Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My World of Warcraft Habit

In September Joi convinced me that I should play World of Warcraft (WoW), so I finally bought the game. For over a week I didn't open the box or even think about playing since I was so busy with homework. I finally installed it one Friday and after about two and a half hours got it up and running. By the time I'd created my character it was 2 a.m. and I was too tired to really start playing. All I knew about the game was that over 4 million people were playing, people spent hours logged in, and that I'd be paying a monthly fee. Because I was occupied with other things I could only play a few hours on the weekend when I had some free time. My first impressions of it weren't that great and I didn't think I'd be playing after the free one-month trial was over.

However, that all changed over the next couple months. I started playing more hours and would stay up late the next morning trying to learn more about the game. When I was browsing the internet I was looking at WoW websites for more info on the storyline, races, items, and abilities I encountered while playing. I even bought a six-button mouse so I could easily right-click and move my character around better, and got more memory so it wasn't so choppy.

That wasn't enough though. I was advancing in the game and getting to know other players, but real life was changing too. To have more game time I starting cutting out other things I liked to do. My television watching decreased to zero, I stopped watching DVDs that were coming in the mail, updating my blog, visiting websites that weren't in my newsreader, or checking my email. I was addicted to this game and was having fun.

A few weeks ago when the semester finished I had more free time to play WoW. My character was advancing to higher levels and was changing a lot in terms of skills, weapons, and armor. But the game didn't seem to change much. In October WoW was decorated for Halloween, complete with jack 'o lanterns and costumes. In December Wow was decorated for Christmas with lights and presents. When those holidays passed all of that went away and it was back to focusing solely on improving my character. Each new level was a repeat of the previous one; get more training, buy new equipment, and do more tasks that involved killing monsters.

I was getting bored with that and just wanted to talk to other people. But everybody else wanted to repeat the process until they reached the last level. To them, reaching that level was a beginning, to me it sounded like an ending and a release the monotony. Those who have reached the highest level continue to fight monsters in different places, but instead with lots of other players, *groan*.

I felt pretty depressed since I realized that I wasn't doing what I liked to do in real life anymore, and all the time and energy put into the game felt like a waste, an expensive waste. To make the game more fun I tried to do tasks (quests) that involved more than playing solo, and shared info about the game that others didn't know. This failed and probably upset other people who were sick of grouping with a lower level or didn't care to discuss the game as much.

I decided a few days ago that I should go back to what I liked doing and stop playing so much to improve my character. It's back to movies, television, instant messenger, reading, and whatever else pops into my head. I'm trying to refocus on my school work and hopefully find a better job. I'm not sure how much I'll play the game now, but I'm definitely going to play it less and different from how I was before.