Massively Addictive

February 21 2007

I have gotten this article forwarded to me a by a couple folks (thanks to Sarah for being the first) ... I guess people associate me with World of Warcraft as much as with anything else these days. :-)

As millions continue to spend large quantities of time in virtual worlds, what effect is this having on the real one?
By Mike Smith
15 Feb 2007
 The eight million players of massively multiplayer on-line game World of Warcraft don't really change the game's world. Even if you spend all night slaying an epic dragon, it'll still be alive again in time for the next team of intrepid adventurers. But in some cases, the compelling, addictive gameplay characteristic of many massively multiplayer games can have devastating impacts on the real worlds of their players.

After World of Warcraft's first expansion pack The Burning Crusade released last month, adding a new continent to the world and a sizable stack of new adventures for players to tackle, we were inundated with tales of Warcraft woe -- stories of broken marriages, ignored friends, lost jobs, and wrecked lives. If you want to play the game at the top level, a serious commitment of time is required, and that's leading some players to neglect real-world responsibilities.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Orzack sees similarities between game addiction and more traditional behavior disorders
Massively multiplayer addiction is a real phenomenon, and it's one that's being taken increasingly seriously by medical professionals. Facilities are being set up to combat it all over the world: Washington, Bejing, and most famously at the Smith & Jones addiction consultancy in the Netherlands. Smith & Jones compares the symptoms of MMO withdrawal to those characteristic of chemical dependence, and offers a detox program followed up with a series of real-life activities intended to replace the excitement of playing MMOs with equally engaging experiences that don't require 60-hour-a-week commitments. ...

The article goes on to chronical a guild leader whose life revolved around his guild and the game. I can relate to this. Lunaris' guild leader "Simpkin" left after leading the guild for 2 years in WoW last fall (and leading the core group of folks across multiple games) due to what WoW folks call "Real Life issues." He was in his late 30s, with a wife and kids, and had to make a choice.

I think I strike a good balance. I use WoW as my way to wind down and escape, but it does not take over. That being said, my play time has gone down since the expansion came out right before Lotusphere. We shall see what level of raiding I do this year.