Friday, February 8, 2008

What I Learned Today from World of Warcraft

Maybe it should be called World of Warcrack, it's so addictive. But there are things to be learned from the game, I'm sure.

I've been thinking about what it is that makes the game so addictive, and how those things can be created or applied to "Real Life" to help me get more done, and be happier doing it. At first I thought it was the quest-reward mechanic, where you have specific goals and get immediate rewards. But that, I discovered, is only a small part of what makes the game so enticing.

It's meditative, in a weird kind of way. You go out, you do your thing that you've done a million times, to kill a bigger and tougher enemy. It really doesn't require much thought - just enough decision-making to keep it from being boring.

... and now for what appears to be unrelated ....

I've started washing the dishes by hand, rather than using the dishwasher. I'd let them pile up a bit, and had a full sink-full this today. I was listening to music that to me, goes well with the "hearth and home" theme of washing dishes or other housework. And something hit me.

Washing dishes felt like questing.


Yep. It had the same not-too-difficult and not-too-boring flow as doing a "green" (easy-ish) World of Warcraft quest! After some thought, I realized it felt that way because 1) I was fully engaged in what I was doing, and 2) I had attributed emotional meaning to the task (warm homey feelings).

I wonder if part of the appeal of games like WoW is that they are a needed respite from information overload and decision making. Or if maybe I'm part of a generation that somehow didn't learn to be fully engaged and emotionally connected to "work." (Or if any generation before has, either?)

Surely life can become as addictive and appealing as a rather repetitive game.