As I’ve mentioned before I was a fairly heavy addict of Blizzard Entertainment’s World Of Warcraft for a good long time. I would say that it amazes me that a game can be so addictive but my inner pedant makes a correction: I am surprised that I find the game so addictive, but I’m not surprised it’s possible. World of Warcraft had everquest to study as it’s main predecessor. It learnt the monetary value of player addiction and it crafted itself to enhance this effect.

The problem with WoW addiction is that it’s not inherently evil. In order to be addictive World of Warcraft has to be a very well made game, it needs to be constantly expanding and it needs to provide quality service to it’s customers. All of which it does brilliantly. It’s material/capital cost is, in real world terms, negligable. As far as player satisfaction, enjoyment, gameplay time, content etc. World of Warcraft is the best deal in the entire video games industry at the moment. In a time where video games are becoming more technologically impressive but lacking in gameplay and content, World of Warcraft is the oasis in the desert.

This of course sounds too good to be true. When things are too good to be true, they usually aren’t. They’re plagued by some dark secret that ballances out all their good points. Humans like this. They like things that are ballanced. However with World of Warcraft it’s catch is that there isn’t one. There isn’t really a reason to stop playing. Thus one keeps playing, and then when one finds that in the world of earth and flesh there are such ballancing factors, one seeks to go back to the wonderful experience of the World of Warcraft.
It’s like slow release heroin. Sure the game has faults, updates unballance a class, it’s graphics engine starts to age (not that that matters in a game with such a brilliant, striking visual style) and you have bad experiences in game (wiping in a dungeon, failing a quest chain, getting the tar repeatedly beaten out of you) but ultimately you’re having fun, and lots of it, for a very reasonable price. But you’re not doing anything. No amount of in-game achievements ever amount to anything in the real world. Your approximate 80 years is ticking by and you’re spending it getting dopamine off killing a high-poly dragon. It’s like building a mighty utopian empire and then waking up to realise it was all a dream.

These are the thoughts that recognise the addiction as a bad thing. It’s a natural reaction, one pre-determined by evolution and natural selection. We want to achieve things so that our legacy will live on. Evolution is, in this case, right. If one achieves NOTHING, then one cannot afford such niceties as internet, World of Warcraft and food. What is more, if one has any hopes, dreams or desire to be respected by fellow humans, some kind of output is needed. These are the reasons I don’t play. These are the reasons I resist the urge to wander back to my undead mage, exploring the vast and colourful world of Azeroth, completing quests, meeting virtual people and forging and identity in a world that is both static and dynamic like a beautiful optical illusion.

But ponder this: If one is able to overcome one’s evolutionary drives and is happy to recognise all human endeavour as folly in the face of a universe doomed to eventual heat death, one has no reason not to indulge in an amazingly well crafted fantasy world. Is the one who chooses to continue dreaming, the wisest of us all? This is the question I ask myself. For me, for the moment, the price is too high. Thats why you find me here in the world of earth and flesh, wires and wind.


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