Early June, half past twelve a.m. Kiev time. World of Warcraft, Moonglade EU server, Ironforge dwarf capital.
In the general chat room sounds the announcement: "a new dating site for those who play World of Warcraft. Chat is exploding with replicas, apparently teenagers, such as "get a life", "make love not Warcraft" and similar sarcastic remarks to the one who pushes the topic. I'm writing in private to this guy. It turns out that this is indeed a dating site for those who are lonely and plays WoW. We got to talking. "We have twenty single mothers in our guild. I'm single myself and have a daughter." This Swede was in his forties, an extreme athlete in the past, now retired for health reasons, though "the newspapers still write about him. By his own admission in his life there is "only a daughter and WoW. A resource organized to help themselves and those who have the same problem.
And the problems aren't just that it's hard to find a mate. There are also stereotypes about those who play World of Warcraft and other computer (and not just online) games. Non-players perceive gamers as slightly abnormal, who actually do not have a life.
I am not going to argue that gaming addiction is a real thing. The question is: how much of a problem is it? Once, long time ago I asked a psychologist who is considered abnormal in terms of psychology? The answer was simple - everybody has deviations, but 1) if these deviations make a person dangerous for the society or 2) the society becomes dangerous for a person not accepting him/her, this really becomes pathological.
Regarding point 2, I recently read an article about gaming addiction which stated that there are 'socially acceptable addictions'. For example, when a person works 15-16 hours a day, they say 'hardworking', although they could call him a 'workaholic' and ask what his wife thinks about it. Workaholism "is a good thing" as understood by society (especially this citizen's immediate superiors). As one gamer said if a hundred million people went home and played WoW and a million watched the news on TV, they would be considered addicts and judged as sick people.
Computer games in the view of the majority - infantilism, a waste of time. At the same time when half the country enthusiastically stuck by the TV, watching some retarded series about Katya Pushkareva or adventures of gangsters brigade - it is considered the norm of life. Although in essence, online requires a much greater strain on the brain than the reflex poking into the remote control.
Online worlds are a relatively new kind of entertainment, which is by and large a casual gamer does not consume more time than watching news and TV shows for other "regular" people.
Who knows what will be online in ten years. In any case, there are already families where shared immersion in virtuality is a real alternative, which they prefer to passive sitting in front of the TV.