For a long time now I’ve stayed away from MMOs such as World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and the such. Not because I was afraid of getting addicted or anything, but because I blamed MMOs like WoW for ruining the lives of many people. I’d seen friends and familiy completely lose themselves in the game and become “that” person. If you’ve seen the “Make Love, Not Warcraft” South Park episode, then you know what I’m talking about. To make matters worse, I’d see headlines about kids that fell dead among a sea of HotPocket wrappers or people who would lose their jobs, relationships, etc. because they’d become more enamored with MMOs than with actual life. Or “irl” as MMO players like to call it. It made me sick.
Recently, I had a conversation with a life-long friend about WoW and guess what. He’s engaged, has a steady job, goes out with friends “irl”, and even retained all of his social skills while managing to level a few “toons” to Level 70. At first I was amazed that he’d even try WoW. He was never the gaming type to begin with. I joked with him that I was going to write a mock newspaper story (a’la The Onion) with a headline reading “MMO Player Maintains Relationship, Job, and Social Life: WoW Community is Outraged.” Then I heard about another friend who also plays Lord of the Rings Online (He even wrote about it here.), but didn’t become addicted to the point of installing a microwave next to his computer.
So I got to thinkin’ that maybe I had it all wrong. You’ll never read a story in the newpaper about the Alexises and Marios of the world- the MMO players that can enjoy the game safely without having to keep empty bottles of Snapple nearby so that they don’t have actually get up and go to the restroom. You’ll never read a story in the newspaper (wait.. do they actually have print news anymore?) about a kid who has a maxed out character in WoW yet still gets good grades, got a scholarship and went on to succeed in college. It’s not going to happen.
I decided that placing the blame on MMOs made no more sense than blaming the hemp plant for people becoming drug addicts. Its dumb. How can anyone blame a plant, right? Its just a plant! At the end of the day it is we gamers that make the choice to log on and play for 18 hours straight or walk out of that door and enjoy the sun. It all boils down to choices. You can choose to lose yourself in MMOs, drugs, drinking, shopping too much, eating too much, etc. or you can choose to be responsible.
Needless to say, I don’t blame MMOs anymore. Hey, I even signed up for one. But I’ll be darned if I ever choose to stay home and “finish one more quest” rather than go out with my girlfriend or hang out with my brother. It just won’t happen.
With all that being said, I’ll take advantage of my soapbox and leave you all with the best gaming tip that Prima or I could ever provide: Game responsibly.