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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

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Is World Of Warcraft Bad For Society?
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 18 comments

In a lengthy discussion at the Montreal Games Summit Jonathan Blow, creator of the 2006 IGF Design Innovation award winner - Braid, discussed the use of familiar concepts and simplistic rewards systems to keep players coming back to games. Among other things he asserts that many of the tools developers use to interest gamers in their products are ultimately harmful to individuals and even society as a whole. One of the titles he cites as an example is Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft.

"The game industry is chasing bigger player base, and weíre exploiting them in an unethical way," Blow asserted. "We donít see it as unethical because we refuse to stop and think about the magnitude of what we are doing. You can smoke, have fast food, and play World of Warcraft sometimes Ė when you talk about these things at a societal level, it becomes a societal problem."

"The thing I want to get at is Ė Iím not trying to blame players here Ė what I am saying is, if youíre the CEO of McDonald's, you should not feel good about your job, you should feel ashamed. We donít have that in the games business -- we donít have that sense, because we feel like theyíre 'just entertainment.' We donít feel like we can do things we can be ashamed of yet," he added.

Blow believes that according to WoW, the game's rules are its meaning of life. "The meaning of life in WoW is youíre some schmo that doesnít have anything better to do than sit around pressing a button and killing imaginary monsters," he explained. "It doesnít matter if youíre smart or how adept you are, itís just how much time you sink in. You donít need to do anything exceptional, you just need to run the treadmill like everyone else."

"You donít come away from WoW with that in your head, but that comes through subtly and subconsciously," Blow added. "Itís like advertising and brand identity. People identify with their activities Ė same thing with games, people are products of their origins and their environments. Weíre giving them these environments and helping to determine what theyíre going to be."
To read more of his comments head over to the Gamasutra article linked below.

Gamasutra: Jonathan Blow On The 'WoW Drug'

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