FCC commissioner: Warcraft is a "leading cause" of college dropouts

An FCC commissioner has stated that video game "addiction," especially to World of Warcraft, is a "leading cause" of college dropouts. (Nevermind that 90% of the people diagnosed with "video game addiction" don't have any such condition, even according to the crazily broad definition used by its proponents).
With the explosion of educational resources available online, one might think parents would be 100% pleased with the internet’s role in their children’s lives. But surveys show just the opposite: a late 2006 survey that showed 59% of parents think the internet has been a totally positive influence in their children’s lives-- down from 67% in 2004.

You might find it alarming that one of the top reasons for college drop-outs in the U.S. is online gaming addiction - such as World of Warcraft - which is played by 11 million individuals worldwide.

FCC Commissioner Terms WoW a Leading Cause of College Dropouts


  1. I for one think there is something to this.

    Addiction can be both physical and psychological.

    Psychological addiction can be caused by receiving a positive stimulus response over and over, which triggers dopamine.

    I wholeheartedly believe that if a stockbroker, for instance, receives a surge (probably a dopamine rush) upon sealing a large deal, they can become addicted to this sensation. Similar a MMORPH player, upon receiving a particularly valuable item or slaying a difficult boss.

    Sometimes addictions can be positive – such as a runner who gets addicted to running.

    I may be wrong. I am not a scientist.

    But, I have to be honest, I consider myself to be addicted to the Internet. I display many of the signs of addiction: I will try to hide my usage, feel shame for how much time I spend online, go online when I told myself I would do anything but (like right now), etc.

    The Internet for me has become, for the most part, a source of idle pleasure and enjoyment, instead of a means to create and connect. When I look at the last ten years of my life, and the vast quantity of time I have spent online, I consider Internet usage to have been the #1 detrimental factor in my life. Not that it hasn’t been positive, too, in many ways. But it has kept me from doing many, many worthwhile things.

    I’ve never played Wow. But when I was in middle school, I used to play MUDs, the text-based predecessors to WoW, quite a lot – and I was totally hooked. I was terrible. I would devote every waking, free moment to playing, literally. It caused a huge rift with my parents.

    And for the record, I had an old friend who dropped out of the expensive Washington University with a GPA of 0.0 after 2 semesters. He spent all of his time playing MUDs. Now, whenever I talk to him (which is less and less frequently), he doesn’t have anything to talk about except for WoW.

  2. Speaking as a completely uninformed, armchair psychiatrist, I am of the opinion that dropping out of college due to MMORPGs is probably just a symptom of a deeper problem. I’ve known a few of people who dropped out due to FFXI or WoW, and they all suffered from terrible depression issues. I’m pretty sure that if they hadn’t gotten into MMORPGs, they probably would have turned to alcohol or drugs instead.

    Of course, I’m a WoW addict myself, so what do I know?

  3. I don’t think that the FCC Commissioner is incorrect about his assertion. However, I am not going to go as far as to suggest that parents rip the Cable Modems out of their wall outlets. I know a guy who played World of Warcraft while hid critical ill child was in the hospital getting a brain tumor removed. He told his wife that he had a fever, waited for her to leave home and logged on to the Blizzard network.

    This is obviously a very extreme case of a person being irresponsible, but it is part of a society of people I have encountered over the past 6-8 years while repairing PCs, teaching, and associating with my friends.

    Just of the people I know, MMORPG addiction has led to some ridiculous irresponsible behavior. I would also guess that online gaming is going to lead to an extreme increase in preventable medical issues like diabetes and obesity.

    I’d be interested in the number because I would be more convinced that MMORPGs are a leading cause of not getting into college not dropping out of college.

  4. I’m not inclined to dismiss this out of hand; I don’t know if I’d have made it through college with modern online distractions available.

    It’s an interesting problem. Game developers — basically the smartest people around — are 100% dedicated to the cause of getting the rest of us hooked on something. You can imagine that they see 11 million WoW players as nothing more than a good start.

  5. I only know one person that dropped out for a semester due to WoW. Many more have dropped out due to partying too hard, family problems, relationship problems, and financial problems.

  6. I know two people who have dropped out of college because they ruined their GPAs due to WoW, as well as several people who play WoW and maintain active social lives and continue to go to class. I also have plenty of friends who’ve dropped out of college due to excessive partying, and then know people who are still productive, smart, A-making individuals despite being high all the time. I don’t really know where I’m going with this or what point I’m trying to make, I guess all I’m saying is that WoW can’t really be blamed for creating college dropouts. Maybe, people who become addicted to WoW were “sooner or later” going to become addicted to something, just hadn’t found the facility for it yet.

  7. I like the phrase “totally positive” anyone who thinks that just about anything is a “totally positive” experience, is probably not very familiar with whatever the topic is. I would be rather surprised if the drop wasn’t also influenced by more parents actually using the net too. Talk about a meaningless term.

    Similarly “one of the top reasons”: one of the top 5? top 10? top 100? It’s obviously not the absolute top, so how far down the list is it? Are they only counting cases diagnosed by professionals, or relying on self-diagnosis?

    That all said – i personally know of one marriage that broke up entirely due to an actual case of WoW addiction. And there have been some studies that I remember reading ages back that compared WoW to slot machines, and suggested that it might have enough in common with them that whatever makes somebody susceptable to slot machine gambling addiction may also lead to WoW addiction.

  8. My Frosh year was largely spent familiarizing myself with that new-fangled internet thingy, by way of Unix. (it was ’94) Good times…. Before graduating HS, my family had no ‘net.

    Though I did attend classes and socialize (badly), I was also getting addicted to a MUD: ThunderDome II.

    Didn’t realize it, partly cuz the whole dorm floor was involved, but I was worse than most.

    Then, after a huge amount of invested time, (with zero ROI), my character died in a unique room that ate all objects. All my achievements, money, and artifacts were irrecoverably gone.

    It was actually kinda devastating, and obviously pathetic at the same time. But it made me realize that I *had* been addicted, and I kinda had withdrawals from being forced to quit Palinesque. .. (cold turkey)

    So… WoW kinda scares me.

  9. In the latter half of high school and throughout college, I deliberately did not have a game console because I knew I’d never graduate–I just can’t resist. I don’t play WoW as an adult for the same reason: I’m sure I’d never leave the apartment if I did.

    I think I was able to make these decisions because of my upbringing: my parents held me to a high standard, and I could see the steps I needed to take to meet it.

    Kids (adults, everyone) have so many delicious, intoxicating entertainment options nowadays. Maybe a more explicit discussion of educating moderation should be part of the national discourse.

  10. I know one person, a terrifically smart, creative young man. He drew fantasy worlds and comic strips with great skill, played a mean blues guitar. He had real world friends. He was studying for shodan (black belt) in kendo. He read for pleasure, had good grades. He had a prospect of college, and much more.

    No longer. All gone. My son.

    D’s and F’s, no activities or interests outside of how to get back onto WoW. Too apathetic to get a drivers license, no job, no money, no offline friends. All in one year of WoW. As surely as if he were mainlining.

    All we can do is watch as his future disintegrates. It’s really sad to hear him talk about college, because some of his friends are going to college, and he really thinks that somehow he’s going to pull it out “real soon now” and get grades that will get him there too. But first he wants another “hour” of WoW. And then he’s too tired to do homework. And if I say no, homework first he throws a violent tantrum, and starts breaking my stuff. We have threatened to call the police, it may yet happen.

    My possessions I can put back together. My son is in real, irrevocable, deep trouble. Sure it’s my fault, sure WoW is only a symptom. So TF what?

    This is serious business folks. For some people WoW etc. is a potent drug, worse than smack. Worse in part because all of you here on this board deny it so hotly and help enable his behavior.

  11. So,like comic books and the reefer, the state must needs regulate and control video games, to protect the children.
    The definition of “addition” has gone off the rails, it’s now used as an all-purpose perjorative.

  12. Your son is suffering from clinical depression. WoW, although it is a tremendous waste of time, doesn’t cause medium-term depression.

    As for the “worse than smack” nonsense, it’s really not worth justifying with a response. Understandably this is an extremely emotionally evocative topic for you, but I suggest that you find professional medical help for your son (preferably someone who doesn’t just shovel Fluoxetine at him.) I am not a layman in the area of mental health, and I restate- your son has moderate to severe depression, which is statistically more likely to prove fatal than most cancers. Don’t spend your time complaining about what your depressed son spends his time doing in his de-motivated state- seek treatment for the depression. If you don’t, *you* are exacerbating his illness.

  13. Is this the formula?
    If it is pleasant (induces pleasure), therefore
    It changes brain chemistry, generates dopamine, therefore
    It is can be addictive therefore
    It must needs be controlled or regulated by the State.
    This thinking seems to apply to anything that causes pleasure.
    Pot addiction sex addiction video game addiction food addiction chocolate addiction.
    None of them match the danger of having a mind addicted to religion.
    And it is only where the body can be addicted that the Regulations ought to be passed.
    To Regulate “addictions of the mind” is to insult liberty, to spit in the eye of freedom. That’s not to say that addictions of the mind are harmless, it’s just that State interference which such will make things worse.
    Now for that coffee.
    PS I do not have the gamers’ gene, I did not like Pong back in the 70’s and none of the video games I’ve tried since can compare to the pleasure I’ve gained through reading…oh no…maybe I’m..gasp!…addicted! Addicted to reading! What’s the parents/the cops to do?

  14. How can these adults play all day and not have any money to pay? Oh right most are paid for by parents or are working zombies.

  15. That the FCC has apperently taken an interest presages Regulation by that body of these online games, eh? FCC up to a little mandate creep?

  16. I’m not inclined to dismiss this either. When I was a masters student, one of the freshmen in my college had been missing for several weeks — didn’t go to class, didn’t answer the phone. Finally his parents came and noticed his car was still outside his apartment, so they had the school get an extra copy of the key and entered the apartment. There he was, on World of Warcraft.

    He was so addicted he had completely stopped going to class, and was so ashamed of himself that he never answered his parent’s calls. I think he had been living on ramen noodles alone…

    I also know that when I used to be an administer in Wikipedia I was constantly thinking about whatever current debate I was engaged in, and would frequently have to stop hanging out with my girlfriend just to make sure no one had posted a new reply. I haven’t logged in with my old account for about two years now.

    Clearly an addictive personality is a major part of all addictions, but I can certainly see that there are some vessels for that addiction, like World of Warcraft, that are just so easy for people to fall in to.

  17. I take it that we are agreed that once these people are no longer under their parents/guardians care & control that there ought to be no Laws regulating their behavior vis-a-via the video games, are we not?
    I mean this is a “protect the kids vulnerable to vid game addiction” meme, right?
    Us adults , well, I take it we need not expect Laws about these things? What is it the FCC has to say about it? Outright ban?
    What would those whose children have been affected by this scourge suggest? I personally have never seen the attraction of computer gaming, but that’s just me. (I’m no gamer, I could care less, but I don’t like seeing any pleasures regulated out-of-existence [pleasure seems hard to come by, as religious types root it out and ban it on principle, it seems], and when did society’s ‘default’ state become “misery’, anyway?)
    I’m against tax dollars being spent to ‘control’ computer games….

  18. Addictions, even bonafide chemical addictions are merely symptoms of depression and anxiety.

    The amount of mental illness in the population is staggering, yet we are either totally ignorant about it or in some massive state of denial.

    We tend to see the situations that result from mental illness in terms of morality. If only abusive people tried to be better people, if only con artists saw the light etc… Only in cases of severe overt mental illness do we doubt this. But there is this expectation that everyone short of Jeffrey Dahmer can just find Jesus or simply pull up his socks, as it were, and fly straight. For some reason it is desperately important to people that they believe this.

    So research into the root causes of and cures and treatments for personality disorders and anxiety disorders and depression and such are not given the priority they might if folks were thinking clearly on these matters.

    But we don’t. We don’t because we’re collectively in denial and all this blaming and banning of everything from video games to gay marriage is a non-productive self-soothing activity. You might is a symptom of our collective disease.

  19. College is a leading cause of withdrawal from gaming activities. Never did I have less time for the games and gaming community I so loved than when I was trying to graduate. Sad but true.

  20. Certainly some people are online far too much, but another reason that people don’t go to or can’t stay in college is because it costs about a billion dollars. Still paying for my bachelor’s ten years on!

  21. WoW came out while I was in LS. I knew what would happen to me, so I did not touch it for as long as I could. Luckily, no friend able to infect me got it until after I had graduated and taken the bar.

    Within a week of her getting it, I was playing. It hasn’t harmed my work, but it’s definitely my default leisure time activity if I have enough energy/attention remaining to do anything but collapse and zombify.

  22. @ JESNOW

    This is a long one, so here’s the one-sentence version: As someone who’s personally been on both sides of the coin, I can confidently say that people only play these games to excess when there’s something deeply wrong in the rest of their life.

    Okay, now the really long version, for those who might like to see my reasoning.

    As a current college senior, BoingBoing reader and also an avid player of WoW, I now drag myself out of faceless lurkerage to deposit my two cents in this pile of many. Please be gentle. ._.

    I agree more with RAJ77 than with any of the other comments here. My heart goes out to JESNOW; I believe that I truly do know how you – and he – must feel. But more to the point:

    In my high school days I was an A student and accomplished in wushu and activist projects within the public sector. None of these accomplishments held a candle towards what I really wanted: mostly, the freedom to make my own decisions in life. It was only after the fact that I was able to define this void in my life this way.

    That along with other issues back then caused my avoidant immersion in MUDs, which caused a huge amount of problems – like your son, JESNOW, my grades went in the tank and generally stayed there, and my early college years (in a major of my father’s choosing) were equally as dismal.

    The solution to all this was drastic and I won’t get into it, but all’s said and done I’m now finishing off my degree in a field I enjoy, have a high major GPA, have marriage prospects, etc. I -still- play games like WoW. I enjoy it greatly. But unlike before, they take a back seat to other priorities.

    My point is that people only play these games to excess when there’s something they want to run away from. JESNOW, I would never presume that your or your son’s situations or motives are similar my experience, but I would like to suggest that his problem is not WoW, but rather of something severely lacking in his life which causes him to run away to that virtual world.

    Instead of berating him for his misdeeds or blaming the game, I urge you to seek help for your son. He might have to be diagnosed by a proper, /supportive/ therapist (not a rote textbook therapist, I don’t have enough venom to spew about /those/ monsters), but either way in the meantime you might risk deepening his wounds.

  23. I’m a WoW player myself, and I played it in college as well. I can definitely see how easy it is to shirk responsibilities to go level or do an instance, but I agree mostly with the people who are saying that if you have a so-called addiction to a video game or WoW, there is an underlying problem.

    My sophomore year of college I decided to spend the summer there to take an extra class. I ended up being super lonely and very depressed. (I have a history of depression and usually take medication, but sometimes I lapse.) I ended up playing another MMORPG most of the day until my night class, then stayed up until around 3am to keep playing.
    Once I finally got over my depression, I stopped playing so much. I had no need to distract myself from my loneliness and socialize online because I had my friends back for the semester.

    JESNOW, I encourage you to seek help for your son. And, like other people, recommend you not blame the game, because more than likely it’s his attempt to solve his problem on his own. He needs your love and support, and I hope you both can find a solution and repair your relationship. :)

  24. Maybe people who would rather play games instead of go to college should drop out – travel the world, enjoy life, have fun, do whatever they want – and then return to college when they are ready. College is wasted on (some of) the young. Let them come when they are ready to learn and know what they want to do with their lives.

  25. About 1 in 4 college freshman drop out. This hasn’t changed significantly since WoW came out – so there’s no way to say that WoW causes people to drop out of college. It’s more likely that those who are going to drop out start playing more WoW.

    Here’s an article from 2002 talking about the same problem. (WoW came out 2 years after this article)

    The kid described in this article is pretty typical – blame everyone but yourself for failure. That’s what I did when I first got to college, too. My demise was hacky-sack. Spent hours upon hours doing that instead of studying, instead of going to class. It could have been anything – video games, partying, etc — WoW is not unique. I finally got my ass in gear when I started seeing failing grades, though.

  26. i had a friend in school (before the rise if the internet, mind you) who lost an entire semester to tetris. sure, it’s easy to blame the game, but what she and what we (her friends) knew was that her real problem was that she was severely depressed — tetris was just an escape from the depression for a bit. i will add my voice to those who are encouraging those to look at the underlying problem, and don’t blame the game. btw, my friend conquered her depression and is now quite a happy, successful person. not sure if she plays tetris anymore, though. : )

    oh, i also say this as a WoW player.

  27. I went to the article to see if she cited a single resource, study, fact or whatever, to prove her point. Seems like the paraphrase was: lots of people play WoW, lots of people drop out of college: voila, totally made up fact.

  28. Anyone here read “Hearts in Atlantis” from the Stephen King novella collection of the same name? It’s about a group of college freshmen in the mid-sixties who get caught up in a perpetual tournament of the card game Hearts, and some of them flunk out; even though they know that there’s a good chance that they’ll be drafted and sent to Vietnam, they keep playing. (Although it’s fiction, King has indicated elsewhere that there’s some basis to it in his own history.)

    Like any other activity that offers immediate positive reinforcement, yes, it can be addicting, and yes, there are some people that are self-medicating, in effect, with it. Right after I graduated from college, in the mid-eighties, I had a hard time finding a job, and my idea of a fun evening was playing Gauntlet (the original arcade game) for hours, which was possible on one quarter if you knew the trick of waiting for three minutes until all the dungeon walls turned into exits. Kind of sad, I know, but it got me out of the scuzzy rooming house that I was living in and gave me the feeling that I was halfway decent at something. Better that than drinking generic mouthwash.

  29. My sinister plan is to take all these MMORPG players addicted to grinding and transform the grind missions themselves into real-world profit-making tasks — yoking these gamers into unwittingly slaving away for my personal gain.

    I’m amazed MMORPG designers haven’t already done this (while giving away access to the game to maximize market exposure), but then again they all still utterly fail to prevent mudflation too. Maybe this will improve as designers rely more and more on procedural synthesis to generate content instead of central planning.

    c.f. Progress Quest

  30. WoW is so addivtive it got me off a 5+year, half-ounce a week pot habit. It also nearly killed my marriage – something the drugs never did. I now play with neither of these things. I played wow for 2.5 years. Havent played for nearly 1.5 now.

    Say no to WoW.

  31. I would like to say that I play WoW, I also work 40 hours a week and many other things. I don’t believe this is a Government Issue because WoW has a PARENTAL CONTROL System that lets you limit the amount of time, and times of day an account can log into the game. I believe this is the parents responsibility. My parents laid down rules when I was younger about Video Gaming such as school comes first. And now Im a productive member of society. My advise is to the Parents, start doing your job as our guardians and teachers. You had kids and now you have a responsibility to raise us. Don’t just sit and cry that your kid plays to much video games, take control of it. Lay down rules and look into the Parental Control System on http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/index.xml
    The hardest thing you will need to do is get your kids account info, and if you’re paying for it I believe that is your right.

  32. Let’s face it, most people would rather spend time in virtual reality than actual reality. Why? Because reality sucks for most. The world has become a negative environment, and most of those who are enjoying it are those who are making things worse for others.

    People end up in games like WoW simply because they prefer it over real life. I am personally disgusted by the state of the world, and its inhabitants at this point in time. There’s no law that says I can’t spend most of my time in virtual reality, and there never should be.

    This CAN be likened to the use of drugs like pot, cocaine, heroin… often times those are used to escape reality for a short period of time. The bright side of video game addiction is that most drugs have a permanent negative effect on one’s health, not to mention they are illegal. These drug related effects can follow you for the rest of your life, leading to lifelong regret and depression. Video games can be walked away from with no lasting health effects. I think parents or spouses of game addicts should be thankful it’s not something worse.

    Someone mentioned the disappearing student who was found playing WoW. Those people should have been thankful they didn’t find him laying on the floor, having drowned in a pool of his own bloody vomit due to a drug overdose. People should be thanking the gaming industry, instead of trying to regulate it. I believe they are saving lives.

  33. Addictions are serious, and can kill you, or otherwise destroy your life. Sure, I’m happy to agree that WoW addictions only happen to those with “something else wrong with them”… but that’s true of every addiction. There’s a lot of regulation around addictive stuff, whether it’s alcohol, meth, or gambling, exactly to try and protect those of us flawed individuals at risk. Perfect people don’t need to worry, it’s the imperfect ones who get captured.

    Son of a friend dropped out (of university, and pretty much the rest of life for several years) due to WoW. No, I don’t think he would have automatically been done in by something else, WoW preys preferentially on the bright, introverted, and computer-savvy, a different risk profile than alcohol or drugs. And the cost to society, in terms of wiping out people who could have been very high achievers, is massive.

  34. #1:

    MUDs are still around. I played them constantly my freshman year of college. There are still holdouts who feel that the text gives a greater amount of creativity to the player, who has to imagine the scenes themselves.

    I can see this happening. I know of a few people in my classes who have admitted to being addicted to MMORPGs in general. I wouldn’t say it’s an epidemic by any means, but it is widespread enough.

    That said, the benefits of internet usage outweigh the possibility of addiction (says the web design student). Studies have shown that intelligent usage is beneficial, and uses more of brain than reading alone.

  35. For my freshman year I flunked not because of WoW seeing as how it didn’t exist yet, but because of writing. I love writing more than anything but for some stupid reason I chose computer science as my major and I couldn’t even pass the introductory class.

    Then I was introduced to a writing circle my second semester, and after about two weeks, I stopped going to all my classes. It didn’t help that I started the classes completely in over my head, but still. Meanwhile, writing was making me happy because everyone was truly wrapped around my fingers, hanging on to my work, AND PAYING ATTENTION TO ME when in normal life best I could get from anyone was verbal abuse.

    The only reason I was able to stop was that the rest of the group got bored with participating, and I wasn’t ever able to find another one as good since. It’s not just games, it’s any kind of escape from this shitty world.

  36. Something I’ve noticed, and haven’t heard reference to (here or otherwise) is that some environments are more predictable than our real world, where it is easier to get ahead without the rules changing. Let me explain.

    I’ve noticed that while growing up, dealing with people, and even in the workplace, the rules of the game change — usually without any indication rhyme or reason. Insane people (of some sort) will try the same action over and over, expecting a different outcome each time. I have noticed that when I try the same action, in the same way, I DO get a different outcome, which I’ve found to be extremely perplexing.

    Modern games are environments where the rules stay the same, allowing one to get ahead predictably. I sure wish real life were this way.

  37. Hmm. I dunno. I had a semester where on the surface it looked like I flunked out of school because of my gaming addiction, but in my case, gaming was an easy scape goat. Did I spend all my time playing EQ (late 90s MMO) instead of going to class? Yes. Was this the only time I flunked out of school? No.

    Hind site is 20/20: I flunked out/got myself on academic probation at 5 schools in 10 years, including the one I finally got my bachelors from. Only one of those looked like it was from gaming. 5 years after I got my degree, I was diagnosed with ADHD.

    It’s not that addiction isn’t real, it’s that addiction is usually symptomatic of something else. In EQ I was successful. In college I was hopeless. Bright, but hopeless. Of course I wanted to spend all my time in the game.

  38. Sorry for posting anonymously, but I can’t access my mail to sign up for a boingboing account right now.

    Wow is simply a game that offers positive reinforcement as mentioned by many people above me.

    I’m not a very social person. I suffer from serious depression because of my lack of social connections, and I cannot afford treatment, nor do I trust medication.

    All that being said, I am a MMORPG addict. In the first college I went to, I played Everquest (like wow, just a little more crude and time-demanding). The college freshman described by SAMSAM above could have very easily been me. That description is almost precisely what happened to me except the game was Everquest, and not WoW. After that experience, I quit Everquest, and did not play any games like that for several years. In those several years, I got a job, finished college elsewhere, dated a few girls, and moved forward with my life. While I can’t say that I ever craved to be back on that game, I can say that life turned into a living hell. One heartbreak after another, no real friends, job description being altered to something I didn’t apply for. Not getting accepted to other jobs, the life goes on. Everything in this country is so negative, and everyone is so self-centered and greedy and competitive. Sure I’m self-centered too, but I don’t really care about everyone’s stupid rat race, I just want to have something in my life that’s going in a positive direction for once.

    Anyway, that’s why I turned to WoW. It’s the only positive reinforcement I can get. $15 a month for hours of enjoyment on end. I can positively say that without wow, I probably would have committed suicide by now.

    I still work in the same job, and do it dutifully. I still function as a useful member of society. I give to charities. I do volunteer work, and I exercise a few days a week. I also spend over 40 hours a week playing WoW. Am I still depressed? heck yes. But at least I feel alive when I’m in Azeroth.

    I would trade it all to have a successful social life, but after so many failures, I’ve given up on that goal.

  39. #33- Wait, why would you quit weed to play WoW? Their simultaneous usage is my main hobby. Each compliments the other so well.
    Was it the money? It must have been the money.

  40. And they said that religion was the Opiate of the masses. HA! Religion has nothing on WoW. I know people who talk about nothing else and do nothing else, except play WoW. I tried it a few times. It was fun, until I realized that most online players were jerks. I don’t regret leaving. It was rather boring, walk, walk, walk… it was dull. The game’s main purpose is to make everything take a long time so you can pay more money to play longer, in order to do…nothing that matters anyway. Very sad.

  41. this is what we need: let’s get together the best writers, teachers, and video game “makers” to build games that are fun, immersing, AND educational. it seems like there is a lot of room in games like WoW to teach people important information that could be used in the real world. it would take some work, but i think there is a very close relationship between learning and entertainment. for example, my professors who are amusing, silly (but still serious), and animated are always the most engaging. in comparison, the professors who bore me to death are the ones who i learn the least from.
    here’s to hoping for some video games that will help teach me neuro-anatomy!

  42. Would they rather drop outs are playing video games, or drinking themselves stupid? We can all go back to drugs and alcohol if community recreation is really that big of a problem…

    I know I like class better when I’m stoned!

  43. Every generation of college kids finds some way to waste enough time to trash their grades. When I was a lad, back before anything was on line, it was card games. In my dorm, there was always a Hearts game going. At the cafeteria in the morning there was always someone wandering around with a sign saying “Need X more player for Bridge”. The problem isn’t with the tool, it’s with the user.

  44. Had a ex-girlfriend who lost her college scholarship by playing Everquest for months. It happens. She wound up working in a gas station in Alaska. Quite smart, just… addicted.

  45. One of my best friends failed to graduate college because of his MUDding problem. Of course, the rest of us (including Raph Koster) played the same MUDs and managed to graduate just fine, so I’m not sure you can say it’s a problem with MMOs. (Or is that like how everyone drank in college, but only that one girl died from it? I don’t know.)

    Now friend is gainfully employed and has at least 7 WoW characters over… some high level. (At or near whatever the cap is now – I don’t play, because after I did two days of the trial, I realized that if I subscribed I’d never do anything else. So I play 15-20 hours a week of Kingdom of Loathing, but at least that’s self-limiting in terms of time use.)

  46. I got hooked on MUSHes and instant messaging, myself, in college — I can definitely state that the semesters I had bad grades was not the game, but a horrible bout of depression, illness, and a car accident. Just plain bad luck, really, all around. The gaming gave me something to hold on to, through the 4-month long migrane, and the knee injury that kept me from walking properly for the better part of a semester, when my intellect was too dulled by the painkillers that made it possible to get out of bed for me to study Latin or Organic Chem. I rather suspect I am not alone in that regard.

    As a WoW player and workaholic (last year I had weeks I clocked 70+ hours at work, and I did that a few times this year, too), I have to say that, health-wise, my WoW gaming is probably a lot better for me than killing myself over a workplace that could care less about me. At least my friends (from around the world, mind you) on WoW fret about me, if they know I’m having problems, and it is a great way to stay in contact with people. If you just want silent companionship, the TV does not have to be on to fill in the background noise box, and there is something comfortably fulfilling about being in a group of people who each know their part well enough to not have to talk about what they are doing — if they bother to talk/type at all.

    I would suspect that, like me, a large percentage of those on WoW who play the game fairly exclusively, do so because it is also their main source of social interaction (although I use instant messaging a lot, too). I don’t like crowds, I am vastly uncomfortable in them, but I am perfectly fine as long as there is a couple of computer screens between myself and the masses. Are there a lot of jerks? Aye, there are — but there are fewer than one would find at the local bar, with the added bonus of being able to /ignore them and never have to hear them talk to you again.

    There is another aspect to this — no matter which faction, realm, or class/spec you have rolled, if someone else plays WoW, you can talk about it — because the mechanics are the same, the instances are the same, but the reactions to the situations vary. It’s a lot like bumping into someone at the airport or fast food line, and realizing that they are holding your favorite book of all time in their hand — and then discovering it’s an old favorite of theirs, too. The words are the same, but you will both have different ideas about them. It means there is always a lot to talk about. :)

    At least the game I could and can log out at any given time… give me a book to read, and that’s three or four hours I will not be doing anything else.

  47. …Kids, let’s keep in mind we’re dealing with the FCC here. Uncle Charlie has been one of the most ineffective and retarded government agencies since they got dealt a double-whammy by Presidents Ford and Carter over some rather career-suicidal CB radio busts, and the courts ruling they never had the power to charge for licenses and levy fines in the first place. They’ve never really recovered from getting most of their power and funding yanked from them in 1977, and this sort of Wertham-level denoument is indication they may *never* become rational and effective. At least not in our lifetimes.

  48. Science has found working for the government is the leading cause of bloviating. Scientists also suspect message boards.

  49. @Halloween…nice reference to Hearts in Atlantis, I actually read that book while I was in college, fortunately before WoW.

  50. Ok, my two cents:
    First off, I suffer from severe depression and a pretty intense anxiety disorder. I also play WoW. It’s not an escape, and it’s not a treatment (except that I have friends in the game, and having a friendship connection is a good way to keep depression in check).

    I had a period where I played far too much WoW. I’d just lost my job, and I threw myself into WoW the way a lot of unemployed people throw themselves into tv, or other things to ignore that losing one’s job sucks.

    Then, I got a new job, and I play WoW an average of 10-12 hours a week now. I am certain people are going to jump on that number as a sign I’m playing far too much, but I ask this: How much time do you spend watching tv? I watch none.

    I work out on a regular basis, I read books avidly. I go to concerts with and without friends, and I have a job I truly adore. WoW is simply another thing I do in my spare time.

    The majority of my guild in the game is also employed gainfully, and the under 18s in the guild all (to the best of my knowledge) keep up on their homework and grades and most of them also play sports.

    Just because the people who don’t know how to moderate their lives make the headlines doesn’t mean the game is a cancer on all who play it.

    My opinion on the whole thing: people really need to learn to take personal responsiblity and take care of themselves. And if the problem is depression or some other mental disorder, it IS possible to get treatment. Through a good 8 years of off-and-on therapy and various anti-depressants (some helpful, some not) I have my depression controlled and my life on track.

    If you cannot do that, or if your loved one cannot do that, don’t blame the thing they have surrendered themself to.

  51. I’m shocked, I’ve known a lot of people who have become addicted to things (alcoholics, heroin addicts, people psychologically dependant on pot, and WoW players) and I’ve never gotten it. I drink every once in a while, and I’ve tried MMO’s, and I have a bunch of game systems but I’ve never had any difficulty in turning away. What does it feel like to be unable to move away from something, moreover what is that persons brain wired like? I never got anyone’s addiction because I couldn’t compare it to anything I knew, and now seeing this it weirds me out.

  52. Games like WOW and its predecessor EQ can be very addictive for some people.I’ve seen many a life wrecked by them. They bore me so I am safe but as someone who has spent 12 hours playing Diablo 2 in his younger and dumber years I can understand the addictive impulse

    Are MMO’s a “leading cause” of college drop outs likely not. Still 39’s comment that

    WoW preys preferentially on the bright, introverted, and computer-savvy, a different risk profile than alcohol or drugs. And the cost to society, in terms of wiping out people who could have been very high achievers, is massive.

    does have a ring of truth. That is the vulnerable crowd, often with bad social bonding and a lack of respect and achievements in the real world. MMO’s will give you all those things except the social bonding and while they aren’t real the sensation is good enough. Best of all they are always there for you

    Our society today often makes life seem like sort of a dull grind. We have plenty of food, plenty of stuff and its mostly safe for which I am grateful but … it can seem like it lacks I don’t know, purpose, zest,spice, meaning, or something. Call it ennui if you like but I can understand the desire to escape the world

    It seems like all we do is Work, Surf The Net, Eat, Buy Stuff, Rinse Repeat and that is not any kind of life

    Opportunities for Real desirable achievement meaningful work are thinon the ground, I’d say scarce enough that escaping to Azeroth and doing some level griding can seem to be the only satisfaction available.

    Just as an aside given birth rates in the West it sometimes seems to me we are boxing ourselves into an evolutionary corner. It would be an ironic future if humanity ended up “cyberspacing” itself to extinction

  53. So if I understand this correctly, basically what everyone is saying is that WoW some how removes all self-control and is therefore responsible for any and all bad decisions a “user” makes?

    That is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! Though to blame a lack of impulse control on a video game for being too damn good is probably the best PR this game can get.

    College drop-outs are playing world of warcraft. I can see that to be true… College drop outs have a lot of free time and you can waste a lot of free time playing WoW, but to say world of warcraft is the cause?
    What about drugs? or Alcohol abuse? seriously you want me to believe a video game is the source of it all? It’s a damn good game but… c’mon be realistic.

    for the record:
    A Correlation does NOT imply cause and effect.
    Go buy an economics text book and study some.

    I can look at the decline in support for the current President Bush and say that it corresponds to the trend of people dropping out of college which also inversely corresponds with the population of WoW “Users”

    Does that mean a loss of faith in our President caused everyone to play WoW to distract them from the sad state of our country and then go on to ruin their lives after Wrath of the Lich King was released?


    Seriously this is the dumbest sh!t I’ve ever heard.

    I went to university, worked 36 hours a week and still managed to log 20 plus hours in on WoW.
    I graduated on time and got a decent job overseas.
    2 years out of college now I work and play when I’m away from my wife ( I travel a lot in my job) I haven’t lost my life or my soul.

    I’m not saying it isn’t a time eater because it is. But to call it an addiction? Video games? Seriously? College drop outs are college drop outs. They dropped out because they couldnt cut it. Frankly if they cant cut it in Uni then who cares? For me it just means less competition for higher paying positions.

    Not that I think it really matters though, looking at how the war on drugs is progressing I have to say video games have nothing to worry about.

    and on a side note… anyone notice how well Japan is doing economically? almost EVERYONE there plays video games… must just be a genetic difference?

    This is but a symptom of a much deeper and widespread problem.

  54. Everyone is looking to blame something other than themselves these days. Don’t blame the game. Take a good look in the mirror.

  55. I figured when it comes to the FCC this might be appropriate.

    The Fellas at the Freakin FCC
    They will clean up all your talking in a menace such as this
    They will make you take a tinkle when you want to take a p*ss
    And they’ll make you call fellatio a trouser-friendly kiss
    It’s the plain situation!
    There’s no negiotiation!
    With the fellows at the freakin FCC!

    They’re as stuffy as the stuffiest of the special interest groups…
    Make a joke about your bowels and they order in the troops
    Any baby with a brain could tell them everybody poops!
    Take a tip, take a lesson!
    You’ll never win by messin’
    With the fellas at the freakin’ FCC

    And if you find yourself with some you sexy thing
    You’re gonna have to do her with your ding-a-ling
    Cause you can’t say pen1s!

    So they sent this little warning they’re prepared to do the worst
    And they stuck it in your mailbox hoping you could be co-erced
    I can think of quite another place they should have stuck it first!

    They may just be neurotic
    Or possible psychotic
    They’re the fellas at the freakin FCC!

    Courtesy of the wonderful imaginative writers from Family Guy.

    There really is no reason for the FCC to try to find a place to give blame. Sure some people may drop out from playing but we need to remember that people need to accept personal responsibility for their decisions. After all college is a choice and not mandatory. Some of the smartest and most successful people in the world never went.

  56. My opinion is that addiction is addiction.
    Just because it’s WoW, Second Life, drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, internet.

    Doesn’t really matter if people pick a different poison. It’s really their choice, and life is about choices.

  57. Nietzsche (sp?) was addicted to philosophy. Beethoven just *couldn’t* stop writing music. Isaac Asimov was addicted to writing books. Tiger Woods is addicted to golf. My mama was addicted to cooking and ironing clothes.

    “Addicted”, as the headline recognizes, is a *completely* value-laden word. The use of it always seems to generate a shower of psychobabble.

    Sometimes people become obsessed with a goal that most people feel is meaningful. Sometimes people become obsessed with goals that few people can understand. So what, that makes them wrong?

    “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish.” – Richard Feynman

  58. I was too addicted to the WoWz, so I took up speedballing.

    Because I’m sinister, I could also see developing a game that somehow required or otherwise incorporated real-life drug use into its gaming.

    This might require something like OpenEEG hardware. Then again, people seem totally willing to drop cash for those Guitar Hero / Rock Band instrument controllers. And/or blinkenlights to induce the photic drive response.

    1. I could also see developing a game that somehow required or otherwise incorporated real-life drug use into its gaming.

      You mean like this.

  59. Haha, well, I had the priorities reversed. More like this, or like this, or like this.

    With a drinking game, the object of the game is to get drunk. With the game I had in mind, the goal of drinking (or whatever) would be to advance the game.

    I’m interested in manifesting a game that Philip K. Dick and Robert Anton Wilson would be fascinated to participate in. (And where inside that game, they play the Paranoia card game as a minigame, kinda like in recent Final Fantasy games.)

    c.f. eXistenZ

    You have to play the game to find out why you’re playing the game.

  60. @Jesnow

    World of Warcraft costs $14.99 a month to play. You claim your son has no job, no money, who is paying for his subscription?

  61. One of my High School buddies dropped out from a severe addiction to Advanced Dungeons & Dragon; he was the DM, and tried to major in fantasy gaming instead of one of the majors actually listed in the university catalog, with predictable results. He had one HELLA-FUN freshman year but that was all she wrote…

  62. It’s not the game, it’s the one playing behind the game. I’m a student as well (graduating this year) but I can manage my time efficiently. There’s a life out there beyond the game. I spend most of the time grinding wow gold and leveling but my life and grades are still ok.

  63. Looking at it in the context of drug use, perhaps WoW could be used for treatment of some psychiatric problems. Most pharmas with addiction potential are also valuable tools for alleviating pain or whatever, so maybe we could flip the coin a bit with warcraft.

    PTSD patients might be convinced to stop staring into space for a minute, alcoholics could be weaned off the bottle, burn victims could try out re-entry into society by practicing in a virtual society…but I don’t know. Just an idea.

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