hate to say it, but we live in a society of grown up children that believe that being Mature is about the rating that is printed on the box of the videogame you play. The fact is that the problem people have with WoW is no different than the obesity epidemic (or the credit/debt problems) in North America in that most people have no ability to self regulate their input of something they desire. Personally, I believe that WoW addiction is just another sign that our society has something wrong with it that no one is paying attention to.
  • Re:Balance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vraylle (610820) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:56AM (#16517181) Homepage
    I just started playing WoW, pretty much in "single player mode". I enjoy games in general, and WoW is a fun escape in reasonable doses. Last night I spent an hour or so fishing and chatting with another fisherman and joking about our excessively pointy ears. It was fun, but it wasn't hard to say "It's time for bed, catch you next time."

    Fun, but I just can't see myself getting addicted to it. People on there 10 hours a day clearly aren't working full time, then coming home to cook dinner and chop firewood like I am. Priorities, anyone?
  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoTheory (580275) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:06PM (#16517353)
    Well, yes short of that, things become more complicated. The problem with this rebuttal is that it's only anecdotal. If you're a high function person who can prioritize well, and can pull themselves away from distractions to get work done, then yeah, you can dump your spare time into WoW and not be worse off for it. I'm betting that doesn't describe too many of MMO players. That's why the analogy to addiction has been made to video game usage. Not all people are the same, and some are going to be have their functionality as a person effected disproportionately from other people. And again, i'd bet that there are more people pissing away their lives on WoW than their are people who can just hop on and off (alternatively, who cares about the people who are perfectly functional on and off WoW, shouldn't we be worrying about the people pissing their lives away, since they're the ones in trouble?).
  • Re:Uh huh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cahrin (1002520) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:07PM (#16517369)
    Whether you were playing MTG or out partying until dawn, the result would have been the same. Blaming the medium upon which you devote a lot of your time for failing out of university is a scape goat. As stated many times, the medium is irrelivant; you're either the kind of person who can balance both, or you end up working at a resturant.
  • by static0verdrive (776495) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:09PM (#16517389) Homepage Journal
    I disagree. I play warcraft, and I know about addiction. It's not like you think to yourself every 10 minutes "Hey... I'm still playing but should stop!" You look up after 3 hours and go "WTF? I thought it had only been an hour!" Part of that is due to the fact that it takes a long time (sometimes) to get even simple things done, thanks to having to run around and fly here/there, etc. Addiction to other substances like alcohol is no different. Based on what you've said, you could say "Why not just avoid pouring another drink?" Being an addict IS being unable to limit yourself. It's mostly about having a problem with reality/sobriety in the first place. It doesn't matter what you are addicted to - be it sex, drugs, or rock'n'roll, baby.
  • by fbjon (692006) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:14PM (#16517449) Homepage Journal
    It could partially be a problem with the game, if it requires excessive amounts of time to be amusing enough for the majority of players.
  • by 26reverse (305980) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:31PM (#16517651)
    WoW presents a very specific problem, beyond the typical problems of "self control" and "moderation". If it were that simple, then yes, turn off the computer and do something else. However, the ability to level quickly is both blessing and curse - and that's (what I see as) the core issue.

    First, WoW is beautiful. Yes, it's cartoonish, but it's got character and depth. I, for one, just like seeing new things, exploring new places. There comes a point within WoW that you can't do anything new unless you get to the end game content. All of which requires heavy guild involvement... to the point mentioned in the first article. Strat can be beautiful, and I regret never seeing Naxx (and only once getting into AQ). But unless I was willing to devote myself heart and soul to a guild - I was relegated to pick-up groups for the "lesser" instances... and forget ever seeing AQ40 or Molten Core. Once you reach these points, starting over isn't an option. You've seen it, you've done it. And no matter how you've convinced yourself that you're not grinding levels in Loch Modan, starting over only offers an extreme amount of drudgery. (Switching from Alliance to Horde only delays the inevitable)

    Second, WoW is just to easy to level up. Too many times you hear about people getting to 60 without a clue of what to do next. You get this consistent endorphin rush every time you "ding". And that's great. It helps keep you moving forward through some of the dull spots (think levels 37-40). But once you've hit 60 you've invested a huge amount of time in a character... whether that's hours upon hours a day for a couple months, or a relaxed pace over a year. It feels like you're abandoning your alter ego to just quit playing. You want to push forward, but you can't. Hence, you've got to run after epic loot and instances.

    And Third... friends. I've made a lot of friends in-game. We've been through a lot together (all of us utterly refusing to ever step foot in Gnomeregan again). And many of them (especially the married couples that both play) want to continue forward. Once again, you're relegated to the outside... shoved off unless you want to grind for Cenarion rep in Silithus.

    All three of these led to my WoW burnout. I was bumped from my "elite" guild because I didn't want to spend 20 hours a week on top of job and social life. Getting put back in the "feeder" guild, while it sounds fine, just felt awful. My friends had all moved on, and I was shoved aside and forgotten (much like the original article). Eventually, I've found another server (too many familiar faces on the old one) and a nice, casual guild. But then again... the first guild started out nice and casual as well... /sigh
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:36PM (#16517723)
    Absolutely MMOs are designed to be addictive. That's the whole point of subscription based games, to draw in players and keep them interested in the game. What MMO player doesn't look forward to hitting that next level, acquiring new gear, or exploring some new region? Character building certainly is an alluring gameplay element. I feel the lure whenever I try a MMO.

    That said, however, I certainly don't think Blizzard or any other developer is responsible for anyone who gets addictive. These companies want players subscribed for a couple of years, but I doubt it's anyone's intention that they have players addicted to these games like they were drugs.

    It's easy for someone to say they can stop playing whenever they want. There are also people who think playing games 40 hours a week is casual gaming. The point is that for someone who has become truly addicted they've lost all self-control. They can't stop. They feel agitated when they're not playing; the game is constantly on their mind. What they need is help, in one form or another.

    Regardless of the nature of the addiction, it ultimately is that player's fault. They made the decision to install the game and start playing. The fact that they lost themselves to the game is ultimately their own fault.

    My concern is that there are lawyers out there already licking their chops. It's only a matter of time before we start seeing lawsuits against these developers.

    Much like the lawsuits against the tobacco companies. In at least the past 20 years we've known smoking is bad. Even if these people didn't know when they started, they must have learned since then. Why didn't they find a way to stop? The company may have been questionable to selling such a product, but ultimately it's the consumer's fault. I mean, using the rationale for suing those companies we might as well sue all automakers for enabling us to put ourselves in harm's way.

    The question here isn't whether games like WoW are addictive, because they clearly are. It's whether people are going to be mature and responsible enough to acknowledge their own fault in all this. Unfortunately, as history has shown in this culture of the victim, too many people are going blame everyone but themselves.

    And just wait until gaming reaches a point where it's photo-realistic, approaching something like the realism of the holodeck. We haven't seen anything yet.
  • Re:Simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GodaiYuhsaku (543082) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:59PM (#16517993)
    Wasn't the original article about WoW wrecking a persons life is only anecdotal? I can offer my own anecdotal evidence about my personal life. But both sides of these articles are a moot point unless you attempt to do an professional objective psychological study. Give some poor Psych grad student his thesis on WOW addiction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:01PM (#16518023)
    being an addict IS being unable to limit yourself.

    No, it really isn't, not at all. the inability to limit yourself is a lack of moderation, not addiction.

    Playing WoW for 3 hours does not qualify you to speak about addiction, it simply points to the fact you have a very poor sense of time.

    I spent every day of my form the age of 21 to the age of 29 shooting Heroin. That is addiction. I stole form friends family and strangers to get more drugs. I lied to everybody in my life to try and hide my problem. I got divorced because of it, I got fired because of it and I lost numerous friends to suicide, overdose, and murder because of it.

    By the way, very often I was able to limit myself; I was able to put enough away for morning so I could start the cycle all over again.

    Before you claim to know about addiction ask yourself, have you ever mugged somebody to get money to play WoW? Have you ever done a B&E to get money to play WoW. Have you ever seen your life go down the drain because of WoW and say "fuck it, I would rather play WoW then be married anyway"

    Calling the kid who plays to much WoW an addict is an insult to addicts all over the world. I personally have never gotten a chick to suck me off by telling her is she sucks my cock I will give her some WoW.

    Addiction is about a singular obsession and compulsion, not a poor sense of time.

    (I've been clean for 3 years now)
  • Re:Balance (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:04PM (#16518053)
    It's not limited to North America, it's just that the nanny-state in America has gotten to the point that people seem to be under the mistaken impression that the purpose of society is to make everything perfect so everyone is on an even playing field in all aspects of life and all problems are solved for everyone.

    In other words, in a lot of other countries where you don't hear so much whining about "addiction" and "imbalance", people generally look at folks like yesterday's case study in pathetic and say "quit being such a whiny knob and take a little responsibility for yourself for once" rather than jumping and down and pointing fingers at everyone except the guy who refuses to exercise any restraint.

    Sorry, but I'm getting more than a little fed up with this childish "Wah wah EQ/WoW/EQ2 ruined my life" nonsense and venting it seemd to be pretty on-topic in regards to your post about self-control in various cultures.
  • Re:Balance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drsquare (530038) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:29PM (#16518413)
    Some people consider developing a character to be a creative process.


    How is it creative when all the characters are the same and and are all chasing the same equipment?
  • by dieth (951868) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:29PM (#16518417)
    When the general population has greater access to high end 3d cards.
    All of this has already happened w/ EverCrack, more than 4 years ago
    We knew of all the problems back then, no one cared

    EverCrack Addiction: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/28/earlysho w/living/caught/main510302.shtml [cbsnews.com]

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/356/356673p1.html [ign.com]
  • Re:Balance (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:31PM (#16518449)
    No, sorry.. The game does not instill into you the need to have that Uber item. It does not instill into you the need to be #1 in PvP, #1 in Raid instances. All that is your mentality, your idiosynchracies.

    Just because the car can top 120mph, does that mean you have to drive at top speeds?
    Just because the Deal is buy 5 get 1 free, do you have to spend the money to have 6?

    Do not blame the game for your sense of competition.
  • Re:Simple (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:33PM (#16518471)
    If you don't play Warcraft, it is unlikely to wreck your life.

    Tell that to the wives of the addicts
  • Re:Balance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frankinmerth (869698) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:36PM (#16518513)
    These issues are by-design unfortunately. I'm not sure if its the only way for these games to make profit, but rather than make them fun and short lived PvE-wise Normal Games Do a dungeon, get the loot WoW do the dungeon, and 0.003% of the time, you get the loot This is also seen in the levelling and challenge-completion aspects of the game Normal games: defeat X and advance to the next level! WoW defeat 4000 X's and advance your faction to the next level! defeat 4000 more X's and advance to the next level! buy a bot and have it do this for you while you do something else... seriously It is, in my mind, a horribly broken gaming methodology. Money per addict-wise its great, but in an ADD-ridden society that is looking for entertainment value I think that these gaming giants are going to die out soon and be regarded as a blunder and definitely a black mark on the gaming market in the near future. I'm surprised they've lasted this long without any effort towards reducing the repetition and monotony their games provide, are people honestly that bored/addicted? A giant portion (in the 90% range, 99% maybe??) of these games misses the point that utilization of the other human controlled players provides a dynamic experience. Instead they group a bunch of these players together so they can chat mindlessly while encountering 1000's of instances of the same static challenge. I suppose cigarettes and cola outsell caviar too, lowest common demoninators - the essence of America.
  • Re:Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blackknight (25168) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:41PM (#16518581) Homepage
    shouldn't we be worrying about the people pissing their lives away, since they're the ones in trouble?

    Nope, not my problem.

    Also, who are you to tell somebody what to do with their life? I know people that play WoW all day and some that just play an hour a night.
  • Re:Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoTheory (580275) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:43PM (#16518607)
    Honestly no, it wasn't as badly anecdotal. You're right that it certainly wasn't an objective account, but at least the first essay did make reference to other people, as well as being a personal account. The references to the effects of WoW on other people were obviously shaded through the author's point of view, but at least he gave some account.
  • Re:Balance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ipxodi (156633) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:45PM (#16518643) Homepage
    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one. Actually, I know there are many of us "super-casuals", but you rarely hear anyone admit it.
    I've been playing WoW for a year and my "main" is still only a level 37. I have four "alts" all scattered between level 12 and 25.
    I play almost exclusively solo. My two highest level characters are in a guild, but only because it's run by my best RL friend and he doesn't expect me to raid or contribute to the guild, it's simply a way for me to avoid "sign my charter" requests.

    Although I understand why Blizzard doesn't cater to us solo/casual players "un-addictable" types, I still really wish they would add more content for us.
  • Re:Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by C0rinthian (770164) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:53PM (#16518755)
    The upcoming expansion has 5, 10, and 25 man content. They stopped developing 40's, and there has never been 60-man content.

    BTW, I play in a high-end raiding guild, and we are quite functional with 3-hour raids, 4 times a week. Still a lot, but nothing like these mythical '8-hour 60-man' endeavors you're pulling out of your ass.
  • Re:Simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NoTheory (580275) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:00PM (#16518877)
    Nope, not my problem.

    Great, way to haul out a republican/libertiarian/conservative knee-jerk. Go you! You can meaninglessly repeat what other people have told you!

    Also, who are you to tell somebody what to do with their life?

    I'm not telling anybody how to live their lives. But, i think that people should be aware of the consequences of their behavior, and i don't think that a lot of people think through their actions, or, particularly in the case of addictive behaviors, the risk of certain behaviors snowballing out of control. And while that may sound like a slippery slope while we're talking about people in such a blandly general way, this is an issue about individual people. If your friend has blown you off every friday for three weeks so he can go level, i'd be slightly concerned. There is in fact a difference between telling people how to live their life, and making sure that they are aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

    That is unless you think that doctors are unduly burdening their patients, when the tell them to eat more healthily or they're going to have a heart attack. (or better yet, that alcoholism runs in their family and that drinking alcohol is a really bad idea for them)
  • by greyfeld (521548) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:31PM (#16519351) Journal
    I was the first of my friends to start playing EQ. I got them all hooked. So 6 years later where are we. I still play, although I quit for a year, but now occaisionally game with my 13 year old (who is not allowed on without me btw). Most of the others still play occaisionally and others have left entirely, come back and left again. Of the seven friends I started playing EQ, one is still serously hooked.

    I went over to visit him the other day. I must say that I was totally grossed out. He owns his own house, but could no longer open the front door. I had to come in the back through the kitchen. There were dirty dishes piled all over and he didn't even have a clean glass to offer me a drink. There was trash piled everywhere and a little path through the rest of his house. He had two office rolling chairs to sit in. Everything else was covered with trash. He was sleeping on the floor and there were dirty clothes strewn everywhere.

    When I went to use the bathroom, there were dozens of empty toilet paper rolls strewn around the floor. When I lifted the lid on the toilet to take a leak, there was a huge turd plugging the drain. I tried to lift the plunger next to the toilet out of it's bucket, but it was stuck to the bucket. I was just thoroughly disgusted. I stayed for a little while longer. On my way out, I told him that he needed to unplug, go buy some trash bags and throw this crap away. He blushed and said he knew. I said yeah, but obviously he wasn't doing anything about it and somebody needed to say something. I doubt I got through to him, but don't know if I can go back.

    For every 6 out of 7 MMORPG players that are leading productive, healthly lives, there are those ones that have lost total control of their lives. They have forgotten about the real world and let everything go. They need serious help! I just don't know who is going to give it to them. I don't know if I can help or would just be wasting my time going back to him. I've tried to help others before and get them cleaned up and the next time you go back they're just as bad or worse. How do you help a friend in dire need of a reality check?

  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:44PM (#16519573) Homepage
    Whenever I hear a call for 'personal responsibility,' it always sounds to me like a call to abandon social responsibility. Unless you're proposing a sweeping eugenics program to remove anyone lacking ironclad self-control from the gene pool, we're always going to have a certain fraction of the population which will be unable to regulate their use of habit-forming things. People are not all going to be mature and responsible, whether we're talking about regulating their own behavior or accepting responsibility for their own inability to regulate it.

    There is a strong genetic component to many aspects of human behavior, and addictive personalities is very likely one of them. Arguing that all responsibility for regulating behavior rests on the individual is tantamount to saying that it is right and just to doom people with a certain genetic profile to a far worse life than they could have if society provided some support for them.

    In closing, I believe that cheap holodeck technology will be the downfall of humankind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:56PM (#16519747)
    Ah, another self-righteous spewing from a conservative. Is it CORP fault that someone is addicted to their product? Maybe not. But is CORP benefitting from exploiting addiction to the detriment of people and, through spouses, children, work, society at large? If so, there's no reason why a community would not desire to hold CORP accountable in some way. CORP is capable of placing limits on play time (same as gambling) adding in warnings (like on cig packaging, or with pop-ups saying you've played twenty hours today already) or by having some way that a person can specify limits that he/she sets or a trusted family member/friend sets for him. CORP can exploit the weaknesses of people or it can be compassionate or it can even be responsible.

    I don't get why you have to shit on people. Yes, it's great to live responsibly. I enjoy it, personally, but not everyone has my upbringing, education, and foresight. I can sneer at people without my good fortune, or I can think about ways to prevent them being exploited. I think it's hilarious that the right wingers who espouse Christianity and family values and personal responsibility ignore the whole concept of compassion and helping your community.

    Instead they bewail the end of civilization and the evils of a "nanny state". I sometimes wonder what these people would be like if they bought a house not subject to a nanny state's regulations... and it fell on their heads. Well, I guess they would accept it as their own fault. Ha ha ha.
  • Re:Balance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by egarland (120202) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:46PM (#16520431)
    then I'd have to play even more to get the loot I was after.

    So. Don't go after that loot.

    That brand new 30" LCD is too expensive. The BMW is too expensive. Being well equpped in WoW is too expensive. People make their choices. Some people (like me) chose to play WoW a lot but not THAT much. I've been playing since soon after it came out and I'm just starting into ZG and MC. Tradeoffs will always exist. Make the choices you want to make.
  • Re:Balance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PlayGames (1016171) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:48PM (#16520477)
    I go through periods where I read 12 hours a day. Periods where I play soccer 4 times a week for hours on end. Periods where I write more. These fluxes in interest are not a sickness. Recognise who you are, and then learn to make that work for you. Your interest should drive you towords success. Boring people find things boring.
  • Re:Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoTheory (580275) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:28PM (#16523531)
    I'm sorry, but that seems like a really warped perspective on reality. Companies should recall their products if there is the real possibility that people are going to die (that is what a voluntary product recall is). I would hazard a guess that a lot of families regardless of whether they are the potential recipients of settlements would probably want a company to recall a product which caused the death of their loved one, so that nobody else might die because of the product.

    And if you really want to call a product recall as a punishment, it's punishment for a critically and fatally flawed product design or implimentation. I don't think people should be concerned about the damage to a company responsible for messing up that badly. Again, lets think about the responsibility that companies have.

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