World of Warcraft: Online Therapy?

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World of Warcraft logo

Websites such as WOW_widow and GamerWidow serve to allow those who have lost friends and family to the addictive nature of World of Warcraft (and other MMO’s) to vent and find support. Real life horror stories of absent spouses and divorce are common on such sites. The existence of online support groups for the popular MMO speaks of one truth, World of Warcraft (WoW) is addictive.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Dr. Richard Graham is interested in combating WoW addiction by traveling to the very lands of Azeroth itself.

“Those effected don’t exhibit the same outward warning signs as most teenage anti-social behaviour issues do because they’re in their bedrooms most of the time, seemingly out of trouble. Because of this we can’t get through to them in the traditional educational environment or intrude on their actual bedrooms, we need to turn to the internet itself to tackle these problems.”

Those worried about random in-game therapy sessions need not worry.

“I think it’s already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn’t be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players,” said Dr Graham.”

The therapy begins this year.

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1985

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Flux1

“Years may seem so distant
Feels like a million miles
Troubles were nonexistent 1985.”

~ Roper, 1985

At the ripe old age of 28, I look back upon my childhood in the 1980’s with some measure of nostalgia. Family pictures show an era of bad hair, denim jackets, and Vision Streetwear skate shoes. As a kid I remember waking up every morning at 6 a.m. to watch my favorite cartoon shows. Thundercats, Voltron, and the Transformers ruled my morning television. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, however, was a show that was not welcomed in my parent’s home. (Retrospect shows I didn’t miss the poorly made action figures from the show.) Little to my knowledge the Cold War was still raging. Star Wars, Space Station Freedom, and other Reagan-era programs were in full swing. My world was simplified by the four walls of my families’ home. Life was good and yet reality was quietly pounding at the door. Troubles were nonexistent…

I would venture to guess that most of us look back upon our childhood as a time when life was good and summer would never end. Days spent making mud pies, building ramps, and combating the evil menace known as the opposite sex (parents didn’t count!). For others, the era of childhood was a time which couldn’t end any sooner. Family complications, fights at school, and personal freedom just couldn’t keep some of us from wishing to be grown up.

Flash forward to the present and where do we find ourselves? The protection of our parents has finally begun to wane and the world has started its assault. Mixed moral messages, important life decisions, and blatant consumerism tell us that we have to keep up with those around us. Money is everything. How hollow does that statement ring to you?

As I grow older I find that relationships with actual human beings are everything in life. More and more, age has caused me to experience the seemingly inhuman concepts of tragedy and death. My awareness of people suffering around me grows with age. This suffering has always been going on, even in the 80’s, but youth makes one oblivious to such things. Relationships, history, knowing and learning from others, these are the things that matter. Life is certainly a vapor.

The American way of life is fast paced and easy to get caught up in. Sometimes we need to step back and reevaluate our lives. No one will remember you for the promotion you received at work, the money earned over your lifetime, nor the glories and accolades you received while doing so. In the end, people will remember how you lived your everyday life. Where you nice? Generous? Mean? God-fearing? Friend? Neighbor? What legacy are you trying to lead/ leave? Thoughts to ponder.

Surf Report – 7/22/09

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Surf Report

Welcome to a Wednesday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

Came across this interesting post on the difference between a Teacher and an Exhorter. For those who do not speak Christian-ese, an Exhorter is one who ” urges, advises, or cautions earnestly.”

.: Life :

Just got back from a trip to the West Coast.

Looks like its going to be an amazing summer!

Looks like its going to be an amazing summer!

.: Gaming :

Pokemon Logo

3 Guys (Ages 25-28).

3 Games (Pokémon: Platinum, Diamond, and Pearl)

A Summer Filled with Pocket Monsters.

Join JohnnyBGamer.com as we explore what happens when guys in their 20’s engage in the world of Pokémon.

Wave SplinterAs of today’s date, the games have been handed out and the Pokémon experiment has begun! So far:

Bryan (Platinum):

Having almost played through Pokémon Diamond last year, I decided to see what changes have been made in Pokémon Platinum. So far I am really enjoying the revamped storyline.  Progression wise, I have just made it to Sandgem Town with my Turtwig named Revolver. Hopefully I will have time this week to challenge the gym leader.

Turtwig

Revolver - Stage One

Shooter McGavin (Diamond):

Thoughts of the game so far: the advantage I see, so far, over other RPGs is the ability to add more members to your group whenever you want, plus the hunt/ thrill of finding ones you haven’t yet. The only negative so fat is the annoying “trainers” who want to battle for stupid, made up reasons! Eg “don’t you love the aroma of the flowers? Smell this!” and a battle starts.

I think I’m finding a storyline 🙂 my “friend” is also annoying. His name is Bryan, in honor of the one who supplied the game 🙂 and he is always running ahead an not letting me catch up and hang out with him, what a spaz!

Chimchar

Shooter

Scotto (Pearl):

Has yet to enter the world of Pokémon.

wavesplinter

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

YMMO? (Part 5)

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So, at long last we reach what many consider the most obvious negative of MMOs, the pricing scheme. Seriously, who wants to pay $15 a month for a game roughly on par with one I pay $60 for once, get a years worth of distributed entertainment out of, but am “limited” to playing as a single player? Yep, that about does it for this argument, at least if someone else were arguing, I on the other hand see this pricing scheme quite differently.

Here’s the drip, if MMO pricing schemes were simply “pay me $15 a month for my game” it really wouldn’t be such a big deal, the suckers could pay and I would live in my happy little single player world, end of story. Alas, this is not how things truly are. You see MMOs are not all priced in this simple and straight forward way, the actual methods of pricing vary quite handily, with almost as many pricing solutions as MMOs (or MMO producers anyway…), but they all have one simple thing in common: fractional, or partial, content delivery. “Oh pish” you say, “I am playing a free MMO right now.” It is here that I point to that little “Shop!” icon hidden in the left hand corner where they expect you to go pay them somewhere between $5 and $60 dollars a month, or a year or whatever, to make your character look cool, or to give you that weapon that stands a chance of beating that boss, or whatever else they can convince you you need to fully enjoy the game. See, you don’t get the whole thing unless you pay. Now before you WoW-heads all go “But my MMO doesn’t do that.” I point to little things like the Burning Crusade and the fact that if you quit paying for a month, you do not play until you start paying again. Tricksy that. See the point here is, all MMOs are about handing you fractional content, whether it is asking you to pay for the cool accessories, or having you pay to keep playing from month to month, the idea of only giving you part of a game is the whole point. Many of you must be thinking “So what?” right now, am I right? Here’s what, the single player people have been looking at MMOs going “Those sly dogs, why didn’t we think of that?” and I will probably never be able to buy a complete game ever again. That’s right, your dirty pricing schemes are getting all over my single player games, and its all because MMOs made actual tangible amounts of money by selling you half a game. If you do not believe me, take a look at what most of the stuff on the Xbox Live store thing are, or the number of new single player games that are “episodic”, or even the much anticipated Spore which recently released a version of their Creature Creator as a demo, which you have to pay $10 for if you want it to have all the content unlocked. In my opinion, this pricing scheme is a scourge, a curse of the worst caliber, and due to Joe Schmoes inability to understand or care we will almost certainly never be rid of it.

Here I should end, but honestly if I ever actually listened to the voice in my head that tells me what I should do, I would probably not even be writing this so lets keep going shall we? After all, MMO pricing schemes hardly stop at money. That’s right, these buggers steal your time as well. I know what your thinking, “Its no more than any other video game.” Well guess what, you are wrong. Let me do this as “scientifically” as possible. An average modern game is somewhere between 20 and 60 hours, depending on how you play and what kind of game you play that varies a bit, and I like older games which stretches that range somewhat, but that is a decent average range. I tend to play on the slow end, and also tend to give up early unless I like the game, which means my single play average is maybe 40 hours per game. If I like a game, I usually finish twice, or maybe three times, meaning approximately 120 hours spent on the one game. If I really like it, the game may get a fourth or even fifth trip, for an approximate total of say 160 hours, or maybe 240 for a really long game. So all told, if I really like a game and its a bit long, it gets approximately a week and a half of my life. Conversely, my friend, who I will admit was a bit obsessed (but then so are most MMO players), was telling me about 6 months after he started playing WoW, or maybe a little less, that he had over a month of in game time. That is somewhere in the neighbor hood of 720 hours. On one game. And he was not even level 60 yet (this was before Burning Crusade…). Seriously, I could play like 3 games in there, 4 times each. What the crap, how am I supposed to play other games, have a social life, work a job, and still fit an MMO addiction in on the side? Here’s the secret, you are not. The MMOs want all your time. That’s really wrong in my opinion.

To demonstrate why this is wrong, lets make a simple ascertation: games are meant to be a brief escape from reality, a temporary entertainment. Now, lets examine 720 hours of playing one game, assuming that said game had been played for around 6 months, that’s approximately 24 weeks of playing the game. Now lets see, 720 divide by 24 makes for 30 hours a week of gameplay, on one game. Now lets assume that my friend was employed full time (he was not, but he was a full time student.), that would mean he is working 40 hours a week. Take out the realistic figure of 6 hours a sleep a night, or 42 hours a week, add it all together and you get 112 hours a week. Considering that a given week can only have 168, and that meals are taking around 2.5 to 3 hours a day, a total of 35 hours are left for doing anything else.

That is anything else, which means laundry, showering, brushing teeth, hanging with friends, anything at all would eat into that 35 hours. Heck, most of it was probably spent reading up on what he should be doing while he is logged into his MMO drug of choice. You see my point yet? The game literally became his life, and that was for a relatively low 30 hours per week. He got a whole lot worse before getting better here too, which means he was eventually spending almost 60 hours a week in game. That was more than a full time job. That really is a total inversion of the initial assertion, the game stopped being a brief escape somewhere around 20 hours a week, by the time he hit 60 hours a week the game was no longer a distraction, life was.

That, in a nutshell, is where my biggest problems with MMOs lie. There is nothing wrong with wanting escape, and even wanting it with friends, but when the escape takes over, financially and temporally, there are big problems. What is more, the way MMOs treat their players, with fractional content and cold shoulders, is starting to bleed into the games I wish to play and might find enjoyable, if it were not for the fact they are now only half a game.

Continue to Part 6