World of Warcraft: An Addiction? or are You the Addiction?
World of Warcraft has been the subject of much scrutiny ever since its launch. The debate concerning addiction to WoW and other MMOs has been raging since the dawn of the genre. For too long people have been pointing their fingers at the wrong thing. Just like most other topics of addiction, (besides drugs which cause chemical reactions in your brain and body, resulting in addiction) it is the item of addiction which has been labeled with the blame. Why does nobody stop to ask the question “if it is addictive, why do only some people become addicted and not others?”
I am by no means a doctor, psychologist or specialist on the topic. But what I am is a seasoned veteran of MMOs and in particular; WoW. I have been playing WoW on and off for over three years now. I have played the game with a massively diverse number of players. Some of them only played the game for a few hours each week, some only hopped on for four to eight hours on over the week end, some for a few hours a day. On the other end of the scale, I have met those who play the game like a job, raid with their guild up to four times a week (more time than a club soccer team spends training) and those that stay up all night after a patch to grind badges to be the first to get the new gear. I have met some people who can play for up to 36 hours with only toilet and food breaks. Amazing, I start to lose interest after a couple of hours unless I am playing with a personal friend.
In the last three years I have taken two six month breaks from the game, played an average of 15-20 hours a week (about 2-3 hours a day but not every day), put my study as a priority 95% of the time, my work as a priority 100% of the time and my family……they are just boring ok? But I do go out with friends and family on most occasions. I don’t spend all my time playing this game, nor have I really felt any need or urge to play it but I do spend most of my free time playing it. But if I was a cricket fanatic or a Motorbike enthusiast, I would spend most of my free time on those topics too. Enough about me, no one really cares anyway.
The Real Source of Addiction
I would really like to stress in my opinion that the source of addiction comes from the personality of the person interacting with the game. From what I have seen and experienced, what makes WoW such a widely addicting game is that it is attractive to so many different mindsets. This is what makes it dangerous to a large number of people and is an unfortunately a result of the same characteristics that make it such a success as a game.
WoW gives gamers almost anything they could ask for. A story line, roll playing, human social interaction, entertainment, a sense of belonging, accomplishment, a community, teamwork, solo game play and a place to leave their possibly undesirable real life situations behind. As a result of these factors, I have come to believe that WoW as an addiction is particularly threatening to people who:
- Are unsatisfied with their current social life
- Have mental diseases such as anxiety, mild autism and ADD
- Feel the need to be better than others or the best at something
- Are easily dragged into fantasy worlds
- Feel guilty if they do not assist others in accomplishing a task despite the fact that they are not really needed.
Many heavily addicted players have used the excuse “my guild needs me”. This is in most cases true. If they are the main tank for scheduled raids, then the others may not be able to raid without their assistance. Possibly the strongest factor of addiction is social interaction. Although most players are male, the majority of players I know who I would categorize as addicted are female. They play a lot more often and many of them on the basis of being needed by others. But this is just in my experience.
I know a few players who don’t actually enjoy raiding or playing the game. They complain about almost anything and use the word “must” a lot. All of them focus purely on loot and leveling characters to the cap. They want to be the best. Many like to gloat, complain when others win loot and despise leveling but grind at it endlessly until they hit the cap. They are not addicted to WoW. They are addicted to having the best, wanting the best, being the best and it drives them to do things they don’t enjoy. As soon as they complete the task they try to grab the next level without savoring and enjoying the benefits of the one they just accomplished.
One of the lesser causes of addition I have seen is the fantasy world. Although the least common, it can be literally deadly. I’m sure you have read about people dying playing this game. A lot of the time it is because they so badly want to be a part of it that they forget to sustain themselves outside of the game or become very delusional and erratic. There is one case where a Korean boy jumped off a building in the belief that when he died he would become one with the game. It would not surprise me one bit if this child had underlying social or mental disorders. Of course, the media practically had one giant orgasm over this story and added another painful stab to WoWs growing reputation as a dangerously addictive game.
I believe that it is not the game that people become addicted to. It is the social interaction, mixed with a feeling of need which may not be found elsewhere in their lives. It is social, mental and personality disorders that cause addiction. It is the need for a place to forget about ones problems, just like with alcohol but less damaging to the brain. And it is the need to be the best, to have bragging rights within your social community that cause addiction.
These factors are all byproducts of the provision of aspects that attract WoWs massive fanbase. It is the toxic waste of Blizzards huge success.
If you feel you are affected by anything I have mentioned, stop and think. Am I addicted? WHY is it that I play this game? WHY do I find it fun or do I actually find it fun?
If you cannot answer this then you may be dangerously close to addiction. If you feel a NEED to play for any reason, remove that reason from your gameplay. If you feel the need to help your guild, leave it and don’t join another. Play solo or with a group of random people each time. You may find it more enjoyable and less nagging. If you feel the need to be the best, find out who is the best and realise that to beat him you would have to quit your job, social life and have millions of dollars to live off. It can’t be done so stop trying to get better gear and just enjoy killing those annoying Defias Gangsters with the gear you have.
GOOD LUCK (PS the pictures are unrelated they are just some eye candy)
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