Saturday, March 05, 2005

Will playing an MMO take years off your life?

Funny week, really.

I just can't quite remember specific incidents, only a general haze of adventuring, questing, grinding, and flower picking.

Everone ribs me for it, but I don't care, flower picking is great fun.

In a vain attempt to keep up with everyone else (one of our guild members reached level 40 last night and bought a spanking great horse to prance around on - we ribbed it for having a dress, but secretely were very very jealous) I've been playin World of Warcraft obsessively lately. I play when my girlfriend is in work - I play when she's asleep. I stop playing when she gets up for work, have breakfast with her then start playing again. I sleep for a few hours a day - usually in the afternoon - about the time Neighbours first edition is on, which is fine by me, because, you know, it's rubbish.

I seem to be getting on OK, but a few things, little things mind, have been happening that, perhaps I'm being paranoid here, seem to me just a little disturbing.

For some reason the fingers on my right hand, the ones I use to move and click the mouse, twitch, lock, then twitch again, for no apparent reason, for five minute bursts.

Fair enough, I can handle that.

Then there's my jaw. It aches. Why would it ache? Because of a lack of sleep? It makes no sense, but, as clear as a flower ripe for picking, it does.

And then there's the obvious side effects - bloodshot eyes - constantly, yawning every waking minute, even though you're at the stage where you've 'gone past tiredness'.

But, perhaps most worrying of all, I don't piss as much as I used to. I drink just as much as I used to - perhaps even more (coffee breaks are a regular feature of our guild). WTF is all that about?

So, I ask you - does playing an MMO take years off your life? If it is to me - WTF is it doing to that crazy lvl 59 that was playing yesterday? Why isn't he dead?

I'm instantly reminded of that documentary on MacDonalds 'Supersize Me', where that American guy almost killed himself by eating nothing but McD's for a month. If I keep this up, will I get fat(ter), have serious kidney problems and puke regularly?

I see disturbing similarities between the two addictions. McD's sell you food that's deliberately addictive, unfulfilling and, according to the documentary, makes you ill.

WOW is designed to make you addicted to it - the level up mechanic is designed by psychologists who are experts in reward systems; it constantly leaves you thinking about it when you are not playing, so much so that you ignore other responsibilities; and, as far as I can tell, makes you ill.

Of course, I don't give a shit. I love the fucking thing, even if it is the bane of my life. (I'll be lvl 40 by the end of next week you mark my words) But, just in case there's no post next week and you're wondering, I may have to get carted off to a hospital farely soon (at least, that's not if my girlfriend doesn't kill me first).

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