The MMO shakes

ad·dic·tion [uhdik-shuhn] –noun
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

As a busy college senior, I’ve had hardly any time to play games. According to my mother, polishing my resume is a lot more important than getting Ana to lvl 70. Psh. So, I’ve been having what I fondly refer to as the “MMO Shakes.” Every time I boot up the laptop, my mouse hovers over the World of Warcraft icon. It’d be so easy to click…so easy. But no, I’ve got a 12 page paper on Henry James to complete. It’s true. MMOs are addictive. I’m going through withdrawals. Every time I see Kanthalos on his account I yearn to play. I weigh running a five man against finishing my portfolio. It’s so tempting.

Why?

MMOs give players near-instant gratification. Log on, step out of your own world and worries, and get absorbed in a new one. Easy.

I’ve found that it’s hard to step back OUT of the world though. It’s easy to log into WoW and say “I’ll get to my RL stuff later…” but logging out is that much harder for me when I’ve got a pile of chores and work waiting for me. It’s tempting to just stay in a world where Early Romantic Literature or Advanced Latin is hovering above my head. And no matter how good my intentions, I don’t give that work all the attention it deserves if I’m grumpy because I had to log off to do it. Maybe it’s just me, but I find MMOs to be highly addictive. No, not in a crack pipe sort of way, but in a way where it’s really easy to forget and push away RL obligations. I don’t get the night sweats and have to take a hit off of the ole’ Ironforge, but I do find myself wishing I was playing games instead of sitting through hours of class.

There is so much that could be said on MMOs and why people find them so easy to get into but so hard to quit. MMOs are psychologically pleasing if the game is doing it’s job. It takes your brain on a journey your body can’t, sends you to remote lands, gives you superhuman abilities, and puts you in touch with millions of others who enjoy the exact same thing. Running a new instance or a 40 man raid gives you such a high. I remember the first time my guild took down Oss. It was a rush like nothing else. To know that your efforts, harmonized with that of 19 others, were successful and necessary in completing a task is a great feeling. It’s not a feeling you get in daily life too often.

World of Warcraft, pre-expansion, was like Warcrack for me. I’d get home from classes, log on, and run a raid every night. If I went out with friends, I’d be thinking about what loot I had probably missed out on, and what content the guild had conquered without me there. It was a habit. My friends didn’t see much of me, my grades suffered, and my apartment began to resemble the pit of despair. So, I had to take a break. No, I wasn’t exactly like Cartman (“Mom! Bathroom!”) but it was bad.

As I’ve backed off of WoW more and more, things are coming into perspective for me. Yes, WoW and many MMOs are addictive (just ask Kanthalos about AC) but they are also a fun alternate universe to explore and conquer. They just need to be used in moderation, like all things in life. It’s hard for me not to log on when I know I’ve got things to do, but WoW is much more fun and rewarding when I do work first and THEN play.

~Anaktoria~

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