Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happily building my sandcastle

Last week I wrote a silly little post about my troubles in choosing the right pet. I had a ton of comments for some reason – I don’t seem to be the only one, even though most players seem to let a randomizing addon handle it.

One of the comments however was a bit different from the others. A guy called “Ron” wrote a response, which he for some reason expected to be deleted (of course it wasn’t, I’m quite liberal about the discussions we run here), where he shared some of his pain in trying to free himself from the WoW. Ron thought that WoW occupied too much of his life, not only while playing, but outside of it, since he found himself constantly thinking about it, and he saw no other way out of it than to quit in a “cold turkey” way.

Preaching the truth
All this is fine with me. I fully respect for people who have problems to find the RL-gaming balance and therefore have to quit, often with a feeling of big loss and with “withdrawal” symptoms that causes them pain. I don’t belittle Ron and other ex-players who obviously are struggling. However I do have a problem when ex-players start to preach to the gaming community, trying to make them see the same “truth” as they do.

Now Ron isn’t the worst kind of preacher, he’s very reasonable and modest, so if you read this Ron, forgive me for picking you as an example. As a matter of fact I’ve seen much more fanatic anti-WoW-playing forum posts out there, posts full of hatred and despise, which I like many other active players mostly choose to ignore. But let’s say that your comments were an inspiration for me to this post, which will deal with some thoughts that have been bothering me for a while.

Where does it come from, this urge that some ex-gamers have to tell the people who still play that they’ve lost their mind and are wasting their life? Actually I think it’s got to do with the fact that those people are still fighting a hard, long and violent internal war. Their audience isn’t the gaming community. They’re just speaking to themselves. They still long back and they’ve got to do everything they can to convince themselves not to return to the game.

A waste of time?
Yet I think their general assumptions needs to be considered and discussed every once in a while and not just dismissed as poor attacks from WoW-hating people with prejudices. And that’s what I’m intending to do.

One of the most common arguments used is that WoW-playing is a “waste of time”, especially since you strictly speaking don’t “own” your character – Blizzard does – and since everything you’ve achieved in gear and fame is “wiped out” at expansion resests. (And as if that isn’t enough it’s all just pixels and therefore useless.)

The way Ron puts it is quite typical:

“In the end, when you spend too much time on this, the game ends up a black hole. Nothing you do in this game matters in the end, and it is even worse than most hobbies, where you might get healthier, or make connections, or create works of art, or learn a musical skill, anything that stays with you past the next expansion. In WoW, all you hard work, all your effort, equates to nearly zero when the next expansion comes out. And it is not like a 2 hour per day TV habit. You don't think and blog and research stuff about TV shows when you are not watching them.When I think of the time I gave to this game, I get scared inside, thinking of the opportunity costs.”
Other subcultures
I disagreed with Ron in several ways, which I also wrote in a couple of answers to him. One of my objections was that there are subcultures for anything you could think of. Including TV-shows. There are Star Trek fanatics, there are model railway collecting fans, there are people who devote every single free hour of their life to knitting patterns. And the most dedicated knitters think about knitting not only when they’re actually knitting, but at other times as well. It is possible that there are more WoW players who devote a lot of time to their hobby if you compare it to other hobbies. But that doesn’t make them to lost souls and helpless addicts.

I also argued against the statement that the playing doesn’t give you anything. It obviously didn’t give Ron anything valuable, but that isn’t true for everyone. During the two years I’ve been playing I’ve gathered tons of memories of friendships, of struggles, of victories. I’ve learned things about myself – how I act in a group, how I perform under pressure, about making goals and working against them. Through my blogging I’ve rediscovered my lust for writing and improved my English a little bit. I’ve freed myself from the stereotypes of what a 40 year old woman is supposed to do in her free time. I’ve overcome some prejudices I had about myself and about the gaming community.

I agree that my playing sometimes has put a strain on the relations I have to my family; however this has probably been for good. It was about time I started to free myself a bit and find a corner of the world where I see it from my own perspective, without any predefined roles that I’m expected to play. I have no regrets at all. And I certainly don’t see the big difference to WoW than to other hobbies, how learning to play an instrument could be more “useful” than learning how to play a mage excellently

Need of justification
These were my first objections to Ron, but I couldn’t let go of it after writing my comments. A vague feeling was nagging in the back of my head and finally I’ve become able to vocalize it.

What I realized was that it doesn’t make sense, this instinct I have to have to justify my playing by finding up all sorts of good effects from it. Why should I? There are a lot of human activities which we engage into without any other purpose than for pleasure. We’re living in a time where most people in the western world have the luxury not having to fight every day for their immediate survival. We have free time to spend.

The only person I know that constantly speaks about being productive and always getting rewards from things is Gevlon. But who else? Hands up, how many of you spend every single moment of the day, when you’re not tendering to physical needs (sleeping, eating) or earning money for the same reason, doing “useful” things, working voluntary to help sick people or saving the environment? Not many, I think. And if you did live your life that way, without any pause for total relaxation, I don’t think you’d last very long before you felt pretty much worn out, void of energy.

The sandcastle
There are a lot of things in life that we do just for fun. We make love, not necessarily in order to conceive children, we see friends just because we like each others company, we read fantasy novels, we paint pictures and we listen to music.

I suddenly got an image in my head, which I couldn’t rid myself of. It was the image of me building a sandcastle in the waterline by the sea. We make those constructions with the full knowledge that it will be “wasted work”. If you’re lucky it may stand up for an hour, at the most. But the result isn’t what interests you when you build it. You build it because you love the feeling of the wet sand in your hands, because you enjoy seeing the image in your head getting alive, however shortly. It will be washed away by the water, but that doesn’t matter. No one can ever steal your memories of that lovely afternoon by the sea when you and a friend enjoyed yourself building a sandcastle.

In WoW we build our sandcastles too. Guilds are born and flourish and succumb. We form our characters, we invent a role playing scenario, we develop master plans how to defeat the biggest dragon ever and we train ourselves in the art of duelling. It’s all fragile. It’s all sand. It will all vanish the day Blizzard turns off the last server. But that doesn’t make it less valuable.

Blade Runner scene
Another image which keeps coming back to me is one of the last scenes of my favourite SF movie Blade Runner, the one where one of the dying androids says his final words as the rain pours down:
“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time. Time to die.“
I will never be able to explain to my mother or anyone else I know how happy I was the other day when we killed Sartharion with one drake up for the first time. I’ll never be able to make her see what I see and feel when I take my fishing pole and sit down by the river in Grizzly hill, listening to the music, watching the bears passing by. I know this maybe isn’t as grandiose as to make real space travels, but my point is that we have no reason and no right to define what a “real life” is and mercilessly judge people who see the world through other eyes and don’t fit into the norm.

I’m happily building my sandcastle in Azeroth. I don’t know for how long I’ll keep doing it. Eventually I’ll probably want to do something else. Draw a picture. Watch the stars. Pick a bouquet of flowers. Who knows? Life is full of adventures. But right now it’s WoW. And there’s no reason why I should have to justify it – neither for myself, nor for others.

35 comments:

Pixelated Executioner said...

I totally agree with you, Larisa. Everyone is going to take away something different from the game. For me, I have friends in the game that I've met face to face, people that have impacted my life quite a bit.

I have re-evaluated myself as a person, learned more about myself as a leader, as a follower, as part of the crowd, as an independent thinker...

I wouldn't give it up for the world, and I would never, ever look back at my time spent with regret.

In a way, I feel bad for Ron; if there is ANYTHING that you have ever done in your life that you can't take something away from it, then it truly is time wasted.

Faulsey said...

Where he says you don't blog or think about TV shows (and the other things he listed) when you aren't doing that activity, I have to disagree.

How often do people talk about games, or TV, or sports with their friends? There's nothing to gain from talking about such things, except the enjoyment of doing so with your friends - and what's so wrong with that?

Blogging about WoW is exactly the same - we blog because we enjoy it, and because we enjoy discussing our hobby with people who share it.

And with regards to thinking about activies when you aren't doing them, you certainly do. You think back on what you saw at the cinema yesterday, on how your team did in football.

In that respect, WoW is just the same as any other hobby.

DeftyJames said...

See, this is why I like you. I agree completely. I don't know if you have them in Europe but in America we have these: http://www.kidsturncentral.com/topics/science/bubbles.htm

I remember fondly blowing bubbles as a kid. I can't think of anything more ephemeral then these bubbles. But they were such great fun. And so this is the image I use; I am a little kid playing with bubbles. And what is so wrong with that?

As a trained economist, I understand the concept of opportunity cost. But not everything in life can be summed up by the almighty dollar or Euro. Is there a serious side to life, sure their is. But there is a silly and fun side to life too. And when I think of losing that, "I get scared inside, thinking of the opportunity costs."

DeftyJames said...

@Pixelated Executioner.

I don't believe it is possible to waste time. The great American educational philosopher John Dewey wrote, "Perhaps the greatest of all pedagogical fallacies is the notion that a person only learns the particular thing he is studying at the time."

Sometimes it has taken me years to understand what I was supposed to learn from an experience. But life has taught me that I always learn something from it, and usually not, as Dewey points, what I think I was supposed to be learning.

gnomeaggedon.net said...

I think one thing that people forget is that while there are a percentage of people that get caught up in WoW (or other recreational pursuit) to the extreme that it becomes all consuming, the reality is like all things it is a bell curve.

Some will do it 99% of the time, some will do it 1% of the time, and the rest of us will be somewhere in between.

Yes it can become invasive, and ultimately then it comes down to individual maturity (to step out/cut down for a bit) or peer assistance.

The majority of people will always have a mixed, if not necessarily balanced life. Most players I know are holding down jobs, playing sports, raising kids etc. Their life is diverse.

Sure when they get together, they leave their non-playing partners while they huddle with like minded friends... but then have you ever made the mistake of going to a friends house when an important sporting even is on (that you aren't interested in)?

Anyway... great posts as always!

Syrana said...

I enjoyed your post. Certainly, WoW (and gaming in general) is a hobby like any other and should not be thought of anything less. As another commenter pointed out - hobbies can be taken to the extreme, no matter what they are. (People have called in sick to work in order to go fishing, for example).

It's truly about balance and enjoying it for what it is. It is very sad to hear that he felt it was a complete waste of time, but that doesn't mean he can tell everyone else who still plays that it is a waste of time and try to convert them to non-WoWers.

And yes... I think I do a fair amount of seeking info and/or talking about other hobbies as well when I am not currently doing them.

And I really feel bad that he talked about what a waste WoW and related activities are... came and read your blog... then commented. I certainly don't feel reading your posts are a waste of time. :)

Klepsacovic said...

I have a longer response on my blag, so as not to clutter yours with excessive rambling. :)

I play a lot now. I used to play even more, at the cost of friendships and grades. Then I gradually found a new life which was more important to me and naturally my play time went down, along with the relative importance of such time. WoW did not change, I did, so obviously WoW is not the true issue here, it is me, the individual and how I react to certain worlds.

Blaming WoW is setting yourself up for something else. Figure out yourself. I don't mean to place blame; I despise the type of person that pretends that everything is a perfectly free choice and that anything less than perfection is due to intentionally bad choices. Instead I mean to understand yourself. If WoW is bad for you, figure out why, if not, you'll be unprepared for the next (idea, concept, reality?)

thedoctor said...

I really enjoyed your post, especially the analogies.

Just an fyi =P

Gevlon said...

Larísa, you wrote yesterday that you are surprised about the size of your audience considering the "fact" that you provide no useful information.

I think posts like this are much more useful than the ones about spell rotation or perfect Sartharion strategy.

I'll write a whole post about it tomorrow.

Esdras said...

Lovelly blog today BTW.

My partner used to say i played the game too much and would preach at me so i got her an accounr and got her in the guild to see what it was like.

She met one of her best friends who is not in the guild as well that day when they were both lvl 3 priest humans and grouped as 2 noobs to quests.

Kath her friend her partner Ali also plays and they have both joined our guild we are in.

When she dinged 70 and still in greens and blues we took her to High King Maulgar in Gruul as we were desperate for a healer and had been trying him for about a month to no avail.

When we downed him third attempt that night and teamspeak erupted with utter joy and well dones of about 30+ people she realised the social and friend value of the game.

We both stiull play the game but i think in moderation as we dont play every night i play about 5 sometimes 6 nights a week but she only plays about 3/4.

If she is on the internet or facebook etc she will log into TS for a chat and a laugh though.

pugnaciouspriest said...

grats - its been an enjoyable read, and I hope you keep it up :)

pugnaciouspriest said...

opps.. that should have been for the previous post :)

Tessy said...

This is something I think about a lot too - how much playing is too much, and what could I do instead with all the time I spend playing and blogging and reading blogs.

But I am not sure I want to do anything else for now - like you, I am happy building my sandcastle, interacting with the people I meet in-game and not to forget fiddling about with my blog :-)

I have had guildies though who have spent all their waking time online, even though they often were bored and listless in-game they still kept playing, basically because they didn't know what else to do with their lives.

And they would stubbornly refuse to realise that they were responsible for their own lives, noone was gonna come hand them a fun and exciting life on a platter as they were sitting in their dark basements complaining that they had nothing to do!

*vlad* said...

I don't see other leisure activites as being any more 'worthy' than playing a computer game.

I used to follow my football team home and away, no matter how good or bad they were. I was 'loyal', and would follow them 'til I die'

Now how many of those matches did I really enjoy?
Maybe 30-40% if I was lucky, and yet travelling to matches used to take up so much of my free time, and the cost to buy a ticket(especially these days) is extortionate.

Ok, so how about a friend of mine that simply goes to the pub 3 or 4 times a week, and spends his evening drinking alcohol?

Whatever activities we do, we do them to enjoy ourselves. Why worry about whether they are 'worthy' or not?

I spend enough hours a week commuting and doing a job I don't like; when I'm finally at home and can relax, I want to do something I enjoy, and not have to justify myself to other people's views of what is good or bad for me.

*vlad* said...

A quick comment on Bladerunner.

Roy's speech at the end of the film was not originally in the script, but was an 'ad-lib' from Rutger Hauer.
It is one of the great moments in the film, but it is against the basic tenet of the original story, which was that the Replicants had no feelings towards anyone else but themselves.

Hence in the book and the film, the test that you see being conducted by Deckert and the guy at the start of the film, is designed to identify replicants by their inability to sympathise or empathise with other people or creatures.
'You see a turtle on its back, it is helpless, it will die in the sun. What do you do?'
The replicant obviously has no interest in turning the turtle back over; it gains no benefit from doing so.
A human may or may not do so, but by asking enough of these types of questions, sooner or later the replicant can be found.

Dechion said...

Nicely put. I can almost see the sandcastly I have build over the last couple of years.

Ron said...

It's not that I did not have fun or cannot take anything away from having played the game. It's just that in restrospect, it was not worth it.

I think those of you who think nothing of 20 to 40 hours per week playing WoW are just not properly calculating the opportunity cost.

And look, I am mostly just speaking for myself, but I suspect I am not alone, and I am genuinely curious if it is even possible to play the game casually.

The game is set up as an alternative life, and I would end up living in a bit of a haze. I was worried about improving my character, while neglecting my real life character. And the whole game is designed about improving your avatar, much in the way people try to improve their own lives constantly, and there the conflict forms.

I could not focus on improving both. "A man can only serve one master," as they say, and I chose my real person over the avatar.

Also, I may be in a different situation that most people, and it really rammed it home for me. I run my own business, and so there is a virtually infinite number of ways for me to try to improve that, which I normally try to do. But when playing the game, I would not focus on that so much. I would be thinking about the next raid, or whatever. I suppose in a regular job, when you do not have so much to think about when you get home, it may be easier to have a thought-consuming hobby like WoW, but in my position, it was simply unworkable.

And a comment on the TV show comparison. Look, I know some people take TV shows to the extreme, but most people don't, and I don't. TC shows are not designed as an alternative life where you are trying to build something for yourself, so they generally do not grab you that way. Sure, even I have browsed Lost (on ABC) forums, but really it's nothing like WoW.

Anyway, those of you who spend 10 hour per week on this game and do not give it much thought outside of that, you are better people than I. It does not work that way for me, and if there is someone else out there like me, I hope you are encouraged by my actions. Good luck.

Ron said...

Oh, one more thing, the sandcastle analogy is spot on. A lot of effort spent on something washed away by the next tide. Nothing wrong with sandcastles. You spend a few hours or a full day on one, maybe take a photo, feel good about yourself and move on.

Now, would you spend a /played 200 days on a sandcastle? I wouldn't.

kyrilean said...

Anything can be taken to an extreme.

@ Ron - Have you ever stopped to think that we are calculating the opportunity cost, it's just our opportunity cost is different than yours. Unfortunately your cost was too high. Perhaps it wasn't at one point, but now it is.

I'll tell you one thing that the opportunity cost a year ago for me was a lot less than it is now as can be seen by some of my more recent posts.

Leah said...

Larissa, you are a very wise woman.

and thank you for mentioning knitting - as an avid knitter I can get behind your analogy completely. us knitters can get very serious about our hobby :) we mee with other knitters we buy books, we research other projects, we scribble ideas of paper napkins while out having dinner, we watch (or make) knitting videos, we redo the same section of a project over and over, untill its just right (its absolutely normal for a knitter to unraveler hours worth of work becasue there's a mistake that they made - to fix it and redo everything they just unraveled) while some of the things we knit might be useful, other are done becasue we can, becasue we enjoy the process, find it soothing, becasue its just fun.

to Ron and opportunity costs. regrets are the most unproductive emotions in this life. regrets suit not purpose other then to make you feel bad about your choices. regrets are the ultimate in opportunity lost.

every experience we have in this life, even the tiniest one is an opportunity for growth, opportunity to learn something even if its merely learning about what makes you feel good (like blowing bubbles). no time is ever wasted, unless you regret investing it.

Jess said...

I agree with a lot of what you've said. It's made me wonder, sometimes - am I 'wasting' the hours I spend playing WoW, because I don't have any finished product I can show at the end - but it makes me happy, and I don't see that there's anything wrong with spending time on something that makes you happy. And I've done and seen some pretty incredible things in the WoW world - that it's the same as reading a great book or watching a fun movie, just a lot more interactive.

Larísa said...

Thank you all for those interesting, well written comments. I'd never imagined such a discussion would follow on this rant!

@Pixelated Executioner:
When you think about it that way I’ve indeed wasted a lot of time on a LOT of things. Attending boring meetings leading to absolutely nothing, just because I’m expected to, where the whole idea seems to be to let the time pass. Sitting in a car queue. Absentmindedly watching some stupid tv-show that you’ve forgotten about as soon as it’s over… Yeah. There are a lot of time sinks in this world.

@Faulsey: actually I think my blogging sometimes is more fun than the game itself. We need the game to blog about, but I definitely enjoy the game more because I blog about it. The enjoyment isn’t the same if you don’t share it with someone.

@DeftyJames: Oh, I ADORE bubbles too! It’s the same as with sandcastles. It’s beautiful and fun without any other purpose and it’s all gone in an instant. I love it and as you I actually think many people need more of that in their lives.

I’ve never heard about Dewey before, but he’s absolutely right. You learn things in the most unexpected ways – not necessarily in school, rather the opposite.

@Gnomeaggedon: Yes, there definitely is a bell curve for everything. However it seems like the bell curve for WoW is more frightening to people than the bell curve for other activities. And I don’t know why. Has it got to do with some old, instinctive fear we nourish for “machines” and computers? When I grew up we sort of pictured the world turning into one big single computer controlling our lives (well unless it would be blown up by the World War 3 ofc). There could be some sort of subconscious connection.

@Syrana: Oh yes, during some major sport events, like world championships in soccer and the Olympics, there certainly are a lot of people suddenly becoming “sick”. And that is never considered a huge problem or a waste of time.

@Klesacovic: I loved your blog post!
And yes: I think WoW is not the problem in itself. If you escape into the game and use it as a painkiller or drug, it’s rather a symptom and you have to figure out what your real problem is and try to make something about it.

@Thedoctor: thank you!

@Gevlon: looking forward to read that.

@Esdras: You’re really lucky to have a playing partner. That certainly makes family relations a lot easier and won’t make your playing into a big problem to others. Which it actually can be, I don’t pretend otherwise. Very few people live in a vacuum and are totally free to decide for themselves.

@Pugnaciouspriest: No problem, I understood. And thanks!

@Tessy: THAT is a sad story. When people play without having any fun. The tired discussions in general/trade where people who apparently are extremely bored seem just to try to make time pass. You sometimes meet people who are utterly unhappy – not just in real life, but in the game. I don’t judge them. I don’t preach to them. But there are times when I feel sorry about them.
@Vlad: I think some people are born to be a bit more committed to hobbies than others. I’ve had other hobbies before. And I’ve always put my heart into it. It really makes it more fun and interesting than following it at a distant with a cool, distracted mind.

About the speech: I didn’t remember it wasn’t in the short story by Dick (it was over 20 years since I read it, so I may be forgiven.) But yes, you’re right, it is taken out of the context a little. Still I love that scene and the speech. There’s something so touching in it and those lines catch what I love about science fiction/fantasy.

@Dechion: thanks!

@Ron: I must admit that I don’t spend 10 hours a week on the game. It probably adds up to 15-20. Online. And then there’s some blogging as well. That is a lot and I probably should cut it down a bit. I used to go to the gym several times a week and I’ve been a bit lazy about that recently. I need to be more disciplined and stick to my other activities that I need for a good balance in life. Still there have been other periods in my life, long before WoW, when I’ve dropped away from exercising as well. My laziness is the major problem, not WoW in itself, it’s rather an excuse.

I think you’re right about that it may be harder to be disciplined if you run your own business. I can imagine it’s pretty tempting to play when you should be doing other things. If you have a normal job you just can’t do that. So yes, I can understand that it’s hard to make it work.

But in the end it all also boils down to the question what you mean by a good life. Why is it so important to become wealthy, a successful businessman? How do you value a big house, a fancy car, expensive habits and so on? Is that what you think will make you a happy man? I’ve seen many wealthy people, obsessed with their careers, who have been utterly unhappy with everything in life, on the verge of suicide. And I’ve seen players who hare “failures” in the eyes of society, living on small incomes and yet very content with the lives they’re living.

There’s more in life than material rewards.

@Leah: Oh, I’d better stay away from knitting! It sounds treacherous and I’d probably get stuck. :)

And I agree about the importance of not growing bitter and walking around regretting times you spend on certain things at certain times of your life. Regretting instead of learning is the real waste of time.

@Jess: Yes, to me WoW is most of the time a much more interesting experience than movie watching or reading, thanks to the interactivity. I wonder how things will be in 100 years. I suspect the concept of “entertainment” will have changed quite a bit to what it is today.

Dw-redux said...

First off, another great post Larisa, and I agree with Gevlon, that theese kinds of posts are very important.
Secondly Ron, Im going to use you as an example, I dont know you this is just an example:

I have a couple of friends who have stopped playing WoW, whenever we meet or chat they sometimes ask me how the game is, anything new, anything different, are the new bosses fun?? ect ect. Some of them dont care at all. Theese are people who has stopped playing.
Then there are people like Ron. Who has convinced themselves that they have stopped, and that WoW is more than a fun hobby. A lifeconsuming entity that is set out to destroy them. They spend their time on WoW forums telling people to a) start playing X instead, of b) stop playing, you are wasting your life away.
The weird thing about the last type of people is that they now seem to spend much more time concerned about WoW, posting about WoW replying to posts about WoW, on offical forums, in blogs and so on.
They have not stopped playing, and are not gaining anything. I feel sad about theese people. Sort of the same sadness i feel for those who stand on street corners spending their days handing out pamphlets for whatever religious/cultish organization they have been sucked into.

...Hope you dont take offense, like i said this is just the catagory you seem to have fallen into.

Ron said...

DW-Redux, you really mis-characterized me. I am not making WoW into a demon - I admit that the weakness is mine. I am not telling anyone else to stop playing. I was relaying my experiences with the game, the negative effects that my game-playing had on my life, and what I did about it.

I am sure that for many people, such as yourself, WoW has little to no negative impact on your life, and you are able to juggle life's responsibilities and non-WoW joys in balance with your gameplaying. I was not able to do that. My post does not apply to you, then.

oriniwen said...

Any activity can become a "problem."

I knew someone who was an avid quilter. And at the very least we can agree that quilting in the end creates something useful - a warm blankie, so it is all told more "productive" than video gaming or say being a really hard core fan of your local sports team.

My friend was so into quilting she quit her job, sold almost everything she had and devoted 100% of her timeto quilting.I couldn't even reach her on the phone sometimes, she was so into it. She did all this with the intent of creating a quilting business, but it's not that hard to look at some of the top guilds in WoW ans see that they are in the WoW business, so the analogy holds.

If someone you knew quit their job, liquidated their assests and put all their time and effort into being the best WoW player they could be, you'd call in the men with the white truck to take them away. For whatever reason (media hype, lingering childhood memories), video games are a boogey man. They steal our minds, make us violent automatons and are consuming all of our leisure time -time that should be spent elsewhere.

My point is this - *any* activity can overwhelm your life. We're biologically wired to continue repeating pleasureable activities, and that subroutine can push us over the edge into true addiction. My criteria (by no means backed by any scientific research but my own life observations) is to ask myself two questions:

1. Am I neglecting basic body needs(eating, bathing, shower, moving) to do this activity?

2. Am I doing this activity even though I don't want to?

If the answer to either of those are yes, then in my personal definition, the activity has become a 'problem.' As worthwhile as the activity - quilting, video games, working out, gardening, bloggin - may be, if you're answering 'yes' to those questions, you need to re-evaluate the role that the activity has in your life.

At least, that's my two copper.

Ixobelle said...

...and not too long ago I seem to remember you telling me you weren't creative.

beautifully put. nuff said.

Larísa said...

@Dw-redux: actually I think there are people who get addicted to be ex-wow-players talking about addiction. I guess if you have an addictive personality you always get into something. It's a short step from being addicted to WoW to become addicted to the Anti-Wow-movement. This said I'm not sure Ron is one of those. I don't think so. I think he's seems like a quite reasonable guy.

@Ron: yeah. You have to forgive us for using you as an example, but actually this is the first time I get a visit on the blog from a person who have something against WoW. You become a symbol for a whole movement, where there are some people who really have declared war against people like me. Which doesn't make sense.
I understand you're talking about yourself, but still you're sort of arguing, aren't you. Anyway. I like you. /hug

@Oriniwen: actually I never could imagagine someone could get so obsessed with quilting, but now that you say it... Thank you for your two cents. You put it very well.

@Ixobelle: thanks.

And a final word to all of you who read domments: in Twisted Nether episode 33 (Link to TN is down to the right at this blog) Bre comments on this blogpost and makes comparsions to buddism. She has some very interesting points to add, things I never brought up, so please don't miss to listen to it!

Billy Wallace said...

I have to admit that I started to feel pangs of worry reading Ron's quote. Maybe I'm wasting my time. But your analogy of a sandcastle completely put me at ease. I went on a cruise last year with my wife. We built a sandcastle on the beach. We watched the waves come in and destroy it, but I will never forget that sandcastle, or the memories formed while building it.

Ale Picoli said...

I loved your post and the association of WoW with sandcastles. That´s what everyone who works with computers (as I do) do, right? Most things I create on my daily job are intangible and untouchable. And my boss doesn´t says I´m wasting time and attention with that job.
...
"I´ve been outside. It´s overrated"

Josh said...

Thank you for letting me admire your sandcastles.

Ormolu said...

This is the best thing I've read today and I thank you. :) I had not seen your blog before today when it was linked on the wow_ladies community on LiveJournal.

I'll be linking it on my own blog, I hope you don't mind.

xoog said...

WoW so many comments! I almost wasn't going to post a comment of my own, but a part of me really wants ron to hear what I have to say. But first of all i'd like to say GREAT POST!

I know where ron is coming from, because at times I have felt like I just spend too much time on WoW too. It wasn't until I learned how to manage my time better that I realized that you can do everything you need to in your real life and still have time for a few hours of wow. For example, today I worked on my car ALL DAY and I am about to go and volunteer at my church for three hours. I will get home just in time to raid maylgos and three drake sartharion. I can have time for real life and wow in my day because I focus on one thing at a time. I am willing to bet that Ron was trying to PvP, PvE, level his professions,level his alts, get achievements and do everything there is to do in WoW all at once. There is not enough time in the day to do all of that. I am sure that if he spent 4 hours every day just focusing on one aspect of the game instead of trying to built 8 sand castles at once he would have a very different opinion about his time spent playing the game.

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Anonymous said...

As someone who really started playing WoW in patch 3.3, when things like the dungeon finder came into reality, very early quest mobs went yellow and casters didn't go oom in five seconds, I lacked a lot of the challenge that many players talk about either missing or remembering fondly. But I still have memories of really amazing things (amazing to me, at least) that I've done. Soloing Hogger at level 11, on a warlock, who had yet to do the voidwalker quest. The first time I stepped into warsong gulch and didn't get massacred (level 19, DoTs are fun). Going up 55-60 and 66-70 all in AV. Realizing, after a very swift leveling experience, that I had been using a spec not quite suited to leveling. And most recently, my guild one shotting six icc bosses in a row, including Saurfang who didn't even get off ONE mark of the fallen champion, and later Rotface who we had never done as a guild, and most of us had never done at all.

Say what the nay-sayers will, but I feel like I've achieved something that's as permanent as anything else. Sure, it'll end when Blizzard decides they're not making money off of WoW anymore. But all my achievements in real life are going to dissapear to, the minute I die. If I'm remembered, more often than specific accomplishments people will remember my personality. This is why, in WoW and in life, the feeling of success and accomplishment matter more than the true impact of an action. And this is why I play WoW.