I've always resisted playing World of Warcraft, partly because of what I read out there on the webs and partly because I have no wish to get sucked into something like that. Nevertheless, I have been playing it recently, and today for the last time. One thing that stands out particularly for me is the quests that get distributed by various people in the space. The landscapes are impressive, the animals varied and at many times extremely annoying, but it's their monotony, having to get things and bring them back and so on that gets to me - or is it?
One thing I've learnt about addiction from listening to programmes from Radiolab and More or Less is that things are more addictive when prizes are given at random, rather than on cue. For instance, when a monkey pushes a button and it gets a treat, it'll get bored and do other things; however when the monkey pushes a button and it sometimes get a treat, the monkey will be trying to work out what the pattern is behind the button and get addicted to working it out. Thus it was that when I killed various monsters for various quest items, only some of the time I would win my prize and when I didn't, I had to find another monster to try and get it.
It isn't just that, of course - there's levelling up, and more and varied things to try on and so forth - but in essence it's a very well-done package to keep people coming back to their characters again and just do 'one more quest'... one more level... just get one more of these challenges... And once you keep coming back, you pay your dues, they get their money and it works. It is another way that exemplifies how clever and creative some humans are at getting attention and a regular income, in a way that is fun and absorbing for their audience.
So whilst I find the game boring, I can see why it works, and works very well. Hats off to the makers, but I'll find something else to occupy me in the months ahead.