curiosity killed the addictive gamer in me

I can see it now. Homeless, slightly demented and jabbering about inane details of imaginary characters. This will be my life in six months from now after suffering through a debilitating addiction.  An addiction to the ridiculous time suck that is world of warcraft (aka world of walking). I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have now played through the 10 day free trial (damn you free trial!) and have *paid* to play for another month. What happened?! How could I go from so jealously guarding my time to pissing it away into the ethereal fantasy world that is the "world" of warcraft?

And yet.... And yet, I am completely fascinated. I've read a few articles about professors studying the economics of  the game, and about the staggering number of people (11 million?) who play the game but never really understood the allure. In fact, just the idea of playing games "online" is largely unappealing to me. And by online I mean amongst hoards of teenage kids and angry shut-ins throwing slang at each other. I mean internet gaming, the kind where you show up and get completely slaughtered before you even know what's going on.  LAN gaming on the other hand, with a room full of people you knew and could taunt... that's a different story. How old am I?

I got to witness my young (11) cousin not too long ago playing on his XBox. It was eye opening to see the way his generation has adopted online anonymous gaming in a way that I have yet to really get to. Jump online, form casual alliances, piss some people off, play basically completely ad-hoc and move on to the next one. It's social too, with banter and chat being casually tossed around. I still didn't really get it though. (Is this just the introverted programmer in me?)

[time passes]

I started writing this post in December, and after five months of not playing the game I am all of a sudden well into this thing now. I had to stop playing after the holidays were over just to get back into work, and once I stopped I stopped. Course all it took was to login again after a stressful week at work and I was back at it.  No different than any other game I suppose except that this game has no ending. I really can see how this game could destroy school, relationships, careers. Thank god I already have a family.

And I have to say after a few weeks the social elements are starting to be far less baffling to me. I still find that given constraints with kids in the house and limited time windows I rarely have the opportunity to commit to a game socially, (very poor form to just turn off the game midstream like I do when I play alone) but having now run a few quests both with planned partnerships and adhoc allegiances I am starting to really get the appeal.  It's amazing too the diversity of people online (teens to doctors, moms to executives), and you have an ability to really choose who of that diverse group you actually interact with for the most part. The game includes two main modes of play, either player vs player or player vs environment. Both are collaborative, but PvE is primarily groups of humans versus AI and bosses.  I may yet play PvP but I fear that's where you really lose control over your experience. I don't relish the thought of being ambushed by a group of players who's sole purpose is to run around finding people to annoy/destroy/humiliate.  And even when playing against the environment you still have arenas in which you can pit yourself against other players which honestly is enough for me.

Biggest distraction for me so far? The remote auction house on my iPhone. I can be walking to a meeting and purchase or sell gear for my toon, check out upgrades etc. It's insane.  I lament the thought of what these hours amount to in terms of lost productivity to global economies. ;-)

Anyway this is way off topic but I'm cleaning up old posts and thought I'd get it out.  For the record I can't yet say I'd ever recommend playing to my real-life friends, but these MMORPG worlds are insanely rich and engaging, not to mention wildly popular.