Over the years I've had to reduce my play-time drastically. First for a "real" job, then for a "real" relationship, and then for kids. When it came to the kids, my play-time actually came to a grinding halt for a while. Learning to balance me-time with mom-time can be tricky, and it took me a year to master the process and come to grips with the fact that I was only going to snatch time for myself if I planned for it.
I wasn't actually very surprised when I heard the rumor that WoW (the common acronym for the game) was using subliminal messaging within the game itself. The company, Blizzard Entertainment, is practically known for its cheeky way of sneaking in both popular and obscure references. For instance, the in-game NPC (non-playable-character) named Haris Pilton who sells ridiculously overpriced vanity items and bags in the game is an obvious reference to Paris Hilton, and the NPC named Jason Mathers standing by Crystal Lake is a lesser known reference to Friday the 13th. Additionally the developers have been known to hide things like smiley faces in crazy places like motes of water, boats and rocks.
My first thought was "Whoa. Way to get to the heart of the matter." They didn't waste much time pussy-footing around exactly what they want from their consumers, and it was a thought that put a bit of a damper on my WoW-love. Apparently this isn't a new message to players either: as far as anyone knows, this little tidbit has been in the game since it first came out back in 2004.
Is it really contributing to the consistent player base that WoW has made for themselves though? I myself am torn on the subject. Although I have been a subscriber to the game for the past 8 years, I wouldn't say that I am an addict. When I was younger, and without any responsibilities, perhaps I would have said that I played too much, but that is different from being addicted. The fact is I knew I was playing too much, but I didn't really care since I was fresh out of my parents' house and ready for some immature decision-making before I got my life in order. When it was time to face facts and get real with my life, I dutifully reduced my play time until I was lucky to play more than once a week. So I wouldn't say that I was addicted in the true sense of the word.
Did I crave playing the game though? Absolutely. I would go for a few weeks at a time without thinking of the game, and then suddenly a flash of something would come over me, and I would be reminded of questing in a particular zone, or moving through a specific area of the game. I would have cravings for the game as if it were a meal I hadn't had in a while and could just about taste.
In the end, I decided that while there may be some people out there that have been impacted by the spirit healer and the all-too-forward message it has to offer, I have to chalk up my consistent playing to the fact that I just like the game itself. I rarely let my character die, and when my character does end up dying I usually have the sound off so I can listen for the sound of the kids waking from their naps, so I wouldn't hear the message anyway. Plus, when I've needed to set aside the game for more important things, I've easily been able to and I haven't pined for the game in an unreasonable way. I think my love for the game is just about having something enjoyable to do in my rare downtime, not about a need to continue playing.
Am I the odd one out, or do others feel the same? Are World of Warcraft players being subliminally enticed to keep playing? I'll let you decide.
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