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 Hi, my name is Ron...    
 Dated:  Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 08:47 AM PST
 Viewed:  2,213 times  

...and I'm addicted to Warcraft.

"Hi, Ron"

It's been 24 hours since my last Warcraft game. I put it back in the box and packed it away when I realized I had lost control of the ability to push the "quit" button.

It was a day off to recover after a long week on-call. I thought I'd play for an hour in the morning, then shower and dress for lunch with a friend. Next thing I knew, wife was home for work and dinner was ready. I have little memory of the intervening time, except I appear to have finished about 1/3 of the game.

The game is clearly designed to keep you playing. In-game save is inconvenient. It's easier just to complete the mission. The completion of a mission gives you a score and then dumps you into the next mission. The flow of the game is designed to keep you immersed and playing.

Mind you, that's arguably what a game is supposed to do. But it's a bit of a shock when you look up and realize you've spent 7 hours nonstop in front of the computer and all you've done is play a game. If you're waiting for some clue that you ought to check the time, whether you've eaten, if a potty break might be in order, the game is not going to give it to you.

Dave Kellett, in his comic strip Sheldon, even warns of this.

The more I thought about it, the more appalled I became. I remember the deep sense of accomplishment in working out a winning strategy, learning the advanced commands, successfully managing the resources needed to win the game. But once away from the computer, I could see that it was all just bits on a screen. Not a skill useful in real life. Nothing to put on a resume, even if I got really really good at it.

So the disc goes back in the jewel case, the jewel case back in the box, and the box in the back of the filing cabinet. It's important to know one's limitations, and apparently mine is the inability to play Warcraft for a reasonable amount of time. Until I can set limits and adhere to them, the game will stay in the cabinet. I guess I'm an addict in recovery.

Update: I read recently that actress Felicia Day lost two years of her life to World of Warcraft, and wrote the web series The Guild to try to salvage something positive out of the experience. The series is worth watching. There is also a music video.

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