Although Archimedes might have had an epiphany every time he took a bath, I have to wait for just the right set of circumstances to encounter my “eureka” moments. Case in point – I suddenly realized why I am so strongly attracted to playing World of Warcraft while I was sitting in a boring human resources presentation at work. (But in Archimedes’ defense, he probably was an awful lot smarter than I am.)
The primary element, of which I have always been aware, is the escapism. Obviously. After all, who doesn’t want to break away from their normal daily routine every once in a while to experience a life or a world that is not one’s own? I read books, watch movies, and, yes, play computer games to fulfill that desire.
But, why do I wake up on Saturday mornings to start playing Warcraft instead of, say, plowing through the 100 or more unread books that pepper my bookshelves? Now, finally, I understand what that extra element is, that special quality, the secret sauce. It is the refreshingly low sophistication of decision-making that is required to play the Game.
Real life, after you reach a certain level of maturity, is no longer about just doing things. Issues become more complicated, with greater unknowns, risks, and constraints. There are no truly right answers after a while. Rather, you are navigating a sea of varying degrees of wrong answers and partially right answers, testing for implications, impressions, knock-on effects, past experiences, efficiencies, and effectiveness. There is no more certainty for you.
But in a WoW quest there is. When some orc flatfoot wants you to bring him 30 Quillboar tusks, then you need to bring him 30 Quillboar tusks.
– Twenty-five is not sufficient if you are running short on time.
– Thirty-five is unnecessary and won’t benefit anyone.
– You won’t have to question whether you can get a better price for 30 tusks from someone else.
– There is no worry about not having the right shoes on for collecting tusks today.
– You don’t need to consider the social ramifications of slaughtering one entire outpost of Quillboar rather than harvesting the tusks evenly from all camps.
– There is no question of the morality of murder and genocide at all, actually.
– One needn’t be concerned about a retaliatory attack coming your way the next night or demands for blood money from relatives.
No. No higher-levels of complex decision-making need to be engaged. This is real life on easy mode, and I find it refreshing. You just say, “30 tusks? Coming right up. By the way, I was sorry to hear about your wife.”