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World of Warcraft is like real life.

I flew back home four days ago to find my sister still very much enjoying her hobby: World of Warcraft. She plays it after coming back from work until she goes to sleep. When not hanging out with her boyfriend, or if they aren’t playing computer games together, she’ll spend all her leisure time on that game.

World of Warcraft is like real life.

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I know this because I was once addicted to this game. I started playing in the beginning of my freshman year of high school, and I stopped playing around the middle to end of my first year in college. In four years of my life, if I remember correctly, I surpassed 200 total days of time played.

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In fact, I was once ranked in the top 0.5% of all competitive player versus players (PVP) – although looking back, I sincerely believe I was carried to the top by superior teammates.

So, how is World of Warcraft like real life?

1. A whole new world, and a full time job.

Well, there is an entire fantasy world constructed within the game. And it’s huge. It will take you days of playing time to explore an entire continent; there are currently four. It will take you weeks of playing time to complete dungeons with teammates, and even longer to acquire all the items you need. It’s like working to earn money, which is then spent on the goods you want in real life.

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2. Looks matter.

Your in-game character can be inspected to reveal what he or she is equipped with. The better items your character has, the more it reveals what you’ve accomplished and how much adversity your character has faced. Compared to real life, it would mean that you’re wearing designer brands rather than the outlet leftovers. The quality or class definitely shows.

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3. Reputation counts.

When looking for a top guild, or organization/company that players join in to complete quests in, your friends can get you in; your enemies can keep you out. If you have credentials, such as having been in a previously renowned guild, your chances of getting accepted into an otherwise exclusive organization are thereby increased. If you’ve been known to shun your former cohorts by stealing their stuff, betraying the organization, or not showing up to work (kill dragons and stuff), word spreads quick. That sounds pretty much like real life to me.

4. A full running economy.

Instead of doing hard labor such as pressing keys such as 1, 4, G or the middle mouse button to obtain menial silver coins, I resorted to the in-game auction house to sustain my character’s living. I, along with many of my in-game Wall Street friends, ran an oligopoly on the jewel and mining industries. We bought out the market and re-introduced them at an inflated price. Attempts to undercut our market price was met by immediately buying their items and re-selling it later. Prices were constantly adjusted to reflect consumer demands and producer’s supplies, and these extended to leathers, bandages, armor, spellbooks, and all other industries.

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5. Taking care of your pet.

If you choose to invest in one of the several hundred pets out there, you have to feed it to keep it happy. And you have to train it to learn new tricks, like maiming your enemies, shooting fire out of its mouth, or transforming into an enlarged demon. Most dogs can do that in real life.

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6. Drama.

Guilds disband due to miscommunication, scandals, and uncooperative members. Fights ensue on public forums, on private voice services such as Skype, and through in-game messaging. Sounds just like high school, and college, and the workplace in real life.

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And that’s why World of Warcraft is like real life.

But, you see, that’s the limit of a game. It’s like real life, but it isn’t real life. In the end, it’s entertainment. It’s the gratification of investing in and bettering a surreal character in a surreal world.

Looking at it from an entertainment standpoint, I think it’s a great game that’s worth spending a few hours a week on playing. Looking at it as a part time or full time job is another story. And that’s where I draw the distinction, because your surreal character isn’t creating any value in the real world; bettering the fantasy you is not bettering the real you.

Developing your in-game character doesn’t help yourself in real life. Killing off Arthas the Lich King may save the world of Azeroth. But when you finally shut down that computer, nothing good had been produced on Earth in the Sol solar system.

I yearn for the day you wake up and smell the roses.

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