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WoW, Online Dating, Addiction, and Stigma

As the world plunges even deeper into the digital abyss, ‘networking’ is almost always seen as a very valuable tool for one’s personal and professional life. Yet, there seem to be many networks that are kept under wraps, including, but not limited to, PC gaming sites such as World of Warcraft. I myself have only recently become familiar with the concept of the game, but the more I read and learn about it, several trends seem to emerge.

First, it is scarily addictive. I’ll admit to playing the Sims for probably too long some nights when I was 12, but for WoW, I’ve seen statistics saying players will play for upwards of 8 hours a day. A recent reading assignment I had for my Entrepreneurship for Engineers class about a PC software company, Blue Orb, claimed that in 2008, 72 percent of U.S. heads of households played video games, and that World of Warcraft players averaged 21 hours of play per week. A simple Google search for WoW addiction yielded a detox website for the remediation of your WoW addiction and a wikiHow video on how to break your WoW habit. Yikes.

Why is this world so alluring, and how has this network of PC gamers become so tight knit? Is it due to an abnormally large number of edges among its nodes? Normally, a network is considered strongly connected if and when each pair of nodes is connected by some path. Although one can choose to play against friends in WoW, players often play just with other random users. It is likely that these random opponents will ever meet, or introduce one another to their friends, as opposed to a traditional network. Alternatively, there are other factors contributing to the impressive WoW network. I propose that the stigma attached to being a ‘closet gamer’ actually promotes a sense of community among players, rather than deter people from sticking around. Furthermore, the longer one spends at a specific site, the more invested one becomes in its intricacies.

To further illustrate the sense of community felt by players of WoW, an article by Winda Benedetti this past April discussed how playing this online role-playing game is sometimes more successful for finding love than online dating sites – another genre of website that struggles with its own stigma.

So, although there are several good ways to model and estimate the strength of networks with concrete algorithms or other methods, there are several other, less tangible factors that may contribute to a network’s strength. The WoW community is a perfect example of such a network. So, if you’re looking to commit to a hobby, or even find love, read more here:


One Response to “ WoW, Online Dating, Addiction, and Stigma ”

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November 2011