09 March, 2010

Why I Think MMOs Could Kill the Geek Empire

How many people do you know who play MMOs?

I know quite a few. Some people play it casually, which is cool. Havin' fun is never bad. Some people play it for what I would consider a reasonable amount of time, but they have all the special gear and are the kind of people who know the terms and the places. And then, there are the hardcore MMO players.
These are the people who are so damn involved they can't break apart. If they go without it for a few days, they struggle. They want to play all the time - and some of them do. They let their game run for most of the day, and will interrupt anything to play or check on it. They have multiple characters at high levels with ridiculous gear, or have all of the achievements for a game and continue playing every time new content is released until they have everything, and spend so much time on the game they start falling away from real life responsibilities and activities, and some people start talking about nothing but the games.
Game addiction is real, and WoW is one of the most prevalent, but it's visible with nearly all MMOs to a degree.

Why is this such a bad thing?

Well, there are a number of implications - damage to relationships (romantic and platonic and familial), decreased social abilities (you think I'm kidding, but think about it for a little bit), lack of exercise, etc.
The big one, for me, is how it could impact the improvement of society - and individuals - by reducing the number of people persuing higher level careers or education because they are too busy with the games. How many people do you know who play MMOs who have slowed down their advancement in their job, or have started getting worse grades in school? What about people who are unemployed and never seem to get a long-term job, but still play for hours in a day?

Plenty of people play MMOs. Plenty of people build new friendships and relationships with other people through them. It's good in that sense. I think, though, that the focus on the game and relationships within the game can cause people to fall away from the relationships that are here in real life, and start deteriorating rapidly - and that includes the social contracts of friendships (give and take) and marriages.

It changes how people are percieved - if you spend 12 hours on a Saturday playing an MMO, but can't seem to make time to go to a work social function, how does that impact what your employer thinks of you? You may think they don't know what you're doing, but it's very possible they do.
Is having a Level 80 character or having all of the achievements really going to help you create new computer software or develop energy efficient power or increase your pay rate? I highly doubt it.

I'm not saying MMOs or any video games at heart are a bad thing. I love video games, and I love playing them - in moderation. There is a point when it's just too much. When it interferes with your life outside the game, or causes you to become stagnant - where is your potential?

Geeks are HUGE right now (that's what she said). They are the top dogs in industry, and a lot of the time, in movies and . Geeks make the money, yo.
But if more and more people become so addicted to another reality, and less people focus on improving themselves, where will the great geeks come from? If there are less people of potential becoming more experienced, educated, and using more of their creativity, who is going to keep leading?

Just something to think on.

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