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Posts with tag videogames

Breakfast Topic: WoW as meditation

There are a million ways to relax in this modern era. Yoga, taichi, zen koans, transcendental meditation, knitting, and yes, video games. It might seem odd to mention video games in the same sentence as "zen" or "meditation," but think for a moment: most forms of meditation involve focusing on one simple thing, such as the flame of a candle, or the repetition of a mantra, and excluding all other thought. Doesn't World of Warcraft call this grinding?

Now, granted, there are plenty of complicated and interesting things to do in WoW that involve lots of concerted thought and could not be considered meditation. But couldn't grinding away on daily quests or farming for materials be considered a very modern way for some people to wind down, clear their mind of daily frustrations, and just be nothingness itself for a little while? I know for my part, playing WoW by myself for a while certainly isn't ecstatic communion with the divine, but it can be a great way to just put everything else away for a bit and come back to life feeling refreshed.

What do you think: is grinding a form of meditation for you, or is it just something to do when you're bored out of your mind?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Neglecting kids isn't videogame addiction-- it's bad parenting

The AP is reporting on the story of a couple in Nevada who claim they were so addicted to "the Internet and video games" that they neglected the health and well-being of their two children, a 22-month old girl and an 11-month old boy. I won't go into the details, although you can read them in the article, but it's a horrific story. WoW isn't mentioned-- "the fantasy role-playing Dungeons & Dragons series" is, but does that mean DDO or does the reporter just, as usual, have no idea what they're talking about?

At any rate, (also as usual) the report eventually turns to videogame addiction and what a "serious issue" it is. Exactly zero mention is made of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of parents who play WoW and other online games right alongside their children, happily and healthily. A few of my guildies are parents and often play with their kids, and our own Robin Torres writes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about doing exactly that and how to handle issues like playing with your kids. You'll also note that almost no attention is paid to the other problems with this couple-- they gained $50,000 in inheritance, and spend it on computer equipment and a plasma screen rather than anything for their two children. This isn't "abuse rooted in videogame addiction"-- it's abuse rooted in bad parenting.

Kayholder over on WoW Ladies says she gets attacked for playing the game with young children at home-- people automatically say that having children around to take care of should automatically exempt you from playing a game like World of Warcraft.

That's just plain wrong. Any game can be played responsibly by anyone of age, World of Warcraft included. Kay even says that she doesn't raid because she doesn't think she has the time (which is fine as well), but one of my guildies who just had yet another kid is actually our main healer. Good parenting and videogames aren't mutually exclusive-- in fact, in some situations, they're better together.

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

Study says games really don't hurt you

According to Ars Technica, a study appearing in the June edition of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine covering the effects of video games on young people paints a relatively reassuring picture. The study suggests that video games have no significant impact on academics or socialization. From the article:

Although there were some figures that might suggest that gaming displaced academic activities, such as reading and homework, the total time spent on these pursuits was so small that minor effects were magnified. If people are concerned about the lack of reading done by adolescents, the fact that non-gamers spend only eight minutes a day reading should be a far larger concern than the fact that gaming causes that figure to drop by a little more than two minutes.

And in my experience playing World of Warcraft with both kids and adults, I have to say that the game is very social, and can even teach plenty of social skills. (Well, as long as you eventually level out of Barrens chat.) Of course if you're replacing homework time with World of Warcraft time, that's one thing, but this study doesn't suggest that's what's happening. What's your opinion -- do games like World of Warcraft have a negative effect on our kids?
[Thanks, Mogwai!]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

Breakfast Topic: Has WoW broken Blizzard?

Lots of players have cried, at one point or another, that Blizzard, the company, has somehow irrevocably broken WoW, the game, and that they'll never come back, ever. But this morning, I'd like to take a look at the opposite question: has WoW, the game, broken Blizzard, the company?

Look at Blizzard before World of Warcraft: They were undoubtedly the king of RTS, with not one but two classic, timeless series under their belts (StarCraft, which is still considered the RTS standard by some, and Warcraft, the third of which is still just as popular). They made Diablo and Diablo 2, two of the biggest, if not the biggest, PC RPGs ever. They came from console roots, and were thinking about reentering them with a 3rd person stealther called StarCraft: Ghost that had earned tons of hype already. And then along comes this game called World of Warcraft. I worked at a game store when word first dropped about this game, and we were confused-- a 3D MMORPG set in the Warcraft universe? How do you do that? But Blizzard had a reputation for spit, polish, and quality by the spades-- while they didn't make many games, the few they made were the best of the best.

Cut to now: World of Warcraft is Blizzard's one and only game for the forseeable future. StarCraft: Ghost has been canceled, along with any thoughts Blizzard ever had of reentering the console field. They're now longer a small, powerful games boutique-- now they're the 800 lb gorilla of the gaming world, making deals to put their game in stores, on television, and in movies. And while their game does still have a heck of a lot of spit and polish (they do still have seven million players), they're not so much in the business of cultivating multiple powerful franchises, but instead have gotten very much into the business of hotfixes, bugfixes, and patching.

So has WoW broken Blizzard? At this point, it's very hard to imagine Blizzard having or making the resources to do another game (they're tied up as it is with the expansion). WoW has made a lot of players very happy, but it's also tarnished Blizzard's reputation with their playerbase in a way that Diablo and StarCraft never did. And while there's no question that Blizzard is still respected in the game industry, there is a question as to why: is it because they're reeling in the cash, or is it because of the quality of their product? Back in the days of StarCraft and Diablo, the latter was the case. Is it still?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features

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