You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully. There is an elf with an exclamation point above her head here.
"Alas," she says. "There is a great darkness upon the land. Fifty years ago the Dwarf Lord Al'ham'bra came upon the Dragon Locket in the Miremuck Caverns. He immediately recognized the ..."
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"Hey," the elf protests. "This is important expository. Azeroth is a rich and storied land, with a tapestry of interwoven ..."
Joi Ito showed me a huge bird that his character was riding across fabled lands to some meet-up with members of his World of Warcraft krewe. He wondered if I might like to try the game. "Too much," I thought, and quietly demurred. MMPORGs have that sweet seductiveness of an illicit drug. They're a mind space where the "real" world is allowed to disappear and a new reality is implanted. I am not known for my moderation. I could see getting down into one of these spaces and not emerging for a year or three. That wouldn't be good for me.
Jess relays a similar concern. Coincidentally, Joi turned her on to the game too. (Well, it's not so much coincidence as community... I know Jess through her interactions on the #joiito channel a few years back, which I think is how she's connected to Joi). Here's some of what she says....
My first impressions of it weren't that great and I didn't think I'd be playing after the free one-month trial was over.
...over the next couple months. I started playing more hours and would stay up late the next morning trying to learn more about the game. When I was browsing the internet I was looking at WoW websites for more info on the storyline, races, items, and abilities I encountered while playing. I even bought a six-button mouse so I could easily right-click and move my character around better, and got more memory so it wasn't so choppy.
That wasn't enough though. I was advancing in the game and getting to know other players, but real life was changing too. To have more game time I starting cutting out other things I liked to do. My television watching decreased to zero, I stopped watching DVDs that were coming in the mail, updating my blog, visiting websites that weren't in my newsreader, or checking my email. I was addicted to this game and was having fun.
I've heard that the production values on these games are first rate, that production expenses exceed those of the more expensive major motion pictures. But it's a good investment. It's like a legal license to sell crack.
i know as a dad that my gaming time is not nearly as much as others'.
but you have to understand how wide the distribution of individual circumstancres is in this country. very wide. there's millions of people with jobs going nowhere, who are bright and sociable, but who are trapped in social environments that are not so good. theyre probably the prime candidates for this. and i dont really blame them. society is letting them down.
Castronova's concern that "gaming time" not cut into "dad time" begs the question. Is a "gaming dad" like any other "absent dad?" Does parenting permit compartmentalization of personality attributes? Would the kid who finds himself having to drag dad away from the wizards and elves in their scanties, be any more or less wounded having to drag dad out of the bar? It's been observed that these online gaming communities are "the new golf." Call me a loner. I wasn't that enamored of "the old golf."