Hey folks, Valkor here. My buddy Necross, brought up a good issue on addictions in MMORPGs, specifically World of Warcraft. This whole incident started when the world of Everquest was released onto the masses and people actually lost their jobs, girlfriends, pets because they could not pull themselves out this fantasy world and back into the real world. But the question is: are games like World Of Warcraft, addicting? My thoughts… yea they are.
I like Necross’s article. It’s short and too the point, a bit angry, but it basically says that “it’s just a game”. But for some people, they wish it could be so simple. And while his piece looks only at World of Warcraft, I’m gonna look at MMORPGs as a whole. Not only that I will one up Necross’s article and say yes these games are and can be addicting. My first online game was Unreal, but my first online roleplaying game was Asheron’s Call, from the guys at Turbine. You basically created a character and dropped him into this massive world where you quest for treasure and fame. Along the way you meet many real people, or the virtual personas of said people, and you can team up and quest together. Trust me group action far outweigh going solo. (Damn that sounded perverted.) But once I started playing, I was hooked and I’d be playing for hours. And when I was not playing the days would seem so damn long because I wanted to get home, jump right back into this world of fantasy and quest till the sun came up. It was a great romp and the stories I can tell, well only other MMORPG players would get. I can’t tell just anyone about my Lugian quest, or the quest for a pyreal sword, because they’d probably look at me like I lost my mind. Thankfully it never got to the point where I lost my job (came close) and that phase in my life passed because I was able to pull myself away from the game, which a lot of people seem to have trouble achieving.
But why are such games addicting? Well for starters MMORPG’s add a bit of a personal touch to the character because he or she is someone you customize from a pre-existing palate of shapes, colors, hair style, eye styles and so forth. If you play Sonic the Hedgehog and he dies in the game, you just press continue and you move on, but if you customize Sonic your way, adjust his fur color, style of sneakers, etc., basically adding a touch of you to his character, then things sorta change. You have an attachment to that character, because he or she is someone that you created that which is essentially you. So you do your damndest to try not to get your virtual you killed.
Another reason it’s addicting: Chatting is different. It used to be chatting was limited to a screen name that you made up and text across the screen. There’s just no way to convey an emotion in text, so no one knew for sure if what you say is serious or sarcasm. “LOL” “WTF” and “OMG” they sorta help, but they are still just words. Now with MMORPG’s you can convey emotion through your onscreen persona, which adds a bit more realism to the character, drawing you further into this world. An “LOL” is now acted out by your character through physical movemoment or a combination of movement and sound. You can cry, you can dance, you can sing, and you can actually see it as its happening.
Finally, you’re sucked into this fantasy world, on this adventure that you partake, rather than sitting on rails when you play games like Final Fantasy, or Dragon Warrior. You don’t follow the character, YOU are the character and the way you play the game is different then someone else’s way, because you can go about questing in any order you choose, or don’t quest at all. Just fight it out with monsters, earn experience, find treasure, it’s all you. And that’s the biggest draw. You’re not Cloud, or Chrono, it’s not their story, it’s yours. You create the character and you’re on the adventure. And you can be whoever you choose to be, however you be him or her. You don’t even have to be you, you can be someone else. Is it an escape from reality? YES! That’s the fucking point! It’s not real, it’s all made up. But it’s made up in a way that you can now partake in this world and yet you step out of it and continue with life as always. That is what I think makes MMORPG’s so addicting. I mean I am sure there are other points that I missed, but I think these are the main points.
Ultimately I never became a true MMORPG addict because I like having a job, making money and playing with women. But I think it’s great that I can kick back in the Val-cave and yes play some World of Warcraft to blow off some steam after a long stressful day, or as a reward for when I actually update the site. But for a lot of you out there, who have been fired, dump by their girlfriends, wives, boyfriends, husbands, what have you, or have been ousted by their family because you can’t pull themselves for a game, realize this… It’s just a game and eventually you gotta log out and face reality because unfortunately it will be there waiting for you.