Reading the blog post by the guy who was addicted to World of Warcraft (WoW) and the associated comments, a common theme that comes up is that the time spent playing WoW was wasted time. What do people really mean by this?
From the male perspective, all activities can be divided into two types. The first type includes activities that increase your status (often by increasing your wealth) or that help you get sex. And the second type of activity doesn't lead to accomplishing those goals. These activities are wasted time.
There are many types of wasted time activities. Watching TV for example.
In some cases, the delimiters are blurry. Watching sports on TV can be wasted time, but if your boss is a fan of a team, then watching the same games he watches can help you bond with him and thus increase your chances of getting a good raise or getting promoted.
Golf is often considered a hobby which leads to increasing your social capital by helping you meet important people at the country club.
Blogging unfortunately falls into the category of wasted time. There don't seem to be any status or sexual benefits which come from it, so it's no better a use of time than playing World of Warcraft.
But World of Warcraft falls into a special category of time wasting activity, because it is like masturbation. Men who are unable to get sex from women often find masturbation and pornography to be better substitutes than nothing at all. World of Warcraft provides a similar fix for men who are unable to get status in the real world.
In the real world, men start out with the dream that they will advance and increase their status. But then they discover that it's not so easy to increase one's status in the real world. For example, one can devote three years of life to attending law school only to discover that law school was a a complete waste of time. In the real world, career tracks usually determine if your status will increase, and the fast track to success only holds a few people. Most people toil away at jobs where they never see any direct benefit from their hard work.
This is where World of Warcraft comes in and meets people's unmet psychological needs. In WoW and similar games, your status increases slowly but surely every time you play. After so many hours in the game, you can see exactly how many more experience points you have, maybe your level has increased, maybe you have better armor or weapons than you had before. Unlike the real world, where you can work 40 hours of overtime and not even get paid for it, if you put an extra 40 hours into WoW you will definitely have something to show for it. Your status within the virtual world of WoW will have increased in ways you can clearly ascertain.
Have you ever woken up from a dream that was so much more pleasant than real life that you wish you could fall back to sleep and return to the dream? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) this never works, and you start your day off with a touch of sadness that the wonders of the dream can't be realized. For some, World of Warcraft is like a dream they don't have to wake up from, a world better than the real world becaue their efforts are actually rewarded with increased status.