Jan 282007
Authors: Andy Nicewicz

Over 8 million users.

Can result in serious addiction.

Physical side effects may include dry eyes, headaches, backaches and erratic sleep patterns.

I’m not describing an illegal drug, or any other drug for that matter. I’m talking about the computer game World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft, or WoW for short, is what’s known as a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG for short. In this game, you create a character and either join the Alliance where you can be a human, dwarf, gnome, or night elf, or join the Horde, where you can play as an orc, tauren, troll, or undead.

You control your character and go on quests which can include anything from delivering a package to slaying dragons. By completing quests and killing monsters, you gain experience points and level up. On the way from Level 1 to Level 70, you learn new spells and skills.

And did I mention that you are also playing with thousands of other people in your realm that you “live” in? With the other players you can form guilds, and fight alongside one another to complete quests. On the other hand, you can also challenge each other to duels and go on raiding parties against the opposing players of the Horde or Alliance.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the basics of the game, I can talk about the ramifications of such a popular game. The first sentence of this column wasn’t just an attention grabber. There are over 8 million gamers worldwide who play WoW, and it can be extremely addictive.

In fact, one expert on addiction, Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack, a clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, believes up to 40 percent of WoW players exhibit behavior that could be considered as typical of an addict. These people will neglect such things as sleep, spending time with family and friends, work, and, especially when it comes to college students, classes.

I’ve seen what WoW can do to people first hand. I have a few friends who play WoW constantly and exhibit the symptoms of addiction noted in the previous paragraph. They even acknowledge the game has probably had more of a negative effect on their grades than any amount of partying and drinking.

However, I can’t say I fully blame them. I’ve played WoW a few times, and even though I did not become addicted, I can see how it could happen. After all, would you rather be at class listening to the professor talk for an hour about algebraic functions, or flying on a griffon on your way to kill demons?

Andy Nicewicz is a senior political science major. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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