Entries in media (3)

Around the Web: Jane McGonigal, Felicia Day and the Women of WoW

I know a lot of other ladies, besides myself, who play WoW. I'm pretty good friends with many IRL, and I've also met a ton of talented ladies through my guild. But I don't often hear many stories about the women of WoW and how they're making an impact on the world we live in. That's why I perked up recently at hearing two fine examples of women who play WoW, and why they're shattering stereotypes on gamer girls and, more importantly, on the gaming industry as a whole.

The first story I came across on game designer Jane McGonigal doesn't deal directly with Warcraft (although she mentions WoW as one of her favorite games), but more on innovation in gaming and promoting the positive aspects that games can have on culture. Last week, McGonigal spoke on this topic at the TED 2010 conference (TED, a nonprofit organization, stands for "technology, entertainment and design"). The conference featured big-name speakers including Bill Gates, Jamie Oliver and Sarah Silverman. But it was McGonigal who drew my eye. Here's a brief interview CNN did with her:

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WoW Obsessions Now Treated at Addiction Retreat

internetaddictionSure, I've made plenty of jokes in the past about being addicted to WoW. Heck, I've even written a couple of blog posts on the topic, and we've seen the issue poked fun at in "South Park" and "The Guild." But I still was taken a bit by surprise when I recently learned that addiction therapists are making their way into WoW - actually creating characters themselves in an attempt to reach out to those who believe WoW is more than just a game. According to an article in the Telegraph, internet experts say that MMORPGs such as WoW are "are as addictive as crack cocaine." Really? In the article, psychiatrist Dr. Richard Graham says that addicts play up to 16 hours a day, and in the process neglect their social lives and educational priorities. Something that I think many of us bloggers here at Project Lore promote is the fact that the real world always should have priority over WoW (even when we would rather be playing!). And I am certain that there are people, as there are in any sub-culture, who have trouble distinguishing between the real world and the game. And those people may need psychiatric help. Or they may just need to get off their asses. Regardless, the majority of players do not have this issue. So being a gamer, I am troubled by the report quoted in the article, by Sweden’s Youth Care Foundation, which describes World of Warcraft as “more addictive than crack cocaine.” The idea of helping those with addictions certainly is a noble one. I'm just not sure whether WoW should be a targeted demographic for this when the rate of those who actually are "addicted" has got to be incredibly low. The Telegraph followed up their first article with another published last month stating that a 19-year-old man is the first to sign up for a 12-step treatment at the reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program, in Washington state. The cost for a typical 45-day residential stay? $14,500 (£8,800). The retreat consists of activities such as camping and "wilderness adventures" - basically anything sans-technology. A psychotherapist said the institute was for quitting "cold turkey." According to the article, "the retreat is also open to outpatients seeking respite from an overreliance on joysticks, internet pornography and spending days on end staring at a computer screen." Most clients are expected to be men between ages 18 and 28. scapegoatHere's one of my beefs: by comparing WoW's addictiveness to that of illegal drugs, it sounds a lot like the game is somewhat of a scapegoat for those who lose themselves in the game. Next thing we know, the game could be blamed for any violent act by some crazed person who happens to play the game. This is nothing new. In the past, the "evils" of Grand Theft Auto, FPS games, Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons were blamed for society's issues. Before that, it was Rock 'n' Roll. Let's hope that WoW isn't the next up to bat. Blizzard was "unavailable for comment" in both articles. But I bet they're keeping a close eye on whatever publicity comes along from these initiatives. Sounds like a PR nightmare. As for me, I'll continue to post about those irresistible aspects of gameplay that make me "addicted." Not because I actually think I'm an addict. But instead, because I'll admit that WoW is a damn good game that makes people want to play - not need to play. It takes a certain disregard for society or RL socializing in the first place (not cyber-snorting lines) for it to go anywhere beyond that.

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WoW "Offers a Peek into the Workplace of the Future"

miltonWith the U.S. economy pretty much in the tank over the past half-year and unemployment at nearly 9 percent, the future of the workforce is on the minds of many. And for some, WoW plays a role. Last week, TIME (as in the magazine) put out a special feature - a kind of top-10 list of sorts on "The new work order." It counts the ways that the workforce of the future will change. The feature remarks:

Though unemployment is at a 25‑year high, work will eventually return. But it won't look the same.
Inevitably, technology was at the top of the list of items that will change the workforce. As was business ethics, declining job benefits, delayed retirements and a turn toward female management style. But buried within a section on Gen X taking control of the workforce, I was surprised to find this nugget:
Rob Carter, chief information officer at FedEx, thinks the best training for anyone who wants to succeed in 10 years is the online game World of Warcraft. Carter says WoW, as its 10 million devotees worldwide call it, offers a peek into the workplace of the future. Each team faces a fast-paced, complicated series of obstacles called quests, and each player, via his online avatar, must contribute to resolving them or else lose his place on the team. The player who contributes most gets to lead the team — until someone else contributes more. The game, which many Gen Yers learned as teens, is intensely collaborative, constantly demanding and often surprising. "It takes exactly the same skill set people will need more of in the future to collaborate on work projects," says Carter. "The kids are already doing it."
While it's not what I would call the perfect game synopsis, I think author Anne Fisher does a pretty decent job of explaining a basic point of the game to audience members who probably have never played. But more to the point: is the perception of gamers, and specifically those of us who play WoW, changing? We've seen arguments similar to this recent one. Way back, we've heard from some who argue that playing WoW is good leadership experience and teaches project management skills. And just on Wednesday, I saw a post from the newly redesigned and renamed WoW.com (formerly WoW insider) about a college student researching how people interact in WoW and other online games. But we've also heard from the negative side. About six months back, Juggynaut told us about a forum poster who said that job recruiters intentionally avoided hiring people who play WoW.  And that spurred a whole slew of comments from our dear readers, from those of you who had heard similar sentiments to those of you like Shaun, who I think summed up a lot of our feelings when he said, "Has this giant bag of douche ever heard of over-generalization?" But I'm feeling optimistic after this story from TIME. For one, it's a pretty major publication with a positive outlook on WoW. With all the misconceptions about gaming out there, it's good to hear that someone gets it, at least a little. And for two, the statements from Mr. FedEx CIO highlighting WoW finally are put into context: These life lessons that WoW provides are ones that will be valuable, even needed, in the future workplace:
The Gen X managers ... will need to be adept at a few things that earlier generations, with their more hierarchical management styles and relative geographical insularity, never really had to learn. One of those is collaborative decision-making that might involve team members scattered around the world...
So, how do you think WoW could change the job market place of the future? Or perhaps you have the opinion that all this is overblown, and it won't affect anything? Either way, it's an interesting conversation and a debate that, I suspect, won't end anytime soon.

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