“Eric Crampton” refutes my point about per-capita status being constant by invoking World of Warcraft:
Creating value and earning wealth pushes you up on one status ladder but might hurt you on other status ladders (maybe you're less likely to be #1 Dad, maybe you're less likely to have a top-ranked World of Warcraft character). All status increases have opportunity costs on other status ladders.
First of all, it’s interesting that he tried so refute me by invoking my own arguments from one of my previous posts about World of Warcraft:
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.
But I also thought the post would imply that WoW doesn’t create real status, but merely entertainment by providing the illusion of status.
Saying that an 80th level WoW player with Legendary Armor has status because a few thousand WoW geeks look up to him is like saying that a BBW woman is just as hot as Olivia Wilde because there are a few thousand men in the world who have a BBW fetish (not a work-safe link).
WoW doesn't give players status, it gives them entertainment. Karl Marx once said that religion is the opiate of the masses, but today electronic entertainment is the opiate of the masses. With video games, BluRay discs, high definition televisions, and the like, people can be entertained and forget that all of the value produced by their labor is being transferred away to the elites.
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I never gave a WoW update since my review last May. Well what happened is that the game got boring before I reached level 80, and I never experienced the end game. Overall, I think that WoW is pretty overrated. Until you reach level 80, it’s more of a single player game than a multiplayer game, and it takes a massively huge amount of time before you reach level 80.
I recommend Final Fantasy XI as the better “MMORPG,” because it’s a social game which requires you to form parties with other players in order to gain any experience. It's so addictive, it can make you forget how modern society screws you over unless you're one of the elites.
FFXI was a pretty profitable game. I think that Square Enix had about half a million paying subscribers for several years, and there are probably still a few hundred thousand subscribers. But after WoW became the super-best seller with multiple millions of paying subscribers, every other game developer modeled their new MMORPGs after the WoW model hoping they could somehow duplicate WoW’s success, but of course that never happened. This demonstrates one of the basic facts of laissez-faire economies: even without the government granting monopolies, companies naturally develop monopoly power because through random circumstances one brand just rises to the top and becomes the brand that everyone wants, even though another brand actually offers a better product.