Wow: Addiction or Lifestyle?October 3, 2008
There has been a lot of news in the media recently about gaming addiction, particularly related to World of Warcraft. While I recognize gaming addiction is a real problem, I believe a lot of people mistake a lifestyle choice for an addiction.
One week consists of 168 hours. During a typical week I spend:
I still have 60 hours left. I typically:
After all these things are done how much time do I spend in WoW?
Approximately 40 hours per week.
If most people knew that I spend 40 hours each week inside a virtual world playing a video game they would be horrified. I would be hustled off to the nearest addiction clinic and heralded as a danger to myself and society.
Clearly, I maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. I am a hard working, responsible member of society. I am committed to continuing my education. I have regular social interaction with family and friends. Given all that, what does it matter how I choose to spend the rest of my free time?
I have friends who devote just as much time to scrapbooking, sports, music or watching television. Oddly enough, I have never yet heard someone express concern for these people.
But, Aleathea, those people have something to show for the time they invest in their hobbies. You don’t. Eventually the game will end and you will look back with regret at the years you wasted on this addiction.
Nothing to show for my time? Years wasted? Future regret? I challenge these common assumptions and offer the following for consideration:
What I have gained from World of Warcraft:
Having acted as co-GM of a raiding guild for almost two years, I can tell you that dealing with interpersonal conflict, motivating and training, communication and problem solving, working with a team – these are real challenges and the experience gained from dealing with these situations is every bit as real as any experience gained outside the game.
In World of Warcraft you have the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life across mutliple continents. How often do you get an opportunity like that in real life? Most of us in real life deal with the same circle of friends who live in the same geographic location and look at the world in much the same way. How much do we really learn when we interact with the same people day in and day out? In World of Warcraft I encounter individuals from diverse cultures who challenged my opinions, my beliefs, my perspective on life. Through their eyes I see the world in a new light and gain exposure to fresh insights that challenge and enrich me.
I am thinking specifically of this blog – something that has grown out of my in-game experience. Through the support and shared knowledge of the blogging community, I have learned how to build a blog, how to develop my writing style, and how to communicate more effectively. I have found a challenging and rewarding venue in which to develop my skills and a creative outlet in which to share my passion for writing. These skills translate directly into my real life and help me on the job and in my interactions with friends and family. Just today my boss called me over with a question about HTML – something I only learned about because of my blog.
Early on it became apparent that a guild website would be an asset to the guild. I had absolutely no experience with computers, but I wanted a website that would be high-quality. I went with a guild hosting company that provided the framework, but I had to set up a lot from the backend. I bought books on HTML, BBC, CCS, Web Hosting, Web Design … you name it. I learned everything I could and I used the knowledge to create a website the guild could be proud of. I gained confidence through the experience as I saw myself learning to do things I never would have imagined possible.
Wait, Aleathea, you aren’t going to say those on-line people you play with are real friends are you?
Yes, yes I am. I’ve written previously about the subject of on-line friendship, so I won’t go into detail here. Suffice it to say, if there were no other benefits, no other lessons learned, nothing else I gained from my time in WoW, the friendships alone would be more than enough.
If you want to call me a WoW addict, I won’t argue with you. It’s true I spend the majority of my free time in WoW. It’s true I have no plans to stop and would suffer emotional effects if I did. It’s true I devote much of my thoughts and energies in real life to WoW. But I don’t call it an addiction – I call it a lifestyle.
Is this lifestyle for everyone? No.
Is this lifestyle for me? Absolutely.