Reading the first part of Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together has brought some interesting questions to my mind. I have often joked about friends of mine who play Massively Multi-player Online Games, such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, being addicted to their “game of choice”. And after reading & discussing this book, while also dealing with personal issues that closely relate to this subject matter, I wonder if there isn’t actually some truth in those jokes. This line of thought has lead me to formulate a couple of questions on the subject of technology addiction, and its affect on the real world lives of its users.
My first question started out as “Is technology really addictive?” But, I realized that question is to broad to discus in this format, so I narrowed the scope of my question to the more defined “Are simulated online worlds, such as those found in MMOGs, addictive?” This question lead me to my second question, “ What kind of impact would this addiction have on the real lives of its users?”
I believe these are interesting and compelling questions, which could easily be discussed in a group setting or in essay form. This is due in part to the wide variety and availability of these types of games and the stereotyped reputation on their users, who are commonly know as “gamers”. I think that these questions could possibly illicit very strong feeling of both agreement and disagreement because of the popularity of these kinds of games. I also suspect that a lot of gamers might take exception to being classified as addicts, and would argue that it’s just a game and there for could not be addictive.
To prepare for an essay or discussion regarding these questions I would start by researching addiction and the various signs of, and behavior commonly associated with addiction. Outside sources such as A.A and N.A could be useful for research. I also believe that interviewing and polling amongst gamers and their friends and family could provide insightful and compelling information on the subject. I also have my own experiences with gamers and the gaming lifestyle, which I could draw on as a reference. While there is some mention of these types of games in Sherry Turkle’s book, I do not think that it would provide enough information to build a strong case for these questions.
Answering these questions will not be as easy as a simple yes or no. I think I would start by addressing the subject matter of these questions. I would explain what an MMOG is and provide a few well know examples. I might then go on to describe the kinds of interactions users of these games typically have with each other and the simulated world around them.
At that point I believe that enough information on the subject matter will have been give, to make understanding and following the topic possible. I could then ask the questions “Are the simulated worlds of MMOGs addictive?” and if so, “What kind of impact would such an addiction have on the real lives of its users and those close to them?”
I believe the answer to the question “Are MMOGs addictive, is in fact, yes. Though, perhaps not so simple as that. To build a persuasive argument for my answer to this question I would begin by giving examples of addiction and addictive behaviors, drawing parallels between common addictions such as smoking or drinking and use of MMOGs. I might then go on to discuss interview examples and reference polling related data or my own personal accounts on the subject.
To answer the question of what kind of impact would addiction to MMOGs have on the real lives of users and those close to them, I would rely mostly on interview accounts and personal experiences. By recounting stories of the problems that have arisen in the daily lives of gamers and their friends and family, I would build a case for my theory, that MMOG addiction has similar affects to any other addiction. However, some people may argue that there is not enough research data to back up my theory. So, I might use generalized information on the impact of addiction on family and relationship dynamics to draw parallels to the relationships of habitual MMOG use. I could also use research data on the affects of addiction on sociologically development to draw these parallels.
Ideally I would like to find a way to combine these questions, so I could write an essay that would cover this topic from cause to affect. This issue has had a very real world impact on my life recently and is something that I am passionate about in discussion. I think that in the end, I could make a very compelling argument about the negative impact that habitual use of simulated online worlds can have on our lives.