Beware, There Be Dragons
The Age has this interesting article about “the fun with online fantasy games stops when it costs you your friends, job, or marriage” today (Feb 18, ’06). Okay, let’s sum up David Stonehouse’s points just in case the article is no longer available for online viewing in the future:
- How someone is deeply obssessed with World of Warcraft: “I’m waking up at 3am to check my auctions and rack up kills. Then two hours’ sleep, four hours’ work, back home for lunch and check auctions again. Then four hours’ work, two hours’ sleep. Then back to the other-worldly Warcraft until the wee hours. Yes, it is killing me, but you should see my honour points“.
- The embittered and concerned brother’s comment on his sibling’s WoW addiction: “World of Warcraft has turned my brother into an addict. What has happened to him is not fun and not funny. Becoming so totally consumed with this game has cost him his job, his apartment and his social life. He has no life outside of this game. He is a shell of his former self. He lives for an online game character. Nothing else matters except the next scheduled raid.”
- What happens when you walk away from WoW: “I just decided it was time to do something better with my time. I quit, found myself a beautiful woman and now I’m engaged to be married”
- This is riveting and appalling: there is a study center for computer addiction (Computer Addiction Study Center) in Belmont, Massachusetts. So if you’re a sort of a computer addict, then you’re considered as bad as drug addicts or people with mental condition. You need help!
- Why people are getting hooked with the virtual world: “most often the gamers find a sense of belonging in the virtual world. Some are shy with low self-esteem and find it easier to connect with other players, they find a sense of purpose and achievement in their game quests. For others, the game becomes a way to escape worries in the real world. Sometimes, though, that escapism can become extreme and lead to teens dropping out of school or older players losing their jobs.”. Wicked! Aren’t the bolds the perfect symptoms for addiction?
- Nick Yee of Stanford University: “But then they log on to these games and suddenly they are heroes. They can cast down a rain of fire, they can resurrect people from the dead, they can save other people. That gives them a real sense of value. […] I think the sense of mythic heroic [power] is incredibly seductive.”
- What parents must do before sh** happens: “Brent Pearson, a strategic recruiting executive in Sydney, has established a rule with his 11-year-old son, Ben. He must talk to him about any new computer games he wants to play. So, when Ben came to him keen about World of Warcraft, Pearson did some research online. He was astounded by with what he found. So he told Ben he couldn’t play. When the boy complained, Pearson showed him the reports. The youngster was so taken aback that he agreed the game wasn’t for him. It even prompted him to stop playing a similar online game, Guild Wars – auctioning off his characters and shutting it off for good.” Well done!
- Three dimensions of WoW that can result in “problematic usage”:
- There’s no end to it – it just goes on forever.
- It’s also about building your online standing so you get this sort of online social recognition.
- With World of Warcraft you join a guild, so it’s not just about you on your own, you almost forge an obligation to the guild.
- Shanghai Daily’s report: China has imposed anti-addiction game policy since last October and requires players to register with the government. After five hours online, the restriction discourages any more play by no longer allowing gamers to rack up points or weapons in the game. Adult players swiftly condemned the measure, leading the government to announce last December that it would change it so that only those aged under 18 are confined to the five-hour limit.
- Blizzard’s Rob Pardo on the “addictive” dimension of WoW: “that term has a very negative connotation. I think it is a fun activity, is really what the game is and some people like to play more than others. But I don’t think it is addictive like substances are.”
At the end of the day, it always comes down to ourselves. Game is just a game. So if you realized that you’re getting hooked up with it, break it! I have a cousin who became an instant slave of video games since his brother bought him the first-generation of Nintendo more than a decade ago. Until this point, he barely made it from high school and dropped out from colleges several times. He’s almost 28 now, but still helplessly controlled by his games. He’s jobless, and constantly ripping-off his mum to fund his addiction (did I also mention that his mum also has to take care of the paralyzed dad?). If you don’t call that addiction, what do you call it?