By timesink, I mean hours spent in front of the computer. Not just hours, in fact, but
. The World of Warcraft is the most popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game,
) in the history of online gaming – and here’s why, it’s incredibly addictive. I played Everquest for 3 or 4 years before WoW was released, with a gaming hiatus in-between. Everquest ate up much of my social life as a teenager, relegating me to my bedroom for hours after school (and sometimes during school). Because I was older when I started playing WoW, I had the sense to manage my time a little better – but I still spent too much time playing that damn game!
After almost 3 years in the World of Warcraft, with it’s cartoon-like character models, large-scale guild gatherings (demanding 40 or more people to work in cohesion to complete an objective, which ultimately was the biggest timesink) and never-ending character development (in other words, wasting 8 hours trying to get some kind of item), my interest in the game slowly subsided. I dropped it completely for a while, only to pick it back up for another stint and, as it seems now, drop it again – for good this time. In total, I spent approximately 150 days playing World of Warcraft. That’s
, one day being 24 hours, or
hours in total. Granted this was over a 3-year period, but that doesn’t change the fact that this game ate about 3.5 entire months of my young life.
Now that you know the potential this game has for turning a normal, sociable individual into a complete recluse, let me highlight one of the (possibly the only) positive aspects of the World of Warcraft. The game forces the players to make friends. Of course, you’re not playing face-to-face with the people you meet online (unless you could somehow get the 10s of millions of people playing this game together in a large stadium – or small country) but it does promote a sense of unity and loyalty with other gamers you see regularly within the game. Friendships established through online gaming can potentially extend beyond the life of the game, as was the case with my old Everquest guild. Although, I ended up losing contact with them. Otherwise, the only benefit is that you don’t need a top-of-the-line monster gaming machine to run WoW. The graphics are designed to display smoothly on lower-end PCs.
Now for the bad. My list of negatives associated with MMO gaming is a lot longer than the positives. The major negative, as I explained above, is the amount of time the average gamer spends online. My 3600 hour marathon isn’t uncommon for a lot of people. With millions of gamers playing WoW, that’s a lot of wasted time! The anonymity of playing a game online, where everyone is faceless and the consequences of treating other gamers poorly are almost non-existent, makes some people do or say things they probably wouldn’t in real life. Some games, this one in-particular, have policies punishing players who make derogatory and insulting comments toward other gamers, but unless the offense is particularly nasty (racist or sexual) there’s usually no repercussion.
Sometimes online, the lines of what’s right and wrong are blurred. Due to the amount of time gamers spend in the virtual world, they tend to take the game too seriously. In Everquest, where there were two factions which were able to attack and kill each other, the good side were referred to by the players as Lighties, while the other (evil) side were known as Darkies. To me, that seemed to have a racist slant. Trash-talking was common in Everquest. One thing I liked about WoW – members of opposing factions couldn’t speak to one another (which I’m sure prevented a lot of problems).
That’s the World of Warcraft explained from the perspective of an ex-addict. I mainly discussed my issues with the game (and that pretty much applies to the whole genre). If you want to know more about the mechanics of the game, I suggest you visit the
. There are more games to be released in the near future that I may decide to check out but due to my experiences with WoW (and Everquest), I will always be more in-control of my digital addiction in the future. I had to learn how to delegate my time the hard way. The 10s of millions of current WoW subscribers will need to learn the same lesson eventually as well!