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Jace Hall tackles media coverage of WoW addiction

Jace Hall is well-known for his comedy videos, but apparently he can also be a pretty serious dude when he wants to be. In a recent blog entry, the internet funnyman talks about a recent piece on "internet addiction" by CNN personality Campbell Brown.

Addiction is a tough topic, and WoW is an easy sell as a scapegoat. Like any activity you love, if you feel passionately about it, you should fight for its proper representation. Jace certainly is.

His stance on addiction:
"It is my opinion that human beings are capable of creating destructive relationships and associations with almost anything. Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is a fundamental trait of the human condition. This trait can occasionally direct people toward the use of escapism. Sometimes this can be a necessary mode of survival and very healthy – other times is can lead to counterproductive personal and social behavior.

What that means is that, YES, someone can get so involved in watching movies, or reading books, or tweaking their myspace page, or surfing, or playing games, or swimming or drinking, or using drugs, or having sex, or ANYTHING THAT THEY FIND USEFUL TO ESCAPE WITH, that they actually begin to ignore other important aspects of their lives and it becomes a real problem."
Hall laments that news organizations and personalities seem eager to paint activities they're unfamiliar with or don't understand, like WoW, as unique and dangerous forces in addiction then countless other activities. Among those with addictive personalities or social difficulties, any activity can become addictive, and this particular report, he says, is pure fear-mongering "based ultimately on conjecture."

My personal opinion on these matters is that it's difficult to pin "WoW addiction" on any particular source, and that usually, like Jace says in his article, there are circumstances that extend far outside of the game that can cause these problems.

Filed under: News items

CNN on WoW addiction

Last week CNN ran an editorial story about online game addictions. Its the typical story about how bad online games can be, and how this addiction can destroy a person's life. The article itself has some good examples of this, from both Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft.

In particular, a specialist at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at Proctor Hospital, talks about a young man in his twenties. This poor fellow has lost numerous jobs, his girlfriend, and is quite the recluse since he became addicted to World of Warcraft. It's quite the unfortunate tale, and I'm sure we're all sympathetic to his plight.

Many of us have someone in our family, or otherwise know someone who has dealt with an addiction. They can be a difficult period in everyone's life to deal with. Addictions to WoW and other games in the genera can be no less serious than an addiction to gambling. The results are all the same: people loose their jobs, their families, and can become severely depressed. When that happens disastrous things take place, such as the young man that lost his life in South Korea last year.

The article on CNN doesn't go into any great detail about what you can do if you think you or a loved one has an addiction to WoW. It does give some tips to family members, but CNN is hardly the place to go to for medical advice. Instead, don't bother with anything else then going right to your doctor. Any doctor, at any clinic, anywhere, can at least point you in the right direction.

I'm sure a few of our readers out there have dealt with this in the past, either directly or indirectly. What have you done? What stories do you have to tell?

Filed under: News items

Getting enthralled, or getting to bed?

WoW tends to be a night time activity for most people, many of whom find that it's surprisingly easy to move from one objective to another and lose track of time until the wee hours of the morning. Some people I know sometimes stay up most of the night playing WoW, only to get an hour or two of sleep before whatever they have to do the next day. They're young and they say they make up that sleep at other times, but still, no one would argue that this sort of situation is ideal.

A recent study reported by CNN says they're not alone. People who play MMORPGs tend to sleep less and spend more time playing than players of other computer games. It may seem obvious, since MMOs are by nature somewhat of a time-sink, but there is undeniably something more to it; any activity can potentially be a time-sink, after all -- so what is it about MMOs that makes people actually sink time?

The answer is up for debate, of course, but one important factor is that WoW's community of players gives the accomplishments within the game a context of reality. The game's goals, dangling in front of us like carrots, would be nearly meaningless if we could only appreciate them in a single-player context, but with a whole realm of other players working alongside us to get them too, they can feel very important. If the choice is between a few hours having dreams you won't remember, or getting a little closer to riding an impressive dragon mount, then certainly sleep can seem boring and useless by comparison.

Read more →

Filed under: Virtual selves, News items

Another man dies after three day gaming binge

CNN is reporting that it's happened again in China-- a man has died after a three-day gaming binge in a cyber cafe.

So many things wrong with this story. First of all, how does someone sit in an internet cafe for three days without anyone else noticing? I'm sure that it must have been a huge, 24 hour, windowless warehouse type of place, with people coming and going all the time, but still, what business would allow people to basically live in their building?

And then, of course, there's the gaming angle. Videogames and the Internet didn't kill this man, people, despite what CNN says:

The paper said that he may have died from exhaustion brought on by too many hours on the Internet.

Actually, I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure he died from exhaustion brought on by staying awake for too long. If he'd been playing ping pong for three days straight, he probably wouldn't have come out of it very well either.

The article says they don't know what game he was playing, so this may not even be World of Warcraft. But while it is a very sad story, it's too bad CNN fell into the old lines of "omgz internets killed a man" instead of actually pointing out that this man made some very serious mistakes of his own.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items

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