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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

It’s a gamer’s paradise

By Nicholas Pappas

In March of 1999, Verant Interactive released the first great massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The game was “Everquest.” It was a fun, adventurous new way to be an addict–less physically damaging than crack and a bit more time consuming.

Since then, the massive games have grown to massive proportions. The biggest and most addicting is “World of Warcraft.” There are currently 8.5 million subscribers, and an estimated 40 percent of them could be classified as addicted. Many players spend an average of 30 to 40 hours a week playing the game. At the website www.gamerwiwidows.com, wives–and husbands–rant about a spouse who, for all intents and purposes, is dead to them. They’ve gone to a better place to fight orcs.

And it doesn’t stop at “World of Warcraft.” Video games in general have become the national pastime. Games such as “Guitar Hero,” “Dance Dance Revolution,” “Halo 2” and “Gears of War” have replaced unimportant activities such as going outside, spending time with your spouse or actually accomplishing something.

Gayle Ruzicka and other narrow-minded conservatives are campaigning to ban video games based on violence, but the truth is for every violent act by a gamer there are a million others staring at a screen doing nothing at all. It’s worse than violence. Games make you lethargic. Games make you meaningless.

It’s easy to see the draw. Life is mundane. I could either be a level-70 night elf warrior and the leader of a guild, or I could be Nick the tech support guy with a weight problem. I could be master chief, the savior of a world and the best sniper on XBox Live or I could be Nick, the call-center monkey who eats TV dinners when he gets home. What most of the gamers seem to forget, though, is that their online accomplishments are not real. They’ve devoted their lives to moving pixels and imaginary personas that could disappear if they stop paying $15 a month.

A recent study in The New York Times reported that grade school children, on average, actually decrease their daily amount of physical activity during summer vacation. It’s tragic. I remember going outside in the summers and seeing kids in every yard. Drive through the suburbs today and you’ll find a few adults mowing their lawns and a few bikers disobeying traffic laws, but no one under 25. There was a day parents had to yell at their children to come inside. Today, they have to yell at them to go out. This is a direct result of gaming and the Internet.

Yet, children are not the main consumers of “World of Warcraft.” They are learning all about sloth from their parents. Most online gamers are adults with jobs, families and could-have-been futures. They’re usually quite smart, and the amount of time they’ve devoted proves they can be dedicated.

It’s funny. A gamer pushing a few buttons on “Guitar Hero” could take those two hours a day and actually learn to play a guitar. A gamer stomping the ground playing “Dance Dance Revolution” might actually go to a class and learn to dance. And a grown man spending 40 hours a week fighting to save an online world could devote his time to volunteering and actually make a difference in the real one.

It’s a nice dream–but the real world just isn’t that alluring. Perhaps someday I’ll run into an orc mage wrapping presents for homeless children or a dwarf paladin protesting the war, but I won’t hold my breath. Their hearts have all turned into plugs.

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