World of no-regret-craft

World of WarcraftIt has been two years and two months since I quit playing World of Warcraft. I wasn’t really into it “that” badly as I “only” had 23 days of combined play time across all of my characters when I quit. 23 days of play time doesn’t seem like a huge figure, so let me put it into perspective: that’s 552 hours. Doesn’t seem so tiny now, huh. And remember, 23 days of play time is a pittance compared to the people who are really into the game and have been playing it for nearly three years now. Some players have exceeded an entire year of play time across all their characters. That’s a scary figure.

It’s not that I still obsess over World of Warcraft. It’s usually not on my mind at all. But I bring it up because two of the people at work are quite into it. One of my coworkers has 50 days of combined play time. They were discussing the game and I was able to join in, despite not having played in so long. That’s a testament to how much I played it (and thus how much I reinforced my knowledge about it), as well as a testament to how little the core game has really changed. They were looking at player stats online and checking out their realms’ forums, so I had the sudden urge to see what was going on at the forum for the realm I used to play on, Cenarion Circle.

Here’s the scary thing: I recognize a lot of the names of the characters that are posting on that forum. And that doesn’t even include the unfamiliar names of new characters created since I stopped playing by the people I played with. The number of people who have been playing for all of these past two and a half years is quite astounding. I gave up on World of Warcraft and went on to do much more useful things: for instance, I completed my college degree and got into serious writing. Others haven’t been so lucky. If I was still playing World of Warcraft now at the same rate I was then, my play time would easily be over 100 days. Imagine all of that time, completely wasted. And as I look on at my fellow players who never did quit and kept wasting their time, I feel very saddened.

Now many people will have qualms with that assessment; “Who are you to say they’re wasting their time?”, they might ask. Well, I’m someone who’s been there and done that. I can look back at the things I’ve done in my life and identify the ones that were useful and the ones that were not. For instance, every second I put into my education was worth it. And I use an extremely broad definition of education here — it includes everything I did that enhanced my academic, as well as technical, skills. Yes, that even includes blogging, which has helped to make me a better writer. I can look back at the archive on this blog and say to myself, “That was worth it”. This will be especially true when I look back on it decades from now as a detailed description of my life.

But World of Warcraft simply wasn’t worth it. I got nothing out of it. It’s a black hole of vanished time in my life. Yes, I made all sorts of “friends” while playing the game, but the simple nature of the beast is, as soon as you stop playing, you lose the main communications medium that was keeping you in touch with said friends. A WoW addict isn’t going to find a lot of time to talk with you in instant messenger; his time is better spent chatting with his friends in-game, who he can still play with. I’ve seen this same story repeated across the blogosphere. Oftentimes, people don’t even find the game fun anymore, but they keep playing it just because most of their social circle resides inside the game.

My one regret about World of Warcraft is that I didn’t quit playing it sooner. I really feel sad for all of those people who are still pouring double-digit percentages of their ongoing life into it. Imagine the realization they will come to a year after quitting (and quitting is inevitable for all players, eventually), when they realize that it was all just a huge waste of time and that they didn’t get anything out of it besides an ephemeral satisfaction of addiction. Let me repeat something I said after I quit WoW that I have kept my word on: I will never, ever, play another MMORPG.

23 Responses to “World of no-regret-craft”

  1. Spud Says:

    I wish i had gotten out as early as you had. I have 180~days played on my main and maybe 20 more spread among alts. Although at the time i didnt feel i was wasting my time my opinion has changed now. When i was in the clutches of WoW addiction it dominated my thoughts and i would skip social events and real life experiences to play it. Supcom was one of the first games i had played in about a year after having started WoW =D so i give it a small amount of credit for breaking my addiction.
    In the end you realise the game is just a gigantic time sink and you get to the points where its raid,pvp or quit.

    Getting full tier 1 2 2.5 and partial t3 did me a fat lot of good when they released bc……..

    I wont entirely give up on MMO’s though. i still feel there is fun to be had from the genre, but i will definatley not fall down the slippery slope of addiction that WoW had become. I guess one of the reasons im attracted to the 360 this christmas would be the promise of a more causal pick up and play experience.

    With all my regret towards WoW i still enjoy reading the WoW forums. Ive probably spent an equal amount of time reading the WoW forums then i had actually playing WoW. Maybe im just a forums addict =D but at least the forums dont need you to grind 5000g to experience them to the fullest!

  2. Will (green) Says:

    What would you say to those who ask the value of games in general?
    Also, is not temporary pleasure what we, as humans, continually seek? Getting an education now means more pleasure later. If you’re someone who really likes to learn, then it’s double the goodness. I think most people in college just want the money so they can have fun with it later.
    Was that coherent?

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Will: There’s a huge difference between someone who’s a casual gamer and someone who plays WoW for many hours a day. I understand that humans need some fun, and I myself play games occasionally (probably a little bit less of an average of one hour a day). But people playing WoW are substituting it for real life. It’s much, much more than just a little bit of fun every now and again.

    And yes, I am someone who really likes to learn. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on building my own telescope.

  4. T2A` Says:

    I don’t and have never played an MMO (you can blame subscription fees for that), but I fail to see how you can make such generalizations. If you felt you wasted your time, that’s fine, but to assume others are wasting theirs is silly. Your life is not theirs, and they may truly enjoy the time they spend gaming. When they’ve finally quit, who’s to say they won’t look back on that time and think it was worth it? If someone finds that productive and worthwhile then let them think it’s productive and worthwhile. To do otherwise is terribly judgmental.

    To you looking at the stars is productive, but to others it won’t be. I do find astronomy interesting, but I don’t care enough to go be involved in something I cannot ever hope to know or affect. Will you ever truly see a star and know anything about it? No. You can know what some scientists have told you, and you’ve kind of seen the light given off by them, but ultimately you’ve done nothing worthwhile. Will you ever make a discovery of your own? No. You won’t even get to see these stars from outside the distortion of the earth’s atmosphere. That surely seems like a waste to me.

    Even writing this blog could be a huge waste. Why are you writing about your experiences when you could be doing more experiencing? Why learn to write when you aren’t pursuing a career in writing (you may be; it’s just an example)? It’s a hobby. Why do I play guitar even though I will likely never go anywhere with it? Because I like doing it. Am I going to look back on the time I spent playing it and think, “Holy shit, why did I do that?” Fuck no.

    Point is you do what you like. If you think someone is wasting their life, then let them waste it. From their point of view, you can go on wasting yours as well. To bash others for wasting their life with WoW when you still play other games is totally ridiculous. People get out of WoW what you get out of other games — entertainment and possibly an escape. All video games, by their very nature, are a “waste of time,” so I don’t see the point in trying to twist things around so one is a waste while others are not. Watching movies, reading fictional stories, listening to music… The examples are endless, and your point is not a good one, unless you want me to somehow believe that what you do is not a waste while what I do is.

    Remember all those hours spent writing about SupCom, watching replays, and thinking up strats? The chatting, the waiting for a ranked game, the hour or two spent on a good 2v2… remember that? What good did all that do? Why did you spend so much time with a shitty game that would die after six months?

    Everything you do, all your experiences, social or not, shape who you are. Wouldn’t that mean that everything is worthwhile in some manner?

    Hopefully I’ve made my point at least relatively clear somewhere in all this.

    PS: I’ve spent probably three times as much time as you put into WoW playing UT2004.

  5. Cyde Weys Says:

    T2A`: Your post is tempered somewhat by your lack of experience in playing MMORPGs. There really is something different about them that makes them much more of a wasteful timesink than nearly any other activity. Yes, I did put a fair amount of time into SupCom, but looking back on it, I feel the time I spent writing the blog was at least worthwhile. That was a good experience. I can’t say the same for my time wasted playing WoW.

  6. shadey Says:

    I have to fully agree that playing an MMO is not at all anything like playing a typical game. When you play something like C&C or Supcom, usually each match you play is a pleasure and enthralling (or at least most of the time). You are free to quit the game after a few matches, and doing so is pretty easy leaving you entertained enough to carry on with your day.

    The same cannot be said for the likes of WoW. I spent seven months of my life playing it so I know exactly what it’s like. You could spend an hour or two in game just running around the map before you actually accomplish anything. Time goes surprisingly fast when you do so little in an MMO. Then, when you finally start doing your tasks, a good 5 hours may have passed. Your sleeping pattern also gets affected not to mention eating habits, which can impact your health, and before people who have not experienced an MMO think this is a little exaggerated, it is an addiction like any other and can be really difficult to pull away from or realise what is actually going on.

    I was fortunate enough, however, to realise that it was starting to affect my studies (currently studying for a Computer Forensic Science Degree) and therefore got rid of my account. Quitting was not enough so I placed my account on eBay and someone purchased it for a near $400 (£192 actual), I’m glad to say I got that much out of it! I am also glad to say that I am doing extremely well in my studies and I’m sure the same could not have been said if I had continued playing it. If you are thinking of getting out, either delete or sell your account and wait for the realisation of the real world to kick in after a couple of days. You’ll feel that you have so much time on your hands that you’ll want to be learning something :-)

    I am now quite happily playing World in Conflict casually with friends. :-)

  7. Jester Says:

    So I wandered here and saw this post. I was pushing 130 days of game time over two years when I quit WoW last January. So on some level, I totally agree with what you are saying Cyde. But allow me to present some food for thought

    What do most, non-gamers, spend their times doing instead of playing games? They might go for a walk (less likely), watch TV (more likely), surf the web, track their finances, go to a movie, snowboard, work on their car, watch football, masturbate, eat, get high, get drunk, chase members of the opposite sex (or the same) or any number of other things. What exactly designates a “waste” of time? Who decides what is constructive activity and what is superfluous? We do. Our minds attach significance to events. The events themselves are not significant whatsoever. (Okay, I don’t actually believe that last sentence, but I’m playing devil’s advocate here.)

    You choose the meaning of your life. For you it may be education, having your thoughts heard, and improving your technical skills. For some other guy, it might just be raising his kids. Another person might think the meaning of life is simply to seek the meaning of life. For another, it might just be WoW …

  8. The dangers of WoW addiction | Cyde Weys Musings Says:

    […] Update: See more reflections on my time spent playing World of Warcraft. […]

  9. Chris Says:

    I agree with Cyde completely. I’m glad i saw this post and several others before i wasted a couple more weeks of my life. You only get one chance to make something of yourself in life, and I’m not going to let World of Warcraft ruin that for me. For the record, I’ve been playing the game since the beggining of my freshman year in high school (back in August 2005). I wish I’d never even been introduced to this game, but it’s too late now so I’ve quit and I’m going to make something of my remaining year in High school. By the way… if you’re addicted to the game of course you won’t think it’s a waste of time. I certainly wouldn’t agree with that if I was still playing.

  10. Kelly Martin Says:

    Here’s the deal with MMORPGs, as opposed to other hobbies. Take my primary hobby at the moment, woodworking. With my woodworking hobby, I actually make useful objects that improve my life and the life of those around me, and as I get better at it the quality and complexity of the things I can build increases. What useful skill do MMORPGs develop?

    I’m not saying that hobbies must necessarily be useful, but if you’re going “waste” time on something might as well have it be something that yields a net social good. And I don’t see that coming out of most MMORPGs.

  11. Cyde Weys Says:

    Kelly, good point. Gaming in general doesn’t really make anything useful, but MMORPGs are especially insidious, because MMORPG players waste a lot more time playing them. I play games only occasionally at the moment when I just need some relaxation. I admit it’s not productive, but I’m not going to be productive 100% of the time anyway. Many MMORPG players, on the other hand, play the game not because it’s fun but because that’s what they do.

    As for what I’m doing now that I’m not playing World of Warcraft, well, over the weekend I went to a hamfest and routed a power cable for my mobile rig through my car’s firewall. I also assembled the 17′ antenna that I bought, and I’ll be installing that weekend. Oh, and I’m also getting close to finishing my telescope. All of these things probably wouldn’t have happened if I was playing WoW.

  12. Arkangel Says:

    You judge others who waste time. When our lives are all about wasting time. The thing about WoW and other mmos is they recreate life as we know it. You start as a baby (lvl1) you learn new skills and talents (lvl 10-20) then you fight vigorously for things you want in that life (lvl 21-50) then you mantain your speed and try to pick up some new things along the way (51-65) then as you are nearing the end of your life you go out on a all expense cruise (lvl66-70). Waste of time? As agreed with Jester everything and anything is a waste of time. Even working is. Why does one work? To make money to mantain his or her life. Doesnt seem like a waste does it? It would be if you had just found out that someone else is doing your job for 5x more money. Then you strive for raises and bonuses. Or you try for another job. You belive it was a waste of time and not just a travel through a time that you never want to return to. Sure you have your opinion but allow the others who “waste their life” do what they want. Honestly I’ve learned more online about people from MMOs than from school and work altogether. In conclusion MMOs, especially WoW, is a Society online, just like a blog, that is a learning experience and a hobby.

    PS: When does something have to be productive to be an experience you will never forget. Or a life changing experience. It’s almost saying believing in god wouldn’t do much because all you do is pray to a being that isnt seen and he doesn’t give you something in return. If thats the way the world thinks we are all greedy and self centered. I do know people over do it, but thats like saying all Muslims wish to bomb USA everyday of their lives. When most of the time they are just like you, me, and the fishes in the sea.

  13. Cyde Weys Says:

    Wow … now those are the rationalizations of a hopeless addict. When you start with a priori false equivalences, you can come to any conclusion.

    But I do agree with your conclusion that a belief in God doesn’t do anything :-P

  14. 3...2..1. Says:

    People here are missing the point. Cyde is 100% right. And this is comming from someone who some of their most fun memories in life is playing games together.

    Why are you people confused…

    Because MMORPGS are TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GAMES. Being addicted to one is a TOTAL waste of time. ANd you don’t realize it until you quit.You just can’t talk until you’ve been there. IF you haven’t you just have no idea.(note I am not talking about casual play, that is perfectly fine and rewarding. People who are addicted by deffinition are people who would play even after the game stoped being fun just to get that high, and or to impress the in game people, or to not face life or whatever, if you are playing 5 hrs a day grinding you almost def fall into this group whether you know it or not….

    See post above.. MMO’s are unlike other games in that you can log on for 5 hours and accomplish ABSOLUTELY NOTHING… not even HAVE ANY FUN. Some people are addicted and keep playing like a crack addict because you’re unwilling to face that you’ve wasted your time (I was in this position). You can find a million ways to justify it when you’re in it. But really it is like crack, just an ephemeral high that becomes a blur when you are done. You are running around grinding and the time just z aooms by. It’s not like another game when you log on and it’s instant pleasure and you can just leave whenever you want, where you are likely to have to find real life friends to play with because it is not online so you can have some real experiences. No folks, probably 95% of your 5 hrs a day will be spent doing absolutely nothing productive whatsoever.

    And why? so you can have a level 70 epic whatever? See the problem with WoW is that this means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as soon as you stop playing. Yup no one in real life gives a damn about the 5 hours a day you spent pushing one button to kill one monster to kill your epic. Unless you played with some real life friends, you will just have nothing. no memories, what you got an epic? what does that do for you now, unless you were playing with people you know no one in the world cares. You can’t sit around and muse with your friends like with the stuff you used to watch on tv, music you listened to. You can’t Reap the rewards my making yourself calm and happy by playing an instrument like spending time learning a trade can. Nope, it’s just a big pile of nothing that contributed nothing to your life whatsover, just nothing. What’s worse likely you’ve been giving up friends, family, health, for this game, things that once you finish playing you realize are so monumental compared to that stupid game.

    It’s very difficult to explain but for me life goes like this… LIFE…. BLACK HOLE WITH NO FEELINGS OR MEMORIES(MMO)… LIFE.
    You just don’t realize how differnet it is until you start living. There’s a difference, even between television. OH i get so much nostalgia when I see some television shows, remembering idolizing celebrities, watching them with my family. You just don’t get those fuzy feelings with MMO’s. It’s just a huge sink. And I made friends, good ones, but once you log off they are gone…you can’t complain to them about your troubles…it’s just so fake and fleeting. It’s so hard to explain but trust me, it’s different.

    Maybe a story will help explain:

    A roomate once told me that she’s been being more lazy recently. ANd that although she regrets not enjoying her childhood more, the stuff she did earlier, like play an instrument etc, just felt a lot more fullfilling in retrospect, and that since she has started being lazy things feel empty, and that time goes by WAY faster.

    In life there are two types of pleasures, the stuff that just creates a sense of fullfillment in us and the stuff that provides just a temporary high. It’s like when I eat my vegies, sure it doesn’t taste as good immediately, but I feel great the whole day and have a lot of energy, it’s an emotionally healthy food that provides long term fullfillment. Candy and cookies taste great for an instant but it’s just empty calories tthat lead you feeling horrible after. It has to do with how our bodies work. Activities are the same way. Some activities just by the nature of ho our mind works gives more long term fullfillment than others. Things that give an immediate high just tends to feel less real and fullfilling. You need a good mix of both types of activities to lead a healthy life. An MMO throws off that ballance.

  15. Hawk Says:

    Let me start off by telling you a little about myself: I have played WoW since March 2005. I play WoW probably an average of 8 – 12 hours a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I have 4 level 70’s and 5 other alts that are at least level 45. Now, the author of these articles would be quick to judge me and say that I am not only wasting my time, but that I am addicted to the game as well. Now, let me give you a little more information about myself: I am 38 years old, happily married, no children – but we do have many pets; and I am disabled. I have Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, mild OCD and Social Phobia. I have difficulty going to places that I am unfamiliar with and consider “safe”. I also have difficulty being in crowded conditions. I was diagnosed with these problems LONG before WoW was ever published. WoW is, for me, a substitute social setting where I am in control of a lot more things than I am in real life. I can type /ignore, I can log off at any time, I can create an alt that no one else knows about, I can change servers. These are all ways in which I can control my interactions with other people. Without (and prior to) WoW, I was basically a ‘shut-in’, with very little of a social life. WoW is wonderful for me. I do still do other things. I play with and take care of my animals, I watch television, I run a weekly real-life game where I have friends over and sit around a table to talk, visit, socialize and have fun. I do several other activities that take me away from WoW on a semi-frequent basis.

    I have not allowed WoW to interfere with my marriage, my caring for my pets, or visiting with my real-life friends. I still spend time with my wife, play with my pets, visit with my friends and sometimes go out to dinner or some other activity. I have, at times, allowed it to interfere with my portion of the housework, but that is normal for me. If it wasn’t WoW, it would be something else.

    Blizzard *has* included tools for people to limit or moderate their activities; these are called “Parental Controls”. With Parental Controls, you can designate which hours and days a person can play and how long they can play in one session. The controls are password-protected by a password that is separate from the regular account password. If you are an adult, you can have your spouse/friend/neighbor/etc create and have control of the password, so that you have to play only within the parameters they and you set.

    Finally, is the time I am spending in WoW worth it? Yes, it is. I can look back on the time I have already put in and say that it was worthwhile that I did this. It was worthwhile that I made friends, instead of remaining as isolated as I was before the game. It was worthwhile that I made friends – even if they will go away when I stop playing WoW someday. Real-life friends can go away too, as I know far too well. It was worthwhile that I spent time with other players who were either from another country, younger or less educated and I was able to aid them in not only learning how to play the game, but also how to speak and write English better and sometimes how to deal with real-life problems that they were having. For you the time may have been wasted. To me, it is not.

  16. Ben Wakefield Says:

    You’ve made three basic errors in your assumptions.

    1) You assume that experiences are only relevant to the people you experienced them with. This is obviously not true. Imagine meeting someone for the first time and bonding with them over a TV show you watched when you were a kid. The same can be true for these games.

    2) You assume that experiences are only worthwhile when they can be shared. If that were true, why would so many people relish time on their own? Life shouldn’t be about pleasing or impressing others, which is unfortunately the motivation behind most people’s careers/ lifestyle.

    3) You assume that MMORPGs are somehow worse than other computer games/ TV/ films ect. These are all wastes of time, but then almost all human activity is a waste of time. That’s why we work, to get money, so we can spend it on things to waste our time on. One man’s life is another man’s folly.

    Almost all happiness is fleeting. I play online which real friends/ friends I’ll never meet/ friend I hope to meet/ guys I can’t even understand. I do it instead of watching TV/ reading trash magazines/ having conversations with people I couldn’t care less about. Why do we do it? Because we’re bored, and this game stimulates.

  17. Knacker Says:

    I love humanity.

  18. nickol Says:

    I’m glad to see that i’m not going crazy or being over the top about this game, my fiance has been playing it for 2 years average 5-6 hours a day. I don’t know who he is anymore, and i don’t think he does either. We have two great children but i feel that i am watching them grow up while he’s a ghost infront of this computer. I don’t no how to say it’s us or this game, that sounds rediculous right? but it’s become more than a game, i feel alone and as if i’m competing for his time, sadly enough i am, i want my friend, partner, and lover back. we used to have so much fun together, we were made for eachother until this game came into play. Honestly, I’ve tried to get into the game with him too, to see if i was over-reacting, i’m not, he has a serious problem, and this game really is a waiste of precious life. thanks for listening, i’m glad i found this sight. nickol

  19. Drahkir Says:

    I just sincerely want to thank 3…2..1. for making his/her post. It was the final push I needed to quit this crazy game. I’ve let it methodically destroy my life for the past year, and I’m done letting it do that. I doubt you’ll ever read this, but just know that what you said made a serious difference in someone’s life. I hope the rest of you, the ones who play 5+ hours a day, will come around soon too.

  20. Don Says:

    I am a recovering WoW addict. I admit i neglected doing my share of household chores and taking my family out and doing normal family stuff all because of my obsession with the game.

    To Nickol, I pray you talk to your husband about how things are affecting you. He is the father of your kids and your spouse. He has
    a moral obligation to make you and the kids his top priority and stop acting like a selfish teenager hooked to a game.

    To all the brave and honest people who shared their experiences here, i salute you. You deserve a life beyond a silly game. Life is too short and precious to waste!

  21. roxanne Says:

    i use to be completely addicted 2 the game but i got bored wid the game but i wouldnt quit cuz i had a couple ppl on there that i liked talkin 2…im only 13 nd my parents made me stop playing the game because i was so addicted. i still went out to the movies with friends but i stopped riding horses which put that task to my parents. i missed the game like crazy nd hav been beggin my parents to let me play again. all i ever thought about was WoW nd i couldnt seem to stop talking about it. I even knew i was waisting my time playing WoW but i just couldnt stop!!!! …and then i read this. i just wanted to let everyone know that this really just quieted my craving for the game. i still play video games but definetely not as much so like an hour a day. I remember that when I played the game I pretended like I couldnt hear anyone else. I never wanted to sleep, go to school, or do homework. I started getting a lot of bad grades…I’m a little thankful that im not allowed to play because even right now if I had the chance I’m still not sure i could turn down the offer to play this time suck of a game…

  22. steve Says:

    Mmorpg in general are horrible. I use to be a mmorpg addict, started at the age of 13 i began playing conquer online. By then i began playing other mmorpgs. I lost all my best friends, id choose to play mmorpgs instead of my friends. I began to find going outside boring. I developed back pain on my right scalpula because id sit my ass on the computer for like 7 hours. Playing so young i didnt consintrate on school anymore. My personality changed, from a outgoing social guy to a quiet guy. I quit playing mmorpgs at 16. Ive realised so many things ive missed out now…my friends,grades, not realizing life until now, heck i didnt even know anygood music becausr i was so out of touch with life i barely knew anything about it..Im 17 now and happy ive quit. Ill never let my kids play mmorpgs..

  23. Le très petit souris Says:

    Ah, the magic of the first times…

    I remember when I was a child and the internet was relatively new. I would wait for minutes using the old 14.4k, which would screech, beep and all that. I still recall the idyllic, innocent bliss of discovering my favorites, such as Lego, Neopets Y1-3 (it used to be more interactive, back when the TNT was still in power), and PBS. It was rather immature, but because my parents limited my time to packets of 30 minutes, I would be eager to play the next block, which would be the next weekend day. After discovering HTML, JS, Java, ActionScript, PHP, and ASP, everything changed. As I was able to play longer, each session would lose its value and worth. I can distinctly recall the original child’s play but can only hazily recall the later years. Lately, my obsession for C++ and C# hacking have not dwindled as fast as the webmastering frenzy, but I’m sure you can understand how truly good things should come in small packages