When Games Become Real Life

Raph Koster’ blog: Paternalistic or Libertine?

Specifically jumping off from this:

So China has set up time limits for MMOs. I think this is actually the final implementation of the plan they announced previously, but whatever. People’s Daily Online reports that under-18 players will only be allowed to play for 3 hours a day at full XP rates, with declining XP gain thereafter until at 5 hours there’s no advancement at all. After five hours, you’ll get spam warnings every quarter hour telling you to go log off because it’s unhealthy for you to keep playing. And games not compliant by July 16th will simply be shut down.

What about the shift in people’s conception of value from tangible goods like cars and sunglasses to intangible goods like in-game epic equipment?  The limits on value being attached to only tangible assets are being lifted with the advent of online games, especially virtual worlds.  The limits on friends being those whom you can physically interact with are further being removed.  The end result will be a more equal weighting in virtual assets vs. “real” assets.

I predict that someone could even sit in front of a computer all day long and make a good living doing so!

There is some good debate on whether or not kids present a different, special scenario.  However, I would argue that if an individual kid has a bad compulsion to play WoW constantly if you were to remove WoW that kid would be doing something equally destructive.  In every case of compulsive behavior (gambling, over-eating, what-have-you) there are deeper issues that need to be taken care of before the compulsive behavior ceases.  The specific act itself is just an instance of the problem.  You can kill instances all day long and it doesn’t effect the root “spawn spot”, as it were.

A mention on the self-policing of online communities, or any communities for that matter.  The critical thing that’s required is the ability to self-police.  Most online games don’t allow for effective self-policing, so until that kind of mechanism is figured out, it’s tough to conclude we need government intervention.  And there I’ve just mooted the debate on if self-policing mechanisms are even possible.  That would be a thoroughly enjoyable project to work on.