Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I get into work this fine morning, energy drink in hand, boot up my computer and start trolling my blog list.
Yeah, my job is hard.
Anyway, I see this interesting post over at WoW Insider that gets me thinking: what does it mean to be addicted to WoW? Does it entail playing WoW everyday, browsing EJ religiously, or writing a WoW-related blog? Uh oh.
But seriously, the article that the WoW Insider post is referring to states that "[a] recent report by Sweden’s Youth Care Foundation described World of Warcraft as “more addictive than crack cocaine.” Really? Crack cocaine? Give me a break; they only threw that in there to demonize the game and make it easier for news media sources to pick it up and make some blown-out-of-proportion story that seems to be way too stereotypical these days.
Connotations aside, I think everyone who has played WoW long enough can agree that it can be addicting. The game is built to be addicting, with Blizzard adding new content so fast that novice players always have things to do, while veterans burn through new content and eagerly wait for more. Rep grinds and dailies are two brilliant, money-making ideas that Blizzard has implemented in WoW that force people to play the game for protracted periods of time to accomplish a goal. Hell, shortcuts are punished; if you want those shiny epics, you have to work for them, and spend a lot of time in Blizzard's virtual environment.
"Recruit-a-Friend? Get another person into this game and we'll award you with a zebra-unicorn thing!!"
I love WoW; I love playing it, writing about it, joking about it with friends, reading about it. But I have had my fair share of too much WoW. I've taken entire semesters off of playing WoW to catch up with schoolwork and my social life. However, being a college student and trying to do something as disciplined as quitting WoW don't go well together.
Are the actions, or proposed actions, of these addiction therapists morally permissible? Assuming that they are trained to spot addictive behavior (which I sincerely hope that they are, being addiction therapists and all), would you appreciate a tell from 'Drfreudiscool' saying 'Hello, I've noticed you've been farming Sholazar for the past 3 days, would you like some help with your addiction?'
Quite frankly, I think it's a bit of an invasion of privacy. Gallivanting around on level 1's or whatever their plan is, seeking out people that play a lot, whispering them and telling them to stop playing and seek professional help seems to fall into the 'rude' category on my chart. In the following section, I'll look at each 'crowd' of potential WoW players and show how these groups are responsible for their addictions and what each can and should do to prevent or combat it.
1. Adults. A lot of people over the age of 25 play WoW, believe it or not. Being an adult carries with it the years of life experience that a person has... experienced. Little lessons learned along the way to maturity, things of that nature. Now, any adult within reason would, nay, should be able to recognize an addiction, whether it be WoW or otherwise.
Outside of reason? Well, any adult living outside of reason should already be seeking professional help, honestly. I mean, this is common sense stuff here. An alcoholic, a person who consumes so much alcohol on a daily basis to be in a seemingly permanent state of drunkenness, should recognize that their chosen lifestyle is not healthy and should seek help. In much the same way, an adult addicted to WoW should come to the same realization.
2. Young adults. I'm going to include 15-24 year olds in this category. While these individuals (myself being one of them at the ripe old age of 21) may not have all of the life experiences that adults have, it is reasonable to assume that they have some. However, even if they do not, there should be some authority figure overseeing these individuals, whether they be parents, legal guardians, roommates, etc. If the addictee cannot recognize their problem, a neutral third party such as the aforementioned authority figures definitely should.
What if young adults do not have such a figure? Well, if the individual is toward the upper end of the age bracket, they should be mature enough to be considered an adult and act accordingly (i.e. see previous section).
What if a young adult at the lower end of the bracket has no authority figure either? They shouldn't be playing the game, period. If a young person is growing up without parents, without older siblings, without legal guardians, they have enough on their plate already. Such an individual would probably be working full-time to pay for living expenses, perhaps going to school as well. These individuals are at a clear disadvantage compared to the rest of society and should not be wasting their time and money playing this game.
3. Children. Yes, I consider anyone under the age of 15 a child. Hey, I'm being lenient; the state says anyone under 18 is a child, so buck up kiddo. These individuals usually have little to no life experiences to base suspicions of an addiction off of.
Damnit, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Whatever.
Anyway, being so inexperienced, it falls to their guardians (parents, legal guardians, siblings) to recognize symptoms and confront the child accordingly. Hell, if you are in authority over the child, take their computer privileges away, or just uninstall the game. There may be some crying, but they'll get over it.
Again, if a child does not have such a guardian to perform this action, follow the motif of the previous section.
Therefore, given the above to be true, addiction therapists in-game serve only to harm the player's dignity and, potentially, drive players away. I mean, would you want to play a game where people are telling you to stop playing it, and to believe them because they're professionals? I don't care what degree you may have, I'm playing this game because I find it an enjoyable allocation of my free time.
TL;DR version: Addiction therapists in-game are a terrible idea and Blizzard should not endorse or condone this type of behavior, as it could be considered harassment.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment. Just make it coherent.