A new shared topic seem to be coming up among the WoW blogs, although this time it wasn't initiated by Blog Azeroth. I'm thinking about the recent postings about the addictive sides of the game, how WoW easily can consume your whole life if you aren't careful. Balancing RL with WoW playing is a challenge to many players. I think that's why the Confessions from a former hardcore raider, written by Monique, makes many of us feel a bit uneasy.
The situation she's describing is far, far from anything I've ever heard of in this game, it's beyond addiction, it's way out of control... A true nightmare if you ask me. But still, at least I cant just shrug and think "well, that's bad for her, but she's one exception, too bad she couldn't handle it, but 99 percent of the WoW population can, forget about it and move on". Because honestly it's not true. I think many of us sometimes ask ourselves the question if our passion for the game really only is healthy and if we're making the right choices trying to play in a balanced way.
Several bloggers have already picked up this thread and made some great posts about it: Noobding, Matticus, Eye for an Eye, Aspect of the hare and Be Nameless are the ones I've spotted so far and maybe more will come.
So what's my thoughts on this?
Well, the discussion of addiction isn't exactly new. The discussions often tend to become rather black and white. The one's who have stopped playing tells the world about it on the wowdetox site, which sometimes makes me think of some kind of extreme religious meeting. Only the people who have seen the light will count, the others are poor lost souls still stuck in the darkness.
If you look into the WoW forums on the other hand, the community sometimes has tendencies to put their heads into the sand, not wanting to see or hear anything. People and situations as the one Monique describes doesn't seem to exist. Or they react with anger, since gaming as such is so much frowned up from the rest of society, not getting the respect and acceptance it deserves just like any other kind of hobby. Some WoW players refuse to discuss the issue seriously, being sick and tired of the prejudices you meet all the time being a gamer.
The reality of course is full of shades and nuances. Isn't it always? When it comes to me - . yes, I'm probably a bit addicted. Passionate sounds better, but addicted is just as true, it depends on how you put it. But I'm addicted to coffee as well, so that doesn't say much, does it? The problem is that being addicted to WoW easily demands very much more of your time and thus affects your life in general, than having a cup of coffee does.
You can't deny that the game can be a huge time sink, depending on what aspect of the game you enjoy most. I imagine it's quite easy to play the game with moderation (which in my world would mean maximum 7 hours a week) if you're happy with soloplaying, just levelling a toon, questing or doing a little BG now and then for pleasure, not participating very much in group activities. But once you get hooked on raiding in endgame or really want to climb the ranking lists of PvP it's quite a different game. There's a minimum level of how much time you need to spend weekly farming consumables, gold, gearing up and looking up on boss strategies to be able to get anywhere at all with the things you enjoy most in the game - even if you consider yourself a very moderate, casual raider. And once you get friends in the game and a nice guild you'll also feel that a couple of hours a week really isn't enough - if you're unlucky you may not even see them online. The social side of the game is probably even more addicting than the well known psychological mechanisms that are triggered by the loot-reward system.
Sooner or later we're all facing the choice: can I enjoy the game with the hours I'm able to put into it without actually sacrificing friends, family, job or my physical health (due to lack of sleep and exercise)? Or will it become too bleak?
For me playing the game without raiding at all seems quite impossible. If I had no other choice, due to RL obligations, but to play it for just a few hours a week, I'd rather drop WoW altogether. It would be too painful to see all the doors available in the game, leading to rooms I know I'd love to explore, but closed for me simply because of my lack of time.
On the other hand I really don't have to be raiding Sunwell to be happy in the game. I'm perfectly happy doing a little progress in T5 raid instances, learning to master ZA, getting regular challenges for my mage which force me to become a better player. I can satisfy my raid cravings by raiding twice a week - I don't have to do it five nights a week to be happy in the game.
Still I know I've got to watch out. I think it's easier than you believe to end up like Monique did if you're not careful. Once starting to make progress - personal in the guild - you may get blinded by the speed, becoming to greedy. One thing leads to next and suddenly you've ended up as a hardcore player though it never actually was your intention.
The risk of doing that - losing proportions, giving the game more of your time and engagement than you really want - is probably enhanced by the quite democratic structure of the WoW community. I think it's a bit different from the sports world. When it comes to football 99 percent of the population is totally happy playing for fun in a field near their home. They don't think for a second they'd ever get into the national football team. They play at their own level without reflecting about it. But in WoW the national team is much more available.
The other day I found myself chatting with a guy in the second best guild of our server. He spends five nights a week in Sunwell and god knows how many hours farming for consumables and repairs. We live in quite separate worlds - but not more separate than that we've pugged together a couple of times. We soon found that we really enjoyed discussing different aspects of the game - no matter that he was on a different level of it.
Likewise I can take part of the quite advanced discussions at Elitistjerks if I want to, learning from the absolute top click of players. I find it hard to believe that you could so easily get in touch with top players in football or any other kind of competitive activities as you can in WoW.
This availability may be a bit treacherous - it can lead into a path where you want to become one of them yourself - which may end up in disaster, like it did for Monique.
What's the solution to this? Well apart from watching out for your own part, maybe we should watch out a bit for those that we care about. Guildies and people on our friends list. If we see signs that they're obviously out of control - maybe we could try to tell them that - in a nice manner. I think it's easier to take that kind of advice or interference from someone who's in the game themselves than listening to non gamers who don't have a clue.
1 week ago