Psychoanalyzing My Attachment to WoW

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.”


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