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Posts with tag therapy

15 Minutes of Fame: Full-body WoW with motion-sensing software

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

The boss is enraging at 7% health and you're locked on target, hunched over your keyboard in a white-knuckled frenzy to squeeze every last drop of DPS from your avatar. Finally, the beast succumbs to your assault, and you sit back, exquisitely aware of the tension crumpling your neck and shoulders and radiating into your fingertips. As you pull in a deep, shuddering breath of relief, you wonder if perhaps it might be more natural to simply stand in front of your screen and show the computer, using gestures similar to those of your character, what to do.

Now, you can.

Dr. Skip Rizzo, associate director at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, is head of a research project that's applying the same kind of technology used in the Xbox Kinect to the World of Warcraft. The aim of the project, however, is not so much to turn games like WoW into virtual tarantellas of movement and gesture but to make games more accessible to disabled players and to open new avenues for rehabilitation, therapy and even education. The project's Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST) middleware integrates full-body control with games and virtual reality applications, using tools like PrimeSensor and the Kinect on the OpenNI framework.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame interview: Dr. Hilarie Cash of reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program

We've talked about Internet addiction before a few times here on the site, but it's always been through the lens of the media. Certainly there are players of WoW and other games out there who play the game so much it's affecting their lives, but most of the cases we've heard about have been a little over the top -- parents crying that their children are lost, kids playing nonstop and picking up bad health and social habits from this horrible game.

And so, when we heard that there was a new center opening for Internet and gaming addiction in Washington State, we decided, instead of just listening to the media reports, to sit down with the co-founder herself and have a more thoughtful conversation about gaming addiction: how and why it happens, how they're trying to fight it, and how it's portrayed, from both a media and a gamers' perspective. Dr. Hilarie Cash has been working with Internet addicts for 15 years -- she's the cofounder of two different addiction clinics, including the new reSTART Center, and the co-author of "Videogames & Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control." You can read our exclusive interview with her by hitting the "Read more" link below.

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

Using WoW in a therapeutic setting

Lest you think playing WoW is nothing but trouble (and shame on you if you do), Terra Nova has an excellent story about how WoW is being used in a therapetic setting.

It's great to hear that Blizzard's little game could actually be the key to helping young kids out "socially, academically, and therapeutically." The social benefits are obvious-- even the shyest wallflower can get involved, meet people, and find a group in WoW (it's no substitute for the real thing, as the article says, but it's a step up from no social interaction at all). And it's true that with all the numbers and text in WoW, it's not surprising that figuring those out could translate to better academic work in some cases. If you don't care about aggro, you might not benefit, but if a kid really cares about how to max his DPS or make sure he keeps aggro on the main tank, there's some good number theory going on there. And we've already shown, here on this site, that there's a bias against bad spelling ingame.

But perhaps most interesting is how the shared experience of WoW can be used to build connections to kids who have trouble making connections at all. We're a culture, for sure, because we all know why they call it Lagforge, and we all know (well, eventually we do) where Mankrik's wife is. It's awesome that a therapist can use that connection to create some more real connections, as the story says, between the child and the teacher.

Now let's just see if the media covers a story like this. Or hasn't the suicide in China gotten enough press yet?

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

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