Why I Quit WoW And Started Working Out: Apologies in advance to all World of Warcraft players, but I really enjoyed this article from a guy who quit WoW. Beyond just the “it was really hard” bit, he examines why WoW (and other games) suck people in: social connection, and a false sense of obligation.
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.
Some of you may be angered by this, but he has a point. MMORPGs cross a line into your real life – they jump out of the Net and create this real-world sense of obligation. The feeling is quite real, but in service of what?