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How Warcraft Really Does Wreck Lives 617

An anonymous reader writes "There's a great blog post about how World of Warcraft can ruin lives, it's written by a person that was for a long time a member of the largest council on what is now one of the oldest guilds in the world." This is a story that is very familiar to a lot of folks. I know people who are actively wrecking their lives and risking their jobs by playing too much of a video game.
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How Warcraft Really Does Wreck Lives

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  • I need help (Score:5, Funny)

    by bl00d6789 ( 714958 ) * on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:38AM (#16484829)
    LFG for WoW Addicts Anonymous, PST
    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:46AM (#16484975) Journal
      *stands up and addresses the circle of Slashdot*

      My name is eldavojohn. I am a WoW addict and I need help. Yes, this is a real addiction, I have sucked dick for monthly payment cards.
      • by KingMotley ( 944240 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @12:08PM (#16486677) Journal
        This begs the questions...

        Are you cute?


        I have some unused play cards, maybe we could make a deal?
      • Re:I need help (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fozzyuw ( 950608 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:08PM (#16488017)

        *stands up and addresses the circle of Slashdot*

        Anything can be an addiction, and video games are no different. However, with the advent of MMO's, game addition has become much more social and mainstream than before.

        From the article...

        Why did I leave? Simple: Blizzard has created an alternate universe where we don't have to be ourselves when we don't want to be. From my vantage point as a guild decision maker, I've seen it destroy more families and friendships and take a huge toll on individuals than any drug on the market today, and that means a lot coming from an ex-club DJ.

        This is true of Blizzard, however, it should be noted that this did not start with WoW. EverQuest(EQ) was the pioneer of the 'mainstream' MMO. Every heard of the phrase 'EverCrack'? Anyone who's played EQ has. There was a group formed called EverQuest Widows [] that comprised of people who left their husband / wife because of their game addiction. Or Husbands / Wives who had an affair with someone they meet playing this online game.

        Of course, it isn't just EverQuest, it's an MMO thing, or possibly just restricted to the Fantasy genre as I've not heard of these same issues nor have I ever been as addicted to MMO's such as City of Heroes / Villans, Star Wars, or Matrix. I've seen these issues in EQ, Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC), and World of Warcraft (WoW).

        During my time in DAoC, I actually experianced a real life situation where a wife who recently left her husband due to his game addiction. A wife I met playing DAoC with her and her husband. She joined DAoC to try and spend more time with her husband only to be left to level her own toon, while her husband ran off to do 'end game' raids.

        This couple had other problems that an MMO addiction amplified. And their story will be familiar to a vast number of people. WoW, did not start this kind of 'extreme' addiction, but being the largest MMO, it will introduce it to the most number of people.

        MMO and game addiction for myself, almost killed my college education. Of course, I've been addicted to Nintendo since I was 8 (and Pong and Intellivison before that). I hated sports until I was 12 when I started Football, despite my parents forcing me to wrestle between 8-12 year of age. I was overweight when I was a kid and I didn't get out and play with a lot of kids. My favorite gifts where Tiger Electronic hand held games. So, suffice it to say, I've been an 'addict' for a long time. However, the MMO and it's 'vitual' reality and the ability to actaully people with other people (co-op multi-player games where my favorite however you had to find a friend to play Nintendo with you) pulled me deeper than ever before. Dusk to Dawn game sessions. Skipping class (in college), passing oppurtunties to party (in one of the US's highest rated party schools), little to no studying. 10 mins reading a book, and I'd be thinking "If I kill these mobs, I can get this item! I can just farm those and level!"

        It was after DAoC experiance that I had to regain control. Then I studied in Europe for a year with no outlet to really play video games at all. It was a great way to break the habit. When I returned from Europe, WoW was released. I still bought and played it on release day. I even had some long game sessions. However, it was much easier to pull myself away than before. My GPA went from 2.0 to 3.4. I went out at least twice a week with friends and visited my family more often.

        The beauty of WoW is that it's extreamily easy to get a character to the 'end' level (whatever that may be at any given time). while all the other games I played make it so hard and difficult, that I've never actually 'maxxed out' a character in any other game.

        Video Game addiction is a serios thing that gets little attention due to it's 'taboo' idea or possibly sound 'silly'. I don't th

        • Re:I need help (Score:5, Insightful)

          by XenoRyet ( 824514 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:34PM (#16488513)
          When discussing game addiction, I think it's important to remember that there is no chemical addiction going on here. There is only the psychological addiction. It's not like alchahol, or cigarettes, it's simply a pleasureable activity that people prone to obsessive or addictive behavior may do too much of.

          My point is that there isn't anything inherantly wrong with the game, or playing it, for most people. The vast majority will be able to balance their play time with the rest of their life with no trouble whatsoever. When we focus on the relativly few cases of real obsession with the game, we miss the point. It makes it look like Blizzard is at fault, and that anyone who plays their evil game will become addicted and suffer the consiquences. Attatudes like that are of no help to anyone. What we should be asking is: "What about this person made him become addicted to a game?" Not: "What about this game made this person become addicted to it?"

          I agree that game addiction is a real issue, but the focus should be the person, not the game, since that is where the problem lies.

        • Re:I need help (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jdray ( 645332 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:26PM (#16489605) Homepage Journal

          Over twenty years ago, when I was in college, I was introduced to a group called the SCA [], "a medieval history re-enactment group," that had, at the time, been around about twenty years. Over several years of various levels of involvement with the group, I watched many of the same impacts described in TFA happen to people's "real" lives. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on gear for tournaments over some people's lives; there were affairs and break-ups, alcoholism and job loss. I remember people going off to events without their spouses, having a weekend fling while they were there, and writing it off to an excuse of "being in character" for their chosen persona. In the worst cases, I've witnessed people draw "live steel" against one another, meaning real, sharpened blades came out and challenges were made over some perceived insult to a made-up character.

          The SCA isn't the only group that this sort of involvement happens in, though. People in our society want, in the worst way, an escape from mundane reality; they want some sort of control over their environment, and want to be appreciated for the things they do. Take any area of interest (Civil War, Star Wars, News for Nerds, etc.), and somewhere there is some sort of group dedicated to its advancement. Get enough people doing it, you have a society. Concentrate hard enough, you have an alternate reality.

          Chances are that we're never going to be able to create a real-world society where everyone is happy with their lot in life and how they integrate with the world around them. Until then, we're going to come up with more and better ways to escape the reality we're in, and those escapes are going to have their addicts. It's kind of unfortunate, and, as TFA points out, can be destructive. I've identified my addictive side, and deal with it as best I can. Through force of will, I only delve into addictive things to a certain degree and get out before I get really hooked (though I've recently discovered that my internal clock, otherwise very accurate, stops working when Civ IV is running; I need mechanical assistance). For those that can do the same, or don't have such addictive behaviors, great. For the others, those who pour their lives into something that doesn't add value in the outside world, well, Darwin calls.

    • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:52AM (#16485107)
      haha, the fools, playing WoW when they could be posting on slashdot instead.

    • For those that missed it the first time...

      WoW meets LotR []
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Someone who becomes so obsessed with a videogame that it becomes a serious addiction couldn't have had that much of a life to wreck....

    • They make it seem like he was in the oldest guilds in the world...ever. I skimmed the article but are they talking about guilds going all the way back to MUDs or MUSHs? In fact, I'm in a guild now that has been together since UO through EQ and now in WoW. I personally haven't been in that guild that long, but met up with them in EQ.

      So if this guy is talking about one of the oldest guilds in WoW, then I guess the guild I'm in is also one of the oldest as it started up like a half hour after the game went liv
  • by Honest Olaf ( 1011253 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:39AM (#16484849)
    "The Burning Crusade expansion for WoW is coming, so named because of how the game devours human lives, leaving them a smoldering ruin." ~ Tycho []
    • Blame the victims (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:05AM (#16485319)
      For God's sakes its just a stupid video game. It's not a terrorist. It's not a pack of wild dogs. It's not a drunken driver. It's not a chemical that creates fatal dependencies in your body. Its a VIDEO GAME.

      If you can't stop playing it, obviously you have issues. Your life is not in balance, and your obsession to the game is just a symptom of the imbalance.

      The game is not wrecking your life, you are.

      I play World of Warcraft. I average about seven hours a week (four on sundays, and three more on tuesdays, because thats when all my friends can also play). It is fun. It is not wrecking my life. My character doesn't level up at light speed but so what? It is just a game.

      • by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:08AM (#16485363) Journal
        I play World of Warcraft. I average about seven hours a week

        Seven hours? Amateur. No wonder you posted AC.

  • Broken (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:41AM (#16484885) Homepage
    It is the setup of the game. It really cannot be enjoyed in short bursts like most games can. You need to finish an hour long dungeon to get any rewards out of playing. Most other games you can drop in for a few 5 to 15 minute rounds. Then again it also speaks out for the woeful lack of discipline many people have... myself included. However i have yet to let it hurt my grades. Must get that glove... beastlakers... .>
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zoney_ie ( 740061 )
      They have a 14 day trial in the shops now for somethign like just two euro. I'm tempted, but then I think of the whole "the first one is free" thing...

      Besides, even without WoW there are plenty of videogames to get addicted to, even in non-MMO group of computer RPGs. Titan Quest is currently sucking globs of my time despite really just being Diablo 2 for 2006.
    • Re:Broken (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CaseM ( 746707 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:54AM (#16485131)
      I'd argue that it's the endgame that's broken. The 1-59 levelling experience is one of the best if not the most casual-friendly on the market. It's what happens after 60 that wrecks lives.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I'd argue that it's the endgame that's broken. The 1-59 levelling experience is one of the best if not the most casual-friendly on the market. It's what happens after 60 that wrecks lives.

        True. This is what I'm experiencing right now as a player that can only play an hour or two at a time. Once you hit 60, all you can do is upgrade your gear. To run an instance it takes 4-5 hours (not including the hour or two of chaos if you have to get everybody organized) to get something like a 33% chance at getting a

    • 15 minutes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:32AM (#16485817) Homepage

      Most other games you can drop in for a few 5 to 15 minute rounds.

      Maybe you can get in a game of speed chess, but how much fun is it to drop in for 5 to 15 minutes of Monopoly? Or Scrabble? Do you get the guys together for 15 minutes of football? If there's no line at the lift, maybe you can get in a short ski run.

      I think your assertion is not only false, but irrelevant. Now it's video games or the internet, before that it was golf and television, and before that it was radio.

      There are many activities that can take up large chunks of time. And there are many people who engage in those activities without farking up the other aspects of their lives. Conversely, I can smoke some crack for 5 to 15 minutes. Does that mean crack is likely to be less harmful to my relationships than WoW?

      Ok, maybe that's a bad example ;) Point is, what's wrong with taking responsibility for own life rather than blaming a game?

  • by dduardo ( 592868 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:42AM (#16484901)
  • by CaseM ( 746707 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:43AM (#16484913)
    I don't have time to wreck my life...I've got a raid schedule to keep.
  • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:43AM (#16484931) Journal
    There's this married woman I really like. Do you guys think I'd have a chance with her if I introduced her husband to WoW so that he'd get hooked and not perform important functions like working and another I don't need to remind you of? I haven't played it myself so I'm not sure how effective this would be.
  • Let's be frank... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:44AM (#16484935)
    Games do not wreck people's lives. People wreck their own lives.

    Some people gamble, some people cheat on their spouses. Some other people do drugs, and others drink too much. Some people are slackers, some people are workaholics. And yes, some people play video games too much.

    Whichever way you look at it, people have a choice. They can stay grounded in reality with minor diversions into fantasy-land (whatever form that fantasy may take) and keep their lives balanced, or they can throw their lives away. Saying that World of Warcraft, The Jerry Springer Show or The Devil made you do it is a cop out.
    • Re:Let's be frank... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Scoria ( 264473 ) <<gro.dezilaitini> <ta> <liamhsals>> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:56AM (#16485153) Homepage
      I have had several friends turn to World of Warcraft, and their subsequent addictions might, of course, have been considered unhealthy. However, their overall living situations were equally unhealthy, and World of Warcraft was merely serving as an escape from conditions they felt could not be changed.

      When people who are obsessed with absolute personal accountability realize that not everything is a conscious decision, then the world will be a better place overall. True addiction, meanwhile, knows no boundaries.
    • Re:Let's be frank... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:26AM (#16485677)
      Whichever way you look at it, people have a choice.

      "What the science shows, he says, is that the brain of an addict is fundamentally different from that of a non-addict. Initially, when a person uses hard drugs like heroin or cocaine, the chemistry of the brain is not much affected, and the decision to take the drugs remains voluntary. But at a certain point, he says, a "metaphorical switch in the brain" gets thrown, and the individual moves into a state of addiction characterized by compulsive drug use." []

      Some drugs--tabacco and meth, for example--are far more aggressive than others in altering brain chemistry in ways that make the choice to quit harder. And some people are far more susceptible than others. But there is no doubt whatsoever that addiction is a perfectly ordinary physiological phenomenon, no different from any other crippling physical disorder, and it affects some people severely enough that they no more have a choice to quit and than a parapelegic has a choice to walk. They literally lack the physiological capacity to do so.

      This does not mean that all people are so affected--like any other disease, additions have different effects on different people. Some people get smallpox and live. Others die. No one thinks that anyone has a choice about it.

      In the case of addiction, some people's capacity to choose is physiologically limited to the point where they lack the ability to quit on their own, just like some polio patients lack the ability to breathe on their own. I don't see anyone saying, "Whichever way you look at it, polio patients have a choice."

      The article I've linked above includes disenting voices, but no one is saying that the brains of addicts aren't fundamentally altered by drug use. They are arguing over what the policy implications of that are, based on some pretty clearly delineated, and extremely stupid, ideological biases on both sides. And non-drug-related things, like compulsive game-playing and compulsive gambling may or may not involve similar physiological changes, but there is no doubt that sometimes people do not have a choice, however much you might want to believe otherwise.

      • Re:Let's be frank... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Procyon101 ( 61366 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:36AM (#16485869) Journal
        If people do not have a choice, then I am unsympathetic. Automatons are tools, not peers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kismet ( 13199 )
      This is true.

      The part to be careful of is the part that entails "minor diversions into fantasy-land." Sometimes this is where the future addict gets hooked.

      When people develop compulsive habits, or addictions, they no longer have control. They can't just decide to stop without some sort of intervention.

      While it's always best for people to provide their own prevention, you have to realize that we are a society that has embraced artifical needs (it's an important component of the present moneyism). People a
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:44AM (#16484939)
    Heard this kind of nonsense 25 years ago about other games (e.g. dungeons and dragons). The truth is some people have problems between their ears. The problem isn't WarCraft or any other game.
    • I agree with your sentiment, but having played both D&D and WoW, I can say it's not the same experience.

      D&D requires that you have friends, sit down with them in person (yes, now you can play online, etc), and play for some set amount of time. Usually there's a point where the DM says something like 'I'm going to bed' and everyone stops. It requires that everyone gets together, schedules a time to meet, and that the DM put work in before you start playing.

      WoW on the other hand never needs to stop. It plays as long as you want to play, and if you are in a large enough guild, then there are always people around for you to work with. Even without a guild there are people out there looking for a pickup group. MMORPGs exacerbate the situation.

      Part of the fun with D&D and any r/l gaming is that you are in a time crunch and know it. How far can we get? Think quick, come up with interesting solutions. Laugh and make. Even if you want to play all night, someone in your group is going to be tired and want to stop, so you all have to stop. MMORPGs take away all the restrictions and really enable you to become 'addicted' in all the ways that you might to something else.
  • by hypoxide ( 993092 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:44AM (#16484945)
    People wreck their own lives.
    • This whole "people wreck their own lives" trope is such a simplistic load of crap that seems to act more as a way of ignoring real human dilemmas and divorcing oneself of any responsibility for anyone else in any circumstances. TFA isn't saying he did this under duress or that Blizzard are a bunch of assholes. He's showing the specific harm (in his case, relatively minimal to him personally) done by the game and describing the mechanism by which it does harm. Useful to know and discuss. The problem with
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:47AM (#16484985) Journal
    Nothing new here, nothing at all...

  • Breaking update! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:48AM (#16485007) Homepage
    News Flash: Too much of anything is bad for you.

    Stories effectively identical to the post came out when EverQuest was the big thing, came out when MUDS/MUSHES were the big thing, and have probably come out for every liesure activity developed in the history of man.

    The only thing surprising about this is that it continues to surprise people when it happens. If you let your life get consumed, guess what, it gets consumed!
  • by g_adams27 ( 581237 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:49AM (#16485037)
    You can read a lot more stories like that one at the EverQuest Daily Grind []. Anytime I feel like I'm getting sucked into gaming too much, to the exclusion of my family or friends, I read a few stories there and get scared straight again.
  • 70 days in a year (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:51AM (#16485079) Homepage
    He played for 70 days out of a year. That's "only" 19.something percent. If you're the sort to only need 4 or 5 hours sleep a night you could easily fit that in beside a pretty normal life (9 - 5 job, a light social life, chores, etc). If giving 1/5th of your day over to a hobby is a sign that your life has been devoured then you need to sort out your priorities. Everyone should dedicate that much time at least to stuff they enjoy. Perhaps it's a bit narrowminded to concentrate on a single activity, but it's better than spending all that time at the office or wasted in a bar*.

    * Ok, maybe the bar is ok..
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IflyRC ( 956454 )
      He played the number of hours equivalent to 70 days (1680 hours)+. That is equal to 42 40 hour work weeks. Almost a years worth of working full time...played in a game. Now, figure in a full time job, eating, sleeping and there isn't much left. He was a WOW zombie.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cederic ( 9623 )

        I put a similar amount of time into just one single MUD for three consecutive years at university. I also played other muds, began an ongoing Angband addiction, learned Unix (to a small extent), and how to do OO programming, worked a part time job, spent far too much cash in the SU bars, worked fulltime between terms, represented my university at sport and also picked up a very good degree from a very good university.

        I finished with a character over 6 months old (/played equivalent), a lot of very close fri
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      5 hours of sleep
        5 hours of gameplay
        8 hours of work
        2 hours of travelling to and from work
        1 hour for meals
        1 hour to do household chores and shopping
        1 hour for showering, taking a dump, etc..
      23 hours

      Yeah... 1 hour a day should be enough for a social life.
    • by RocketScientist ( 15198 ) * on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @12:29PM (#16487149)

      My warlock has 97 days played. Over almost 2 years. Call it 600 days, that's probably about right.

      My druid has like 20-25. Hunter is way less (you can level a hunter to 60 in about 5 days /played if you know your way around). A few random other alts that are fun, but highest level on any is 42, with 3 days played.

      Yeah, I play a lot. I have a full time job, a wife, a house, two dogs, and still take vacations, go to movies, and see friends. I do plan the friend time around the raid time occasionally. But at about the same rate that my wife plans friend time around knitting circle time, scrapbooking time, etc.

      It's a hobby. I make time for it, schedule it. Have I lost sleep over it? Yeah. How many folks have lost sleep because of their hobbies? Anyone who has any passion about them.

      Where'd the time come from?

      I watch no television. I cook really fast (stir fry in 30 minutes, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and veggies in 45, grilled steaks and veggies in about 30...). I'm eating healthier (even homemade fried chicken is healthier than takeout burgers) than before, because it's faster to make my own food than go out of my way to pick up something. (Side note: Parents, teach your kids how to cook, and they'll figure out, eventually, that they're better at it and faster at it than restaurants that serve bad-for-you food, even counting cleanup time). I've pretty much given up drinking. I've streamlined the household chores, doing a bit more than my share to keep wife aggro down :). I manage my workday so that I don't spend an hour stuck in traffic. I exercise, 2-3 times a week, pre-raid.

      In other words, all things that are probably better life choices in the long run.

      One bad thing is I'm not reading nearly as many books as I used to. My books read/year is way way down.

      My lifestyle (good job, no kids) has given me an excess of free time. This is how I choose to spend it.

  • Good post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niola ( 74324 ) <> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:59AM (#16485207) Homepage
    That is a good post. Basically sums up WoW for a lot of the "hardcore raider" types.

    MMORPG's are like being on a treadmill with someone dangling a treat in front of you. Every once in a while you might get a taste, but they will never let you have it because as long as you want what you can't have (perhaps the feeling of 'winning'?) you will keep paying 15 bucks a month to get closer and closer to and end that keeps drifting further away.

    Blizzard has made what is arguably the most addictive MMO ever appealing to human nature's greed, and the need to feel accomplished.

    Up until last month I was one of those types too. I played WoW EVERY night and every free moment. I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy it.

    But a few things intersecting caused me to take a step back.

    First was the alpha for the expansion. After a week of playing that I realized all the godly best-on-the-server epic gear my priest had would soon be shit since at level 70 (in some cases earlier) I would get gear at or better than the current gear I had. This basically meant when the expansion came out not only would I have to "grind" out 10 more levels, but from a gear standpoint it would be like re-starting the game.

    Secondly, I enrolled in a couple of classes and had some family stuff come up. Between the alpha making me concerned, and real life keeping me busy several nights a week, I have gotten to the point where I do not even feel like logging in most of the time.

    Logging in means raiding. Raiding means farming for consumables etc. Farming means work.

    It's at this point you begin to realize WoW is like a second job - but one you pay to work at.

    • Re:Good post (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ahsile ( 187881 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:18AM (#16485543) Homepage Journal
      Excellent reply as well. I remember playing Asheron's Call (Turbine Games) for about a year. I was addicted, but I was also unemployed at the time. I played 16-20 hours a day. I only slept when I was going to pass out, and I literally did pass out at the keyboard a few times. I was trying to be like the higher level guys I saw. Those guys everyone aspires to be. What else is there to look forward to in a game nobody can win? You just want to be at the top.

      When I started, I had a serious girlfriend. She kept asking me to get a job, but I was content to sit at home and play a video game. I would ignore her calls so I could keep playing, because I knew I couldn't do anything while we talked. She, rightly so, left me a little while later. Losing my girlfriend put me even deeper into the game. I didn't care about anything else, because I hadn't realized how much she mattered until she was gone. The game let me numb my senses to the real world, it became the only reason I kept going.

      Eventually, I got a job. I tried to keep playing, but I couldn't keep up with the "hardcore" guys I used to play with. I had turned into one of the guys we made fun of, because they never equalled our stature. They kept going, and I stopped playing. My passing was not missed. The world kept chugging on, and I was aware of the world for the first time after a long period of doing nothing.
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:02AM (#16485245) Homepage
    Wow, like IRC (and a lot of the rest of the internet) is not just destructive. It *can* be a handy sandbox that prepares people for real life.

    I played WoW for about a year, running a major guild. What did I learn?
    That I'm good at self depreciating humour.
    That I can get people to follow me by being the first one to stand up and provide direction.
    That leading people is more about knowing where you are going than how you are going to get there.
    How to negotiate peace between two people who have genuinely lost sight of what's important.

    Which of those skills have turned out to be useful in my current career? 100% of them. I stand up every day knowing that basically the people I work with are no different to the people I played with, that saying something is better than saying nothing, and that if I get fired hell at least I can enjoy my unemployment hunting for epics with some old friends. It's the same confidence that people who lead sports teams at school get... and now it's available to geeks.

    I might point out that being acclimatised to 70 hour working weeks and doing the same boring crap over and over also helps in the real world. Being able to have two priorities and still getting everything done with really limited time isn't exactly bad practice either.

    Would I hire ex gamers? Probably. It depends if they have used their time to do something valuable, like learning how to build their confidence, lead, motivate and get along with others - and that's hard to demonstrate.

    Like everything else - knowing when you have learned as much as you can and it's time to move on is a big part of determining if online games will be a constructive or destructive thing for you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      Would I hire ex gamers? Probably. It depends if they have used their time to do something valuable, like learning how to build their confidence, lead, motivate and get along with others - and that's hard to demonstrate.

      That's where most people break down. They don't know how to take skills they've learned in one area of their life & apply them to another area. It's why you have successful business people with poor finances or psychiatrists with f*ed up personal lives.

      Kudos to you for taking something fr

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aurisor ( 932566 )
      Right on, dude. I played the game for almost a year, and I seem to be one of the few people around here with no regrets whatsoever. Sure, I spent a lot of time in the game, but the insights I got into the way people handle things like power, money, and so forth are things that I'll keep with me for the rest of my life. Even better, I learned a lot about how I deal with those same things myself...there's no substitute for being able to play such an engrossing game, flip the switch off, and analyze your ow
  • no endgame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:04AM (#16485305) Journal
    This guy really hits on what I think is the biggest problem with MMO's. There's no end game. If winning is really important to you (and it's an important part of games in general), then you're never going to be satisfied.

    I don't play WoW, but I do play Eve-Online, and it's basically the same thing for a lot of people. They've built big and powerful alliances, they control vast in-game resources, and they're deeply involved in all of the political intrigue in the game. But they're stuck at this terrible point where no matter how much they collect, how much territory they control, there's still tons more out there.

    Just like many wealthy people in life spend their money trying to procure more wealth, the means and the end have become basically the same thing, watching a few numbers constantly increase. And since there's an infinite supply of higher numbers, there's no final goal to be reached. You end up playing to win a game that can't actually be won. Not because you're unskilled or aren't working hard enough, but because there is no game-mechanic that qualifies as winning.

    Yet it still manages to sweep up lots of people, and stings them along until they burn out. But at least with real life wealth, if you eventually realize what's going on and gain some perspective on life, you've probably got a decent pile of money to support you as you move in a new direction. When you burn out on a video game and decide to leave it, you've likely sacrificed a lot of what you had in the real world.

  • Wrecking lives? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lazy Jones ( 8403 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:11AM (#16485421) Homepage Journal
    MMORPGs are unhealthy, dangerous for your job, family, social lives. That's certainly true, but as a pastime they aren't "throwing your life away". No pastime is worth less than another simply because it isn't considered acceptable by other people, all that counts is how happy you are with it.

    In the end, your life will simply expire anyway. Make sure you've had some fun and don't listen to other people who want to decide what you do with your time.

  • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:20AM (#16485581) Journal
    I've gotten into playing WoW over the past few months. I'm by no means hardcore- I haven't even joined a guild and my best char is only a 54, but I can see the huge time sink it can be. It's waaaay too easy to forget it's midnight and that I have to get the kids up tomorrow and go to work. It's pointless activity- kill pixilated critters to get a better entry in a database somewhere and I could spend the time doing something useful.

    On the flip side, I don't play at work or when the kids are awake. I look at what I'd be doing instead after the kids are in bed. I've basically stopped watching all TV, an even more useless time sink. I don't read as much, but I have a very small pile of books left to read right now- I need some of my authors to write faster :^) I still go out with friends when I get the chance. (Rare, due to kidlets.) It's cheap given the time spent- going out for a few drinks with friends will be way more than $15 for a night. But it's still the majority of my leisure time, and I've caught "wife aggro" occasionally.

    Am I addicted? I'm probably skirting the edges of that, and it makes me nervous.

  • by daeg ( 828071 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:22AM (#16485639)
    People with very little to do and have addictive personalities are prone to get addicted to anything -- WoW or otherwise. For every major addict that ruins his life, there are dozens that enjoy it responsibly. If WoW weren't around, they'd be addicted to something else -- another game, collecting stamps, stalking people, etc. Addictive personalities have existed for a long, long time.

    For my boyfriend & I, we use it as an inexpensive form of entertainment. We raid, but nothing insanely hardcore. 2 nights a week, usually. Other couples watch TV, we play WoW. You can't really beat $15/month ($30 for two) for some quality entertainment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StikyPad ( 445176 )
      If WoW weren't around, they'd be addicted to something else -- another game, collecting stamps, stalking people, etc. Addictive personalities have existed for a long, long time.

      That's ridiculous. I have an addictive personality and I played EQ compulsively and fanatically for four years. Once I stopped, I didn't take up stalking or anything else to replace EQ -- I just got a life. Fortunately, I think MMORPGs are different than other addictions in that the "fix" eventually becomes unachievable. Unlike g
  • by daVinci1980 ( 73174 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:32AM (#16485813) Homepage
    I guess 'WoW Wrecks Lives' drives more page views than 'Take some personal responsibility for yourself and get out of your basement.'

    The blog post is basically a rant from a slow learner. It took him over a year and '70 days played' to figure out what my friends and I figured out in a few weeks: Yup, WoW is still at treadmill.

    It's a game, people. As soon as you have more 'virtual' commitments than real ones, that should be a clue that your priorities are askew.
  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @12:32PM (#16487237)
    Not too long ago, I saw that there are three videos on one of the more... interesting torrent sites I frequent that are titled:

    "World of Whorecraft" [] (NSFW, duh)

    And judging by the screenshots, I think I found someone I can look down on even more than tentacle-loving hentai freaks.

    It looks like regular porn, but the girls are wearing elf ears and leather straps and stuff.

    But, OK, that's not the worst part.
    The worst part: The ONE, SINGLE attractive mid-20-ish college educated young woman that I've ever had in my classes (I'm an IT Trainer. A geeky, hopelessly introverted one who will probably be a lifelong virgin) is a WoW freak. She's about 5'10", blonde, big eyes, long legs and has a little bit of a fitness-model look. She went rock-climbing in the Andes on her last vacation. She really nice and well adjusted (maybe other than playing WoW...) Seriously good looking girl... And she's a geek of the "Lord of the Rings/Magic the Gathering" variety, which probably means she'd fulfill every possible fantasy for about 3/4 of the Slashdot population.

    I told her about the "Whorecraft" thing and sent her a link to the site (We send each other off-color jokes and stuff all the time). This is what she wrote back.

    "I have an outfit like that. I use it to get (her boyfriend's) attention when he's been raiding too much."

    There is no fucking justice in the world.
    That's all I'm going to say.

    Well, OK, also, people who play WoW now frighten me more than ever.
  • by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @12:37PM (#16487363) Homepage Journal
    Kind of reminds me of reading slashdot.

    To the AC who said it reminds him of work: good point. Why did you AC that? Of course, work does provide you with funds for food and shelter, so there's a minor difference there. WoW is all outgo and no income, unlike some other online worlds which are providing real income for people.

    Now, the most interesting question to me is: Is "real" life a simulation? For those who freak out, leave the god stuff out of this for the moment. Just take it at face value. In every age and civilization people start making models of the world, analogs of life. Whether it is a model railoroad enthusiast building a toy landscape or a Virtual Reality guy setting standards for online sex, it's the same deal, the same drive. VR is going to get to the point where there is effectively no difference the same way movies (another aspect of this: acting) are going to get so good at simulating human actors that they can all be made by Pixar. Read some of the stuff by Ray Kurzweil. He seriously thinks we'll be able to move ourselves into machines and dispense with physical bodies, thereby becoming immortal. What if we've already been down that road before? This life thing is a pretty good and complex virtual reality all by itself. Advanced physics would suggest that once you get past atoms, there's nothing there. It's all thought: You create reality yourself.

    Eventually we'll all find out, but when you finally do know, don't forget you read it on slashdot first.
  • Skinner Box (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @12:47PM (#16487597) Homepage Journal
    WoW and other similar online games are generally designed to be Skinner Boxes: []

    You do enough of the required behavior and get a reward. The key is to make the reward incentive strong enough to continue the behavior.

    In WoW, and other online games, the goal is to keep the player paying money to the company to keep playing. What attracts players? A good game, marketing, other gamers, escapism, etc. The players, thusly attracted, must be kept entertained reasonably. A guy from Atari used to talk about how they developed games and thought about things like Skinner Boxes.

    My comment is not particularly insightful or novel -- just google for Skinner Box and WoW. It's a connection that lots of folks have made.

    Part of dealing with the problem is to recognize it when it comes at you and and realize the manipulation taking place. I don't think that the WoW owners are evil for operating their Skinner Box, as ultimately it is an issue that, IMHO, drops to the level of "personal responsibility." I'd like to see more education for kids so that they can recognize these sorts of traps in life.

    We teach kids to cross streets, to stay away from old wells, not to smoke, not to shoot heroin, not to get into cars with strangers, etc. Why don't we teach them some basic life skills like recognizing likely "modern day" traps where the danger is not as obvious? Things like shopping and the dopamine connection. How fast food places manipulate their seating to encourage you to leave. How grocery stores manipulate you into walking around the entire store to get to the milk.

    While I mentioned "personal responsibility" above re: WoW, the fact that some folks are either more educated about such things or more innately sensitive to the manipulation of SB's should not result in us thinking of those who fall prey to SB's as being morally deficient or lacking in self-control. To some extent, they may not recognize the danger until the SB behavior is so reinforced that changing it is difficult. I have often wondered if there are chemical or physical changes in the brain in gaming addicts that are akin to those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs, for instance. Ignorance of possible harm, rather than lack of self-control, can likely explain at least some of the fallout or collateral damage that can result from overdoing online (or offline) games.

    I'm sure that we will see someone ultimately argue that online games (since they are new and shiny and an "in" target) are psycholocigal conditioning devices. I suspect that, as with DOOM in the Columbine case (and GTA, and others), that video games, online and otherwise, will continue to be whipping boys in criminal cases and possibly in the tort system (regulation through litigation).

    In any case, I understand the perils of gaming to some extent, and that understanding has helped to inform my personal decisions about doing it. Likewise, I'll try to educate my kids about it. I think that seeing these stories from time to time, though we all roll our eyes at them, is probably useful on the whole, as it reminds us that excesses are often unplanned and that they take their toll over time.

  • MUDs ruin lives (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Krater76 ( 810350 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:55PM (#16488987) Journal
    Please don't blame it on WoW, this is about individuals.

    Let me just say that I play a few hours a night and was raiding a little before the expansion news which caused a lot of guilds to 'take a break'. I'm currently levelling up a shaman and a hunter for the expansion.

    When I started college (back in '95) a few friends introduced me to a MUD. I played it mostly to keep in contact with them (at other colleges) but just didn't really like the interface. It was all typing commands and reading text, like an online D&D session except without actually playing with other people. So, I reached the level cap, albeit slowly, and quit, only logging in to talk with my friends. However, one of my friends played all the time. He was always on. He failed out of school.

    So, is Blizzard responsible for creating something that can be addictive? What about EQ, DAoC, AC, UO? They all have elements that can make people who are more susceptible become addicted. But couldn't Battlefield 2/2142? Remember that in BF1942/Vietnam you didn't have ranks. There wasn't a time commitment. You could leave at anytime. But with ranks you are need to grind your way up. The more games that contain these 'RPG' elements the more of this addiction stuff we are going to hear about.
  • by killermookie ( 708026 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:56PM (#16489001) Homepage
    Whatever happened to the journey being to reward, not the end?

    The people who have the WoW addiction feel that they must get to "the end", whatever that may be in WoW (or any other MMORPG).

    For was the journey of getting to lvl 60. I liked exploring the world, searching new dungeons, grouping with a few people and attempting something new together.

    It was just this past weekend that I finally reached lvl 60 with my mage after almost 2 years of playing (I have 4 other characters I was playing around with.) When I annouced my "Ding! lvl 60" on my guild chat, one of my other lvl 60 guildies says "Congrats, welcome to the 2nd half of the game".

    But you know what? Seeing as the 2nd half of the game is strictly raiding, I'd rather go back to the 1st half of the game.
  • by __aagmrb7289 ( 652113 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:20PM (#16489475) Journal
    Take responsibility for yourself. It's your problem. Your problem might be the game, but that's not the game's problem. Responsibility - it's not just for everyone else anymore.

I've got a bad feeling about this.