I am in the midst of the first break I've taken from playing the massively multi player online role playing game (MMORPG) called World of Warcraft (WoW).
I've played this game with several friends (both online and real life) for about 4 years now. I won't pretend that playing this highly addictive game hasn't had negative repercussions on my life but, on the whole playing this game has been a fairly rewarding experience. I've had a great deal of fun for a relatively low price, I've met a lot of really nice people, and by God my warlock is a bad looking dude!
On the surface it's kind of difficult to see how such a simplistic game could gain such a following (11 million+ players) but, really WoW is ingenious in its simplicity. The questing and leveling is very easy to begin with and at later levels you get to see some really visually awesome monsters and areas.
Most zones feel very mysterious the first few times through and it's exciting to discover new areas of what has become a vast environment. Some question while mundane in their actually task offer insight into the story of the area and some even tie into the lore of the game, making you feel like you're part of something. The shortness of the quests makes it easy for a player to feel like they've accomplished something and made some progress in the game.
So...having said all that I'm sure you're thinking "Well why the hell did you quit playing?"
Well, with 4 continents, thousands and thousands of quests, and a ton of dungeons (my favorite part of the game), WoW is a HUGE time sink. I mean huge. If you have other hobbies either they will suffer or your WoW habit will. At some point you realize that you're seriously struggling with the choice between your online friends and going outside to play a game of softball (my other hobby).
While playing the game the world is so immersive that it becomes really easy to lose all track of time and space around you. I've sat there and played for what seemed like a very short session (30-40 minutes) and stopped only to realize it was 2 hours later. It's like the game causes a time warp in your brain...and its not the good kind.
It's been a little over a month since I've logged in and I honestly still think about playing sometimes. Its especially difficult when I get bored. I've started to fill my time with other things, like softball and jogging and quality time with the Translator, that to me seem a lot more productive.
I do plan on going to back to WoW as a hobby when the next expansion (an expansion is basically an extension of or change to the content that the game already has) is released. This time however I think I might use the parental controls that are available with each WoW account to limit my own usage....or maybe just an egg timer so I know when I've played enough. The developers at Blizzard have made WoW a lot more friendly for the casual players like myself and for that I am very grateful.
Thanks to folks over at 3 Word Wednesday for the challenge.