More US Warcraft players than farmers

Next time President Bush tells you he's going to Crawford to be with "real Americans," remind him that there are more World of Warcraft players in the USA than there are farmers (though of course the two aren't mutually exclusive).
There are four times as many Americans living in urban than rural areas. There are four times as many people sucking back coffee in New York city alone than make a living farming. According to the Bureau of Labor, there are just as many people employed in Architecture and Engineering as farming, hell, 3 million people working in Computer and Mathematical jobs. But when one of these "What does America think about culture" pieces comes on, do I ever see a mid-30's software engineer onscreen bitching about having to download BitTorrents of "The IT Crowd"? Fuck and no.

Four million people in the US play World of Warcraft. And yet, do I ever hear:

ANDERSON: We stopped by the gates of Ogrimmar in Durotar, on the east coast of Kalimdor, where one local told us Hollywood just can't relate to the level-grinding life.

UNIDENTIFIED ORC: They've never been back here, questing Razormane or Drygulch Ravine, y'know ... or farming for Peacebloom and Silverleaf. They're out of touch.

No. No I do not.

Link (via Making Light)

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  1. And more people saw “Transformers” than farm in this country and yet you don’t see public policy guided by opinions over Optimus Prime.

    Warcraft players only meaningful contribution is making it easier for people who actually want to accomplish things with their lives to do so. Every Orc, Dwarf or Demon is one less script, one less comic book, one less novel, one less body at the market. Thanks for staying inside basking in the glow of electro-fantasy!

  2. Talk to me when you band together and form some kind of lobby…alliance..horde thing and influence public policy by plying me with hookers and money.
    That’s when you get your “real American” badge.
    Then again, what the hell would WOW players do with govt. subsidies and appropriations bills?

  3. Hm, interesting piece! Just remember though, larger population doesn’t mean it’s more important than a smaller populace. That’s why, politically, we still have the electoral college. Otherwise we might as well hold national elections only in NYC, LA, DC, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, etc and the rest of the country would be screwed.

  4. The point is valid, but to be slightly pendantic (OK a lot), there’s probably more like 2.5 million Warcraft players in the US now. It was 2 mill back in January when it was 8 million total worldwide (it’s now 9 mill):

    http://www.blizzard.com/press/070111.shtml

    World of Warcraft has also achieved new regional subscriber milestones, with more than 2 million players in North America, more than 1.5 million players in Europe, and more than 3.5 million players in China.

  5. The reason farmers are more important is that they make stuff. I have said for many years, only half-jokingly, that the only real businesses are farming and construction; the rest of us are middlemen. Without real production, all those bankers, stockbrokers, lawyers and people in Statistical Analysis and Data Reconfiguration have nothing to do. (Well, except learn to hunt and gather.)

  6. We do see foreign policy guided by fiction like the Left Behind series though. It would be preferable to have an avatar of Optimus Prime as Secretary of State than some callow acolyte plucked from Regent University to be entrenched in the upper echelons of the Department of Justice.

    Remember… Bush cannot ride a horse. He seems to fear them. His ranch is a sham. If he is off to spend time with “real Americans,” his quest for authenticity is always stillborn.

    Every time Bush wears a cowboy hat, he’s as much as cosplayer as those who wear pointed ear extensions, craving to be a night elf.

  7. re: caipirina

    They probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote until they’re able to snap back to reality. They may as well be on crack.

  8. “That’s why, politically, we still have the electoral college.”
    No, it’s because we still allow two senators per state regardless of population and the senators from the dinky states are never going to allow this to happen.

    “Otherwise we might as well hold national elections only in NYC, LA, DC, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, etc and the rest of the country would be screwed”

    Sounds like an excellent idea to me.

  9. I’m not sure why there is all this WoW hate going on. The WoW players that I know are well-educated, work hard, and are generally very productive people. But hey, stereotypes are more fun than reality.

  10. @Geno:

    You said it, my friend. I once really pissed off a chip designer when I said that what he did had no intrinsic value, and that that was true of my job as well. He was furious and blathered on about how much more earning power he had than I. I told him to look up the word “intrinsic” and try again.

    I grew up around farmers, though, and a successful farmer doesn’t make stuff. He’s an accountant. We have once again arrived at a kind of Middle Ages society where the least paid are those who actually feed, clothe, and shelter us. I don’t know how to grow a crop. If the whole economy crumbled, it wouldn’t be like people would be coming to me to explain factor analysis or something.

    @Bettywu:

    I’ll agree that general elections would probably go more the way I’d like them if we skipped rural America, but pissing off the farmers is a bad idea, and they do deserve a voice.

    Rural people are out of touch only insofar as it is impossible for them to fathom living in NYC, for example. But that goes the other way as well. When talking to people who grew up in NYC, it’s clear that they have no idea what it’s like to live anywhere else.

    If I had to pick one that was more “out of touch” (and I am, of course, biased), I’d have to say it was the city dwellers. They may have preternatural knowledge of the subway map, but they probably don’t know how to replace a toilet or build a staircase or repair an automobile. Sometimes they don’t know what food looks like before it is packaged and put in the supermarket. Living outside of the many support structures cities offer forces you to learn how to do a lot of things by yourself. Look no further than BB’s DIY guru, Mark, to see evidence of this. He hails from Colorado.

    Legislating for these two worlds, however, is virtually impossible. For this reason, the framers intended there to be strong states’ rights. Then there was the Civil War and the rest of the country has been enslaved by the Northeast ever since (please no slavery flames–the Civil War was about money, not slavery–except that of the Confederacy by the Union).

    It is clear that I grew up in a different country than my friends from NYC, and, to a lesser extent, LA. The idea that the same body of laws should govern both of us is bizarre.

  11. @Garrett, 3:
    Why the hate? Coders, comic book writers and novelists are worthless unless there are people willing to sit at home and consume their code, comic books and novels. Video games are no different. For every good artist, there’s a bunch of admiring fans who take time out of their day to enjoy the art.

    Don’t be hatin’ on consumers. Without us, there’s not much point in being a producer.

  12. This seems to set up a kind of weird implied dichotomy, comparing what is essentially a consumer choice with a productive economic activity. It’s like saying “ZOMG, there are more Hello Kitty fans than steel workers in the US!!! Why are politicians ignoring this crucial demographic?”

    The answer, of course, is that Hello Kitty fans do not vote as a block (bloc?), since their common interest has jack squat to do with what they do every day to survive. As obsessive as some of them may be, there isn’t really any political issue that would unite them at the polls. Any politician who honestly thought they would get more votes by lowering tariffs on Sanrio memorabilia than by raising tariffs on imported steel* probably wouldn’t be a politician for very long.

    I might well end up being proven wrong here. I mean hell, everybody knows that liberals drink lattes and drive Volvos. Does that mean that we’ll see Democratic candidates drawing battle lines by coffee preference, trying to court the all-important half-caf-soy-double-mochaccino-with-whip demographic? ‘Round about that time would probably be when I’d run off and hide on a small island in the South Pacific, so I really hope that’s not the case.

    *Of course, you’d be forced to repeal the steel tariffs after the WTO rules that they’re illegal, but by that point, you’ve probably made your political hay.

  13. @NoneSuch

    I don’t hate WOW at all. I’m deadly serious about it being a honeyed trap for people who’d otherwise be competing with me for gigs and creative work. Like folks who get home, drop in front of the tv and zone out till the lights go dim, they’re opting out of life and making room for people who would rather do than consume. Glad you’re there buying it, but I can’t help but think Blizzard knows their PT Barnum “Sucker Born Every Minute” philosophy all too well.

    People who create new things, explore and invent new worlds are definitely better off than the folks watching the flicker. The Allegory of the Cave with a broadband connection.

  14. PT Barnum never said “There is a sucker born every minute” and the mis-attributing of that phrase to him only goes to prove that the speaker has missed out on the most important lessons of Barnum’s work and philosophy towards showmanship. even if you were to make the case that PT would have agreed with the sentiment of the quote it should still be qualified that he would never take the risk of saying such things even in confidence because it would undermine his real work of entertaining them. Barnum didn’t think people were ignorant suckers he thought they wanted grandiose entertainment and he was willing to create that bigger than life story for them.

    As for WoW being a trap – when I played WoW I was still actively writing and performing live over 250 days a year and the other players I knew were largely in the same situation. Creative people often enjoy consuming other people’s creative content but that doesn’t stop them working themselves.

  15. @Kyle Armbruster
    It’s not that I want to “skip” rural America, I’m just tired of them having such a disproportionately large voice in setting policy.

    I grew up in the middle of the country. I know the basics of toilet repair and how corn cross-pollinate. (I did not, however, know Jack Kennedy…) It’s marvelous information, but not nearly as useful as knowing how to install a router.

  16. @RevRaven post #6

    The whole electoral college benefit to smaller populations is a myth, if anything it makes presidential politics easier on the canidate by saying “So… let’s not go to Indiana” since the electorates vote republican despite the fact my hometown of Indianapolis(and all of Marion county) voted for Kerry by 59%.

    If we went by popular vote politicians would have to reach out to more people in the ‘red states’ who actually don’t want a president to piss on the bill of rights, instead of assuming we’re all the so called values voters or that we all drive SUVs and put magnets on said SUVs declaring France, the Democratic Congress, or Atheists(like me) below a common turd.

    -SH.

  17. LOLCAT STEVENS, you’re amazing. There are more people who played ‘John Deere: American Farmer’ in a single farmhouse in south Texas last summer than there are centipede experts the world over.

    The author’s first point doesn’t seem to be so politicizing, though. So what if Hollywood doesn’t “get” the hyper-nuanced version of American farmers’ lives? It’s not Hollywood’s responsibility to keep up with them r thr flthy nds, and I’ll bet that far fewer farmers get out to the movie pictures as often as hipster waitresses going to grad school in New York.

    Hollywood’s job is dishing out blockbusters, not blocking out ditchbusters. Little immigration joke there. If you have to drive an hour and a half to see a movie, you might as well wait the extra month and a half to own it on DVD. Hollywood’s only concern should be making movies that keep people from streaming an unwatchable cam off of Stage6 or Veoh. Do farmers do that? Seriously. Hollywood’s so out of touch, they’re in touch. So many westerns this year, too.

    Since when does anyone need to vote to express their opinion on television in this country, anyway? d thnk tht WW frk mght hv mr t dd t dscssn bt “cltr,” whtvr tht s, thn sm dsfgrd crn frmr frm Gd knws whch sd f hs sstr’s bd n Txrkn. ‘m s sck f ths bg vc fr th mnrty nnsns. Gt rl.

    Then again, TV news has always gone with the tthlss mlcntnts. Only recently has it begun to court the iPod-toting psdntllctls, and even then only in more densely populated regions. It’s more a reflection of those doing the programming, and not some commentary on the characters of the ngry, nprprd dts being thrust under the spotlight.

    But yeah, where are all the big city data analysts, computer programmers, artists, musicians, bloggers, makers, rocket scientists, tattoo artists, messengers, atheists, skeptics, Pastafarians, robots, and, damn it all, even telemarketers? Just not TV-friendly enough, I guess. It’s all soccer Moms and disgruntled pedestrians.

  18. “‘Otherwise we might as well hold national elections only in NYC, LA, DC, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, etc and the rest of the country would be screwed’

    Sounds like an excellent idea to me.”

    Geographical as well as ideological or monetary interests should play a part in a democracy. So, no, this wouldn’t be a good idea at all.

    “please no slavery flames–the Civil War was about money, not slavery–except that of the Confederacy by the Union.”

    Well, this isn’t a flame, but the monetary interests that you’re concerned with were enabled by the presence of an incredibly low-cost workforce. Southern states were concerned that their economy, based on a lucrative cotton trade with Europe, would collapse if slavery was eliminated.

    Of course, it’s simply insane to say that something like the Civil War was caused by one thing, or even two. A few key factors that brought about the situation were ideologies about state’s rights, economics, _as well as_ African-American slavery. The anti-slavery movement on the north and the rhetoric that went along with it can be seen as giving the north the moral authority to resist compromise, and thus a very real factor in the outbreak of war.

    But the outbreak of violence of such magnitude cannot realistically be reduced to “money”.

    Most of the soldiers in the Confederacy were poor landless individuals. If the _only_ motivation was money, many of those men would have never enlisted.

  19. @ The Lizardman

    s tht th ntrnt pdntry s t n fll frc. It’s regularly attributed to Barnum, and it’s even the opening of the musical of his life. To whom should I send flowers and candy to apologize for misquoting? I bow to your superior knowledge of PT Barnum quotes. You’re no more or less right in your position and my argument still stands regardless. But do you feel better?

    As for you playing WoW and having a fulfilling creative life, that’s fantastic for you. And how much more would you have done and accomplished if you weren’t simply wandering around gathering electronic tokens?

    Consuming a book, a play, music or any other creative entity you expand your experience, WOW does nothing but appeal to the meticulous nature of some individuals, enrich Blizzard and provide nothing more than a time suck. The story of WOW itself is nothing more than a cobbling together of geek culture (Tolkein here, Narnia there, Robert Jordan here, mix in memes of the moment, stir). Like so much of “remix culture” it adds nothing new, expands nothing and simply allows the users to wander in the familiar rather than embrace the unknown.

  20. “Warcraft players only meaningful contribution is making it easier for people who actually want to accomplish things with their lives to do so.”

    This is only true in the short term. But over a longer period, enough people opting out of one of your preferred activities may make it no longer economically feasible to offer in your area. If opera is your thing and there aren’t enough fans in the locale to float a viable opera house because everyone prefers WoW, you are now out of luck.

    This is why I tell everyone I know about a new product at Costco I enjoy. Rather than worrying about the price going up due to competition, I worry about helping find the clientèle to keep it in the store. That, and I like sharing with my friends.

  21. Maybe I’m missing something, but ‘WoW Player’ and ‘Farmer’ aren’t mutually exclusive…

  22. @REVRAVEN:
    The electoral college does nothing to protect the minority opinion. As a liberal in Kansas, I can tell you for sure that my vote, nationally, literally does not count. Ever. My representatives don’t represent me. The reasons for the electoral college were three-fold: 1) communication could be too slow to get an election done in a timely manner, 2) it would upset the balance of power to have the Congress elect the president and 3) “we the people” are actually too ignorant to elect a president, either because (see point 1) communication is too slow or we’re just stupid. Well, everyone agrees with 2), and 1) is obviously wrong today (I mean, we now know instantly what is going on in the World of Warcraft), but I guess there is still some room for 3). The problem is that there’s no evidence that the electoral college is any smarter.

    As far as national candidates are concerned, the national election is held in “NYC, LA, DC, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, etc.” Do you know the last time a candidate for president of the United States actually stumped for office in Kansas? Not in my lifetime. I mean, politicians know that votes from farm country don’t count. So you WoW guys don’t get too fired up about your eventual influence over government.

  23. @18 Garrett,
    I shouldn’t have to tell you that most people who play WOW also do other things, just like most people who watch TV don’t sit there and watch it all day. It may shock and surprise you to know that some musicians, artists and writers also enjoy other activities, including TV and games (and, heaven forbid, family, friends and surfing Boing Boing).

    Don’t belittle people over something you obviously don’t care to even find out about. It’s like talking down to people who enjoy the beach. Those silly beach goers who spend all their lives at the beach will never be able to compete with my elite skills in non-beach activities! Muhuhuhuhahaha!

    Anyway, this blog entry is silly. It essentially says, “Bush is pandering to a group of over 50,000,000 rural Americans — why isn’t he also pandering to a this significantly smaller group?”

    I mean really, is this on anyone’s top 10 reasons for why they hate Bush? We hate Bush because he respects rural America? That bastard! Lets go march on the white house. Find some rural Americans and see if they’ll lend us their pitchforks and torches.

  24. Bush respects rural Americans? My ass. That’s where all the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans came from, huh? That’s why he’s committed to sending so many thousands of innocent rural Americans to meet their bloody DEATHS in an unjust war in Iraq? That’s why he combats evils like SCHIP and spies on Americans? That tremendous respect he has for all the poor, rural folks? Pft! He didn’t even have a Texas accent until he ran for governor.

    It’s not the first reason I hate Bush, his “respect” for rural America. Neither is it his freedom. Number one on my list is that he’s a warmongering imbecile who can’t pronounce “nuclear.”

  25. @NoneSuch

    I’m sure that many of the above and below posters who find WOW players unproductive were referring to the self-styled hardcore WOW players, namely the ones who only leave their parent’s basement for snacks and Bud Lite, as opposed to occasional players who only spend a few hours a day on the game.

    @Clayton Counts

    Don’t forget his love for the word “Peninshula”. This guy is pure comedy.

  26. @Garret

    My goal was not ‘pedantry’ (sic), when I see a factual error I correct it because my experience has been that things tend to go better when people operate with the correct information. When I am in error I prefer and actually often enjoy or am at least thankful for being corrected. If you want something pedantic, I will point out that Merriam-Webster does not recognize ‘pedantry’ as a word. Send the flowers and candy to your former educators who let believe this falsehood probably along with many others. I do feel better for having provided information that was apparently unknown to you before – if you don’t appreciate it, that’s your issue.

    I have to wonder if you have ever played WoW since you characterize it as simply gathering electronic tokens. My experience of it was only enriched by recognizing the elements the designers borrowed from and found the interaction with other players to be valuable and stimulating for many of my other creative endeavors. As with much of life, you get out what you put in and my WoW time was not significantly different than my time reading books or watching currently relevant TV that provide much fodder for me onstage. I did not lose any time to WoW in terms of work I might have done rather it was a pleasant leisure activity that more often than not contributed to my creative endeavors. Perhaps you should try playing a bit…

  27. It seems to me the real point of the piece is that what we think of as the “typical American” has changed radically over the years. Many people may still wish to believe that America is made up of “yeoman farmers,” to borrow a Jeffersonian description, but the reality is far different. I think the author is right when he says that it’s not just Hollywood-types who don’t understand farmers. MOST of us don’t understand farmers because most of us are so far removed from that life that we couldn’t grow the tomato plants they sell pre-grown at Home Depot. While we can debate whether that’s a good or bad thing, the truth of the matter is that when a news program or Harper’s Weekly or any other media seeks out the “average American,” he’s not likely to be found on a farm in Iowa, but in the suburb of a major city. We just need to stop pretending that small-town America IS America anymore.

  28. Hah…WOW a trap….

    I am a published author (one book done and volume II in progress), a working blacksmith and I produce a quarterly technical journal…..oh, and I play WOW.

    Perhaps one-trick ponies need to feel as if their competition is lulled by a game. Perhaps those who can, do it all.

  29. Nothing is more amusing than enlightened urbanites talking about farmers and farming, unless it’s President Bush talking about ‘strategery’.

    Rural America needs the opinions of Starbuck’s-swillers in New York and L.A. like Tehran needs a visit from Dick Cheney.

  30. When I first was “into” video games it was 1981 and I had an Atari 400 and played Star Raiders and Space Invaders all the time. I know it sounds cliche, but the second I truly discovered girls, going out to movies with friends on weekends, and sneaking drinks at parties, I could care less. And that was like in 1985/86.

    There were immersive games, but the gnawing sense that I was missing “real life” was always present. And I was more than happy to pass on my old computers/games to relatives and such and move onto being an adult.

    I dabbled with Sim City in the 1990s but real life was always more compelling. And still is.

    I truly can’t understand anyone nowadays who is over 25 and who spends a good chunk of their lives existing in a fantasy world. I simply don’t get it and don’t care how intricate or “magical” a fake world is. It’s still fake and real life is so much more compelling/interesting.

    I know this might sound like a stereotypical “Oh those kids nowadays!” rant, but seriously. I jumped into games when I had NO life and lived at home and had little options. How can people who do have options and do live in richer world waste their lives like this?

    That’s a harsh judgement but I have actually watched a marriage die because of a guy who was OCD about Everquest: Why?!?!?!?

    Sorry but there is something seriously imbalanced/wrong about this. It’s as if there’s this whole generation of people with Asperger syndrome being bred and few are talking about it.

  31. I grew up on a farm, and grow some of my own food now, so I’m pretty close to seeing things from both sides here.

    I think one thing many people can forget about is that farming now has become a very industrialized practice. Of course there’s always been farm equipment, but what we have nowadays is a smaller number of large farms mass-producing food. So claiming that farmers are somehow more noble by growing food seems a little off. Because the farmers we probably get most of our food from nowadays wouldn’t know what to do without their equipment. Lots of industries get involved getting us our high fructose corn syrup! Not to mention the shipping companies that make it possible for me to get cheap food from across the friggin’ country, or world.

    Oh, and I can think of one issue WOW-players will unite over. Taxation of virtual property. I know they’re just toying with the idea, but didn’t the IRS start looking into doing that not too long ago?

    “Yeah, I beat Al’Gromnar the All Devouring, and took his greatsword Lifecleaver.”
    “Sweet dude!”
    “No man…I pay more in taxes now than subscription fees.”

  32. @Farmerbob:

    We’re not trying to give any advice TO Rural America. We’re discussing how politicians treat it.

    We wouldn’t say that Rural America “needs [our] opinions” any more than you would. Don’t worry. We’re not trying to tell any rural person to do anything. In fact, if you read the comments, some are saying how they wish they COULD do some of the things farmers do since MAKING THINGS (IE food, etc) is much more useful than being a “middleman” in the city.

  33. Interesting discussion. Although I think some people are really understating the amount of rural small towns left in America. It’s one thing to say there are fewer farmers in America; it’s another thing to say that small towns do not exist. It seems as if more urban and suburban people are more and more out of touch with anything outside their immediate urban/suburban domain that they immediately dismiss anything different as non-existent.

    I think the media image of a farmer tends to be quaint by today’s standards with the way farms now run. My wife grew up on a farm her family has operated since the 1880’s in upstate New York. From an early age it was determined that her older brother was to get the farm, and she would have to find other means to support herself, so she grew up went to college, now runs a local history museum.

    Her father is nice, but often times can be a curmudgeonly hick. He’s in his 70’s and at the point where his working at the farm is more token than anything else. My brother in law on the other hand in his late 20’s, and manages to run the farm with the help of only one hired man. He’s constantly keeping up to day on new farming technology and exploring the possibility of growing more corn to be used in local ethanol production.

    Much more up to date than the image of the American farmer provided by American Gothic.

  34. Ever hear of RP servers? Plenty of WoW players actually are doing something creative. It’s not high art, but it beats drinking lite beer and gambling. Sure, you could always be writing the Great American Novel or something, but as a social outlet for your downtime it’s pretty cool.

  35. “please no slavery flames–the Civil War was about money, not slavery–except that of the Confederacy by the Union.” NoneSuch

    1) What do you mean by “about”?

    2) You’re a liar. You may not realize it, but that’s a convenient falsehood that the South has talked about for a long, long time. It was ‘about’ slavery. It really was.

  36. Someone asked the question, “I truly can’t understand anyone nowadays who is over 25 and who spends a good chunk of their lives existing in a fantasy world.”

    I’ll help you understand. Imagin real life is boring. Imagine your are an introverted person and interacting with other people is often stressfull and draining, not exciting and invigorating. Imagine you have a masters degree and are working in one of the best jobs in your field and you still get bored at work. Imagine making money and being ambitious just aren’t that fun and exiting to you. You want to be a hero, somehow, but for some reason you just can’t bring yourself to join the national guard or become a fireman. Then you discover WOW and suddenly you are immersed in a world of heros, strategy, and challanges where every creature you interact with is actually controlled by a real person, and to your amazement, it is easy and fun to interact with these real people through the game. You have excitement, fun, friends, and adventure in a world that it infinitely more interesting then the real one.

    Now, I’m talking from the perspective of an introverted, depressed, idealistic computer nerd with an addictive personality who never seemed to get on with girls in high school and college. I don’t play WOW and never have because I know how much fun it would be and that I would never be able to stop. A lot of people who play would never have this problem. However, people like me would.

    I have to content myself with boring old reality, krav maga classes, sports and some incredible stressful dating on the side. For those of you out there who who love the real world and find it interesting and compelling, count yourselves lucky.

  37. The argument that “Hey, I’m a nuerosugeon, a published author and King of all Siam and I play World of Warcraft 40 hours a week!” falls kind of flat as that person is clearly at one end of the bell curve in many respects. You are not the norm by any means. Just the same as the person dying from thrombosis after 48 hour run isn’t either. Most people simply lose hours at a time, chunks here and there, that would be better spent. When you’re dying and look back upon your life, all you’ve done and not done I think more WoW player will wish they’d ticked more off their “to-do” lists.

    A music teacher of mine once said “Practice a minute a day. Just say, every day I will practice for one minute.” Of course he knew that once your got your Guitar out and actually started playing you’d go on for more than just a minute, but the point was committing your time to something. Why commit time to another person’s fantasy when you could use that time to create your own?

    The point of WoW is to take up as much of your time as possible. The more you play the more more Blizzard makes, simple math there. It’s not hourly, which would actually deter people from over-doing it if they saw a more immediate time/money suck, but monthly of course. But the goal is the same.

    Yes, I have played it actually. Mind-numbing would be my description. Repetitive tasks, bland fantasy tropes and “writing” that actually seemed to make me feel dumber as I hear or saw more of it.

    Simply put, I’d much rather be a terrible writer, artist, guitarist, novelist and general person than the finest Orc in all of Ogrimar.

  38. The only difference is, farmers’ hard work and long hours are actually valuable to society.

    WOW is such a waste of time…spend hours and hours so a virtual character can wear a new shirt?

    Millions of people will not gain you respectability.

  39. “The more you play the more more Blizzard makes, simple math there.”

    Sadly, no. I play my flat rate of $15 a month and Blizzard makes the money whether I play or not. While we’re on the topic, I’ve spoken with SO many WoW players who were connecting from their homes in rural places; small-town nowheres offering few diversions to people looking for adventure, competition and companionship. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it, but I’m a little dismayed by all the “WoW is for losers” snobbery I’m seeing here. I guess I expected something else from BoingBoing readers.

  40. @Chris: “Imagin (sic) real life is boring. Imagine your are an introverted person and interacting with other people is often stressfull and draining, not exciting and invigorating.”

    Oh I can imagine all of that. Please reread what I wrote, because what you are describing is very similar to the sullen life of an alienated teen.

    FWIW, here is my personal background. I’m the first American born child of immigrant parents who lived through the holocaust. They were protective of me and their other children to say the least. And we lived in a nice NYC neighborhood in the 1970s, but it too was filled with dangers… Real dangers… And real crime… I completely understand how retreating to a fantasy world helped me cope; I became an OCD player of text adventures from Adventure International and INFOCOM… It helped buffer the bad stuff…

    But…

    I grew older, I wanted a job and wanted to do real things. So I went and learned how to go about getting basic food-service work. And ironically I used the money from that job to buy games from Electronic Arts back in the day; like “Pinball Construction Kit” and “7 Cities of Gold”. But that was more out of habit. I got bored with them quickly. And held onto them because the Internet didn’t exist and eBay wasn’t an option.

    Slowly I learned how to “explore” in the real world. Movies at art houses in “the City” (aka: Manhattan), underground comics from cmic stores, going to concerts and generally hanging out.

    Looking back on the days I dipped back into video games past the age of 1986, it was always during moments of deep family stress. My parents being hospitalized repeatedly through high school and college. And then their passing way post-college; that’s actually when I first bought/played SIM City. Psychologically I gravitated to those games and the idea of gaming when I was nostalgic for the simple fun of childhood. Once in my hands, I really couldn’t care less about those games in any way.

    To me, I work with computers every day and see the benefits of an electronic world. My iPod is my friend and I love how digital cameras have brought the world of photography to those who previously couldn’t afford lab/developing costs. Awesome! But the negative side that I think is discussed all the time is how retreating into a fantasy world all the time is damaging. I think at a certain point, you just shouldn’t spend that much time in a humanless disconnected world. Whether that be Word of Warcraft, online poker or anything… An adult has more choices to have a real life.

    Heck, I actually admire folks who get dressed up and go to comic conventions. They are at least making an effort to bring creativity to the real world.

    Modern games are about immersion; “vintage games” are about distraction. When I see people who are 30+ years old waiting inline to get HALO 3, I can’t think that’s good at all. It’s pretty sad to me. A guy at a bar killing time playing Galaga? That makes sense; 3 minutes at most killed before doing something real with real people.

  41. I keep coming back to this discussion because it’s really interesting to see the range of opinions and division.

    Jack makes a really fine point about distraction versus immersion. I work with teens as a librarian and the difference between distracting games (bedazzled, alot of DS/PSP games) and immersion games is striking. The “social” aspect of immersive games is often sold as a positive, but the majority of chat is about the game itself, quests and such. Distraction games are limited and encourage you to play, win/lose and move on.

    I do think video games as a medium can be very valuable and even sociable. I started DDR nights at our library because I saw kids at the mall playing and socializing more than I’d ever seen at other programs. We went from 10 kids to over 40 in one month. The kids take turns, hang out, talk, make friends and make for a great audience for book-talking and program promotion. And they’re out in “meatspace” making friends, dancing and having fun. Most importantly, the program ends after an hour and half, they go outside, into the library, on with their lives. The notion of giving hours of my life over to a video game seems just wasteful of this brief little island of light between the gulfs of darkness.

  42. @38, Jack:
    So people who play WOW probably have a mental impairment? Yikes. So tell us, what is it YOU do for fun? Cure cancer? Save polar bears? You must be really full time productive to be so down on anyone who likes to take a break and have fun. I played WOW for 2 years. My girlfriend actually still plays. We also have friends we hang out with on weekends (IRL!), plus read books, watch TV, go hiking, etc. You and Garrett have an unrealistically narrow view of what types of people play these games. The “hard core” 40-hour-a-week-in-their-mother’s-basement types are by far the exception, and Blizzard’s own statistics support this. The vast majorty of WOW players have never set foot in the deepest, darkest dungeon, because the vast majority of WOW players are normal, casual people who play with friends for fun. It’s not their lifetime commitment.

    There’s also about a billion people who sit at home occasionally reading fiction who would probably like a word with you. You don’t need to have Asperger syndrome to enjoy a night at home doing something “unproductive”, you know.

    The top thing on my list of “Things to Do Before I Die”, actually, is HAVE FUN. I’m at a loss to figure out how playing a guitar is somehow more beneficial to mankind and less of a waste of time than playing a game. By the time you’re 80 years old in the old folks home, the only people who are going to care are probably other gamers or other guitar players, respectively. We can reflect back on the good old days before arthitis kicked in and made us unable to hit that chord or pwn those noobs. Personally, I get a lot more discussion milage out of past video game experiences than I bet most guitarists get out of guitar playing.

    I’ve said in the past that if someone thinks that playing games is a waste of time, they’re probably just playing the wrong games.

  43. @nonesuch

    Is WoW really fun? I’d counter that it’s not. It’s a simulation of enjoyment, not actual enjoyment.

    Have you ever heard of “The Giant’s Causeway”? It’s an amazing geological phenomenon in Ireland created by underwater eruptions. It looks like the kind of fantastic alien landscape you’d see in WoW. Seeing pictures of it, even a wonderful 3D 360 simulation is not the same as walking it, feeling the wind on your face, the salt sea smell around you.

    WoW is a simulation of activities people do all the time. Exploring, adventuring, wandering. It’s dressed up in Tolkein-inspired drivel, but it’s still simulating that experience. It’s a shadow on the wall, a reflection.

    Of course, you can argue that circumstance (ill health, poverty) can limit people’s access to real world wonders, but in a world where blind men climb Everest and wheelchair athletes play basketball that doesn’t hold alot of water for me.

    Playing guitar is real. It’s an actual thing, not a simulation thereof. Guitar Hero is a fun little distraction, but would you rather see musicians performing or people aping color-coded button on a screen? Would you rather see Brett Favre throw a perfect spiral or someone holding a joystick pretending to be Brett Favre pretending to throw a perfect spiral? Give me reality, please.

    It gives me shivers that people are more interested in the shadow, the bytes, than they are in the real.

    Just think on this, for every story of virtual conquest you have, or heap of gold you virtually raided, think of what could you have done in “the real world” with that time and energy? If your answer really is “Nothing I wouldn’t trade for my time in WoW.” Then…well I have no idea what to say to that.

  44. @#51 – I guess you don’t like chess then. After all, chess is a simulation of warfare. Actually, I suppose that makes Football (American or European), Hockey, Rugby, and other territorial-control sports verboten, because they’re ALSO simulations of warfare. And why play a simulation when you could do the real thing?

    Nobody, nobody mistakes playing Guitar Hero for playing the guitar – as you said, it’s pressing multicoloured buttons. But it’s not substituting for playing the guitar – it’s a GAME. A GAME that happens to have the theme of playing a guitar, but you could make a guitar-playing themed board game too, and you wouldn’t mistake that for guitar playing either.

    People explore and ride bikes and drive cars for fun. They also play GAMES for fun. Sometimes these games have exploring, bike riding and car driving themes, but that doesn’t make them a substitute for the real action.

    Amazingly, the people that play these games are aware that World of Warcraft isn’t like actually exploring. They’re playing WoW because they DON’T WANT to actually go explore – they want to play a GAME.

  45. Being a WoW addict myself, I enjoy these threads, which usually involve the anti-WoW people saying one of two things:

    1) NERDS! DIRTY, BASEMENT DWELLING NERDS! GO RIDE A BIKE AND MEET A GIRL!

    2) As a former (insert WoW or alternate game here) addict, I can confirm that these people are wasting precious oxygen. I am so glad I finally discovered bikes and girls!

    Then there is the occasional WoW player weighing in, with a statement along the lines of:

    As a self-confessed WoW addict, I am gainfully employed in DC, making a comfortable salary, engaged to a clever and smoking-hot girl, and thoroughly enjoying life. My most recent passport is almost full after a little more than a year, and I have taken full advantage of this summer’s weather.

    Here was this past weekend’s schedule:

    Friday, 6pm: Home from work. Log on to work on my warrior a little, then do the Halloween “Headless Horseman” event a few times.

    Friday, 8pm: Friend arrives. Cards games ensue, including poker, Lunch Money, and Once Upon a Time. A bottle of Pear Muscato is finished, followed by some Absinthe, which my friend states ‘tastes like divorce.’ He may be right. I hope I never find out. The night ends around 1.

    Saturday, 8am: Wake and head to my brother’s, to help him prepare food for a company BBQ he is hosting. People gather around noon at the park, where we cover disc golf basics for those who have never played, play a round, then head back to eat. Eat, eat, eat, and drink until folks head out around 6. My brother and some co-workers are going to watch football, but I’d rather be in Azeroth, so…

    Saturday, 7pm: Log on to WoW. More leveling of my Warrior, more Headless Horseman. Pass out early, around 10.

    Sunday, 9am: Laundry and housecleaning.

    Sunday, noon: Log on, farm primal elements for various tradeskills.

    Sunday, 2pm: Brother arrives. Leftover BBQ is prepared. Disc golf again, at a different course near my house.

    Sunday, 7pm: Brother leaves. Log on to do more horseman. My mage gets her spell damage ring, finally.

    Sunday, 9pm: Friend arrives to pick up the bag he left on Friday. More cards. Kamikazes. Conversation.

    Sunday, 10pm: Friend leaves. Log on. Final push to get my warrior to level 63. I train up his new skills, deal with some last minute in-game mail and item trading, and call it a night at 11:30.

    You know, if one didn’t know better, one might think that even folks who play WoW too much have lives…

  46. “Is WoW really fun? I’d counter that it’s not. It’s a simulation of enjoyment”

    Of for the love of Cthulu. Are movies fun? I’d counter that they’re not. They’re a simulation of stage plays, and you just can’t simulate a live audience watching live actors on the stage. Pardon me, your apples are getting mixed in with my oranges.

    Since I can’t actually incinerate people with lightning bolts while playing an elaborate version of capture the flag, what’s being “simulated,” exactly? The exhilaration I feel when my team wins in Alterac Valley isn’t a simulation. The camaraderie of 45 people working together to beat another team is real, even if those people aren’t in the same room. Do you say paintball isn’t really fun because they don’t use actual bullets?

  47. I think that the we’re missing the point. This post isn’t stating the social or economic importance of WOW players is greater of lesser than anyone else. What is being said is that players are a larger percentage of the population than other demographics. The point is that the “average American” isn’t who we think. There are too many subsets of people out there to try and pin one down to represent the country’s opions or feelings as a whole.

  48. Here’s the 999th, I have a career and a social life and still play WoW post – and I’m a married woman whose husband plays as well. We are the owner/operators of a tech start-up – that will probably IPO next year. I have gone from being a beginner horseback rider to a novice jumper and will be doing xcountry this spring. I own a horse, which anyone who owns one will tell you, they need time and attention, plus the weekly hours exercising to be fit enough to ride. This year, we went to Cannes on business, the South of France on holiday, one vacation to the Cayman’s, and several trips to LA, LV and Orlando, all business. When do we play? Evenings and rained out or snowed out weekends. WoW reshuffled the game with casual gamers (ie most) in mind. It took me a while to get my hunter to level 60 (gave her up and started a druid), but none the less, it’s a fun way to destress from the presures, hard work, and hours of starting and running a business. By the way, my husband (level 66 mage) has filed 40 physics intensive patents in the last year (3 granted so far – maybe the patent examiners play WoW?) and is going to file another 30 by the end of this year. He has also been hired to produce a film as well.

    I was in a guild with all professional people, some of whom I have what I think are lasting friendships with. I know many people in the entertainment industry (our company is a technology that has many entertainment applications) who play WoW as well as other games. All of them have good jobs and active social lives. I have not experienced the teenager in the basement phenomenon that is the prevalent stereotype.

    The continued collapse of network TV and the failure of most films has fueled the gaming industry and the more interactive it becomes the more you will see music, movies, and episodic tv type entertainment merging into the gaming environment. People will still travel and go out to eat and such, but their entertainment will be much different than it is now.

  49. Sorry to say, but all these examples of other “simulations” all differ from WoW in one real resepct, they’re real.

    Chess is as much about studying your opponent’s face, body language as it is strategy. Sports as war simulation? That’s quite clever, but they are in an of themselves enjoyment beyond their value as simulation. Simulation apes reality, it doesn’t create a new space.

    Your “team winning in the alterac valley” hasn’t won anything. You haven’t developed any skills beyond becomes better at WoW. You haven’t learned to read a person’s face, fake out a defense or play a song. You’ve accomplished a simple task outlined as lines of code. It’s not reality. You’ve gained nothing more than any other person could from reading the manual and following insructions. The experience is not new, not unique, not special and frankly, dull. WoW moves you along a set series of paths to a goal. Linear, progressive thinking that rewards the devotion of time. It’s not unlike labor really. Where is the improvisation? Where is the creativity? In names for guilds? In arranging digital costumes? WoW is little more than a series of tasks dressed up as play.

    Many of you seem to be defending the fact you “have lives”. Of course you do. Again, the bell curve suggests what differentiates you from the addict is quite significant. What I’ve posited, from the start, is what could you be doing instead of the game? If you really feel it’s a valuable use of your time and energy, then you have nothing to “defend”. Enjoy your game, but understand what you may be missing out on.

  50. @51, Garrett:
    I guess I never outgrew “make believe”. Most artists don’t. Putting an apple on a desk and painting a picture of it is all good and well, but painting a picture of something that never existed is our old friend “make believe”, and it’s the basis for quite a lot of great art. I’d take Lord of the Rings any day over a Tipper Gore biography, even if LOTR is “simulated reality” and thus, if I understand your definitions, a waste of time compared to a real world biography.

    You worry that we’re more interested in imagination than the real. I’m worried that you’re so interested in the real, you’ve lost your imagination.

    Would I trade in my WOW time for other experiences? Not really. It was great fun and I have good memories and long lasting friendships with people all over the world as a result. We stay in touch via website so we can hook back up for other games. I can’t think of why I would want to trade that away.

  51. Heehee I love the anti-WoW/MMOG people..reminds me of the “Just Say NO” campaign in the 80’s…misguided, out-of-date, and laughable.

    So just to add my two cents..MMO player for over 10 years, been everything from “casual” to hardcore raider..I own a very successful business in the aviation industry; other members of my guild range from CISCO systems analysts, casino managers, stock brokers, entrepreneurs, and one professional baseball player (he just pitched his team into the World Series, if that’s a hint), to college kids, stay-at-home moms (and dads!), to several retirees.

    Some other heavy MMO players who I have not met personally, but you may have heard of..Steve Jobs, Justin Timberlake, Dave Chappelle, Travis Henry, and the guys from South Park (yes, the same ones who lampooned WoW).

  52. @50, Nonesuch:
    There’s also about a billion people who sit at home occasionally reading fiction who would probably like a word with you. You don’t need to have Asperger syndrome to enjoy a night at home doing something “unproductive”, you know.
    I would then like to have a word with me then, because I do that; read that is. And I don’t see how that analogy is applicable here at all.

    The act of reading is actually more flexible and communal than ANY online fantasy world. I can read on the train. I can read at home. And I can read anywhere and the act is completely different than pushing an online avatar to gather non existent gold.

    Going to movies is far more communal as well. I enjoy going to the movies and being a part of a group that is there physically but are all taking a journey into a concocted world on-screen. The last film I saw on the big screen was the restored rerelease of Blade Runner and it was great fun! People applauded when the film began and needed. And one girl in my aisle was twittering with glee whenever Rutger Hauer said one of his over-the-top/dramatic lines. It was a communal event. Heck, afterwards when at a local burger place, there were other people there who had just seen the same film and were all commenting on the pluses/minuses.

    What about going to a park? Or going to a museum? Or what about photography—my main hobby—where you go out and explore and can expand skills that are completely applicable in the real world. Heck, I was never raised to be a business person, but thanks to eBay and online forums, I’ve taught myself how to trade and negotiate with others with real goods and real cash. I learned a lot more from doing that than I ever did in a stupid Junior Achievement program they forced on me and others in H.S.

    Chess is fine as long as it’s played in person. I can’t think of anything more cold than playing on a screen with an opponent you will never meet. Ditto with fantasy football/baseball. I’ve known some people who get together in the real world to do their “trades” that way. The same with poker as well; play face to face and I have no issues. Putzing around online? IT seems to miss the social aspect of getting friends together and matching wits and having some beers.

    As a kid—for a birthday present—some relatives suggested I get a disc drive for my Atari 400. I was more into getting a 10 speed bike to explore the city I live in. And I actually had to fight to explain how much I wanted to ride a bike than flip floppies around.

    There are tons of options. And what it comes down to is distraction versus immersion. And immersive games I find to be a deadly way to avoid life and feed a delusion of a life.

    With all the ways one can untether themselves from technology nowadays—iPods and cell phones for example—it’s amazing to me efforts are made to lock people into staring at a screen in isolation even more and more.

  53. To Garrett:

    Your assertion that WoW/MMO’s are just “linear, progressive thinking that rewards the devotion of time” may be accurate for a casual player, but I assure you it is not so for those that take on the most difficult encounters.

    Major companies are using success in games such as WoW as a positive on job applications. Running a successful raid guild in MMO’s is an exercise in planning, development/implementation of structures and knowledge bases, critical thinking, problem solving, etc etc.

    MI-5 (British secret service) is also recruiting directly out of online games, as they have found the skills learned in games such as these equate well to their work.

    So..you may want to give all these people a call, since you’ve made it quite clear they’re wasting their time recruiting from games.

  54. Nonesuch:

    You worry that we’re more interested in imagination than the real. I’m worried that you’re so interested in the real, you’ve lost your imagination.

    Not at all. But I prefer my own imagination and all the wonders and horrors it can cook up, to wandering around endlessly in someone else’s rather slipshod immitation knock-off fantasy word.

    When books are adapted to films it’s often argued that the film “locks” the public’s view of the characters and story. Can you picture Dorothy without Judy Garland’s iconic grin?

    WoW is entering another person (or team of persons) imagination. It’s facinating at first, but soon you realize you’re progressing along this person’s preset path. Can you be the Orc who joins the alliance? Can you build a home or change the quests or find a new better compromise? Can you alter the world in any way other than the way which you are allowed? No. Blizzard even shuts down private individuals who attempt to host their own versions of Warcraft, ones where perhaps the rules change?

    I enjoy visiting the imaginations of others in fiction, in art, in movies, music and even games. But dwelling there, toiling there, when I could be crafting my own worlds, my own adventures? Not for me, not at all.

    As for WoW as a job training tool or, , a way of recruiting intelligence assets, I find that notion chilling. Imagine an intelligence officer “planning a raid” but this one is on an Afghan, not gnome, village. Like the generation of soldiers deployed around the American empire today, raised on violent video games and pumped up on blaring rage-filled music, the disconnect between what is “real” and fantasy can only lead to disaster.

    But that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

  55. When I was a kid, we didn’t really have video games. We had to go out and play games like “War”, which is where one child pretends to murder another child by pointing at him with a finger, stick, or, ideally, realistic looking toy gun, and going, “Bang!” whereupon the other child was encouraged to clutch his chest, yell, “Argh!” and fall down. If we’d had access to exploding packets of fake blood and wouldn’t get yelled at for getting it on our clothes, I’m sure we would have used them.

    Barbaric, I know, yet somehow we all grew up and didn’t become homicidal maniacs. Somehow we all figured out how to seperate fiction from reality.

    Fiction was more fun. Still is. I’ll see your Irish rocks and raise you a Stargate.

    If you think today’s children are “raised on violent video games” and this “can only lead to disaster”, I can only wonder in amazement at what your own childhood was like, that you can’t seem to relate to any of this. Do you really think many death row inmates were raised playing video games? I think you greatly mistake the source of violent behaviors in our society. For all your worldly knowledge, you get the strangest things wrong.

    Clearly, you and Jack must feel sorry for me, that I can immerse myself so readily in fiction. Well, I feel sorry for you guys, that you can’t, or won’t. I grew up, but I didn’t grow old. I’m amazed you even know what The Wizard of Oz is, since it sounds like exactly the sort of thing you don’t approve of. Witches? A talking scarecrow? Surely these are perposterous examples of someone else’s slipshod immitation knock-off fantasy world, as you called it.

    Star Trek, Discworld, Alice in Wonderland, Azeroth, Middle Earth and a million other fantasy worlds may be so much artificial rubbish to you, but I like em, and I think I’ll keep em, and my friends and I (some who live local, some who live across the globe) can continue to have a good time experiencing them and talking about them. We can enjoy rocks in Ireland, but I’ll add on the worlds of Neil Gaiman and yes, the World of Warcraft, and no regrets there.

  56. @63, NONESUCH: I really think you’re fighting arguments nobody is making and I think you haven’t read anything I and others have said.

    My issue is the distinction between games that are amusements and games which are immersive alternate realities that disconnect users from reality. You seem to be going off on tangents of simply having an imagination and an odd tirade on “raised on violent video games” as if that’s he crux of what’s happening.

    Which means you’re missing the point entirely. Which in a way doesn’t surprise me at all.

    If you think anyone who is against hard-core immersive gamers has no imagination, far from it. I appreciate fantasy and escape. It’s the difference between dressing up like a fantasy character and playing pretend and truly believing you ARE that character and disconnecting from reality.

  57. I’m baffled by the degree of online gaming hate going on, especially considering where it’s happening; the postings on Boing Boing tend to be fairly MMOG friendly, if somewhat tongue-in-cheek so at times.

    Jack’s rant against people with Asperger’s syndrome is even more worrying (unless you’re just trolling). Jack, I don’t know if someone with Asperger’s has caused you harm in the past, but if so I’m pretty sure that in a lot of ways your life has been improved by people with Asperger’s, and as such maybe you’d like to reconsider what appears to be a low opinion of people with the condition.

    Now, I’m a moderately addicted WoW player myself (as of last night I have my second 70), with not insubstantial misgivings regarding that fact, as well as someone who has fed an animal that I’ve later eaten (in other words, I’m no stranger to farming). I’ve lived in areas ranging from rural to heavily urbanized, and I’ve associated with everyone from rustics to eggheads (and even one or two rustic eggheads).

    All that established, here’s what I’ve got to say on the debate raging here:

    *Try not to spend your life in front of a screen. It’s simply not healthy for you, physically or mentally. I’d recommend getting an average of 3 hours of WoW a day at most, which I’m well aware can be pretty hard to do.

    *Assuming you can tear yourself away from a screen to do more than sleep, there are a lot worse ways to spend your time there than by playing WoW, which has in its favor a high degree of social interaction (largely absent from television, film, or the typical video game) as well as meaningful things to do in the game besides kill stuff, although admittedly this is the primary focus of the game.

    *Too much real-life social interaction is just as bad for some people as not enough is for others, and an inability to be comfortable when you’re alone is just as unhealthy as an inability to be comfortable when not alone. Perhaps it’s much more socially acceptable, but then again why wouldn’t a phenomenon facilitating social interaction be socially acceptable?

    *Finally, it beats me what makes anyone think that real-life social interaction is any less of a resource management game than teaming up to defeat an orc is. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that our shared social reality can be as much a virtual construction as Azeroth is, or that it can be more addictive than any MMORPG to date. Some people enjoy it more than they would WoW, some less. I’m not here saying that you suck because I think the game you enjoy isn’t fun, or because you can afford to go to Ireland and I can’t. I’d appreciate it if you showed the same restraint. And I say this as someone who’s been able to show sympathy for your position in the past; perhaps those expressing the most vitrolic positions are themselves recovering MMORPG addicts?

    (In addition, I’m always disappointed by those who bring up the allegory of the cave in this type of situation. In a modern context, it’s far too facile to use it to criticize our dominant forms of entertainment, when in fact its meaning is more that direct knowledge of a truth is preferable to distorted representations of it. Or are you saying that those poor people locked up in the dark, dank cave shouldn’t have even had shadow puppets to amuse themselves with?)

    OK. As far as the original posting goes, those pointing out that this is something like comparing the population of ballerinas with those collecting teacups are pretty much spot-on (although I’ll admit farming is more crucial to our continued existence than ballet is).

    It is however telling that a leisure activity that didn’t exist 5 years ago is now more widespread than the dominant method of supporting oneself about a hundred years ago, but then again the population of golfers in the U.S. is even larger than that of WoW players. But does this mean we have anything more to look forward to than the Happy Gilmore of MMORPGs?

  58. @65, BLACKANDY:
    Geez louise, can you re-read what I wrote? Are the WoW defenders actually proving many of the points made here. I did not rant against Asperger’s syndrome, but it’s naive to not face the reality that immersion in online worlds does exacerbate the issue and may cause it in some. And mentioned Asperger’s as an afterthought in comment #38 when I said:
    Sorry but there is something seriously imbalanced/wrong about this. It’s as if there’s this whole generation of people with Asperger syndrome being bred and few are talking about it.

    Personally, I have known people who suffer from Asperger’s syndrome and while your hyperbolic claims that I’m pretty sure that in a lot of ways your life has been improved by people with Asperger’shave no solid basis in your posts, I can say on a personal level everyone I have known who has the disorder is not not just socially dysfunctional, but a chore to deal with. For friends, coworkers and others.

    Your claim basically says “All people of all kinds have helped the world become better…” and I can heartily agree with that. I can also agree that people are allowed to have their own choices and live their own lives. No doubt. But true WoW players do not limit themselves to 3-4 hours per day. It’s much worse.

    And in my mind games have historically held a role in the world of allowing people to explore/practice things before moving onto the real world. The problem I have with immersive games is that too many people chose to never ever take that next step. And I find that highly disturbing. Which is why I cannot relate to gamers mentalities nowadays.

    FWIW, I did install The Sims at one point. And after a few hours of getting this fake characters apartment just right I realized “Why am I doing this? This is worse than playing with dolls and my own ‘meatworld’ could use half the attention I’m spending here.”

    And I think in the next few years more psychological studies will be made about this whole phenomenon and hopefully more eloquently illustrate what I and others are saying.

  59. Nonesuch:

    I find it very sad that the mentality of gaming is so defensive that someone critiquing the over-indulgence and wastfulness of something like WoW is immediately in the same camp as Jack Thompson and book-burners and other zealots.

    If you ask the question, “Is this worth it?” are you saying “shut down the servers! Sue Blizzard for the obesity epidemic! There ought to be a law!”?

    Please.

    Questioning the value and worth of Wow is just that, a question. Posited with a healthy degree of distaste for the drab and rather limited fantasy world of Azeroth. My God, even the name of the place is derivative of the demonic name Azazoth from Neil Gaiman. There’s nothing new under the sun, but can’t we at least have people try something new in the shade?

  60. Ok, I had to say something because all you WoW haters are pissing me off. What us gamers are defensive about is not so much the question of whether playing games is “worth it”…that’s a subjective question that people can only answer on a personal level. Nobody has the right to decide that for anybody but themselves. Even so, that’s not what pisses me off. I get upset at the stereotypes that non-gamers have due to sheer ignorance. How many self proclaimed WoW players on here have proven themselves to actually “have a life”? And yet, Jack and those like him keep claiming that they are abnormal? Where are you getting your information as to what’s “normal”? By far most of the gamers I have met lead very fulfilling lives. I am one of them; besides being an avid videogame fan (and I’m talking much more than just WoW), I am a photographer, I sing, play piano, I own and drag race a Lancer Evolution for fun, I’ve been to 47 of our 50 states, as well as 5 countries in Europe, Mexico and Canada on several occasions, I’m an avid snowboarder and skier, I’ve been skydiving, climbed Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Washington twice (as well as most of Mt. Baker), I have a degree in computer science and work as a video engineer for a living…need I go on? If you actually do some research on the subject (I haven’t done my own but have read articles posted by anthropologists and social scientists that have), you will find that the MAJORITY of WoW players are very active, imaginative, and contributive members of society. They are not the stereotypical losers sitting in their mom’s basement all day with an allergy to sunlight. Those people may exist, but they are in the VAST minority. You are entitled to your opinion as to whether videogames are a waste of time or not, but that opinion only counts for yourself. Please don’t try to cram it down other people’s throats.

  61. Garrett,
    You claimed to have played WOW, but clearly you haven’t. Blizzard’s style is closer to Pratchett than Tolkien. Much of what they do is intentionally tongue-in-cheek and is as much of a parody of the fantasy genre as it is a new entry. You’ll find numerous references to all sorts of fantasy settings in WOW and a lot of it is quite intentionally funny. This is a big part of WOW’s appeal: it doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you. This has been a hallmark of Blizzard games since Warcraft 1.

    You’ve drawn a completely arbitary line in the sand, beyond which you claim that anyone is wasting their lives. Your justification for this line is very weak, since all it comes down to is “computerized gaming is for losers”. You consider it more valuable to sit in your house by yourself and play your guitar than to log on with all your friends and play a game.

    You’re allowed to consider it to be more fun, but you’re not allowed to tell me it’s more valuable. That’s where you start coming off as a troll, and not the fun kind.

    The root of the issue, I believe, is Jack’s sentence, “It’s the difference between dressing up like a fantasy character and playing pretend and truly believing you ARE that character and disconnecting from reality.”

    Sorry, what? I don’t disconnect from reality when I play a game any more than I do when I read or any more than you do when you play the guitar.

    The only fantasy in this debate is the one you and Jack have about what gamers are like or what gaming is all about. You’re delivering speeches when you should be asking questions, because you clearly lack understanding. Ask your questions and I’m sure we’ll be happy to help.

  62. @ Garrett:

    You didn’t ask a question, you made a blanket judgment about the value of WoW (and, presumably, video games in general),

    Consuming a book, a play, music or any other creative entity you expand your experience, WOW does nothing but appeal to the meticulous nature of some individuals, enrich Blizzard and provide nothing more than a time suck.

    Now I’m certain that Garrett spends every second of his day in creative production, sleeps, and then repeats, but some of us like some downtime once in awhile.

    I also think he is way off base in his valuation WoW as a creative experience, but YMMV.

  63. Like many internet “conversations” this has begun to rapidly circle the bowl. Out have come the “I para-sail, tap-dance and design castle and login to WoW every day!” Lord Flashheart types. And the fact I mentioned guitar as another possible activity I’ve been reduced to “just sitting around my house alone playing guitar all day”.

    It’s the blind posting dilemna, most people are only skimming the posts or picking what drives them to reply.

    In conversation with friends last night I brought up this question about WoW. One friend of mine is a player, he introduced me to the game in fact. The summation of the conversation was as long as you confess it’s a waste of time it’s your time to waste really. But defending WoW as anything but a time-killing device, a boredom ban, just does not parse.

    Nonesuch: You claim I’ve never played WoW. I had a level 13 undead warlock. I also tried out a friend’s level 61 undead rogue, just to see what the advanced stages looked like. As for Terry Pratchett, if he is the model then the derivative nature of WoW is all the more clear to me. The man’s writing is trash, his humor is trite and I wish I could get an edition of Good Omens that excised his drivel. Just awful.

    I don’t hate video games. I play them with surprising regularity. But like the smoker who knows that it’s bad for you I know it’s a waste of time. It’s not a creative endeavor or productive activity in and of itself and to hold it up as such is simply silly.

    One last thing, it was only in all of your defenses of gaming that the stereotype of the obese, light-allergic, mom’s basement type gamer came up. I laid that out there as a charge. I’ve actually been kind of amused that you’re all so tender to the touch on the topic that you assume any critique, question or criticism of gaming is either a biblical screed or someone accusing you of being Cartman calling out for more cheesy poofs.

    It’s not the complete wastes mired in their own filth that make me shake my head at the WoW time-hole. It’s the perfectly productive people who zone out nightly and never get that book written, never learn another language and then, years later, bemoan the “lack of time”.

  64. I have one question for Garrett…

    What are your hobbies? What are you doing that’s “productive” instead of playing a game?

    It’s easy to keep telling everyone “you could be doing something else”, but some of us obviously disagree with what is productive and what is waste. Farmers who grow peas are wasting their time, and they should try doing something else. Because I don’t like eating peas. They should grow brussel sprouts instead. With butter and pepper, those are worth eating. Some of us play games to relax and hang out with friends, even if they’re too far away to hang out with in person. And we enjoy it. And if I died today, I would be happy of the time I spent, because I enjoyed it. No, I didn’t simulate my enjoyment, it was real enjoyment. I truly enjoyed my time playing. Why do people hang-glide? They’re sure as heck not doing it for the “productive nature” of soaring with a few metal bars and a sheet! They do it for the enjoyment.

    And I think everyone has made it fairly clear that the “norm” isn’t the kids dying over their keyboard. We like to call that Darwinism.

  65. @73, AGRABREN: Your analogy—like all of the blind immersive game defenders—analogies are completely off.
    Farmers who grow peas are wasting their time, and they should try doing something else. Because I don’t like eating peas. They should grow brussel sprouts instead. With butter and pepper, those are worth eating.
    Using this as an analogy shows me a complete disconnect from reality. People eat, consume and use these products. The byproducts and refuse from these products feed a physical earth and create more plants/food. It’s a tangible reality.

    At the the end of the day, an immersive gamer might have expanded their own mind and creativity, but they don’t give back to the world in the same way as someone who deals with tangible and real products.

    The creation of virtual reality goods is ultimately a fantasy that doesn’t benefit people outside of the game. And inside the game, the only people who consistently benefit are the game makers (Blizzard) and the ISPs and PC makers who create the equipment to play these games.

    I feel like I’m in a debate with Neo about the benefits of the Matrix compared to the freedom of reality. And in many ways, that’s exactly what this discussion is.

  66. Garrett:

    A bit off the point here, but according to both Gaiman and Pratchett many (if not most) of the sillier bits of Good Omens were written by Gaiman, and many of the darker bits were written by Pratchett. (I believe I remember Gaiman saying he’d enjoyed having the chance to exercise the sillier side of his brain.) If you spent a week excising the bits you thought were “drivel”, you’d most likely end up with a book that had a higher Pratchett-to-Gaiman ratio than the published version.

  67. @74, JACK: I understand your points, but I disagree with you. You’re arguing that only items that exist in the physical world are giving back to the world. Creativity can be an important part of what people do. My job requires more creativity than physical creation, but at the end of the day (or even months), a physical product will have been created. And it will be because of the creativity of many engineers.

    The creation of music in one’s home without recording or sharing is ultimately a fantasy that doesn’t benefit people outside the room. But it’s an enjoyable fantasy. Garrett argues that we all regret the time we spend consuming, when we should be producing. Ultimately, this is the crux of the idea. Entertainment is, largely, a consumable. In life, we both produce and consume. A good life has balance. I consume online games (although not much anymore) to enjoy myself. I liken it to the people who hate eating oat bran, but do because it’s healthy for them. Some people choose to eat food they enjoy at the cost of possible future health risk. Others choose to eat foods they dislike in exchange for a possible healthier future. And it’s always the healthy-eaters who feel they need to force the rest of the world to follow their opinions.

    So you win the same question as Garrett: What do you do when you’re not farming or doing construction?

  68. Games benefit consumers:

    The large number of 3D games requiring newer hardware drives innovation in 3D hardware. These new innovations are being used by the medical and geological industries, including locating more fossil fuels. These continued sources of fossil fuels aid in keeping costs down on all fuel, including farm equipment, while better solutions are found, all being researched and developed on the same new technologies. It’s amazing how interdependent we’ve all become on each other, in all aspects of life.

    Does anyone in this forum know how to build a plow without tools? For a really good look at how tightly connected everything is, check out James Burke’s old TV series “Connections”. Amazing stuff.

  69. @76, AGRABREN: In answer to your question, please reread post #48 where I explain what I do and have done instead of indulging in immersive games.

    I’m finding it curious how many WoW/immersive game fans are clearly simply skimming posts and having little/no attention span to points/details brought up before.

    If you enjoy immersive games, I’m not stopping you. Nobody is. But in many ways your inability to follow basic points already made—and continual construction/defense of straw men—proves a lot of the ideas I have presented before.

    FYI, regarding this:
    And it’s always the healthy-eaters who feel they need to force the rest of the world to follow their opinions.
    What a straw man this is. As someone who is a member of a local food co-op and eats better than he has before, I have never ever told anyone how/what to eat. That’s a stereotype based on the most extreme stereotype.

  70. Sure, I’ll admit WoW is a waste of time, but no more so than ANY OTHER HOBBY. What benefit is it to other people besides those you’re actually with if you decide to go out bowling, or go clubbing with friends? Or what about reading a book or simply the favorite American pastime of watching TV? None of these activities can be called productive. Does it matter? No. Of course it doesn’t. It’s called RECREATION. Do musicians or authors or any other kind of artist for that matter later bemoan all the time they spent taking time off from “being productive”? Of course not. If you’re driven to be productive 100% of the time, good for you. But you might want to get that checked out, because usually that’s called being a workaholic.

  71. @79, ADVENTUREBUM:
    What benefit is it to other people besides those you’re actually with if you decide to go out bowling, or go clubbing with friends?
    In these two examples you are interacting with real people in a real world and that is infinitely more better than sitting at home, pushing a mouse and existing in a virtual world.

  72. @78,JACK: I had read the whole (long) set of posts, but because my original question was to Garrett, and not you, I had not tied the two together. Also, it would be wrong of me to assume that you are the only “Jack”, as that is a fairly common name.

    It’s interesting that you argue about the stereotype I used, which has been a minor recurring theme throughout this whole forum. The insinuation that gamers are not contributing, or live in their parents basement. How is your reading of comic books contributing to the world around you? How does your reading of comic books benefit the world outside your house, expect for the financial gain of the creator of the comic?

    You were right earlier on about being too involved in anything. That covers more than just online topics. Diversity is what should be promoted. Take an amateur photography class (borrowing your example) or take dance lessons. All great ways to broaden your horizons and enjoy many of the worlds great offerings. But it’s also possible to enjoy some of the virtual worlds great offerings, too.

  73. I’d counter that in WoW, you’re interacting with REAL PEOPLE as well. The only difference is that the world is virtual. And guess what? You’re doing the exact same thing by participating in this forum. Just because the message board exists in cyber-space doesn’t mean that the social interaction is any less real. And be careful throwing around terms like “better”…and never use the phrase “more better”. “Better” is a subjective thing, and not something you can dictate for others. And by the way, I do participate in those other activities I mentioned. Sometimes I feel like going out…other times I feel like playing WoW. You have absolutely no right to judge which of these activities is “better” for me.

  74. @82,ADVENTUREBUM: Any argument on whether online has the same level of interaction with real people as offline would, IMHO be a losing battle. I do agree that it is with real people, as I get to talk to my best friend on almost a daily basis thanks to Warcraft (and TeamSpeak). But it’s not the same as getting to hang out with her. Unfortunately, she lives 1800 miles away from me. So we only get to see each other occasionally. But every day, we talk and hang out online. That’s a real interaction with a real person. But if you gave me the option to hang out with her at a pool hall, or even just at either of our houses instead of playing a game, I’d take it in a minute.

    Oddly, I have both those days where I’d rather not deal with face-to-face with people, and those people I’d rather not deal with face-to-face most days.

  75. @81, AGRABREN:
    Also, it would be wrong of me to assume that you are the only “Jack”, as that is a fairly common name.
    On Boing Boing, I am the only one with a logged in identity named Jack.

    How is your reading of comic books contributing to the world around you?
    I am actually not an avid comic book reader at all; no idea why you are harping on that but you’re continually proving the points I—and others—are making. And while I did mention comic book conventions, I’ve only been to less than a handful in my life; my point was I admire people who actually go to them and make an effort to express themselves in the physical world.

    Also my own exploration from video games to the real world is linear through age. And comic books played a role in my late teens, but I grew out of them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to some that seems like judgement.

    My only judgement made is that if you are past a certain age and spend an inordinate amount of time in a hobby, then something is wrong.

    @81, ADVENTUREBUM:
    And guess what? You’re doing the exact same thing by participating in this forum.
    No, that’s a canard point at best. My name posted here is real, and I am having a discussion that I would easily have—and have had—in the real world. And I am not wielding an imaginary sword or walking through a made up world.

    Your choice to use a handle is your choice. But there is no false intermediary construct I am using to interact. These are words that I type and none false from me.

  76. I agree…I was simply responding to the “real people” comment. Of course face to face interaction is generally preferred to online chat or even talking on the phone. But the majority of people I play WoW with I’ve never met in real life, and probably never will. That is because they live in different parts of the world and I did not know them before meeting them online. I am also, however taking a trip to Alaska tomorrow to visit a roommate from college (as well as a couple other friends). I guess my point is I never sacrifice time I would have spent with friends in order to play WoW. The majority of my friends, however, live all over the country, so hanging out with them in real life on a regular basis is not an option. I have friends locally, too, but they don’t always feel like doing anything either. I just get angry when broad stereotypes and generalizations are made about people that enjoy videogames by those that don’t understand or choose not to be part of the subculture. Oh, and by the way Garret…lvl 13 lock; congrats. You’ve played WoW for about an hour. That hardly makes you qualified to know what anything in the game is about. We have a term for people like you in the game: Noob.

  77. Actually, Jack, anytime you log on you are using a “false intermediary construct” to interact with people. The web provides a layer of protection that talking with people face to face doesn’t have. You could claim to have climbed Mt. Everest online and nobody could challenge you on it. I’m not saying you’ve lied about yourself, but the fact that you could means that you can’t claim web interaction is any more “real” than discussions that happen in WoW. And by the, more than half of the conversations I have while playing the game are about real life issues. Of course we talk about the game as well…we’re playing a game after all. And before you claim that I have made up hobbies to try to prove a point, here’s proof of at least one of them:

    http://www.flickr.com/burchdc

    More than half of the shots on there were made in the last couple months, and I’ve been playing WoW that whole time as well.

  78. #85, ADVENTUREBUM:
    That hardly makes you qualified to know what anything in the game is about. We have a term for people like you in the game: Noob.
    There are three ways to play a game. Win, lose or never play it. I think calling someone a “Noob” has always been as ridiculous as saying “RTFM” to people. And it’s part of the reason I—as a “meatspace” person—can never swallow going deep into online fantasy world.

  79. @84,JACK: I wasn’t aware that Boing-Boing only allows one of each alias.

    The comic book point was because early on, you mentioned one of your activities was to read comics. I have done that in my past, as well. Not sure how that’s proving your point that playing WOW is a waste of time…

    Everything else in your last post, I agree with completely. No single hobby should absorb a person entirely. And except for some circumstances which do happen, no job should absorb a persons time that completely either. Leisure time is for just that. And everyone should have ways to unwind and relax. And they should have more than one.

    Side note: I only play WoW when my friends are online, I can’t play that game alone. Well, unless I’m trying to put myself to sleep from boredom. For some of us, it’s all about the interaction with friends. It’s something to do while having a great conversation.

  80. #86, ADVENTUREBUM: Okay, if you want proof of how I have provided things in the real world, please pick up The Onion‘s book “Our Dumb Century” and check out the credits. Also, I was with said humor publication from 1995 to 2001 and was the reason The Onion‘s website was even started.

    Now enough of this comment thread. If anything the WoW defenders have really proven most every point I and others have made. Calling people “Noobs” because they are not OCD is insult enough. It’s a virtual reality; not a life.

  81. @88, AGRABREN:
    Side note: I only play WoW when my friends are online, I can’t play that game alone. Well, unless I’m trying to put myself to sleep from boredom. For some of us, it’s all about the interaction with friends. It’s something to do while having a great conversation.
    Ditto with bowling, playing poker, playing checkers or playing anything in the real world.

    Online interaction is a pale substitute for the real world; plain and simple.

  82. @89,90,JACK: The only thing I think this whole forum has proven is that A. some people don’t understand the enjoyment that others get from online gaming. And B. that name calling never gets anywhere in an debate.

    And yes, ditto with bowling, playing poker, or most anything else in the real world. It’s always more fun to share with friends. But your last statement is a misdirected comparison. I believe the correct phrase would be “Online interaction is a pale substitute for real world interaction; plain and simple.”

  83. You’re missing the point of the OP – Why does the guvmint pander to a bloc of a ‘few’ farmers vs. another random group?

    Because the value of the US’ ag products is over $200 billion, contributes about $100 billion to the economy, and food is one of the few products we still export.

    I doubt the WoW players do that.

  84. Jack, I wasn’t asking for proof of your “contributions” or activities. I was simply making a point about online conversations. You can’t tell me that a conversation you have in this forum is any more real than a conversation I have with my guild mates in WoW. BTW, I apologize for the “noob” comment…I was just pissed off.

  85. V, the point of the OP is that a the value of a voter’s opinion has nothing to do with how much money he or she makes or how much they contribute to society. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…”; or does that principal not apply in America anymore? Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what you do for a living or what you choose to do with your free time. Every American citizen is equally important, and no one demographic can call themselves “more American” than another. The “real Americans” comment by Bush is what started this debate, before the degrading WoW hating comments were made that threw it off on a tangent.

  86. Someone upthread asked about my hobbies. I read, travel, book-bind, do some so-so photography. I also challenge myself to yearly learning competitions. Last year it was (ahem) guitar. This year it’s Spanish. Next year it’s mandolin.

    Maybe I should step back and say that a few years ago I had three very sudden deaths in my family. My mother, cousin and aunt. All within a year of each other, Cancer, Suicide and Cancer being the causes respectively. I had family members who became very religious, some people fell off the wagon of sobriety (and have since climbed back on thankfully) and I took stock of my life.

    I realized life is utterly and wonderfully finite. I decided to do with my time exactly what I wanted, rather than piss it away. So I challenged myself to learn new things every year, to accomplish goal like writing a novel, a non-fiction book, finding a better job, moving, getting in shape. I’ve been utterly STUNNED at (and it is so very cliche) what you can accomplish when you put you mind to it and stop thinking that oceans of time exist between you and the inneviabtle. Youth is wasted upon the young they say and I try to prove that wrong.

  87. Garrett; good for you. Now I challenge you to realize that your view on life is nothing but your own and to try to be tolerant of other people’s views, regardless of how different they are from your own. For some people, there’s more to life than “trying to accomplish as much as possible”. Sometimes it pays to sit back and just enjoy what we have. I also am a photographer (as I stated before), but sometimes I prefer to just sit and take in the beauty of a scene as opposed to trying to capture it with my camera. Different philosophies on life, but they’re both valid. Please don’t try to condemn others because they happen to disagree with you. That goes for Jack too.

  88. @95,Garrett: I was going to be done with this forum for the day (as I’m leaving work shortly) but felt I wanted to share back with you, and congratulate you for getting through that obviously difficult time. I, as well, have lost family very close, last year. And while I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone, it does an amazing job of opening ones eyes to the value of life. And you said it best: “I decided to do with my time exactly what I wanted, rather than piss it away.” That is exactly the message everyone needs to learn and take with them. I believe I can sum up this entire argument down to one specific point: “What is it you want to do?” Don’t dream about learning things, learn them. Don’t dream about going places, go there. Don’t dream about being everything you want to be, BE everything you want to be… and more. For some of us, we enjoy playing the game. We don’t live it. I believe the common misconception is that the large number of people who hide away from the world inside the games are also the same people who are currently not in the game, reading other sites or doing other things entirely. These people usually don’t have the out-of-game attention span to debate about the finer things in life.

    Mandolin? Hmm. Interesting. I’m learning piano at the moment, as well as some of the finer points of home theater design.

  89. Don’t let the other BB readers hear you insult Pratchett. Them thar’s fightin’ words. I’ve gotten a great deal of enjoyment out of Pratchett’s writing, and enjoyment in life is gold to me. This inclination of yours to poo-poo the things that makes other people happy is stupefying.

    Jack in particularly seems to attempt to define “value” by real world influence, in which case, art house movies and underground comics are far more worthless than WOW. This is where the anti-game reasoning falls apart and invites these analogies everyone has been presenting: you are contradicting yourselves in the act of trying to justify your distaste for online gaming. The very reasons you say this hobby is a waste ends up defining your own hobbies as even more of a waste. WOW is more social than reading underground comics and in the end, there are more people you can talk about it with. I’ve struck up conversations in resturaunts with total strangers simply because they overheard us talking and turned around and said, “You’re talking about WOW? Oh, we play too!”

    I understand the point you’re trying to make (which is very similar to a religious argument meant to save our souls from the sins of vices which we happen to enjoy), but you both seem incapable of understanding the value of introspection or the validity of introversion as anything other than a mental illness (Jack’s “Asperger Syndrome” reference). Jack says that “interacting with real people in a real world … is infinitely better than sitting at home” and that’s a very revealing thing to say. You say our problem is that we gamers have “little/no attention span”; well as long as we’re slinging them kinda accusations, I’ll say your problem is you are so busy interacting with real people in a real world that you never take the time for a little quiet reflection on yourself and how you relate to the rest of the world. If you did, you might realize that not everyone loves to go out clubbing and exploring the city streets, and you have no right or basis to tell them that their lifestyle is inferior to yours. If you had any imagination, you might be able to imagine how other people can enjoy things that you don’t, and yet still be experiencing things which are just as interesting and valuable to them as what you choose to experience is to you. Don’t assume people are wasting their lives just because they don’t enjoy the same types of things that you do.

    I might die without ever setting foot in Ireland and you know, I don’t think my last thought is going to be, “Darn! I didn’t get to see Ireland!” (It might be, “Darn! I almost had my Paladin to level 70!”) In an infinite lifespan, I would love to see Ireland. In a lifespan where any one of us might die tomorrow, I see great value in having fun with my friends right here and now. Seeing Irish rocks sounds cool and all, but there’s plenty of stuff I can spend time doing with my friends right here and now.

    And one of them, Steam has just informed me, is playing Team Fortress 2. Vllad just signed on, so I think I’ll go join him and set fire to some enemies. Enjoy your rocks!

  90. Kylie Armbruster (15):

    Rural people are out of touch only insofar as it is impossible for them to fathom living in NYC, for example.

    And you know this how? If you haven’t lived in a big city, how do you know what it teaches you?

    When talking to people who grew up in NYC, it’s clear that they have no idea what it’s like to live anywhere else.

    When you talk to people who grew up anywhere, it’s clear they don’t know what it’s like to live somewhere else. That’s because they haven’t done it.

    Some New Yorkers grew up in New York, but many of them didn’t. You wouldn’t believe the mix of skills present on your average block in Brooklyn.

    If I had to pick one that was more “out of touch” (and I am, of course, biased), I’d have to say it was the city dwellers. They may have preternatural knowledge of the subway map, but they probably don’t know how to replace a toilet or build a staircase or repair an automobile.

    I point my finger at you and laugh. Ever replaced the head gasket on a Flathead-6 Rambler engine? I have. I’ve also repaired staircases and plumbing.

    Sometimes they don’t know what food looks like before it is packaged and put in the supermarket.

    Oh, you mean suburbanites. Why didn’t you say so?

    Living outside of the many support structures cities offer forces you to learn how to do a lot of things by yourself. Look no further than BB’s DIY guru, Mark, to see evidence of this. He hails from Colorado.

    Mark does because he wants to do. In my experience, rural areas are better supplied with competent handymen available for hire than urban centers are.

    Legislating for these two worlds, however, is virtually impossible.

    Been doing it for centuries.

    For this reason, the framers intended there to be strong states’ rights.

    That’s not a major reason they favored states’ rights, insofar as they favored states’ rights.

    Then there was the Civil War and the rest of the country has been enslaved by the Northeast ever since

    This is where you go off into fantasy.

    Any chance you’re aware that big cities pay more in taxes than they ever see in government services? It’s true, and it’s consistently been true for a long time. Rural areas take a net gain on the relationship.

    That’s even more true if you live in an area that gets a lot of water projects. Those have always amounted to welfare for farmers and ranchers, paid for by the central government.

    Also, the apportionment of voting districts in the United States gives the inhabitants of rural areas more representation per voter than the big cities get.

    (please no slavery flames–the Civil War was about money, not slavery–

    Funny how many Southerners said at the time that it was about slavery.

    –except that of the Confederacy by the Union).

    Oh yeah, that’s right — I always forget how the Emancipation Proclamation freed the poor oppressed Confederates.

    It is clear that I grew up in a different country than my friends from NYC, and, to a lesser extent, LA. The idea that the same body of laws should govern both of us is bizarre.

    Of course the same body of laws can govern disparate areas. Why not? The law governs wildly disparate people living in the same areas.

  91. FarmerBob:

    Rural America needs the opinions of Starbuck’s-swillers in New York and L.A. like Tehran needs a visit from Dick Cheney.

    “Starbuck’s-swillers in New York and L.A.” covers a fair percentage of Boing Boing’s editors, and since you’re clearly here reading …

    You figure it out.

    Garrett:

    Is WoW really fun? I’d counter that it’s not. It’s a simulation of enjoyment, not actual enjoyment.

    You have fallen into error. Enjoyment is real, just like pain and pleasure are real, no matter where they come from. Experiences in WoW are real experiences. It’s a real game.

    Blind men may climb Everest, and those bound to wheelchairs may play basketball, but neither a white cane nor a Sherpa guide nor a wheelchair are going to make an athlete of me. (Skip the details. They’re long and distracting.) I like the online universe. I don’t like having people pretend it’s not real. It tends to make them behave badly toward the people they meet there.

    For years, I was a trade fiction editor. (I still am, on the side.) I saw a great many books written by people who’d taken all that time they could have been devoting to online gaming, and instead used it to write novels. Most of them were awful. I wish the authors had been playing games instead. They’d have had more fun and less disappointment, and gotten into the company of their fellow human beings a lot more often.

    You think someone who plays a complex game has the same experience as everyone else who plays that game. You’re wrong. Every reader reads a different book, and every gamer plays a different game.

    Jack: Thanks for The Onion, especially Our Dumb Century.

    My issue is the distinction between games that are amusements and games which are immersive alternate realities that disconnect users from reality.

    Any good book does that. In fact, books are more immersive than games, because they don’t require that the reader make any decisions or undertake any actions. You can’t assert the existence of harmful effects from immersive games if you don’t assign the same harms to reading fiction.

  92. @AdventureBum – true – rereading the OP reveals that the point is not so much some particular industry/lifestyle/activity group, but what constitutes a Real American ™ … to be pandered to be politicos or quizzed by lazy journalists…

    Anyway, I recall reading somewhere that Oregon was the most ‘average’ state in that it matched average US demographics, or income, or something (I can’t find the reference and could be mistaken).

    If so, what we’re looking for is a WoW-playing Oregon farmer to interview.

  93. You think someone who plays a complex game has the same experience as everyone else who plays that game. You’re wrong.

    The “complexity” of WoW is something I find to be a dubious claim. It’s a fairly simple system really, levelling up characters is so rote it can be done as a job (the multitude of services that offer to take you from rank amateur to beastly strong in a pre-set time are evidence of that. Everyone is playing to the same end, a higher level, a stronger character, more items. While you can vary your color, your quests, you are ultimately moving down the same path as anyone else. I asked it before, can you be the Orc who joins the Alliance? Can you change the power dynamics of the Horde? No, you are one of millions of players whom Blizzard has a very vested interest in keeping on the same path, keeping the machine running smoothly.

    “Real Life” games allow for infinite variety. Variations on Chess, any number of sports, exist. There is only one WoW path.

    I hesitate to mention it because I’m quite unfamiliar with it, but Second Life allows for users to create, design, grow and invent. That freedom is ultimately an expression of creativity lacking in WoW’s linear levelling paradigm.

    I don’t like having people pretend it’s not real. It tends to make them behave badly toward the people they meet there.

    Again, this assumption that I and anyone arguing for WoW’s immersive (consuming?) nature are looking to hurt the players. It’s this nigh on knee-jerk reaction that anyone who does not completely invest in gaming is against it. You’re either a Kotaku reader or Jack Thompson. You’re either a beneveolent mentoring guild leader or someone screaming homophobic slurs on Halo 3. It’s not that simple. All through this thread people popped up saying “We’re not fat loser in mom’s basement!”. Over and over. I think a finer and less polarized, argument can be had. I don’t think every WoW player is a “loser”. I do think it’s a waste of time that could be much better spent, absolutely. And in connection with the original piece, if WoW offered something of substance beyond simply whiling away hours the players would indeed hold a huge numerical block.

  94. Once again, I shall flog you with your own definitions. Can you play chess and move a pawn like a queen? If you get into checkmate can you decide that your knight was really the king in disguise and hahaha you really fooled your opponet this time?

    No, you can’t. By your definition, this must greatly diminish the worthiness of chess, since you aren’t free to play how you want.

    You can take the pieces and play a different game, but then it’s not Chess. “Games” are created with rules and one of the rules of World of Warcraft is that Orcs are members of the Horde, just like one of the rules of chess is that you only get 1 king.

    And Garrett, need I remind you of your “Sucker Born Every Minute” quote? Your very first message was an attack on people who choose to play video games. We are not suckers, however much you choose to believe otherwise. We don’t think you’re against gaming because you’re not a gamer, we think you’re against gaming because you’ve told what a dim view you have both of it and of the people who do it, repeatedly.

    Also, you know, your assesment that WOW is so simple it can be done as a job kinda… doesn’t make sense. Heart transplants can also be done as a job, but I’m not sure that means it’s simple.

    As for complexity, WOW is highly complex. I think you’d struggle to find a more complex game in existance today (well, maybe The Sims) and as a result, there’s a great number of ways to experience it. As for the actual difficulty of the game, which seems to be what you’re arguing, the answer there is that “it is and it isn’t”. WOW can be either very easy or very difficult depending on how you choose to play. So you see, it actually is quite flexible, but like all games, it does still have rules.

  95. Nonesuch:

    You fall apart all over the place here.

    First, I pointed out that chess and other games can have variation. WoW can’t. When people tried to set-up independent servers they were shut down. There is one way to play WoW, no variation, no house rules, linear gaming, simple progression.

    As for the suckers quote, I said it was clearly Blizzard’s keen understanding of that idea at work. Do I think payin 14.95 a month to play WoW (plus the cost of the game, though I see they’re giving that away now) is a mugs game? Oh yes. Do I think you’re all gibbering idiots? No. The people at my job who buy lottery tickets whenver the jackpot goes over 100 million are getting played too, but at least they have a chance of winning some money.

    A friend of mine works at a local tourist attraction selling photos. People spend 10 bucks on a photo that costs, including labor and ren, about 2 dollars. 80% profit for a cheap photo that doesn’t even have the actual background, just a green screen. The company is raking in the cash. Are the people suckers? Oh yes. But they’re not bad people. They pay my friend’s bills, add to the economy and get a “memory”. Course, I’d rather just bring a camera.

    When Heart transplants are available for 200 dollar and undertaken by teams of Korean cardiac surgeons with little or no training…well…that just all falls apart there.

    And again, it’s not the rules of WoW that are my issue, it’s the fact the rules confine, they don’t expand or define. They create a track, a dog run of gaming. I’d rather run all over than from Level 1-70.

  96. Actually World of Warcraft has 4 variations: Normal, PvP, Roleplay and Roleplay PvP. Just like chess variants, each game type has its own specific rules and make it differ slightly from normal.

    There are many ways to play WOW. You can quest, you can bash creatures with your stick, you can fight players in PvP areas (which varies with ruleset), you can sit around and talk about baseball (or Chuck Norris jokes), you can roleplay an Orc, you can “roleplay” a “good Orc” who “wants to join the Alliance”, you can group up, you can solo, you can join massive raids, you can pick flowers, you can go fishing, etc, etc, etc. As I said, it’s a very complex game. Don’t pretend to dictate to me what WOW is and isn’t.

    Since you bring up money, though, do you think that playing the guitar is a “mugs game” for paying someone for that guitar? Is going to the movies a “mugs game” for paying the theater to go watch something on their screen? Define this “mugs game” for me. It sounds like it encompasses quite a lot of stuff. (I wasn’t aware that $15 for 40+ hours of entertainment was some kind of exorbitant fee. I actually still pay EVE $15/month even though I don’t play anymore, simply because I feel I ought to support the genre. It’s like giving extra money to your favorite artists in the hope they’ll produce another hit one day.)

    However, if you’d rather run all over than farm from level 1-70, then you might enjoy Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside or Ultima Online, which are considered to be “sandbox” or “horizontal” game designs, compared to WOW’s “storyline” or “vertical” game design. In storyline game design, your character progresses along a set path (meaning levels, in this case) and moves forward through the world as he goes. In sandbox schemes, you are free to go where you wish and do what you want, for the most part, because you don’t gain power so much as diversity.

    So now it seems you’ve gone from disliking video gaming as a hobby to simply disliking the particular type of video game that WOW represents because it doesn’t appeal to you. Progress!

    Like I said earlier,if someone thinks that playing games is a waste of time, they’re probably just playing the wrong games.

  97. As I said, it’s a very complex game. Don’t pretend to dictate to me what WOW is and isn’t.

    Sitting in a chat room and talking with an avatar is complex? I suppose that AIM is a rich and varied tapestry of fantastical delights.

    You’ve misrepresented me as hating all video games over and over and I’ve responded that it’s not true. Everquest (ahem…Evercrack?), EVE, SW:Galaxies, again, all defined parameters in which you get to play. Swimming in a shallow pond, playing someone else’s variation.

    As for the guitar, you’re right. There is indeed an investment. 200 dollars for a good solid acoustic is what I paid. Good group classes will run you too, say 15 bucks a week. Oh and there’s a world of accessories. Tuners, piks, capos, straps, cases, all running from cost-effective to pricey luxurious.

    But at 4am, on a tuesday, I can pick any song I know the chords to, ANY and start picking a tune. Anything from “Rainbow Connection” to “I Wanna be your dog”. And when I took the initiative, I started picking out my own tunes, strumming chords in variation, finding my own way to play.

    I’m still a novice by every standard, but the possibilities are endless. I don’t need servers, subscriptions, or even electricity to access something real and resonant.

    Sorry Nonesuch. If you’d rather be clicking you can’t tell me that’s living.

  98. @105, NONESUCH: Like I said earlier, if someone thinks that playing games is a waste of time, they’re probably just playing the wrong games.

    Or perhaps that “someone” has grown out of what games provided and stepped into a larger world? Or perhaps the best move in a game is the one that WOPR realized when playing tic-tac-toe in War Games: “The only winning move is not to play.”

    Some of the best—and most popular—science fiction out there deals with the conundrums of what is real/fake in the world. And often times, the quest’s goal ends in embracing reality. Real reality. From the conceit of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which questions what it means to be human in a manufactured world that is killing itself, to the plot of a Star Trek: TNGepisode where Reg Barkley is outed as creating damaging fantasies of other crew-mates on the holodeck, there is a clear point where many feel humans go to far in their efforts to escape reality. Like I said before, look at The Matrix. The message of all of these works of fantasy are clear: Reality is always the better choice.

    What’s ultimately frustrating about this thread is the polarizing concept that the original post is based on: That there are hard working “real” Americans in rural America, and there are “others” in urban America. And somehow WoW is analogous or comprable in some way. Nonsense. The study the original post uses is dubious at best and the whole things reads as an anti-Bush screed without basis. And believe me, there are reasons to be anti-Bush; I don’t think WoW population is a good analogy. And in many ways weakens the point being made.

  99. Once again garrett I point out your lack of experience with WoW, although to anybody who has actually played it for more than a day it’s obvious you don’t know a thing about the game. Hell, I’ve been playing for 2 years and I still haven’t seen everything the game has to offer. You know nothing of the strategy involved, the variety of ways to play, or the immense lore that accompanies the game. Once again this all comes down to you claiming your way is better than our way, and I’m sick of it. Just live your own life and stop trying to tell others who disagree with you that what they’re doing is a “waste of time”. We play WoW, or any other videogame for that matter, for the same reason you play guitar: enjoyment. Plain and simple. Unless your goal is to become a world-class guitarist and make a living off of your guitar playing, don’t try to pretend that it has any more or less value than any other form of entertainment.

  100. Holy crap you did NOT just pull a War Games reference out of your butt! Talk about taking something grossly out of context. That quote was talking about WAR, not videogames. Sheesh! And just because YOU got that message out of those movies doesn’t mean that it’s what others got, or that it was even the intended message. Please, PLEASE get off your self-righteous soap box and stop pretending that your take on life is better than others. YOU may prefer not playing videogames but that doesn’t make your way of life superior or any more valid.

  101. @109, ADVENTUREBUM:
    Let me go back to the beginning and what I first said:

    I truly can’t understand anyone nowadays who is over 25 and who spends a good chunk of their lives existing in a fantasy world. I’m not the only one. And I think that criticism against adult gamers has bizarrely become a taboo/verboten subject nowadays and I just don’t get it.

    And now let me add this to make it clearer:
    Everyone I know who is over the age of 25 and chooses to escape reality in the immersive world of video games has really had larger issues in life to deal with. I have met people who are terminally ill who use games to escape their world, and I get that. But I don’t get others who truly have choices and are—in my mind—are simply avoiding life.

    Immersive gaming is not analogous to books, arts, music or fiction. It’s far more immersive and definitely disconnects people from reality in ways that haven’t been experienced in other forms of media before. I don’t know of ANY marriages destroyed by obsessive film-going or book reading; I do know of two marriages that have ended in divorce due to immersive gaming.

    And I’m not saying my life is better than yours. I never did and nobody else ever said that. I am saying that reality is always better than fantasy Even Philip K. Dick knew that; his own demons made his writing career/life an example of that struggle.

    Beyond all of that, please at least have a critical eye towards comparing WoW to chess, bowling and other games that have survived the test of time. In my mind—while I am not a chess fan—it’s appeal has centuries of history and social interaction behind it. In contrast, WoW is a commercial world created by a company that just wants to sell you games, games and more games.

  102. This is not mere criticism here. You are making general statements that simply aren’t true. Maybe in YOUR limited experience the only people over 25 who choose to “escape reality” have had real issues, but once again I stand as proof that your generalization is false. I am, in fact, 26. I have no “issues” in my life that make me want to escape reality. As I have already demonstrated, I am in no way “avoiding life”. Far from it, in fact. What you cannot seem to fathom is that for most people who enjoy things like videogames there is no underlying problem in their life that makes them want to resort to an escape from reality. For us, there really IS no difference between playing WoW and playing chess, to use your example. Or for that matter, going to see a movie. One can EASILY spend the same amount at a 2 hour movie as I do on my monthly fee for WoW. The fact that WoW is a commercial world is a non-issue. I know that, and so does everybody else who plays it. We are not so naive as to think that Blizzard spent millions and over 5 years developing a game just so we could enjoy it, out of the goodness of their hearts. Do some people take it too far? Absolutely. Is there a point when the game becomes that person’s reality and starts detracting from living a normal, healthy life? Sure. But it has been my experience that most people who play WoW, myself included, never get to that point. THOSE people are typically the ones that really do have other issues, and may have a valid reason to WANT to escape reality. As for me and millions of other WoW players, it is simply another pastime that we enjoy. It is not a matter of “choosing” between WoW and life…I enjoy both very much thank you. However, I, and others like me, take offense when we are stereotyped the way you are doing right now. By the way, I never said you claimed your “life” was superior to ours. You DID say that your “way of life” was, several times.

    As to having a critical eye toward comparing WoW to other “older” games…that’s a bunch of bull. Technology has been changing so fast the last couple of decades that it is literally redefining entertainment. Considering that the largest online subscriber base before WoW was Everquest with somewhere around 500,000 players, I’d say WoW has done pretty well. It’s launch day alone dwarfed those numbers. And by the way, when I’m doing other activities such as bowling or playing chess, I could care less about how long they’ve been around. Their appeal to me is the fact that they’re fun. The same reason I like to play WoW.

  103. @111, ADVENTUREBUM:
    As to having a critical eye toward comparing WoW to other “older” games…that’s a bunch of bull. Technology has been changing so fast the last couple of decades that it is literally redefining entertainment. Considering that the largest online subscriber base before WoW was Everquest with somewhere around 500,000 players, I’d say WoW has done pretty well.
    You’re clearly not reading what I am saying. Which is not surprising.

    Chess is a game that has lasted centuries, civilizations, wars and politics. And it’s only “technology” is a board and a bunch of pieces. Ditto with bowling; round ball and pins and it’s been around for a long time as well.

    You’re dismissal of games that have a true lifespan and history in favor of a game that boasts “It’s launch day alone dwarfed those numbers.” is quite sad. You’re boasting numbers as if quantity equals quality, and I’m not buying that. Also, technology does not equal quality. Imagination does.

    And this is coming from someone who likes to play Dominoes more, FYI.

  104. My point was simple: it doesn’t matter how long a game has been around, so long as it’s fun. And I never said I “dismissed” these other games in favor of WoW…you clearly did not read or comprehend my post. I said I play both, and for the same reason: because they are fun.

  105. @113, ADVENTUREBUM:
    And I never said I “dismissed” these other games in favor of WoW…you clearly did not read or comprehend my post.

    ADVENTUREBUM in 111 said:
    “As to having a critical eye toward comparing WoW to other “older” games…that’s a bunch of bull.”

  106. Um, what? Random quotes now? Or are you simply misunderstanding my post again? Why is it so hard for you to comprehend that one can enjoy BOTH? Your quote of my post:

    “As to having a critical eye toward comparing WoW to other “older” games…that’s a bunch of bull.”

    has absolutely no relevance to the first quote. I was not dismissing those other games. Let me spell it out for you so you can’t possible misinterpret again: I see playing WoW as no different than playing any other kind of game for enjoyment, and I play BOTH kinds on a regular basis. I do not “dismiss” playing a “real” game for WoW. Simple enough for ya?

  107. What I AM dismissing, however, is the notion that these other games are somehow a better or more valid form of entertainment than WoW. Do I think WoW is a better use of my time than playing chess? Nope. Do I think playing chess is a better use of my time than playing WoW? Nope. Sometimes I feel like doing one, sometimes the other. Simple as that. And that goes for all of my hobbies.

  108. Anyway, I’d love to stick around and discuss this until the Tauren come home but I’m leaving for Alaska tomorrow morning. Good luck all you fellow gamers…don’t let people like Jack and Garrett get you down.

  109. I think Jack has proven that he will not hear the comparison of playing online games and reading a book. Both are, by their nature, immersive hobbies. Often, a book gets poor reviews if it fails to be immersive. His argument of what he gets out of books is a personal one. For him, he gets more out of a book. That’s great. I don’t. They’re too linear for me. I prefer more interaction in my entertainment. I want to be involved, even if in just the slightest, in the story.

    As for the original topic:
    Someone early on already hit it on the head why politicians don’t pander to the WOW players. We don’t share a common political agenda. Congress has had to address the group of “internet users” already, and politicians addressed them at that time for the short period of time that “Net Neutrality” was a hot issue for them. After that quieted down, the group went back to falling better in line with its normal political affiliations. It would be no more useful to categorize “People who enjoy Coke over Pepsi” for political agendas. Farmers, in general, are fairly politically involved. This is because the government deals with subsidies and agricultural policy. I work on computer hardware, and the company I work for pays very close attention to Microsoft, because it affects the work. It’s inevitable that Microsoft pays attention to us, because without our product, their product is impaired. You try to group people up into categories that make the most sense, but aren’t so big as to be unaddressable. In the political arena, farmers are a good group of people to address and try to win over with policy. WOW players are not, we share very different political opinions.

  110. Jack Said:

    Reality is always the better choice.

    100 odd posts of exhorting that very simple, very core idea. Oddly, you used “geek” culture examples to prove this fine point. You’d think that people who’ve seen “The Matrix”, Star Trek and read a bit of Philip K. Dick would agree whole-heartedly.

    Reality is always the better choice. And yes, WoW is a “real game” but as a simulation of actual things (conversing, exploring, creating, adventures) it has all the “reality” of a cartoon.

  111. You’re absolutely right (except the conversing isn’t simulated, it’s just text-based).

    And reading a sci-fi book isn’t even that. It’s the story of others doing things, some imaginary, some real. It can be about as far from reality as you can get.

  112. Yes, we know your core idea: “Reality is always the better choice.” Compared to what?

    What you completely fail to understand is that it’s ALL reality. Playing the guitar is reality. Reading a book is reality. Playing a game is reality. Sitting in your room quietly thinking is reality.

    I think what you really mean is, “Face to face interaction with other people is the best way to live.” Which I happen to disagree with. It’s one way to live, and I’m not convinced it’s the best one. I prefer a more introverted, introspective route, personally.

  113. I think what you really mean is, “Face to face interaction with other people is the best way to live.” Which I happen to disagree with. It’s one way to live, and I’m not convinced it’s the best one. I prefer a more introverted, introspective route, personally.

    Then, with no sense of cruelty or snark, I really think you have a serious problem Nonesuch. Not trying to score debate points or make you feel bad or be an ass, but I’d seriously reflect on what you expressed there and realize just how disturbing that sounds.

    Introspection is a fine and good thing, but between solitude and face to face interaction the latter is always the best choice, on so many levels. I just can’t get away from that one, sorry.

  114. ctlly, Grrtt, th mr hr frm y, th mr sspct y my hv sprgr Syndrm, whch hs “flr t dmnstrt mpthy wth prs” s mjr symptm.

    Thrght ths dscssn, t sms ll th WW-hds hv bn bl t dmnstrt qt bt f mpthy. Fr xmpl, dn’t ply th gtr, bt cn s thngs frm yr prspctv nd cn ndrstnd yr njymnt f t. ‘m nt bg n wndrng rnd t xplr cty, bt cn ndrstnd Jck’s ntrst n t.

    Hwvr, y sm cmpltly ncpbl f mpthzng wth ppl wh dn’t thnk prcsly lk y d r njy th thngs y njy. Y ssm tht nyn wh thnks dffrntly mst hv mntl dfcncy whch s, rnclly ngh, symptm f mntl dfcncy tslf.

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  116. Aw, now why was Jack’s thought that gamers = people with Asperger’s syndrome left intact but my reversal of his logic was disemvowelled?

    I just don’t understand the critera being used around here. Is there a manual?

  117. I’ve been up all night playing WoW, so I might not be the most articulate person in here. I’m not going to wax philosophical about politics or about how stupid addicted gamers are. I’m not going to write out a logical essay as to why gaming addiction is ridiculous, because real life is so wonderful. I’m going to tell you about what this game has done to me.

    In just 20 short months, I’ve become a gamer version of a meth addict. WoW has consumed my life, and I’m fairly certain this addiction will end up killing me if I don’t get help soon.

    Here’s an example of the other extreme…the person who can’t play casually and have a normal life. I’m an intelligent 35-year old single woman with a 142 IQ. I have a degree in English and had originally planned on becoming a writer. Most people I meet think I’m witty, artiulate and interesting. And yet…

    I consider myself to be a textbook gaming addict. I play so much that I’ve neglected to pay bills, so I’ve had my power turned off, my phone and internet disconnected, my car insurance revoked and my credit card frozen. I’ve tried quitting several times, but keep going back. I play about 17 hours/day.

    To the people who seem to be bragging about having a life, a career and control over their gaming: Good for you.

    To the people who think gaming addiction is simply a lack of self-control: You’re obviously not a gaming addict.

    I have a successful career as a flight attendant…and yet this game is ruining my life. Before WoW, I wasn’t a computer geek or a loser – I hung out with friends, watched TV, wrote stories.

    Now, all I do is play WoW for 17+ hours/day on my days off, which is about 14-16 days/month. I’ve tried to stop playing, but the social networks and bonds formed in-game keep me hooked. I don’t want to abandon my “friends” who are not really friends.

    To those of you who say real life is better: I’m glad. My life, my reality isn’t better than my life in the game. In the game I am beautiful, thin and sexy. Men hit on me. I don’t put up with other people’s crap and speak my mind. I’m good at making money and I’m a terror in battlegrounds. I make my in-game friends laugh with my rants and witticisms. In WoW, I belong.

    Real life is another story. In real life, I have a “harmless” tumour on my pituitay gland. I’m in a loveless, sexless relationship with a man who doesn’t love me but keeps me around anyway, and I stay because I feel unattractive and unloveable. In real life, men don’t hit on me because I’m not a skeleton. In real life, people push me around and take advantage of my accomodating nature. In real life, I’m broke and have trouble managing my finances. I feel fat and depressed and invisible a lot of the time.

    So to those of you who wrote so smugly about how those of us who play too much are simply weak-minded losers…we are addicts, though not the kind of addict who gets attention, like the crackhead who beats someone to death for $20, or the alcoholic who drives drunk and kills a family. This addiction doesn’t gain the attention of the police or the authorities because we are committing no crimes – we are simply wasting away in our homes doing something that makes us *feel* like we’re actually worth something. There are no resources or help for this addiction, and worst of all, there is no compassion or understanding for us. Reading forums like this do nothing but confirm that in the real world, I am a loser. So why would I want to be any part of it?

    People are debating back and forth about whether or not gaming addiction even exists, and they judge those who claim to be addicts in a much harsher light than they would the alcoholic, the meth-addict or the crackhead, because at least they’re addicted to a substance, they have an excuse. It’s time to stop judging us and to instead have a little compassion for people who are simply trying to derive a sense of purpose and value. It may not be real, but it feels real, and for some of us, that’s the high that keeps us logging in for 17 hours a day. Coke addicts snort cocaine to feel powerful…is gaming addiction so different?

    I know this is a rambling piece of nonsensical crap…but I just wanted to give you a snapshot of the other side of the bell curve….the gamer who isn’t a successful business owner, who isn’t doing so well. There are more of us than you’d think. Read the posts on http://www.wowdetox.com sometime. As technology advances and games become more complex and sophistocated, it’s only going to get worse.

    Take care everyone.

    -S.H.

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