Fuelling further tabloid hysteria about the dangers of online gaming comes a story straight outta’ Laholm in western Sweden. Some poor 15-year-old kid was enjoying the new WoW expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, with some friends, but 24 hours into their mammoth gaming session, he collapsed and suffered what seems to have been an epileptic fit.
Doctors told the father that his son’s bodily systems had been disrupted by a combination of sleep deprivation, lack of food, and the prolonged period of concentration playing the game. He’s expected to make a full recovery, but seriously – this is just an idiot kid. The fault isn’t in the game, it’s in the parents who didn’t tell him to stop or at least get him to eat some food and have a nap.
One big part of growing up is learning where limits are. This kid has just learnt one limit. Sure, World of Warcraft can be addictive, but so is chocolate, and good music, and other stuff that’s fun and that people enjoy. I’m not even going to quote the idiotic child psychologist who’s being quoted everywhere but just wants more parents to get scared so he can line his pockets with more patients.
No, wait – I’ll quote his most ridiculous line: “The problem with World of Warcraft is the degree it can impact and create a socially withdrawn figure who may be connecting with people in the game and is largely dropping out of education, social opportunities.”
There is nothing socially withdrawn about playing World of Warcraft, whatsoever. You can’t play for more than five minutes – even in the least populated areas – without bumping into another player. The best loot in the game relies on you being a part of a raid – a large team who know each other pretty well. If anything it aids, rather than hinders, social interaction and teamwork.
Granted, the bit about dropping out of education has more relevance – I know people who did considerably poorer in their degrees than they would have without a WoW subscription. But at the end of the day, it’s again about limits. If someone can’t prioritise between writing their dissertation and playing an online game, then it’s their problem. Not the game’s.