In seventh grade, my friend sold me his used Sega Genesis and games for $23, to be paid in installments. Although my parents wouldn’t let me hook the Sega up to the television until I raised my grades, it was still exciting to know that I finally had a video game system inside my house. On days when I was home sick from school or when it was raining out, I was allowed to play, and so I’d park myself in front of the television for hours at a time with my friends, Sonic the hedgehog and his fox sidekick, Tails. The long hours spent, like a zombie in front of the tube, only reinforced my parents’ ignorant view that video games were a bane to society, whose sole purpose was to produce anti-social kids who didn’t do their homework.

Times have changed since then. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on building a computer that can play the latest and greatest 3-D games, went in with my roommates on a 36-inch television and set NCAA records for passing and rushing touchdowns with a quarterback coincidentally named “Sam Voigt.” All of these accomplishments, however pale in comparison to what some of my suitemates have done – namely reach level 40 in “World of Warcraft” – they still mean something. For an investment of $50 and a $15 monthly fee, “World of Warcraft” lets you assume the identity of any number of imaginary beasts, which you use to run around and kill other imaginary beasts. As with other Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games – MMORPG for short – “World of Warcraft” rewards the player for time spent in the game. The longer you play, the bigger and better your character becomes and the more trash you can talk to other people who have surrendered their lives to the online land of Azeroth.

There is no doubt that video games are highly addictive. As evidence, I present the case of two of my friends. One failed out of college as a direct result of choosing “The World” – as it is known to its victims – over homework, and another was dumped by his long-term girlfriend for lying about purchasing the game – and for whom he had just put a $2,000 down payment on an engagement ring. In addition, three out of my five suitemates also play daily, averaging about 15-20 hours per week.

People in “The World” are quick to extol the virtues of video games, citing studies that show an increase in spatial reasoning and even a study conducted by this fair university demonstrating enhanced visual attention in children. However, these studies are akin to ones saying that wine is good for your heart or cigarettes help with Parkinson’s disease. Although they may be true, they are closer to being justifications for things people already do, rather than recommended treatments for curing disease. “World of Warcraft” is hardly on par with “Number Munchers” or a “Speak ‘n’ Spell” when it comes to educational value. A potentially positive side effect of “The World” is a nice bonus, but it is far from the reason for playing.

A better rationalization for forgoing live personal interaction and going to bed at a reasonable hour is that in Azeroth, everything is fair. Video games are an escape to a place where everything is governed by rules and cheaters aren’t allowed to play. If you cheat someone out of gold and silver in the game, you’ll be kicked out. If you go around killing players weaker than you, stronger players will come to their aid. When you die, it is simply a matter of walking to the nearest graveyard, where you are instantly reborn.

Furthermore, it’s an escape from reality, which is very much welcomed when there is two feet of snow outside, and it’s -20 degrees with the wind chill. Video games allow you to be whomever you want – hero, villain or alien – in almost every situation imaginable. They take relatively little effort to play, and everything is imagined for you, so they have basically become the electronic equivalent of a “Choose Your Own Adventure Book,” but with way sweeter graphics.

But be warned – it’s a slippery slope into video game addiction, which is, not coincidentally, the fastest route to living with your parents until the age of 30. Remember, games should be played in moderation, except of course “World of Warcraft,” which no one who plans to get married should ever consider buying.



Furries on UR campus?

A few months ago, as I did my daily walk to class through the tunnels to escape the February cold,…

Hippo Campus’ D-Day show was to “Ride or Die” for

Hippo Campus’ performance was a well-needed break from the craze of finals, and just as memorable as their name would suggest.

The Clothesline Project gives a voice to the unheard

The Clothesline Project was started in 1990 when founder Carol Chichetto hung a clothesline with 31 shirts designed by survivors of domestic abuse, rape, and childhood sexual assault.