Dear Uncle Ezra…

I always get a kick out of finding references to Warcraft in non-gaming venues.  This morning I woke up to find on my feedreader that a certain university’s advice column decided to tackle the issue of World of Warcraft addiction.

From the Oct. 2, 2008 column, the question was:

Dear Uncle Ezra,
I am very concerned for my room mate. He has developed an addiction to World of Warcraft (Wow), it is a massively multiplayer online video game that involves adventuring with a character who uses magic or defeats his enemies with more conventional weapons like swords and axes.

He spends at least 8 hours everyday playing this game. On weekdays, he comes back from class in late afternoon and immedietly starts the game and plays until 2am. On weekends he plays all day, from waking up until going to bed. He also likes to smoke occasional marijuana and spends alot of time playing Wow stoned.

He has stopped speaking with his friends and makes exuses when his friends ask him out whether it is to dinner or a party. His life is absorbed by Wow.

What do I do?

Uncle Ezra’s answer:

Dear Roommate who is neither Horde nor Alliance,
Video games can become very addicting, in fact they are designed to be addicting.  Many a student has flunked out of college by getting caught in the trap of “gaming.”
From your description it is hard to tell whether your roommate is indeed in trouble.  If he is keeping up with his studies and choosing to play during all of his free time (although this is not the life choice we would make) he may be making a conscious choice that works for him.

If he is getting sucked in to the point of isolating himself from others and neglecting his academic responsibilities he may need help to disengage.  Signs of trouble include neglecting to go to class, not doing work, missing an exam, becoming disheveled, not sleeping much, not eating much or relying primarily on junk food.

Please continue to ask him to do things other than gaming and if the opportunity arises, mention your concern.

Since you are concerned, please mention what you notice to your RA and RHD.  They will check to see if your roommate does indeed need help.  It is early in the semester and it is better to act now, since the longer you wait the more difficult it might be for your roommate to recover.

And remember to beware of the dragon of Blackrock Spire!

Uncle Ezra

It seems Uncle Ezra himself is a fan of WoW.  I wonder if the Residential Programs staff (the RAs and RHDs) receive video game addiction intervention training?

Why is the column called “Dear Uncle Ezra”?  Ezra Cornell is the name of the founder of Cornell University. The column’s premise is that the university’s founder lives on, answering questions on the internet (despite his actual death in 1874).  If only we could all be that lucky!  (Questions are actually answered by a team of anonymous, though quite knowledgeable, university staff, faculty, and alumni.)

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10 Responses

  1. For some reason, the symptom “becoming disheveled” is particularly cracking me up. That’s very amusing. :)

  2. Hehe, this reminds me of my undergraduate days. I went to a tech school where it was completely valid to complain to the IT department that the network was horribly laggy for playing WoW. And the IT guys would try to tell you it wasn’t the networks fault because WoW doesn’t have to send much information (oh really? so I should have 2000+ ms latency and be outrun by a character on foot when I’m in travel form?).

    But oh, it was a dark day when someone severed the university’s main backbone out with a backhoe. No connection to anything off the campus network for 3 days lol.

  3. State school!!!

  4. @ Anon Ivy Leaguer – Safety School! :)

  5. Well, i ll try to explain something on brain functions. I ll stay on basic facts. We all have the analytical part of brain and the primitive one. The latter fixes upon a small area on hypothalamus, called reward center. The reward center is responsible for any action we take about food, sex, drugs and general pleasure. Dopamine (=neurochemical) rushes on reward center when engaged in a pleasurable activity. Actually pleasure is dopamine. BUT, after this dopamine rush on brain, a drop follows. This creates a hang over. As a result, possible withdrawal symptoms appear. To get ourselves out of these symptoms, the most simple action is to engage again on the pleasurable activity. Addiction eshtablished.

  6. This is how it was for one of my friends… But that’s pretty awesome article none the less!

  7. Ha! I used to remember reading that advice column as an undergrad. You could always count on good ol’ Uncle Ezra for wise often funny advice.

    http://ezra.cornell.edu/

    Ah I can recall the days when we used to trudge up as 30 degree slope in 20 degree weather to get a 40 on an exam. Woot!

    Mugglebane
    http://priestlyendeavors.blogspot.com/
    The Sacred and Profane

  8. @ Mugglebane – My spam filter ate you comment for a while there. Sorry about that!

    Cornell is the only place that really is uphill in both directions, I swear it. Getting a 40 on an exam, you clearly must have been engineering or sciences. I remember getting a 32 on a physics prelim once and being happy that it got curved to an “A.”

  9. Hi MK! Ah those were the days. I remember a computational theory class which had three questions: basic, somewhat hard, and mind numbingly profound.

    You were expected to finish the first 2. Your grade was ultimately determined by your partial progress on the third. oy!

    I was a computer science and math double major and I nearly finished off my degree in French lit.

    Go Big Red!

    Mugglebane
    The Sacred and Profane
    http://priestlyendeavors.blogspot.com/

  10. @ Mugglebane – Wow, my spam filter hates your messages. However, it loves those by spambots selling pills. Doh!

    Oh yes, and go Big Red!

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