Because, at the end of the day, it’s not the game you’re fighting, it’s you.
-Jesal Shah, a recovered World of Warcraft addict
With over eleven-million monthly subscribers, World of Warcraft, aka WoW, is the most popular online game in the history of online gaming. That said, I have never had the opportunity to play, nor have I had the privilege of watching someone experienced in the ways of WoW navigate its realms.
If culture matters at all to me, and I’d like to think that it matters quite a bit, it is my responsibility to educate myself on Azeroth, which, aside from being the name of the world where the majority of Warcraft is set, at 11.5 million users and counting, has a greater population than 72% of our countries. No wonder this massively multiplayer online role-playing game, aka, MMORPG, is culpable for failing grades and high-school dropouts.
The video clip above was Jesal Shah’s WoW testament to Coldplay’s Lost! But he removed it for some mysterious reason. All that remains is my transcript of Jesal’s narrative:
Hi – Jesal here, nice to meet you. As you can obviously see I’m a paladin, or protector of the light. My job is to make sure you don’t die. How? By healing, of course. As you can tell from my gear, I’ve been around the block quite a bit, so let me tell you a little bit more about who I am and what I do not only for myself, but for the other people that I play with.
When I’m not flying around, like I am now, I like to raid, which means group up with a bunch of people, usually some of my virtual friends, and attempt content designed to be completed for more than one person. There’s solo content in the game, but the world is designed so that the best rewards go to those who are willing to work with others. Think of it as a way of the game makers making sure that people spend enough time with other people in the game and not just themselves
One major aspect of the game is PvP, or Player Versus Player combat. It’s here that you get to fight real people through the game, working with others on your same faction toward a common goal. In the end, depending on how well you do, if you win, you get honor, which you can then use to purchase items and make your character even stronger. People who can buy honor quickly are the ones that level-up quickly, therefore, it’s a huge incentive to buy honor.
At the end of the game, you can see how you did. Naturally, I was number one in Healing Done, which helped lead our team to eventual victory. Successes and achievements like this are the bread and butter for any gamer, and they’re the reason we keep coming back, time and again, back to the game.
For people like me, it’s just a way to have fun, but for many, including myself in the past, it leads to losing sight of reality. You forget your responsibilities, you forget your duty, and most importantly, you forget that there’s a real life to take care of.
No matter how much time you spend fawning over virtual rewards, there will always be a very real sense of regret when you go back and realize the detriment you’ve caused to your real life. It’s only then that you can hope for a new motivation to moderate yourself and get back on the right path. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not the game you’re fighting, it’s you. I can sit and heal people till the cows come home, but I must be cognizant of the real life that is passing me by.
The numbers don’t lie, and when I see how much I’ve played of this game over the past four years, I realize that almost 1/8 of that entire time was on this game, and that, my friends, is regret. Let’s hope I don’t become a victim of the cycle.