Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friends Who Don't Play WoW

I had a friend ask me for my TwitterID so we could keep in touch on Twitter. This guy isn’t a WoW player, and I was reluctant to give him my Twitter ID since I a lot of my tweets are WoW related. I suddenly felt like George Costanza from Seinfeld in the episode where Elaine meets Susan. “Worlds are colliding!” he shouts.

Suddenly someone from my real life was going to get a peek into my WoW life. It made me a little uncomfortable. The world where I'm known as by my real name was colliding with the world where I'm known as Honorshammer.

I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to some of my non WoW friends that WoW players really aren’t that different than who spend their evenings watching The Office or American Idol . You basically sit in front of an LCD display for a few hours and watch the stories of characters you are emotionally invested in.

I could tell the message wasn’t exactly getting through.

There are things in our culture that are just more socially accepted that others. For instance, it’s socially accepted to be excited about the new season of a popular TV show. It’s not as socially accepted to be excited about the season (patch) of your favorite MMO.

It’s socially accepted to stand around the water cooler and discuss how your favorite team defeated a tough opponent last night. It’s not socially accepted to stand around the water cooler and discuss how your raid team defeated a tough boss last night.

Watching TV turns your brain off.

"Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland found that after just 30 seconds of watching television the brain begins to produce alpha waves, which indicates torpid (almost comatose) [slow] rates of activity. Alpha brain waves are associated with unfocused, overly receptive states of consciousness. In fact, Mulholland’s research implies that watching television is neurologically analogous to staring at a blank wall. Once again, regardless of the content being presented, television essentially turns off your nervous system." (http://pages.prodigy.net/unohu/brainwaves.htm)

Yet, TV is more socially acceptable activity. Perhaps it’s because it’s been around longer.

If you are my age (mid 30s), your parents generation was the first to see the Television enter the home. My generation has never known a time when the TV wasn’t part of the living room landscape. But there was probably a time in your life before the computer became part of the landscape. My own daughter has never known a time when the computer wasn’t part of our living room.

Perhaps in another 20 years, when today’s children are tomorrow’s adults, MMOs will be more socially accepted. Until then, we enjoy our secret lives and hope our non WoW friends either don’t find out about our ‘other lives’ or that they still accept us when they do.

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