Just fun and games? The truth
about internet gaming
By Trevor Linderman
April 5, 2006 | There I was, deep in the jungle of
Stranglethorn Vale, harvesting singing crystals from
the undead minions of Zanzil, the outcast of Booty Bay.
Engaged in an epic battle, near death, I shout for help.
My comrade, a "divine holy priest" jumps to
action, mounts his undead steed and races toward me.
Throwing a power-word shield, deflecting the blow of
the minion's mighty sword, he casts a renewing heal.
With my new found strength I manage one final slash
of my sword, and the vile creature is executed with
the last of my rage.
The above account was an actual event in the life
of Daniel Hobbs, a 24-year-old student majoring in computer
science. Well, at least the alternate life Hobbs plays
in the virtual universe of World of Warcraft (WoW).
I watched Hobbs as he maneuvered his avatar, video game
character, through the online realm during an interview
at his apartment in Logan, Utah.
"I have two lives," Hobbs said. "Actually, there really
is only one, but that gets interrupted when I have to
go to class to take a test." Hobbs began playing in
Blizzard Entertainment's virtual world, WoW, in March
of 2005. Since that time Hobbs has logged over 1200
hours or 50 continuous days, creating, developing, and
leveling his various characters. His "main," as he calls
the character he plays the most, is a level 60 Shaman,
named Delyla, who has been played for 27 days, 14 hours,
26 minutes and counting.
Hobbs joins the ranks of, according to Blizzard, over
5 million customers worldwide.
"World of Warcraft's growth continues to exceed all
our expectations," said Mike Morhaime, president and
cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. But WoW is just
one of the many online games entering into the new industry,
and affecting people like Daniel Hobbs.
The industry itself is exceeding all expectations.
The Business Wire said the online game industry
is the most promising industry of the Internet economy,
because of it's offers huge market potential, high profitability,
high growth speed and clear profit pattern.
But many individuals, doctors, and even governments
are beginning ask about the risks involved with internet
gaming. In October of 2005 the Associated Pres said
a 28-year-old man died after nearly 50 straight hours
of playing online computer games. A Korean paper, Chosun
Ilbo, said a couple in Korea neglected to care
for their 4-month-old infant when they became lost in
the World of Warcraft. They found the child had died
from suffocation when their game had gone longer than
"We must clearly recognize that the Internet is a
double-edged sword and that its development will have
some negative effects," Tang Jun, president of leading
Chinese game company Shanda Interactive, said. "When
it comes to the operations of online games, the most
pressing problem is addiction, particularly the obsession
of some minors who have harmed their physical health,
neglected their studies and undermined the stability
of their homes and society."
The Chinese government has began looking at potential
solutions to the problem. They are developing an "anti-addiction
system" that limits the amount of time citizens
can play online games in hopes to protect players‚ mental
and physical health, Murie Dickie, of the Financial
Times Limited, said.
Hilarie Cash and other mental health professionals
diagnose the behavior as internet addiction disorder
and use the term onlineaholics, to describe those who
suffer from the disorder. The New York Times
said, according to specialist like Cash, as may as 10
percent of the 189 million internet users in the U.S.
could be addicted.
It is an addiction which can scuttle social relationships,
wreck workout schedules, and prevent one from leaving
the house for hours and hours on end, Dr. Toa Ran, director
of China's first internet addiction clinic said. Ran
said he sees those who are suffering from addiction
to online games and chat rooms. "They suffer from depression,
nervousness, fear, an unwillingness to interact with
others, panic and agitation," he said. "They also have
sleep disorders, the shakes, numbness in their hands,
and weight loss."
Daniel Hobbs said he doesn‚t feel addicted; he has
not had any terrible life altering catastrophes because
of gaming, other than missing a homework assignment
or two and not doing so hot on an exam. He simply chooses
to prioritize his schedule and his real life so that
he can take part in his other life within the game,
he said. And he also sympathizes with those who have
been hurt by gaming, but he doesn‚t plan to stop. "I
enjoy it and it's fun, I don‚t see a reason for me to
quit," Hobbs said.