Remember those "Winners Don't Use Drugs" messages they would put in arcade games? I'm thinking the Feds wouldn't know what to do about World of Warcraft (WoW) today if that kind of thing was still around. My brother said to me the other day, "Hey, if you ever want to mess up your life, play WoW." It was the first time I'd talked to him in months. There's a good reason I've avoided the game all this time: I don't want to ruin my life. Now, this isn't to imply all WoW players have no lives or something, I'm sure there are some that balance out their playing with "RL", but I've seen the effects of how addictive it can be, and that's enough for me to stay away. This is how it all starts, folks:
Cam Shea over on IGN is a former WoW addict, and goes through the trials and tribulations of his experiences, offering help to those who can't seem to fight the addiction. Perhaps some lost soul will find his message while perusing the web for WoW information and see there is some hope left. He (I'm going to assume it's a he for the sake of ease) starts it off like this:
"The scourge of addiction; it consumes everything in its path – families, neighbourhoods, puppy dogs, bicycles, you name it. It's the ghastly boil on the face of humanity - a boil that's about to burst. Sure, humans have always found something to become addicted to, from the ancient Egyptians, who would smoke dried dung beetle for its soporific effects, through to the shamanic Chihuahua lickers of Mexico, but the times they are a changin'. You see, in recent years we've seen an alarming development. Drugs that were once regarded as the most destructive and addictive ever devised - cocaine and Evercrack, to name just two - now look nothing short of quaint when compared with the new 'super drugs' – crystal meth, triple-sod, clarky cat and World of Warcraft. It's a dangerous new world teetering on the brink of utter annihilation."
Someone needs to do a documentary in this style. The Anti-World of Warcraft Association (group) on Myspace might make for a good source.
Talking to some players about the addiction, Shea finds the social aspect is a big part of the reason it's so bad. Sounds a lot like smoking, actually. So his advice is to be an antisocial jerk:
"..if you have to play World of Warcraft, DON'T – UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – MAKE FRIENDS. Be as isolated as you can within the game, and respond aggressively to any players who try to speak to you. Not only will you be keeping personal addiction at bay, but you'll be doing your part to reduce other incidences of addiction within the game. Pissing off other players, after all, makes them less likely to have a good time, thereby they're less likely to become addicted."
The interviewees eventually broke the addiction, thanks to real-life committments outweighing the importance of the game and the realization it is in fact just a virtual world (or is it?). Writes Shea:
"The temptation to once again suckle at the teet of the dark mother that is World of Warcraft will never truly go away for either of these players, but at least they got out. For millions more – players hopelessly caught in the web of World of Warcraft, about to be devoured whole by the gigantic spider Blizzard – the future doesn't look as bright."
Just remember, players, WoW can't make you happy when you're blue (obligatory Simpsons reference). Godspeed, WoW players, godspeed.