*inspired by this article
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the terms used here lets start with MMORPG. That acronym stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. These games are played remotely by millions of players every day. Some of the examples include Everquest (EQ or EverCrack), Ultima Online (UO), and most recently World of Warcraft (WoW). There are others of course and they all vary in terms of game mechanics, scope, and milieu but they all share one core game mechanic : the treadmill.
The treadmill is the Pavlovian system of action = reward that keeps a gamer gaming. It takes the form of incremental intrinsic character improvements, equipment finds, or even appearance changes. The goal in designing an MMORPG is to give the player "one more thing" to do or get at all times. There is always another skill to impove, a level to gain, or a rare piece of equipment to quest after.
This system is so well designed and implemented in so many overlapping layers that it is very common to spend far more time playing the game than you think you have spent. After all it will just take another 5 minutes to accomplish that next micro-goal right? Of course that micrro-accomplpisment and it's accompanying reward produce a pretty gratifying feeling of progress and sucess so whats 5 more minutes... and 5 more... and 15 more to group up and camp that boss monster who drops that ultra-rare set of boots that woudl complete that set I have been collecting and... so on.
I have nothing against this style of gaming, in fact I think they are high art as gaming goes. Games are meant to be compelling and enjoyable and these games are all of that and a bag of holding but they are not a good idea for children.
Do you think that a 9 or 10 year old has the ability to fend off Pavlov's cycle as I have just described it? Do you think that a 14 year old boy who has all the angst of that age might be able to fend off the feeling that the only progress in their life is the progression they make playing WoW? Think that they are resisting all that cyber-sex chat and simulated character sex going on in their server when they can't get a date in real life? If you do you might be retarded. Get checked out at the doctor and then come back and finish this article.
The above paragraph is actually the less serious concern here. The fact of the matter is that if your teen or pre-teen is playing WoW then you are letting them have unsupervised Internet interactions with shitloads of adults. Go and check out some WoW player sites for all the cyber-sex, photoexchanges, online "hook-ups", and other unsavory *adult* shit that goes on here.
Would you let you son/daughter spend 5-30 hours or more a week in adult chatrooms? Would you? Well thats what WoW is folks. It is a playground primarliy made for adults. Adults are the ones with the cash to support the MMORPG industry... not kids.
If your kid is playing MMORPG's you are taking massive risks in terms of both addiction possibilities and also in terms of allowing them to interact with adults unsupervised. If you are an adult playing this stuff great! Bully for you Elven Ranger Bob! I could give a fuck less where you choose to spend your time. But parents... your kids can't not defend themselves as well as adults against this sort of thing. You have to do it. Be the parent, not their buddy.