Thursday, December 30, 2010

Doing My Dailies: Why I Quit WoW And Started Working Out

I quit World of Warcraft in June of 2009. I quit hard. I donated my assets to the guild bank and deleted all of my characters. I didn't want to leave the door open to come back. I wanted to burn it down and salt the earth.

Why? Well, that's a bit complicated.

WoW Cancel Subscription page

I had quit before. But that March, Blizzard was offering a free trial of the latest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, and I decided to at least check out the new Death Knight class. Before my free time ran out, I logged in to my old character from the last time I'd subscribed. Unbelievably, I was still in my old guild, despite nearly a year of inactivity. My old friends were still active players, and the guild leader had specifically refused to kick me for inactivity on the off chance I'd come back some day.

This gave me such a warm fuzzy feeling that I had to reactivate my subscription. It felt good to roll with my old crew again. But at the same time there was something disquieting about the fact that all these people were still around.

"Really?" I wanted to ask them. "You're still playing this game?" I couldn't help but wonder if they had, well, anything else going on in their lives. In the time since my last login, I had changed jobs and moved across the country. Had my old friends spent the whole time in the same places doing the same things, killing the same mobs and farming the same reputations?

My cross-country move brought me within a short drive of my guild leader, and one evening she invited me over for a home-cooked meal. The experience irrevocably changed how I saw WoW.

She was perfectly nice, and an excellent cook. But it was hard not to notice certain things - no matter how bad I felt for noticing them. It was hard not to notice she lived in a crappy apartment in a crappy neighborhood. It was hard not to notice she was fat. It was hard not to notice that despite her dreams of going back to school and becoming a paramedic, she just worked part-time at a local pizza joint.

She marveled at one point that she'd been playing WoW for four and a half years, ever since the beta. And she'd spent a good chunk of that leading a substantial, successful guild - itself nearly a full-time job.

What, exactly, did she have to show for all the time and work she'd poured into this game? The rest of her life was just the same as it'd been when she'd started. If she'd instead spent the last four and a half years working on her dream, she would be a paramedic by now. Easily.

"Imagine the day that you first bought the game. If you knew everything you do now, would you still have bought it? Now the follow up question: Imagine yourself in two years, still playing WoW, looking back on today when you are making the decision to quit or keep playing. How do you feel about your decision to continue?"
How to Break a World of Warcraft Addiction

Every day, my guild leader faced a decision: play WoW, or work toward becoming a paramedic. If she played WoW, she'd have fun, and advance a character or improve the guild in some small but measurable way. If she worked toward becoming a paramedic, her progress would be much less visible. It's easy to say that on any given day, the decision doesn't really matter. But every day spent on WoW drove her in circles, and every day spent studying paramedicine would have brought her one day closer to her goal. And days add up, like it or not. We cannot stop them from doing so. What we can do is decide what they add up to.

I didn't want to look around one day and discover I'd turned into my guild leader, dreams on the horizon but unachieved because my days added up to nothing. The idea frightened and depressed me.

So I quit. I quit hard enough that the way the game had pulled me in the last time wasn't an option anymore. And instead of spending an hour every day doing my daily quests in-game, I spent an hour every day doing "daily quests" in real life - I started working out. I started leveling my actual skills and stats.

xkcd comic 189: Exercise

I started small - some push ups, some bicep curls, some jogging. Nobody told me I'd gained 50 reputation and 100 experience. And without visible feedback, I had to rely on internal motivation. Whenever I thought to myself, "I could just skip today. It's just one day; it's not that big of a deal," I remembered my guild leader, and I thought about how every day is a decision.

"Daily action builds habits. . . . Small improvements accumulate into large improvements rapidly because daily action provides 'compounding interest.'

Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next. . . .

Think for a moment about what action would make the most profound impact on your life if you worked it every day."
Brad Isaac, Jerry Seinfeld's Productivity Secret

Before too long, I was seeing real results. I was doing more push ups, lifting heavier weights, running faster for longer. And my appearance improved too. I'm hot now. I feel better and have more energy and confidence. It extends into every aspect of my life. It's far, far more satisfying than hitting Exalted with some faction and earning the right to buy their tabard and mount. The only problem, in fact, is that now I need to buy tighter clothes.

So why do people throw so much time into WoW? Because it's very cleverly designed to hook you, to addict you, and to trick you.

I've spoken before about fake and artificial achievement. Most achievement in WoW isn't fake, strictly speaking, but it pretends to be more real than it is, and uses some clever tricks to make you believe it too. And it goes way beyond the usual ludic tactics: WoW's secret weapon is your friends.

When you start playing WoW, you can single-handedly overcome the challenges the game throws at you. But then some quests show up that you can't handle alone, nudging you to team up with other players. Then the instanced dungeons show up - areas designed to be played by a full team of five people, with better rewards than the solo content. Before long, you're likely to make some friends - people with whom you work well, upon whom you can rely to help you run instances and get the gear you need, and whom you help in return. If you keep going, you're likely to join a guild of like-minded individuals.

The importance of instanced dungeons increases as you approach the endgame, and you're likely to find yourself running instances over and over with your guildmates, getting better gear and helping them do the same. But what, really, is the point? What do you do with all your improved gear?

Take it to the next dungeon, where it makes you strong enough to take out the next set of bosses and get the next set of gear. It's circular, but Blizzard works hard to make the circle convoluted and attractive enough that you won't realize its utter emptiness.

That itself is nothing unusual. Where it gets really problematic is the factor that is the unique province of the MMO: social obligation.

Penny Arcade comic for 2005 08 01: Just When I Get Out

Once you've gotten into the habit of running instances with your guild, you have likely become a valuable member. It's no longer just a game you're playing to entertain yourself. Now you're helping out the team - even if, at the end of the day, all you're helping them do is pour their time into a game.

WoW isn't the only game to hook people this way. It's becoming increasingly commonplace. The same tricks form the foundation of an even more popular game: Farmville.

"The secret to Farmville’s popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because it entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others’ farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies. As the French sociologist Marcel Mauss tells us, gifts are never free: they bind the giver and receiver in a loop of reciprocity. It is rude to refuse a gift, and ruder still to not return the kindness. We play Farmville, then, because we are trying to be good to one another. We play Farmville because we are polite, cultivated people."
A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz, Cultivated Play: Farmville

Sound familiar?

Although WoW is a much better game than Farmville, with a substantially different business model, their tactics are fundamentally the same: use your social obligations to keep you clicking. Exploit your friendships, sense of reciprocity, and the joy of being part of a group with shared goals. Turn it all from something commendable to something frivolous that serves mainly to increase the game developer's profits.

This is the trap which caught my guild leader. The same desire to help people that made her want to be a paramedic is exactly what was caught and shamelessly exploited by WoW, holding her in a useless cycle of fake altruism. But tug the thread and it all unravels - all she's really helping people do is play a game. She isn't saving lives. She's just helping people kill time.

How do you avoid this trap? How do you prevent WoW (or games like it) from hooking you into a shadow of what you really want? The answer is simple: don't play blindly. Consider what it is you get out of WoW. Nearly everything the game provides can be found better and more real elsewhere.

You want to help people? Volunteer or give to charity. You want to improve yourself? Study or exercise. You want to hone a skill? Pick one - maybe an instrument or a sport - and practice. You want to meet and socialize with people with common interests? Join or start a club. All of these options are real, and their outcomes will be real as well.

Even if what you want is to play videogames, at least play one that doesn't artifically entangle you.

"Stop playing games. Seriously. Not fun little indie games or iPhone games, but the soul-sucking, time-stealing, life-owning games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Counter-Strike. As a general rule, if it has online multiplayer, a strong social aspect and isn’t free, you’ve got the recipe for a life-owning game."
Matt Rix, Focus

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: do you want to do something real or something fake? You can't do both at once. Every day you face this decision.

What do you want to do today?

There is a followup to this post.


  1. Your decision and your guild leader's waste of a life are based on extremes. What about moderation?

    I play MMOs because they are fun, and that's all I want out of it because the rest of my life... family, work, personal, etc. is built around accomplishing so-called "real" things. MMOs don't come first, and voila, I have a culturally objective successful life.

    If, like an alcoholic, moderation is simply not possible then yes, this is the answer, but I feel that this article pushes the extremes without recognizing the common-sense middle ground.

  2. I had a long rant, but it appears the system ate it. So, I'll cut to the chase.

    I'm glad you found something that has made you happy. But, don't think that you've discovered the secret to life and that everyone needs to follow your lead. Different people are satisfied by different things. Some people enjoy exercise, some people hang out at the bar with friends, some people watch TV to chat about it next day at the water cooler, and some people play WoW.

    Don't assume you know everything there is to know about a situation. Perhaps your old guildmaster has some circumstance in her life that feels beyond her control. Maybe she's satisfied with where she is in life, even if you would find it horrible. Know what she really wants? A friend. She probably plays a lot of WoW because there are where people who won't judge her, her appearance, or where she lives like you did in this post. It's telling that she invited you to her humble home to make you food, reaching out to someone she thought would be friendly, and THAT was your reaction.

    In short, if you want to improve the world then the first step is to stop being a condescending prick. It'll improve everyone's life.

  3. To be honest, I'm pretty grateful for the time I spent in WoW. It helped me a lot with confidence issues, and playing the Death Knight story in particular (and getting all the way to 85 with her!) really helped inspire my own creativity. To answer the question you quoted, yes, I'm glad for the time I put into WoW even if I overdid it some.

    Neither Blizzard, nor World of Warcraft is at fault because people lack discipline. It's kind of become the American way to never take responsibility. Are you fat? It was McDonald's fault. Are you dumb? You're just a product of the education system! And it's all bullshit -- you're responsible for your own life.

    Kudos to you for recognizing you were cruising through life on autopilot and taking control. Your guild leader didn't do that. But I promise you, if she wasn't sinking time into WoW she probably would have evaded her pursuits in another way. Why people do this is complicated, and it's a shame they take the easy way out.

    Coming this New Years, it's my resolution to no longer be that kind of person myself. Wish me luck.

    1. I'm so glad somebody finally said this. Great insights here, and you managed to do it in only a short reply! The term for what WoW does is called a 'Skinner Box' <- I recommend people look this up, as its a long explanation. Basically, the personality of the individual being 'caught up' in the Skinner Box inherently makes them vulnerable to it. In this case he's talking about a more social aspect to the Skinner Box, but that doesn't mean that the individual 'grind' part of it isn't just as addictive and harmful to addictive personalities. Personally, I quit WoW because it was making college too difficult, and for a while I hated WoW and blamed it for some of my shortcomings. Now, much later on, I realize that I gained a lot of valuable insight regarding how people interact and how to lead a group whilst playing the game. Of course, there was a lot more value that I can explore in this short paragraph, but suffice it to say that now I'm quite glad of the experience. I would not go back, though, because it would be difficult and nearly impossible to enjoy it without ignoring some of my commitments I have today.

  4. The game of life is a lot more diverse and has many quests and skills. I actually am confused why not as many people enjoy it as much as they enjoy games. I'm not sure if it is the lack of restarts, the force of social pressure which seems to be not present (at least not in a nontrivial ways) in games, or that "training" doesn't have the same time compression as games do, since gaining that 1 STR (after the newbie period) in the gym takes like a year instead of a single click.

    Anyway, best wishes that you have enough street cred by now that people will actually listen -- I think a lot of non gamers have made the same point but have been shut down by the (dubious) logic that since they didn't play games they had no right to speak.


  5. Inspiring! I don't touch games like this with a 10-foot pole because I know exactly what would happen to me. I used to get sucked in even by games like Tetris, or Minesweeper.

    I like the parallels you make to real-life goals. I'm working on and I guess one way to think of that is making real-life goals a bit more like a video game. (Follow the yellow brick road!)

    In fact, I think beeminder could help solve the problem of how to get yourself to limit WoW time to some reasonable amount without the perhaps drastic commitment device of canceling your subscription altogether.

    Finally, on the topic of getting yourself to do what you want to do but don't do (like playing less WoW):

  6. great post ! :)
    I have a friend, which sits in his room about 2 years now, he comes from work, go to his room and thats it (live-style is similar to mouse or some other animal), we use to do things together before and now he's lost...

  7. I've been thinking about this a lot, especially since the new expansion just got me hooked again.

    I say to myself "Yeah, I have tons of gold and plenty of achievements, but whats the point?" And then I remember that I'd say the same thing on my deathbed.

    Leave me alone. I'm going to go level my Archeology.

  8. Instant Gratification vs. Long-Term
    Do I want to be happy now, or in the future? Sure, if you sit down and really think about it, the answer is obvious. But since our motivations are based on our pleasure, very few would rather lift a heavy dumbbell to become stronger in months of training than click a mouse and watch how awesome we are right now slaying all that comes at us.

    But this is an inspiring article nonetheless. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. I think moderation is key in many things. I play WoW, but not every day. I'm also 42, a father, work out in combat sports 5-6 times a week and earn a 6 figure income as CTO of a startup.
    WoW is a pleasant diversion for me, I don't think about it all the time, and when other areas of my life need attention, WoW is the first thing that gets cut. I enjoy playing with my son in Azeroth from time to time, and he plays when he has time as well. I keep it from getting excessive, though.

    Games don't have the power to trap people who don't want to be trapped. They do have power over people who have a hard time setting priorities, making decisions, or resisting the temptation of instant gratification.

    I respect your decision to take control of your own life - but I don't think it's fair to add to the media hysteria over these games when plenty of people get along fine playing them.

    1. The problem with WoW, is that it is not a game where you can play for 20 minutes, click save and continue next week where you left off. If you are not actively playing and working toward your objectives, whether it may be gear, achievements, etc. You just get left behind. It is a task oriented game. You don't do your tasks, you do not progress. And that is the problem.

  10. This is an excellent summary of why I quit...each time. And why I keep coming back...each time.

  11. " leveling my actual skills and stats" made me chuckle. However, i do think that if gamers halved the time they spent gaming and used the extra time to work out we'd be seeing Arnold clones.

    Nice article. However, should have included a before and after picture to aspire other people.

  12. Did you tell your guild leader this, or send her the link? I'm curious to know what her reaction was, was she mainly hurt by your impressions of her or did she find something useful in all said...

  13. I can really relate to your analogy of leveling real life stats. Since I quit WoW I have been working out more regularly and reading more. It is the exact same concept. Increase real strength stats and intellect stats rather than some value stored in a database.

  14. Great post Doctor. 100% agree.
    Am a huge blizzard fan but have avoided this game precisely between I have 3 kids, coach hockey, and recently wrote a book (took 2 years but I did it).

    Would not have been able to do this is i was hard core wow. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Nice article... Comes at a good time too for coming up with New Years resolutions. I've been losing sleep thinking about starcraft, and playing left 4 dead...

    Its tough.

  16. "do you want to do something real or something fake?"

    i love that line. i've printed it out and stuck it on my wall. i think its time to quit wow.

  17. Great article. A couple of weeks ago this guy asked this very question on Reddit (posted here and I gave him a similar answer.

  18. Well written. Good job.

    But that last quote really bugs me.

    I don't see how WoW stands in one line with SC and CS. Online multplayer != lifesucking addiction. I can stop playing SC 2 whenever i want. I can go to vacation without giving a fuck. I don't need to pay more than once.

    Most importantly: The skill i'm gaining isn't artifical. It is a REAL skill to play SC. It's perhaps not the most valuable skill in daily life, but it's nothing like +1 on my gear and 50 dmg more on my fireball. It's hand-movment-speed, strategical thinking and multitasking. And while playing an instrument or learning a sport is socially more accepted, being good at SC is definitly not like running a raid for the 17th time for some loot. See it as getting good at Chess or Go. Both will hardly give you any benefit in daily life, but it certainly is an admirable skill to those who can understand it.

    Both games, SC and CS, are inherently competetive and thats where the huge difference to WoW is. You're not playing an artifical Blizzard-made cycle, you're playing against other humans. Don't throw excellent competetive games into a pot with WoW, whose downsides you have explained very well to me. I'm not denying that you can get hooked on SC as well, but thats not because there is social obligation, but rather the strive to get better, beat better players and eventually even play in a tournament.

    That was probably a bit much rage about a little quote, but i felt that very quote is distracting from the quality article as it throws all online-games in one pot with MMORPGs.

  19. Very well done. A lot of the things you wrote relate to my current battle with cigarettes.

  20. Fantasic write up. I don't know if you've seen "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (pretty good - I enjoyed it), but there is a part where the heroes enter a casino. Everything you could wish for was there and so nobody left. And it was a trap -- it's sole reason was to entrap people so they never did anything with their lives. Your description made me think of WoW in that way. I'm sure WoW's intentions aren't evil (they just want your money!) but the outcome is the same.

  21. It sounds like you just have an addictive personality. First it was WoW and now it's working out or whatever. I play games because they're FUN.

  22. Excellent Post. As someone who is just getting on the wagon of finally letting go of video games that run my life, I can say that I am a lot happier focusing on more important things, though it is very hard to turn down friends and family when they say via text, "PLAAAAAYYYY". They always need help getting achievements in the latest Call of Duty or sending me pictures of their name at the top of the scoreboard going 32 - 2 in a team deathmatch. We were always the ones camped outside the stores waiting for the next big release. We made a party out of it, making custom T-Shirts and all. Without a doubt, the social obligations played a HUGE role.
    I really love the concept of +1 strength after your exercise. Its funny, I laughed, and now I am actually implementing a system to see how much it will work for me, since I seem to be an achievement kind of guy :P For instance, I would like to spend an hour myself exercising (which I have been doing with Beachbody's Insanity), and I want to finish the entire allotted time they set it for, which is 2 months. Every day except Sunday there is a fun, active workout routine. For those 2 months, I will receive +1 STR until I hit 60, which is indeed, a new level of strength. From there, I can complete level 2, which will be either another iteration of Insanity, or Beachbody's P90X. Luckily I've been blessed with both videos and equipment, I just have yet to ever finish them when starting.
    Same goes for intellect. I like Chess, so I will earn some Logic points for that and some Int points for learning a new programming language.
    I am excited about this system you spoke about. Regardless whether or not you were serious about it, its cool. Of course my fiancee might think the system is a little gamer dorky, but hell, it just might work ;)
    Thank you for this post, and best wishes to you!

  23. A good article, but to the point at the end about finding other more meaningful hobbies, I think it's important to remember that most hobbies do NOT have intrinsic "value" in the sense that they improve the world or the lives of others in some way. Hobbies are diversions- entertainment. We are a generation of people whose parents have told us from a young age that we should do something better with our time than play video games, like take up an instrument. But frankly, if gaming is what you truly enjoy, is being a great guitarist really any better than being a great Halo player, or a key member of a powerful guild? Both are skills that require significant devotion of time, and perhaps can be used in a social context, but ultimately have no impact outside of their own little worlds. Working out is another fine example; we do it to fulfill our social obligation to look attractive, and like an MMO, you must keep coming back to maintain your level of achievement. If I went to the gym every day for three years, and then stopped for a year, everything I had ever accomplished at the gym would be washed away.
    Just for reference, I say this from the perspective of someone with a good job, good fitness level, and many hobbies, but I do occasionally wrestle with the fact that I have spent a great deal of my life on video games. I think the real answer is to simply not become addicted to any one thing to the extent that other parts of your life suffer. The author's guild leader would probably classify become a paramedic as an important goal, but she allowed that to take a backseat to WoW. The real takeaway from this article in my mind is that we must evaluate our priorities, and not allow lower priorities to swallow higher ones.

  24. I can't agree with you more. My wife and I played WoW pretty hard core for almost 4 years. We were in a high end raiding guild and I would venture to guess that we spent at least 20 hours a week playing. My wife and I have 3 boys and she works from home while I have been a computer tech for almost 14 years the last 4 of which have been working for a major university. I never got a degree and have no certifications. I always relied on my own education to get work. About 3 years ago my manager introduced me to an online degree program one day and I decided to quit WoW and leap into finally getting my bachelor's in IT. Now, almost 3 years later, I'm 8 classes away from finishing my degree and I have 7 certifications. I ironically (insert sarcasm) have even more time to spend with my kids. I still play games off and on for a bit of downtime between studying, but I will never go back.

  25. I had less problems quitting because I didn't really have any friends. I was a sub-officer in my guild but that just meant I was guaranteed a raid spot, none of my guild really cared what I had to say, just that I was the best geared rogue on the server and that I did more damage than half the raid combined. The design elements are all I had to keep me hooked, but those designs suck which made it easier to quit

  26. "Stop playing games" is a little counter productive is it not? I've seen people waste their lives on wow. I've also seen people play way to much wow while still getting their education like an ex room-mate of mine. People who have no control are just people who have no control, WoW or not.

  27. Video games are definitely meant to be addicting and overcoming an addiction for anything is never easy so I congratulate you on defeating it. However I don't agree with the majority of your article. Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like you are saying people should quit something that reaps no real world rewards or improves oneself. In my opinion that seems absurd. WoW is a hobby and like many other hobbies it provides many beneficial things.

    Hobbies are beneficial because they provide some time for people to unwind from their day and relax. In a stressful world they are needed and different people enjoy different things. This doesn't make one hobby better than another. They also provide self improvement even though not everyone may experience them. Leading raids is a step in the right direction for someone that is shy and would never take the reigns in a real life situation, but would like to. MMOs encourage the antisocial and people with social anxiety to become social, if they want to of course, in a less confrontational way that allows them to move at their own pace in an environment they have more control over. When interacting with other people you can also learn many different things if you are open to it. You may see a different view on a subject than you did before. Don't forget that video games help hand-eye coordination as well.

    Something else I wanted to mention is your understanding of your former guild leader. I highly doubt it, but unless she told you everything about herself I don't believe you have enough information to make an informed assessment about her life. She may have told you that she wants/wanted to be a paramedic, but if she really wanted to be one I think she would be in the process of obtaining it or already have it. This means she personally lacks the motivation and it is herself that is holding her back, not her possible video game addiction. It's also possible she is perfectly happy with her life. She may have told you she wanted/wants to be a paramedic because she might be ashamed of being happy with how her current life is as it may not look that good to most. Unfortunately society has taught us that if we aren't aiming for or have a job that requires a degree then there is something wrong with us.

    My point being, with this large comment, is that you have a very narrow view on this situation. You are unfairly and negatively judging people that choose it as a hobby because it ended up being a bad experience for you. Remember that moderation is the key with everything, that everyone is different, and live your own life.

  28. Even sadder is that I don't even play the game any more but I still keep paying blizzard so I can log on once in a while and say hi to some people I don't really even know.

  29. I personally quit for almost 3 years.

    I repaid my subscription for WOTLK, leveled up a Death Knight to 80, and once I hit 80, I didn't even touch the game.

    Cataclysm came out, bhought a brand new account, and leveled up a mage, the class I spent my early teenage hood playing as.

    Easily got to 85 and doing some PVP. Then again, I'm still doing what I used to be doing. That is, playing the piano, studying for my BSC, working and, heck, real life social relationships.

    YOU CAN PLAY WOW and do something else. If you can't control yourself, then yes, quitting is the answer.

  30. Boy, do you come off arrogant in this post. Have you ever wondered why your 'guild leader' plays WoW? Yes WoW can be addictive, but many people play to escape from real-life. She's obviously depressed and stuck in a rut. If you wanted to help her, instead of calling her fat, you could of helped her by breaking out of that cycle. Obviously you're too selfish to do that. Oh well...

  31. Thanks for posting your story. It is because of stories likes these that I stayed away from WOW and similar MMORPG's in the first place. I make it a habit to not make friends in my games, and it makes quitting easier.

  32. Reminds me of the born-again'ers and AA'ers I know when they re-discover their Super-Ego/Parental Circuit and suddenly want every one else to now to the same.

    Your biggest publicly stated motivation is not to be a poor, obese woman who makes people home-cooked meals? You want to be 'hot' with 'actual' skill - unlike her.

    Welcome to being a bourgeois American, kid!

    "Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends..."

  33. Nailed this one. Addiction takes your life away; but it can always be fully recovered. It just takes the same dedication that was once given to the addiction. Good luck!

  34. Yes! You're so right, and I'm so glad you wrote this article. I've actually never played WoW, but my step-brothers did, and it totally owned their lives.

    Until last December, my life was owned by an equally mind-numbing (though social pressure-free) activity: watching TV. Watching American Idol for 5 hours a week. Or Law & Order SVU. Or House. Or Lost. It seemed there's always something interesting on TV. And so, for 8 years, I put off my dream of being a writer. Came home from work every night. And watched TV.

    Last December, I started to write my first novel. I wrote and wrote --- and the TV stayed off. (Except for PVRing my fave show. Singular. Just one show.) By April, I'd signed with a NY agent, and we're now about to submit that novel to publishers.

    If I hadn't wised up, quit my addiction to a lazy life, and realized that, as you say, every day is a decision, I'd have wasted 9 years. And 10. And 11.

    I hope everyone reading your article heeds your words. Seriously wise stuff.

  35. I have gone through this same revelation (although with Guild Wars). Thank you for posting it on the internet.

    Life is much more fulfilling now.

    Congratulations and keep up the work.

    You, sir, understand life that much more.

  36. Good article, thanks for writing it. It's very good to see people are realizing the negative effects of video game addition. It's a real thing, and I have been sucked in before.

  37. I applaude for you taking this tough decision. I really wish more people will realize this fact about online multiplayer games, that suck them into this endless loop.

    Keep it up, and I wish you the best of luck in your future. One day when your friend sees how successful you are, she will quit as well.

  38. Great article! What you're really talking about is Operant Conditioning and the use of Skinner's Box in game design.

    You're probably already familiar with it, but in case you haven't seen the Extra Credits episode on the topic, I think you'd enjoy it -

  39. Great article. I quit "hard" as you did in 2008 and deleted not just my characters but I sold their gear first too, then donated everything I had to the guild bank. (My husband did the same.)

    However, the promise of a new guild sucked us back in over the summer and we rolled new toons since the whole point of the guild was for everyone to start fresh. Once we got to around level 50, we were both like, "what the fuck are we doing?" because it was the same thing as before, all these false achievements and nothing tangible. So we quit again, although we didn't delete our toons because we told our guild we'd be back when Cataclysm hit.

    Well, obviously it's out now and fighting the urge to buy 2 copies and play again is really really hard. Literally ALL of our friends are playing again and it feels like, if we want to spend time with them or be "cool" within our peer group, we have to join the party in Azeroth.

    But the thing is, I have a job now, whereas I didn't when I was playing hardcore, and I make art, which I wasn't doing when I played before either. Between work and bedtime, I have about 5 free hours and then I have weekends. This time is for creating art, which I sell on Etsy and which is relatively popular. I can't afford the time-suck that is WoW...

    ...and that seems like a simple decision, right? But Cataclysm was designed to make you curious as to how they changed the game and made it "new" again. And you hear all about it from your friends and you want to see it for yourself. And that's about where we are right now. My husband wants to play but is okay with waiting until a free trial comes out just to see what it's like, but I have a ton of peer pressure from people wanting me to buy 2 copies of Cata and resume my level 50 character.

    I don't know if I'm going to do it. Part of me really wants to because like I said, I want to see how the areas have all changed and how they revamped the game, but a bigger part of me is terrified of getting sucked in again and becoming completely unproductive. The truth is, I don't think I'm capable of playing a game like that and staying balanced, y'know?

    So I guess we'll see what happens. Cata came out a month ago and I've resisted so far, let's hope I can keep it up.

  40. I concur with only minor dissension. It is possible to play these games for 1-2 hours a day and still work a regular job, have a social life and meet "real life" obligations. However, that's taking every waking moment and doing something with said waking moment. I quit WoW for 1 3/4 years and recently picked up the game again for two reasons: (1) I work 2nd shift and my wife falls asleep shortly after I come home, and, thus, I'm up 'till 3 or 4 a.m. with nothing to do, and (2) I like the massive changes that came out with Cataclysm -- they've made the game much more fun and solo-tolerable. I absolutely refuse to disregard hitting the gym, having fun with friends, going on vacation in lieu of playing WoW. WoW does not rule my life. Period.

    Sadly, a good number of people I know are addicted to WoW. One is a guild member who is one of the power-players (five simultaneous accounts). I asked him why he pays $75/month for five accounts when he has a full-time job as an electrician, a wife and two children. Oh, and he spends 8-10 hours a day on WoW. He never had a substantial answer. Mysteriously, he has been AWOL for the past few months. I wonder if real-life caught up with him. Add a few thousand more on there who live to play and confusing playing with living. I'm saddened that these addicts think their intimate knowledge of WoW (stats, armor, instances, et cetera) is something *important and valuable*.

    Games are meant to be enjoyed, a great diversion from this thing we call real life. They are not, and never were meant, to be a substitute for life.

  41. Wow. A few of these posts were far more hostile than I ever would have expected. People desperately trying to defend their hobby, why it's ok to spend their lives playing a video game.

    I started playing MMOs with UO, then EQ1 and so on and so forth for a decade of my life. It's true that video games can teach you valuable skills. Teamwork. Patience. Hand eye coordination. All of these are valuable skills.

    However, like the OP I asked myself- what if I applied the same dedication I give to MMOs to my real life? Since I quit in June of 09 I've worked out consistently, written two novels (neither published) and have learned how to program for the iPhone / iPad.

    I don't regret my time spent playing MMOs, or the relationships I formed while doing so. But I am a LOT happier applying the same amount of time to things that have a much more tangible benefit. That's all the OP is saying I think.

    If you like playing MMOs the nby all means do it. But be aware of the time you spend, and at least ask yourself what else you could be doing with it. The answer might surprise you.

  42. In November, I participated in and won NaNoWriMo -- fifty thousand words written during the month.

    Fifty thousand--it sounds stupidly daunting, even at "1667 words a day", and yet it only took me 2-3 hours (depending on plot difficulty) to write it. Thirty times a thirtieth, and you win. In less time than the average American allegedly spends watching TV.

    To think of spending four and a half years--fifty-four months--2.7 million words worth of effort--with nothing to show for it is... somewhere past sadness, near angst or horror or something.

    Even so, I must also choose every day: waste away at my usual sites until I'm pissed off that I was mind-numbingly bored an hour ago and yet I'm still there... or do something else?

    Sometimes I win.

  43. This seems to be more a rant against entertainment than against WoW.

    Life is brief. Do what you enjoy.

  44. A good article, and good points, but I feel like you're a bit too jaded.

    As someone pointed out, someone with WoW problems is probably a person that would have problems with addiction regardless. Your former guild leader would have probably had the same issues (or worse) if she got into gambling or drugs.

  45. Doesn't it seem like moderation is the most obvious answer? There are plenty of hours in the day to exercise AND play WoW. If you're addicted, that's a different story, but the fact that you get easily addicted to a game doesn't mean the same is true for everyone.

  46. Great article, I've been there myself. Other's say take it in moderation. But when I played, there were people that played in moderation, and then us, the one's that consistently did well in-game, could win at team fights, helping out the little guys in times of need, slaying bad guys, causing mischief, and having a riot of a time. Those were the days. I look at them with fondness. But because of that, I've learned: Never, ever go back. It's a pit. A gold-lined pit, glimmering as you fall. But as pretty as it is, it just goes down and down.

  47. I am a paramedic. I am actually at work now. I play wow. I played wow while in paramedic school. I work full time, I have a fiance, a house, I go to school full time. I am not a loser, I am not lazy, and I play wow.

    I have pondered the points you have put forward in this article. I have come to sad conclusions. If you work out everyday what is it for? You are going to get old and die regardless of the shape you are in. If I save someones live they are going to die one day anyways. What is important is what makes you happy and makes you feel good.

    I have discovered that after playing wow, I feel drained. Its not really "fun", per say, but you work for the "fun times," that will happen when you get x skill or x equipment. And as you say this just ends up as a vicious cycle. Games have a tendency to do this. You don't play for enjoyment like you should, but you do it as a job like activity.

    I don't know the answers to this question. No one does. In fact if you understand why people play games you will understand why people do anything. So this is a meta question that you have to answer for yourself.

  48. Great article. I quit almost two years ago because I realized I was spending every waking moment in a virtual world and ignoring the real world. I would wake up and get online, and often stay on until I went to bed. I did this for three years and reached the top of the game. I had the reputations, the gears, the pets, and all of the recipes. I admire people who are truly able to play WoW in moderation, but for me it was be one of the best, or not play at all. Once I quit, I was able to start reading again, something that went by the wayside when I began playing, and I feel like I am doing things that are actually worthwhile now.

  49. "I have pondered the points you have put forward in this article. I have come to sad conclusions. If you work out everyday what is it for? You are going to get old and die regardless of the shape you are in. If I save someones live they are going to die one day anyways. What is important is what makes you happy and makes you feel good."

    I just wanted to comment again to quote this anonymous paramedic for truth. That is the bottom line -- we all die eventually. Whether our lives were worth it is up to us to determine.

    I'd say live for more than just to feel good, but to find one's own answers or reasons for living. It's cliche, but true.

    DP, I think your point was more about how people do use games to distract themselves from pursuing either.

    I'd like to reinforce your point with a link to this article:

    As someone else pointed out though, your old guild leader's failure to reach her life's dream of being a paramedic isn't necessarily and indictment against WoW. Any doctor *or* professor (or an actual Dr. Professor) could tell you that correlation isn't causation, and simply blaming WoW because it's psychologically addictive to a certain type of player is kind of intellectually lazy. Sorry.

  50. You can level your "skills" up all you want but just like wow, nobody will care. It's all about what makes YOU happy. You can also decide whether to help others or share.

    It's easy to paint the picture that wow is a source of problems because so many people play it -- people will always have problems, wow or not.

  51. I get +1 mutltitasking for playing Starcraft ;). but yeah I tried WoW once at my cousin's house. Killed 4 hours in what felt like an instant. luckily, I realized it was too dangerous, and costly, so I've never played since.

  52. I think it's interesting that you say:
    > You want to help people? Volunteer or give to charity. ... You want to meet and socialize with people with common interests? Join or start a club.

    Just because it's a "real life" group, doesn't mean there aren't "social obligations", whether it's the soul-sucking type or not.

    I was in a community service club that volunteered regularly (mostly weekly, almost daily at certain times of the year). The majority of our volunteer hours were for the Variety Club that raises money for special needs children. Reading through the article, I can't help but think that it applied more to that real-life volunteer club experience than the WoW raiding guild. It was more politics- and drama-laden than the WoW raiding guild I was with. At least the WoW guild members never filed legal action on each other.

    Of course, I'm not involved in either anymore. I still play WoW because it's fun for me. I currently have all of my alts in a private guild and only play solo-able content. I might group with random people with the Dungeon Finder or anything else advertised in Trade Chat. But I don't feel like I'm missing out if I didn't play for a week at a stretch. Career-wise, I am where I want to be and moving at the pace I want to be improving. Financially, I'm not wanting for anything and have the ability to support family, if they needed me.

  53. This is a great article and, as a casual to moderately intense WoW-player, I can certainly see its validity. I definitely agree with the sentiment of the post, which is that we should all be sure that our priorities are focused on what truly matters in life (as in life outside of Azeroth).

    However, as many have previously stated, accomplishing real-world goals and playing WoW are certainly not mutually exclusive. Personally, I am a physician with a thriving practice and have played WoW since it dropped. It has always been there as a way to unwind after a long day of studying in college, medical school, and post-residency. And yes, I get physical exercise regularly and am in above-average physical condition.

    The point of this post is not to praise myself but to agree with what many have already said: WoW is not evil and it ultimately comes down to each individual to decide whether or not their gaming habits affect their real-world goals. For me, WoW was not a distraction, it was a way of releasing the stresses of daily life. For others, such as the author and his old guild-leader, WoW will become too much of an escape from life and, in fact, will consume their life. In that case, a change is most definitely in order and should be embraced, and this article provides a good example for such a case.

    Anyhow, I definitely appreciated reading the article as I've seen people get engrossed in WoW to an unhealthy degree and would love nothing more for every player to take a look at their gaming habits and make an honest assessment of how WoW fits into their priorities. Sometimes that means leaving WoW for a few months to ensure that other priorities get taken care of, or quitting altogether. Ultimately, it's up to the player to decide what's best for them.

  54. i myself have been playing WoW a very lot recently. i am on break from college. this game is 100% enveloping my life right now. you could say im addicted but im only playing this game because i have nothing else to do. i dont play this instead of hang out with friends. i dont avoid family because of this game. i just play it due to lack of other things to do. this article did make me realize how much ive been playing this game, but though i am excessively playing it, stopping is not hard. the second the new semester at college starts im dropping the game until the summer. the onlny reason i dont drop it now is because i have no idea what else id do with my time. i dont like reading. exercise would be good but thats merely a fraction of the day. this game gives me an escape. our whole lives are lived in the "real" world. wouldn't you want a break from the "real" to get some fantasy in life? i went 5 straight months without one game so i am playing excessively right now, but i dont see it as much of a bad thing.

  55. "But that last quote really bugs me."

    "Both games, SC and CS, are inherently competetive and thats where the huge difference to WoW is."

    I'm the author of the last quote in the article, and I stand by it 100%. First of all, you're wrong, there is a strong skill-based competitive side to WoW:

    The fact that you're learning tactics and skills doesn't mean you should be playing them. I'll admit WoW is more addictive than those other games, but they can still be a huge problem. I'm not sure if you read my full post, but it's about how if you want to be a game developer, you have to stop spending your spare time playing games, and start spending it *making* games.

    Playing games like SC2 and CS (and TF2 these days) can be a HUGE time sink. The problem is that when you've got a couple hours of time, but you're not sure exactly what should be working on, you'll automatically start playing those games instead. They make for excellent "procrastination destinations".

    Don't get me wrong, I love SC. I still watch Day9 dailies every once in a while, and I follow the competitive scene... but I know if I started playing the game, it would take up too much of my time. There's nothing wrong with playing lots of these sort of games *IF* there is nothing else you'd rather be doing. In my case, there were a lot of things I wished I was doing instead.

  56. I agree wholeheartedly. Those who have posted "what about moderation?" That is typically how it starts. My husband and I met in an MMOG, through our years together (in real life) we have removed that game from our repertoire. We have watched marriages and families crumble, we have watched mothers lose their children, people losing their homes, jobs, health.....

    The best analogy that I have heard to date is this:

    MMOG's are like a "social club" with a side of meth. The meth stealing your life, and leaving you with a feeling of "need to" and the social pressures of the social club are all too apparent. When you start, people begin to help you, you feel indebted or want to return the favor, even if just "for the next week" or "the next battle", after you start doing well at the game, others will ask for help, and having built a "relationship" or "bond" you will, as is human nature, feel obligated to assist - end of story.

    I can't even begin to tell you how many times my aussie acquaintances have set their alarm clock to assist their friends in an upcoming battle scheduled for a particular time that falls in the dead of night for them.

    Granted this seems like extremes but take a moment.... how many people who play in excess started with "moderation?"

    The addiction to gaming is all too true, and all too real, and the main reason why we choose not to play any longer. It's very much like substituting real life for the virtual counter part.....

  57. Me and my wife was hooked for 1 tear. Than I used bots for farming and Blizzard banned our accounts - Thanks GOD!

    After this I did many things in my life and reach much higher level! WOW is synthetic drug don't call it game.

  58. Excellent article. It was obvious while reading, that this is something that you are passionate about. I thought the bit about "deciding what your days add up to" was a fantastic point. Becoming a healthier person is a goal we should all aspire to, regardless of the inspiration. It's disappointing reading the other comments that people try and poke holes in your logic, making excuses that do nothing but show the depth of their own addiction.

  59. I read this article a couple days ago and its been bugging me ever since to reply to it. I'll agree with you on the point that, WoW can be an addiction but I'm getting the vibe that you'll have no life and you'll be forever alone if you play wow and that you'll never be successful at all. I've had my wow account since February 10th 2005. I know its quite shocking, it'll be 6 six years i've been playing it off an on.
    In retrospect, I dont think I would have done anything differently had I not played it. I was 13 when I created my account with my older brother, so I was just going in to highschool and alot of my friends played it also. This isnt meant to be my life story but I played it off and on, got a job, graduated highschool and not once did I think "Man this game is sucking my life away." Because i knew when it was time to play and when it was time to work and I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I joined the military and it'll be a year since I've been in the Air Force in march. Im currently stationed in England and I re-subscribed to wow to play with my friends back home. I work out 3-5 times a week, just passed my fitness test with a 90.6, have had a stable relationship with my current gf of 1 year and I volunteer regularly around base. I play wow to see how my friends are doing and to enjoy the time off I have from work 12 hours a day. I just wish people didn't think WoW was such an evil that once you played it, you would do nothing with your life. People who play the game (and to those who dont as well) just need to understand that its a game and your real life priorities whether its going to school, doing your "real-life" dailies as I've also made that joke before, or going to work or anything else productive needs to take precedence over raiding, pvping, farming etc.
    I think I've said my piece, thanks for reading.

  60. This is a really well thought-out article. I'm noticing people in the comments yakking about moderation and whatnot, but that is just the problem with WoW; you CAN'T play it in moderation. That is the reason I quit years ago. WoW is fun, and video games are a perfectly acceptable use of leisure time, but it is just not possible to play the game casually. In order to make any progress in the game and avoid falling far behind everyone else, you must devote yourself to it on a level that just isn't sensible. Sure, I have known devoted players that still made plenty of progress in other parts of their lives, but for every one of them I have known at least ten that did almost nothing but waste away in front of it. As for those that manage to play it and keep up with the other parts of their lives, I can't help but wonder what kinds of things they could accomplish if they directed that energy to more constructive things.

  61. There's a really simple flow chart that you can follow to see if you should keep playing WoW. In fact, you can use this flowchart for pretty much anything you do.

    Does playing WoW make you happy?

    If no, Stop. If yes, are you sure? If no, stop. If yes, keep on playing.

    What the author seems to be describing is the feeling of despair one may feel when something has entertained them for a very long time, and comes upon the realization that it is no longer fun/making one happy. Now, as has been said before, there are many on WoW who need to re-evaluate upon this (and it couldn't hurt anyone) and discover that they are no happy just playing WoW, and would rather do something else with their life. But I would postulate that the author theoretically could discover that he is merely keeping his body image up to impress other people, and that impressing other people is not making him happy. Furthermore, assume the author really would be more happy just to play WoW again, and not keep up his body. If that makes him happy, not only can he do it, he should do it.

    We have one life, and I think the author and I could both agree that doing something that does not or no longer makes you happy is not a good way to live it.

    As a side note, I don't exactly subscribe to the "everything in moderation" thing. People can accomplish amazing things when they go beyond their perceived limits, which are usually well within the "moderation" line. They say you have to practice 10,000 hours to become a virtuoso at something...

  62. I'm shocked at all the people justifying playing WOW and trying to flip the argument around. As if it's a valid way to spend so much time.

    Particularly the people ragging on him for working out - people who have NEVER worked out.

    You only have one body, and when you make the most of your body, you feel better, you feel happier, and you can do more with your LIFE - all a result of being healthy, not other people's opinions. But yes you actually attract other people with your happier attitude, and dare I say, better looks. It improves your life all around.

    Bottom line is - don't do things that consume time - do something useful with your time. So that when you grow old you can look back at what you achieved and die happy. Use break time to play a quick video game and take a breather to do more useful stuff later. 4 hour stints on WOW several times a week is not a break!

  63. Ah thanks Matt Rix for the clarification. I do think that the quote was used somewhat out of context as it's the one bit that sticks out as not fitting into the rest of the article, as an anonymous poster above noted. IMO it all depends on how you play these games and your attitude to them. To quote myself:

    "There’s a huge attitude difference between playing to raise your skill at a competitive game like StarCraft II, Street Fighter or Halo, than there is in the player playing to get to the next level on COD or WoW"

    Is playing an e-sport really more or less valuable than playing a real sport?
    I know I get almost the same fun out of playing Street Fighter 2 to a tournament level as my Dad gets out of sailing to a competitive level.

    Both are equally as fake and as real to us. As would Chess or Go as another poster used as examples.

    If you ARE playing WoW at the competitive skill-based level, then fair enough, it moves into the same arena for me, but that's an extremely rare example of how people generally play WoW - and it also shows a strange taste in competitive games.

  64. Geat article! Understanding that this is only *your* perspective, I would ignore most of the comments that say, "I play wow, i'm not a loser". I did not take your article to this extent, however, I have also experienced many people like your GM, who if they put more time into r/l then a virtual world, they would be more successful. I was sucked into wow by a co-worker who used the game to escape real life. His r/l sucked, and wow was the relief. He was competitive, although that competitiveness eased when I reached his level. He was always 10-15 levels higher then me, starting first. Within 1 year, I was beating him in 'score'; achievement points, gear score, raid points, gold, almost every measurable area, except for the number of 80's I had (I played 1 character). I watched this guy lose a good paying job because he was cutting out of work early to play wow. If you want to be in a competitive raiding guild, yes wow sucks up most of your time. If you play causally, then good for you, but casual play will not make you successful in the game. I quit before cata, and have no need to return.

  65. i remember seeing the dawn of videogames and being creeped out. circa 1979, space invaders started appearing in surfside milkbars in queensland. inside the milkbars, pale youths pumped quarters into the machines. outside, on the beach, there were cracking waves and hot girls in bikinis. the choice seemed obvious. thirty years later, i'm still surfing and still don't understand the gamer mentality.

  66. This article would have been excellent if it weren't for the sizeism. For two years, my life was ruled by dieting and constant working out, and it didn't make me any less fat.

  67. Excellent article. While I'm currently a WoW subscriber (Cataclysm hooked me back in, hadn't played since vanilla), I've never prioritized the game over real life. It's a fun distraction that I enjoy with a couple of real-life friends casually. One of my good friends, however, fell deeply into the WoW trap back when it was originally released and wasted more than two years of his life after graduation doing absolutely nothing with his engineering degree. He eventually got his act together, moved to another country for work, and is generally happier with life. He's gone back to the game on several occasions using trials just to keep in touch with old guildies, but hasn't and won't re-sub because he has no desire to go back to that life.

    The key thing that your article touches on is the satisfaction gained from virtual accomplishments in an alternate reality. As many have already commented, this is especially appealing for those who need an escape from real-life pressures, and is particularly addicting for these types. Of course, you could say the same for drugs or other such outlets people turn to for "release", but that doesn't take away from the fact that WoW can potentially be pretty bad for you. The game is designed to replace real-world productivity with virtual achievements, plain and simple. While I enjoy it for what it is, I recognize that a lot of people would be better off putting their time into more practical things.

  68. "i remember seeing the dawn of videogames and being creeped out. circa 1979, space invaders started appearing in surfside milkbars in queensland. inside the milkbars, pale youths pumped quarters into the machines. outside, on the beach, there were cracking waves and hot girls in bikinis. the choice seemed obvious. thirty years later, i'm still surfing and still don't understand the gamer mentality."

    It's okay, surfer man. Many of the gamers don't understand your surfer mentality either.

    Long and short of it is, people do what they will find is fun, what makes them happy. You were upset about how much time you spent in WoW, good on you. I play WoW to help further my ability to write a compelling story and develop a keen eye for Game Design to take with me into my career. Oh, and to further a relationship with my hot wife.

    Whom I met playing WoW.

    Your article should have been written more as a "This is my story and why I quit WoW" instead of "I quit WoW and you should, too, because my view is obviously right." Success in people's minds is different for each and every individual, and you have no right to dictate what their view is.

    Still, congrats on finding that which makes you happy.

  69. I don't play MMORPGs because I figure I won't put the time into it to keep up in level with other people, but I don't see the difference between playing WoW and socializing with other people who share interests. (My most successful socializing involved Smash Bros. on the N64, but that's "real" because we were in the same room, right?)

  70. I found myself use MMMORPG a way to run away from real life issue and meet with people from all over, I hated high school, I hated IRL all together. I think yeah its a huge soul sucking time sink of a game, but its still fun. But something you got to know when to quit lol.

  71. I didn't read all of your post, I've seen the same things over and over. It's about self-control and knowing how to apply it.

    I play WoW in extreme moderation. I enjoy it. If you were to prioritize my life like you would a WoW rotation, WoW is the "filler". The thing to do when there's nothing else.

  72. Great post. I learned this same lesson a long time ago playing MUD's. I'd stay up all night killing goblins, earning gold and gaining experience points, then sleep in and miss class. I finally realized, after one full night of effort, that I'd actually accomplished nothing, and haven't played any kind of online multi-player game since. I've been tempted by WoW, glad I never gave in.

  73. You come off a little mean here, but it's good none the less. Any kind of game really is meant to addict you, but games like WoW really know how to do it. Now I don't think that the answer to EVERY video game is quitting, but moderation is key. Now if you are one of those people who has no self control whatsoever, then yeah, quitting is your only hope of getting your life back. Good post overall, i should show it to my friend because all he does is play WoW. Great article, i'm glad i never got into WoW.

  74. I just loved this post. My boyfriend comes home from work every day and sits down in front of the computer and plays until I make him spend an hour with me before he has to be in bed. He's just like your former guild-leader in that he has dreams and aspirations that he doesn't go after.

    Sure, there are people who play it just fine with no problem. But most of those people didn't post giant comments condemning the article, trying to defend why they play so much.

  75. This article provided the inspiration I needed to honestly asses the time I WASTED playing wow. "It's just a couple hours" was my excuse, and it seemed real enough when I said it.. but looking back on the 4yrs I've been playing wow I must now admit to myself now that it's waaaaay past a couple hours sank :( In short I gave away my account and vowed to never EVER play another mmorpg again. There's something missing from my life, and wow became a quick fix to patch the problem. But now I'm ready for some RL friends, and lunchtime conversations that aren't about Epic leewts or Boss encounters.

  76. Thank you for pouring your thoughts and feelings about this topic all the while having a realistic and mature approach about it. Having played WoW for a long time, I've always contemplated quitting for good. Although I have suspended playing for periods that spanned several months, i found myself returning right back when the new expansion(s) came out and those social obligations lured me right back in.

    I'm frankly grateful and happy to have stumbled upon your article to proceed with the action that would result in the point of no return - deleting characters and wiping WoW right off my computer.

    Although I was a casual player, whenever I found myself distanced from the game I noticed a pattern of higher productivity and usefulness emerging :) - therefore doing what I just did seemed not only reasonable but necessary. I would simply prefer to spend my free time if any, doing something productive.

    To end on a good note and as you had already mentioned, WoW provided me with the "leveling up" mentality that I have been applying to my life for a while now. It makes life more interesting and the rewards are much more worthwhile.

    Cheers for this great piece!

  77. At the end of the day, these games aren't real. Moderation is fine, but the author is right. I too had way too much of my time sucked away by WoW. The people that lose themselves in that game are really missing out on life. This author may not have found "the secret of life" but he's a lot closer than those that spend it in front of a screen.

  78. Nice post, but a little off the mark if i'm honest.

    Games in general are a filler, a "thing to do" instead of watching TV or reading a book. There is nothing wrong with playing these games if you enjoy it and have the time to do so. Like my girlfriend isn't a gamer at all, she spends all her time watching TV whereas I can't. I find TV to be lacking the involvement I feel when gaming, and also there is the social side to online gaming.

    If you play wow and don't have the time to do so then you shouldn't be. If you play wow but it's holding you back from actually achieving, then stop playing. I completely agree with these points but then it's not hard to do everything in moderation.

    Take me as an example, I am currently in my final year of university and have been playing WoW at varying levels for the last 4 years. When I started playing, I was actually a level 2 teaching assistant working at a local naughty kids school for 14-16 year olds. I played very casually, raiding twice a week and logging on for social events most evenings. Now I am in my final year of a networking degree before going into teaching at secondary level and I play at a very, very high level. My guild is ranked in the top 50 worldwide, and I spend a ton of time online playing. My grades are solid and my dissertation is about 60% done with 3 months until hand in. I run the university canoeing club as well, and we meet once a week plus do events on the weekends. I am fit, healthy, my life is going where I want it and i'm playing a game at a very high level which is, admittedly, something I won't get credit for, but its something that's given me added confidence in the fact that I can manage to do all of this and still have a girlfriend and social time.

    It's not hard to manage your time, just be sensible. I am still tunnelling cataclysm and probably play about 30 hours a week currently to get the progress, but I completed all of my work due in january at the end of november to give myself this time to play away. This time spent however is more than made up in the farming period where we play for maybe 6 hours a week, which balances itself nicely with my new assignments and exams.

    To those that say wow is like a drug and you've seen too many people lose jobs, kids, wives etc... why were they even playing when their wife was asking for some time? Why would they not listen when the kids said "come play with me" or whatever? Because they had no self control. Sure wow is addictive, it's a money making beast that turns in millions of pounds every single year, they are very good at making you want to play on. My gf wants kids soon, as in, when i start a teaching career. I already know I will stop playing wow altogether, and move onto PC games like cod where there is online involvement but not to the extent of wow. I already know that I can put the game down and get on with it because I have self control to do so.

    People that failed at life can't blame a game for their lack of thought and self-control. Good for the OP that he did what he did, he probably felt the need to, but this does not mean that we should all quit and be something better when to be very honest with you, I am someone better and I have alot of free time right now. If my gf lived with me, I shit would not be playing anywhere near as much as I do now, if at all. RL is too important to let a game get in the way, but don't blame the game when you can't control your life properly.

  79. I have to agree with everything you have written here. I have a list of "achievements" attained in WoW over the past six years. And they are merely numbers and pixels that have no value beyond the artificial world in which they were created.

    For those who attack what you have said here, well it does seem as though you have hit a nerve, doesn't it? I think every WoW addict has gone through this justification process, and the accompanying defensiveness if anyone speaks against their fix ("I can quit whenever I want.")

    I loved the game, and that was the problem. Memorable stories began with "Do you remember that time in Blackwing Lair?" Not real locations. Not real events. I am sure some people can find moderation in WoW. I was not one of them. I don't think I could ever be one of them. Its an environment that calls out to excess at every turn.

    I walked away in March of last year. There are days I have that itch to play. So far, I have managed to steer clear.

    To all of you who are seeking a way out, and those who've found it, good luck.

  80. Woah, look at all the offended MMO fans D8
    I've never played an MMO, but I've definitely seen how playing them changes people. WoW is a beautiful and finely crafted game, but its so difficult to play "in moderation" that It hardly seems worth it to me. A few people I play DnD with are ex-WoW and they've described it as "filling the void" that WoW left. Check your local comic or game store or even online. You'd be surprised how rewarding tabletop gaming can be especially once you learn how to work the system.

  81. I played WoW. For years. Then I quit for good. I don't miss it one bit.

    I started playing WoW in Vanilla. I spent Burning Crusade and Wrath as a main tank. In Wrath I had three raiding 80's.

    Then I realized how much I weighed, and saw my blood pressure. Kinda freaked me out. I have always been athletically inclined...falling off the wagon just snuck on me. Gradually, my nights playing WoW were substituded for various forms of exercise and cross training. For most of Wrath I was only playing on our raid nights. But it wasn't enough. I had to get out.

    After we ended our ICC raiding, I stopped playing. Every once in a while I would come back to it. But the fire was gone. I no longer had any interest in playing. I cancelled in November.

    Now, I am exercising, lifting weights, or practicing martial arts, or doing cardio every day of the week.

    WoW was fun, but at the end of the day it really was just a waste of time. Sure, I got to spend time with friends initially, but when we cleared all the regular content and got into raiding it was all business; they could have been complete strangers, not old friends and our interactions would have been the same, so I don't really consider it quality socializing. I would much rather socialize with friends in real life than in a game.

    By the same token I have no interest in SC2. It's the same formula with different packaging.

    That is the path I took to quitting the blight. Yours might be the same, it might be different...but calling the OP names because you don't agree with him is immature and only reveals you for the addict that you are.

  82. RPG games are not games you end up playing in moderation because the quests and battles are so long. I know WoW get's picked on a lot but it is not the only addicting RPG there is. Another highly addicting one is DAOC where you can sit there six hours just trying to kill a dragon

  83. The dilemma here is more to the psychological paradigm that is - unfortunately - in western society instilled in most that we must ACHIEVE. Perhaps it is a slackers perspective but in my own experiences, the "real world", as it is called, is just as cyclical in nature as endless grinding for xp or loot or what have you. The time consumption of everyday activities like working at uncreative and uninspiring jobs leaves one just as empty and is ultimately just as meaningless as a video game. Nothing in our world is ever good enough for most. Societal pressures dictate that we must do many things that are in fact contrary to our nature as free beings in an infinite and interconnected universe. Sadly, many people find no satisfaction in accomplishments, for they have no encouragement to decide what they truly desire out of life in the first place.
    Our entire socioeconomic system starts off by institutionally plotting our progress against a standard that industry finds desirable for its employees whom are realistically just wage slaves. We then move on to find our interests and are given "electives" upon which we choose the path we are further pigeonholed into. The material is taught in the same factory setting with the same standardized curriculum, only in a more specific way. Once we enter college our horizons broaden into, oh wait - we narrow our selection down into Industry specializations with which we can prove once more that we are good at doing what we are told. We hand in projects and papers and do phenomenal amounts of work that predominantly is of no use whatsoever and has no effect on the state of our world at all.
    So is the society in which we live actually worth spending time in when all we have to show for it is what others have institutionally programmed us to do?
    Video games for a moment MAY change that dynamic. Though the choices are also programmed and limited, they may provide some outlet in which we and those we choose to spend time with may set goals together and achieve measurable success as opposed to the unsatisfactory choices in the real world that more often than not provide only more BILLS (read as LOOT) as a measurement and add to our collective consumptive addictions; thus completing the circle of slavery.
    DDO - Free to Play FTW!

  84. Need a pic before and after?

    Here it is -
    Ok I had health issues and I had to finaly sort my life out, and quitting wow was just one of the parts of it.

    I was guild leader and lead strategist of one of the top 1000 EU guilds and had unusual bond and feeling towards my community. It's a hook that you cannot give up easily.

    I've lost 40+ kilograms over the last year, and changed my life. Yes I would love I did it earlier, I still played WOTLK, it was tempting once Cataclysm was shipping, but I resisted.

    Great post

  85. Other MMOs are much, much more hardcore than WoW will ever hope to be.

    Consider the "free to play" MMOs from Korea and China, sometimes billed as "casual" in North America. Extremely long XP grinds and difficult class quests you HAVE to go through are the norm. I thought those were the trappings of an "earn your fun" kind of game, you know, the stuff that Blizzard has been trying to avoid?

    If you can't handle WoW, you can't handle any MMO, really.

  86. I've had many friend sucked into WoW during high school and i myself all so played. The only difference was I made sure it was the last thing I wanted to do. I played sports worked out nad did every school play I could. I was never home before 9 at night. The only time i spent playing WoW was for an hour a night when I had nothing else to do. Anyway the piont im trying to makeis that its not the game that matters its how u play it.

  87. You have good intentions, but some parts of your argument don't sit well with me.

    Anything that does not seem "productive", people brush it off as a waste of life. Sure, exercise is productive. Charitable work is productive. Going outside is productive, and physical hobbies are productive...but anything virtual is completely disregarded and immediately brushed off as a waste of life.

    "do you want to do something real or something fake?"

    So how is WoW, gaming, or the internet fake and a waste of life? Life. Our lives are meaningless - and I meant this in the most positive way possible. You will work, have a career, have a wife, a family, retire, then wait to die. Nobody will remember you 3 generations from now. Yes, in going out and planting your flower garden you may pat yourself on the back, thinking you are being PRODUCTIVE and doing RIGHT with your life. But you are not any better than that neckbeard next door who has a level 79 .. elf. Or something. Planting that garden/getting a 6-pack is not more "productive" than WoW, because we are all going to die and it will be quite useless as we're in a coffin, our existence gone. You should do "productive" activities beacuse you find personal satisfation in them, not because they're better than gaming. Just because something is virtual doesn't make it WORTH less than something physical. There is no FAKE or REAL, there just IS. You can't have FAKE fun, you can only have fun. You can't have REAL fun, you can only have fun. The emotions that you feel shouldn't be detracted by the fact that you're sitting down in front of a screen. Or out in fresh air.

    I'm having a real hard time trying to convery my thoughts, this is rambling and full of fallacies I'm sure. I'm not targeting you or your story, just the "computer games are all wastes of life, only running/exericing/etc is productive and REAL" thought that plagues the internet. I think it's great that you're self satisfied and hot-looking now, and obviously people with WoW addictions probably do need to re-examine their lives. But as long as you find your own happiness, through exercise or WoW, helping hobos or doing art, I believe that's all that matters. We're here for such a short time anyways.

    I'm not a WoW addict or defnding it, I'm a 95 lbs girl (so, not unhealthy.)

  88. Lots of posts, but nobody ever seems to realise that the games we play are a part of reality, not separate from it. You are -actually- playing the game, and what you get from that game you take with you. If you get something positive from that experience then it's the same as a book, or watching TV, or anything else that takes time to get the same result.

    Certainly, people can take it too far and lose perspective, but that's a tiny minority.

  89. WOW can lead to a serious addiction, and it's really bad when it affects the people you love. Two Christmases ago, my Uncle told my Dad about WOW, and he, my brother and I signed up for it. My brother and I played for a month and decided it wasn't for us, but my Dad would play nonstop and level his character up. He got involved with a guild and almost begged us to rejoin him, but we didn't want any part of it.

    It's been about fourteen months since my Dad started playing the game, and we don't really have any relationship with him. He can't comprehend world events or even talk to us about simple things. I remember when we used to watch events like the Super Bowl together, but the past two games have been my brother and I alone. We can't talk to him about our real life problems, and he just doesn't have the mental capacity to do deal with real life.

    It's starting to eat into his real life. He will take off of work and make up an excuse (I need to catch up on my sleep, I have stomach problems, etc...), and he'll play the game from dawn 'till dusk. His Mother has Alzheimer's, and his Dad has problems taking care of her, and my Dad doesn't even bother to call them to check up on them. It's like WOW has taken my Dad away from me; almost like he's dead. When my future children ask me about my Dad, the last thing I want to say is "well, he started playing in a fantasy land and became a vegetable in front of his computer."

    Don't get me wrong, I love to play games (Call of Duty, MLB the Show), but there are things to do in life. WOW doesn't lead to happiness, it is a crutch for depression. Everything my Dad had, the family that he had, has and will be replaced by people without faces.

  90. Some people can moderate and all the power to you, but I cant. Most people cant. I used to be like you guys, denying that video games were a bad thing, but I have come to realize that they are bad. When I wasnt playing video games I was daydreaming about them. Its not good and its not healthy. In fact, I feel like I am currently a social cripple. Im fat, my posture is horrible, and i couldnt agree more that if i spent the past 3 years working on these problems they would be gone. I was in denial. Luckily I realize this at the age of 21 and I am taking steps to work on myself. Im dieting, I have reduced any gametime to friday nights where i work night audit at a motel. Im hoping this works out. I am seizing control of my life.

  91. I went through pretty much the same thing.

    I refused to play WoW for a long time but friends insisted I try it, so I played the trial, and was hooked.

    The instant gratification, the feeling of progression were addictive to me.

    3 years on and I've achieved nothing with my life. All the time that I used to put into programming and graphic design was lost to WoW.
    For 3 years.

    I mean, I did little bits here and there, but I can't say I've really learned or progressed, more managed to maintain the level I was at before.

    I'm just lucky that I'd spent a lot of time bettering myself before WoW that now I'm still slightly ahead of the average for my age in these areas.
    But I can't help but hate WoW for being so addictive to me, and essentially wasting 3 years of my life.

    I know not everyone has the personality to get addicted to WoW, and good for them.
    But I would suggest that most people do have problems with it. Most people I see online, are almost always online just like I was. They grind for that next piece of gear just like I did.

    All this said, I suppose one thing I can be grateful for, is how WoW has highlighted the need to take control of my life.
    I've seen a lot of people quit the game with each expansion, and I guess this is because they've worked so hard, they've reached the top, and then the new expansion makes it all worthless. I think finally cataclysm has done it for me.

  92. I'm "addicted" to Starcraft 2, but it's in moderation. I lost 1 1/2 lbs of fat last night and 1 lb the night before. I have half a year left in my year prepaid gym membership. Now, I'll admit I don't have a full-time job, and playing Starcraft was one of the several reasons why I was motivated to leave my last long-term job, but so was getting in shape, and so was finding balance in my life overall. Honestly, SC2 is still one of my few outlets to interact with people, but at least I'm interacting, and "playing a game" isn't in itself a wasteful measure of productivity, any more than playing basketball or other sports with friends is a wasteful measure. Granted, sports keeps you in shape, but like I said, I'm getting in shape.

    I thumbs-up because the article is food for thought. And so are the comments.

  93. This is a very well written and thought out article. But I find your judgmental attitude toward your former guild leader disturbing.
    Who are you to judge her?
    I don't play WoW, never have, never will it doesn't appeal to me. I blog. And I blog a lot because it makes me happy. I have a husband, and two kids and a very full live.
    Don't assume because she lives in what you call a crappy apartment and that you label her fat, that she is unhappy.

  94. i always laugh when i see people type in /trade " wow i hope when i not your age that im not playing Wow"
    and my thinking is.. at my age you wont be partying err'day and going to concerts, clubs, and whatnot. No sir, you will have priorities and and want to get home and be ready to do it again the next day. so in the meantime , Wow is a good is is American Idol ( but over those, i'll take Wow anyday )

    at my age, wow is great
    at your age, i sure as hell wasnt playing Wow but just like Wow
    .. take life in moderation or you wont make it to my age

  95. Post an update....what do you think of the replies you've got here?

  96. Amazing article and very inspiring. I did the exact thing 3 weeks ago to the day and have started working out, slowly. When I started WoW I was at an already heafty 260 lbs (though I am one of those huge framed kinda guys anyway) and in the 2 and a half years that I played, I gained 50 lbs, failed out of college and was forced to move into a one room apt. Yes I know its my fault, yes I know that I should never have started, but one can say the same of any addictive substance. We outlaw METH because it destroys lives, we regulate cigarettes because it destroys lives, we are even going as far as making simple cold medicines "by prescription only" in order to fight this sort of thing, and yet we over look the addictive nature of MMO's. No, they shouldnt be illegal, its your choice to play. However it is also our choice to STOP playing the game. People deride those who stop playing and speak out against said MMO's because we are attacking theyre past time, and yet cheer the meth user who quits, spend millions of dollars of tax payer money to promote anti-smoking campaigns and its called social change. Just because we as easily addicted users choose to take this route in life, please do not think that we are being preachy or condescending to those that choose to play. The OP was simply sharing his views on the subject matter in hopes that it could one day help someone like me. Im a greatly indebted to you OP, and I, for one, applaud this posting and applaud those that read it and take the genuine advice given. I do, however, respect those that still play. I still am in contact with the great people that I met in my time tooling around Azeroth and consider many of them life long friends, however they do respect and cheer my decision to stop.

  97. I have a social anxiety disorder and possibly undiagnosed aspergers. WoW and other online avenues have allowed me to be myself and socialize. I was very bullied in school due for a few reasons, one of them being that I am just not good in general real life social situations. Since then I have tried to put myself in real life social situations. This causes me to have panic attacks and when I am done I am stressed out for a long time afterwards.

    I hold a full time job, I own a house and I have a husband and very greatful of this considering everything I have come to realize about myself. I work as hard as I can at my job in an office. I am surrounded by people who repeat the same stories of their lives over and over again and I don't understand the fascination.

    How is this relevant? I have been able to experience the social environment that I cannot have in real life, at least at all easily, through online avenues. It is very hard for me to form friendships in real life. When I first found BBS doors at 14, which was 18 years ago, my life changed for the better. After being bullied for years I found a place where I did not get bullied there and could be myself.

    WoW is something that I play right now. I am a guild leader there and I have shown to myself that I do have good leadership skills. Although.. I already knew this because, despite my issues I successfully ran an online business for 8 years. With that being said it is hard to lead in real life because of my social issues.

    When I look back at my life online all I am happy with what I have accomplished. In real life my goal is to become completely debt free and own an acreage. Playing WoW is not taking this away because I am able to pay off a huge amount of debt by not spending money in other places, where most people would. The only real way to fast track my pay of debt goal is to work more but I've found that for me 50 hours of being around people is all I can really take before my mental state is negatively affected.

    If I were to quit wow and, more specifically, online social situations such as even posting this response, I would most likely go to my 9-5 job and otherwise be a hermet (outside of my husband who I value having every day).

    My point is that everyone is different. I think the guild leader who wants to be a parametic discussed in this situation may be depressed and I think that you should have been there as a friend instead of calling her fat and using her as your excuse to quit WoW.

  98. This article post is very inspiring to me, I'll still play WoW, because I'm only in Highschool and me and my brother are sharing an account (helping each-other pay for it), and that my life long career isn't at stake. My brother failed college twice, and can never to back to it, but I feel that this article has raised further awareness to me. I will start to workout every morning, and every time I get out of school. I feel that I should walk home instead of being driven home, do jogging exercises, and so on. Thank you for posting this, though a few points in it seemed a bit mean.

  99. This is the precise reason you don't want to meet online friends, because you feel the obligation to say "hi" everyday and continue your relationship. If you had played WoW with real-life friends there is an actual chance you would have continued your relationship together and you would have done real things together.

  100. "The time it takes to reach level 80 in Wow, you could read War and Peace five times. You could drive from L.A. to NY three times."

    Thank you very much for this article. I quit, a few mnonths ago, after i read this article. Took up a sport and piano. I am SO MUCH HAPPIER!


  101. While I will be the first to admit I got somewhat sucked into the Cycle of WoW, the basis for your entire article isn't entirely correct. Social Obligations are a small factor, but these people are afflicted by "Bad friends who keep them playing the game.", they are afflicted by an extreme lack of self-control, self-regulation and willpower.

    I cannot blame World of Warcraft, or my friends from college whom I played the game with, for the fact I lost my girlfriend because I got a bit to obsessive with trying to down the Lich King. That is ENTIRELY on me, due to my short-sightedness, and lack of self-control.

    As a matter of fact, my guild kicked me out of a raid due to the fact they KNEW I was breaking plans with my girlfriend, but I still played.

    The fact of the matter, while you can try to paint Blizzard out for being a bad guy, or friends who don't support you like they should. In actuality, it falls entirely on the individual person. If you've got an addictive personality, you need to learn to manage it and take life in moderation. If you've got an extremely hard time dealing with self-control, get help so you can learn to deal with it.

    "In the end, your actions come down to one thing, and one thing only; you."

  102. I realized the same as you, I really love video games but I try to keep myself objective and clear each game a play once. Not worrying too much about achievements and stuff.

    My favorite game is Starcraft II and though I don't see it as the means to prove myself the more skilled. It is a good place to have some competence, Since I'm not really interested in most sports. But I still do exercise and stuff.

    Nice of you sharing this.

  103. it depends...I started playing WoW 5 years ago ( I was in law school) with some classmates....we had a lot of fun in those I still play wow, but now Im a lawyer in Volvo, and still find some time to hang out doing some PvP with my old classmates, is like a tradition (while we have voice chat on skype and we can talk about our day, laugh and all of that).

    I consider myself a pretty heavy player (usually using the last pvp gear set, doing arena 3v3 and getting Achiev).

    If you ask me, everything is fine now: I have a new car, Im buying a new dont judge just like that.

  104. Gotta chime in here; I think your article is useful for some people who are using WoW to escape life, and has some very interesting observations about the role social connections play in its addiction. However, as a practicing attorney who still devotes a few hours each week to WoW, I disagree with the "choose this, or that" tone of the article. Moderation is key, even in Warcraft.

  105. Good read. I played WoW for a solid 2 years part of successful guild and accumulated more hours playing in that 2 years than I can remember. I do have an addictive personality and have gone on to other things that some call a "waste of time". I play Baseball 4-5 times a week during the spring//summer and hockey 2-4 times a week in the fall//winter. Now my previous boss said that this was a "waste of time" and I was doing nothing to progress my life. What I understand about myself now, is that all that matters is that you are TRUTHFULLY happy, no matter what others may say.

  106. I had a similar experience to Doctor Professor. My friend and I were addicted to MMOs for many years, but I broke the habit. It was so gradual I didn't even notice. My degree was so time consuming that I got busier and busier. I logged on less and less and ended up deactivating my account. When I finished school, I had to move back in with my parents. My friend did the same. Our parents both were driving us nuts. But while she reactivated her old gaming account, I started jogging to get out of the house. A year later, I've lost 30 lbs, I've gotten social skills (I was always the awkward, nerdy kid), taken up an adult soccer team, and I have a good job. Because I got a job, I moved out of my parents and could afford to go on vacation somewhere nice. My friend still plays a MMO cheaper than WoW, lives at home, and has gained 20 lbs. Like the guild leader, she really hasn't grown up or gone and done anything since we both moved back a year ago. It's a real sharp contrast.

  107. Huh, I've always found it kind of hard to get addicted to MMOs. I've played Runescape, WoW, LOTRO, HKO, and various others, but I rarely get past level 30. I tend to get bored, so I'm a very off-and-on player. I like playing LOTRO a lot, but I haven't played since February because I've just had other things going on. I've had every opportunity to get addicted. Some people are just wired for addiction, and if that's you it makes sense not to play at all. But saying things like "that's where it starts", like it's impossible for ANYONE to play in moderation, just makes you look very foolish. Some of us really can spend a couple days running through the Badlands with their giant turtle, or playing the lute outside the Bird & Baby, and then just walk away for months or years at a time, no problem.

  108. hey dip shits trashing the article, dont forget the one line he says which sums up all your points. "The answer is simple: don't play blindly." he never said you shouldnt play at all, he even said it was fun. but all he seemed to mean was dont let it take over your life like it nearly did his

  109. Funny, I have a similar story to tell, although it happens differently. I was once very addicted to RuneScape, probably everyone here knows what that is.
    Anyway, that game became a big part of my life for a total of 7 years. I'm 18 now, and I must have quit the game when I was 16. So from when I was 9 until 16, I would play constantly. It wasn't the free version too, I was a hardcore level skilling, full trimmed zammy to full dragon wearing, quest-demolishing "choob" (a low life Runescape player).

    It isn't a surprise that I would be playing that game when I was younger. Everyone played video games when they were young. But I would continue to play year after year without second-thinking it over. Until, that is, I was lured to the wildy and got maged the shit out of me.

    After I lost the full zammy and 10M I managed to save up, I ragequit. A week of RuneScape-free was different, but I got used to it. After the first week I started to realize what I have been missing out on, which was a real life, not one that was set in the middle ages with magical characters and monsters. I wondered why I was ever attracted to that game in the first place. I wasted so much of my money on it, and was it worth it in the end? Of Fucking Course Not.

    I now work out on a regular basis and my grades have improved since then. I also have been to many jobs and loved them all. If you just give the things that are taking your life away a second thought, inspiration can hit anyone. Give it a try, it's not hard.

  110. I'm confused why so many people read this article and got defensive about it. I don't think the author was making a blanket statement about WOW, saying that all WOW players are wasting their time.

    WOW, just like many other things, has a high potential for abuse...meaning it's setup is geared to keep you playing. That truth by itself does not mean that every WOW gamer or every Alcohol drinker is an addict and needs just means it is possible and could be an issue for some people...and this is compounded with the fact that the WOW skills you develop aren't the most transferable. If you were an avid reader, for example, you would at least have a large vocabulary and a general understanding of many topics. WOW doesn't really offer the same options.

    The heart of the article is choice...his guild leader wanted 2 separate things in her be a paramedic and to run this guild in WOW. She had to make a choice between those 2 things because we are working with finite resources... namely time. On her deathbed would she rather die knowing she ran an awesome guild in WOW or would she feel more content knowing she became a paramedic and saved lives?

    There is no "right" answer there...but it is a choice you have to make and live/ die with.

  111. I've read plenty of writeups like these, but none as spot-on yours. While many players become addicted to the neverending grind of perfecting their gear, others like myself log on to connect with others. In-game communication these days often means talking through a headset and mic. Your fellow players are more than virtual icons - they are breathing people with distinct voices and personalities. Though gamers aren't the finest lot, if you play enough and you WILL find friends.

    This addictive mix of companionship and timewise/skillwise investment is what kept me addicted to Diablo II for nearly a decade.

  112. I feel sad thinking about your WoW friends, and the guild leader at home alone with her computer. I remember when I was 10-15 years old and spent all my free time alone with my Commodore 64, and lost all my friends and became a shy and silent boy. Eventually, I realized what was happening and quit playing when I was 17 or something. But that was too late and computers destroyed my youthhood that's for sure. -- Imagine if WoW had existed at that time. Then I might have lost another 20 years :-( Computers are really dangerous and if I ever have children I think I won't allow them to play for example on Saturday evening. Then they should spend time with their friends instead.

    (Nothing really happens when I click "Publish". I suppose you'll need to delete any duplicated comments, sorry. Thanks for an interesting article.)

  113. This is a beautifully written article. I felt the need to post a comment just so that you know it is still being read and offering hope and inspiration to others. I play League of Legends and far too much the way I look at it. The problem is I quit and my friends want me to come back and that is one of the only chance I get to "hang out" with them even though we see each other multiple times a week. Thank you for this insight to how these games work.

  114. I have been playing since 2006. I have twenty-two level 90's, five level 100s and a bunch of others. Total time played... Out of this world. Total money spent, including several trips to Blizzcon..

    Since Draenor came out, I leveled five toons to 100. Before I go to work (I get up 0445 before dailies reset) I do one and a half hours of garrison work. During lunch, another hour of dailies. And at night battle pets and achievements. That is four hours on weekdays, even more during the weekend. A minimum of 32 hours a week. That is almost a full time job! And I do not even do dungeons or raids!

    Unfortunately, to make progress in World of Warcraft, you have to devote the time. It is not the type of game you can just go in once a week and play for a couple of hours on the weekend. That would get you nowhere. It is the reality of the game.

    I have thought about not touching any of my alts and dedicate myself to my main. But thinking of all the garrison mission lost, all the garrison pet battles... I couldn't do it.

    I then remembered how hard I had worked over the years, all the hours I put into reputation grinds, into gear, mounts and all the other stuff that is totally worthless now. All that work for nothing. And I realized that the four - five hours a day I am spending now, will, once again, mean nothing as soon as the next expansion comes out.

    I briefly imagined how good I could be at something, anything, if I devoted half that time to it.

    I do not blame Blizzard. Warcraft is an amazing game. But enough is enough.

    I deleted everything and cancelled my account. I know that if I want to, I can reinstall and recover. They make it too easy to do so. But I am done. Forever.

  115. Wow made me quit my real life passion, i have a very hard time to forgive myself for that and the game. I´ve been away from wow about a year now and been playing for about 6-7 years through my teens. Im currently trying to deal with the issues i´ve gained from isolating myself, insecure, hard making friends and poor social skills which is a product of continues gaming each day after school. It becomes a problem when Wow become more fun than life, you wouldn´t want to do anything but to play the game, that´s a big warning sign. I ignored it, and since i quit wow i´ve had a huge void to fill, it has led me to over-use of things and thinking. And realizing how lonely i actually am. I have zero experience with girls during my teens and that´s the time where it´s suppose to happen things. But i spent nearly all my time and passion staring at the screen. As i said i am currently taking anti depression pills to ease my feeling´s of emptiness and loneliness. And what i´ve come to realize is that when i get the come-back feeling it´s always when im down and depressed or stressed about something, it´s rarely when life is going good and i feel good about life and my self. But rather when it´s not good my brain try to get me back to compensate those feelings. So as a rule i try to remember to not start playing when i feel like this because that´s not the reason i want to have to play games / wow again. Wow has great moments of joy i admit, but in the end it gave me all these problems and depression, not getting anywhere in real life, not progressing as other people do in life. It makes you feel like you hit pause on life and just lived in the virtual world, sweet experiences but at the end of the day, what have you accomplished ? What did you do to make yourself better as a person or get closer to your real life goals, the ones which push you to become a greater you. I have a lot of challenge ahead and im so close to give in to my addiction it´s really surreal... Knowledge is key but when you ignore even if you know it´s not good for you most likely it´s the addiction kicking in. I encourage you to chase your real life dreams, stay strong and surround yourself with people doing what you want to do or become, there is help out there you just need to take charge of your life. If this relate to you i hope it helps since i know it´s good to know your not the only one with these thoughts and issues.

  116. Hi :) A tad late to the party but I am another person that decided to quit WoW not so long ago, and I wanted to share my thoughts in the hope they will help others.

    I think a large part of the problem with not just WoW, but all MMO games is that they reward time invested rather than skill. You grind to get to the max level, then you go on raids to get increasingly powerful gear which will allow you to kill bigger bosses and beat more players in PvP. The game does all the dice-rolling, and it is up to you to have sunk enough time in to the game to collect enough tokens to get the best stuff. There is very little in the way of talent required.

    In an FPS game (like Halo for example), right from his first match, a player has all the tools he needs and a real if small chance of being able to kill a top rank player who has thousands of games under his belt. But in an MMO, a level 5 would never ever be able to beat a level 50, EVEN if they could equip similar armour and weapons, because of the nature of the game.

    I'm sure this is in the mind of every MMO player and if they wish to be able to properly compete, especially against other players, it becomes necessary to really spend a lot of time grinding and chasing after the best gear and stats the game can provide. If you decide to take a break from the game for a month, all the people that didn't take a month-long break will be ahead of you when you come back and you'll be at a significant disadvantage.

    And of course, then an expansion pack comes out promising new better gear for players to chase. And the tragic thing is, the amount of time it took to model, texture and program the stats for this new super-powerful weapon or armour is usually a fraction of the time it takes players to obtain it. The developers know this and can pump out a never ending stream of easy content, and as long as the numbers can go higher, people will play.

    Add to this, that MMOs are subscription-based, and there is the added incentive of knowing that you should be trying to get the most out of your invetsment. Every moment you aren't in the game is like wasted money.

    But it's fake. It's not real at all. All those hours invested in the game are just 1s and 0s, swimming round in a server somewhere, and if they ever decided to close the game it would all vanish in a heartbeat.

    I quit WoW after I realised I was becoming addicted to it for the reasons above. I wanted to be able to keep up with everyone else in this virtual world, so I gradually fell in to this downward spiral. Each step felt insignificant at first. I told friends I couldn't come over because I had other stuff going on. I spent more and more time away from my girlfriend who over time started to become a stranger. I began thinking or reading about the game every spare moment I had. My studies suffered because I wanted to get my work done quickly so I could get back on the game. All my other hobbies took a backseat, and most terrifying of all, my health began to worsen. I thought about where I would be in a year's time if I didn't get my act together and stop neglecting my education and real-life.

    So one day, I logged in to my account, deleted all my characters, and put the game in the bin. And I have never felt happier for it. It is as though I have been freed from this pressure. Not to mention I am £10 a month better off :P £120 a year, not to be sniffed at.

    If you are one of those people who can play in moderation, and stop it taking over your life, well you have my respect. I certainly could not. But if the game is making you unhappy or damaging your education/work/relationships, then cut all ties to the game and be rid of it. It is well worth it in the end.