How does playing a game become a job?

Written by Mark Mackay

May 8, 2009 | 10:40

Tags: #addiction #mmo #second-life #world-of-warcraft

Companies: #eve-online

Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) are potentially dangerous bits of software. It starts just like any other game, with a trip to your local Game store or a visit to Amazon or Steam, a quick exchange of funds and then the install process. With an MMO however, you could be putting your social life, relationship, job and personal hygiene all at a risk of serious meltdown. The risks are so real in fact, that the most precious assets to humanity, our own Mothers have put together a website to try and crack down on the problem.
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I've often wondered why they are so addictive. Is it because you get that feeling that you used to get as a kid when all the other kids are playing and laughing outside in the sun and you just had to go and join in? Is it because you feel that all that time spent on menial tasks such as eating and sleeping could be better spent developing your character to go and stomp on lesser players in PVP?

How does playing a game become a job?

There's a host of other reasons that could be added to list. However, one common argument for why MMOs are so addictive is because they’re designed specifically to string gamers along with a new bit of armour hither, a new spell thither and a few more health points evither (sorry, I had to make that last one up), so there's a constant craving for playing for 5 more minutes.

This argument of course holds some truth. Getting new kit is a largely what made the RSI-educing Diablo II so utterly all consuming. But I remember many years ago (probably about 13 years ago actually, which makes me feel kinda old) seeing an interview with co-founder of ID Software John Romero saying that one of the keys to a good game was to string the player along with new guns and power ups. This is a tactic that has been employed since shortly after the dawn of gaming, so why are MMOs different? Is it just that they're exceptionally good at it?

How does playing a game become a job?

They're so good at it in fact, that for some the game starts to get taken so seriously that it becomes like a second job. I’ve enjoyed and been addicted to many MMOs over the years, but I’ve never reached the stage where it feels like an inescapable responsibility. Likewise, an MMO has never caused me to reject my real world responsibilities. I love MMOs, but I wouldn’t want to marry one and I certainly wouldnt die for one as has sadly happened on more than one occasion.

So how does it happen? Have you ever played an MMO that felt like a job? Has a game had a serious detrimental affect on your personal hygiene or worse?
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