Escape From the Top

A friend of mine linked this to me last night, and it is making the rounds throughout the blogosphere. It’s an account by a former top guild leader and why he quit WOW:

I just left WoW permanently. I was a leader in one of the largest and most respected guilds in the world, a well-equipped and well-versed mage, and considered myself to have many close friends in my guild. Why did I leave? Simple: Blizzard has created an alternate universe where we don’t have to be ourselves when we don’t want to be. From my vantage point as a guild decision maker, I’ve seen it destroy more families and friendships and take a huge toll on individuals than any drug on the market today, and that means a lot coming from an ex-club DJ.

Blizzard created a game that you simply can not win. Not only that, the only way to “get better” is to play more and more. In order to progress, you have to farm your little heart out in one way or another: either weeks at a time PvPing to make your rank or weeks at a time getting materials for and “conquering” raid instances, or dungeons where you get “epic loot” (pixilated things that increase your abilities, therefore making you “better”). And what do you do after these mighty dungeons fall before you and your friend’s wrath? Go back the next week (not sooner, Blizzard made sure you can only raid the best instances once a week) and do it again (imagine if Alexander the Great had to push across the Middle East every damn week).

There are three problems that arise from WoW: the time it requires to do anything “important” is astounding, it gives people a false sense of accomplishment, and when you’re a leader, and get wrapped up in it, no matter how much you care or want people to care, you’re doing the wrong thing.

The worst though are the people you know have time commitments. People with families and significant others. I am not one to judge a person’s situation, but when a father/husband plays a video game all night long, seven days a week, after getting home from work, very involved instances that soak up hours and require concentration, it makes me queasy that I encouraged that.

The game also provides people with a false sense of security, accomplishment, and purpose. Anyone can be a superhero here if they have the time to put in. Not only that, a few times I’ve seen this breed the “rockstar” personality in people who have no confidence at all in real life. Don’t get me wrong, building confidence is a good thing and something, if honed appropriately, the game can do very right. But in more than a few cases, very immature people with bad attitudes are catered to (even after insulting or degrading others “in public”) because they are “better” than the rest. Usually this means they played a lot more and have better gear. I’d really hate to see how this “I’m better than you attitude” plays out in real life where it means jack how epic your loot is – when you say the wrong thing to the wrong person it’s going to have repercussions and you can’t just log out to avoid the effects of your actions.

This is just one of many accounts about how one can become so absorbed and obsessed with a game that it has a major effect on one’s life. There are many good points he makes about WOW in the article, so give it a read. The follow-up piece is also worth reading.

[The View From the Top and the followup, The View From the Top: Redux]

[Thanks, Roomiepbt]

  3 comments for “Escape From the Top

  1. 19 October 2006 at 09:56

    I gotta say that when I admin’d a CS server – I knew people with similar time managment issues.

    And that game shares virtually none of the reasons given. Not that they aren’t a factor, but I think personal responsibility is the key here.

  2. 19 October 2006 at 13:30

    Simple: Blizzard has created an alternate universe where we don’t have to be ourselves when we don’t want to be. From my vantage point as a guild decision maker, I’ve seen it destroy more families and friendships and take a huge toll on individuals than any drug on the market today, and that means a lot coming from an ex-club DJ.

    I found this the most moving line in the piece.

  3. 24 October 2006 at 03:33

    I’m with Josh on the personal responsibility. It’s not a guild leader’s place to tell people to go back to their families. It is, however, their place not to glorify the time-sink aspect of the game by deferring to poor team players just because they spent more time playing.

    “in more than a few cases, very immature people with bad attitudes are catered to (even after insulting or degrading others “in public”) because they are “better” than the rest.”

    Hey, you know what? Don’t cater to them, then. Don’t accept immature behaviour and call them on their crap when they try to pull it. Isn’t that the point of a guild leader?

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