World of Warcraft is the biggest subscription-based MMO in the world of videogaming and, as such, it is often used as an example of the best and the worst of the genre.
There has been a lot of talk recently about addiction, with one study saying that nine out of ten players of the MMO are basically addicted, so a group of therapists in the United Kingdom have chosen World of Warcraft for a pilot program aimed at in-game anti-addiction treatment.
Richard Graham, who is a doctor with the Tavistock Center in London, told The Telegraph that “We will be launching this project by the end of the year. I think it’s already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn’t be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players.”
He admits that one of the biggest problems for psychology experts spending time in the Blizzard MMO will be “to overcome that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they’re probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft.”
It's not clear what Blizzard’s position is regarding the in-game treatment option that this program will introduce. The company might consider it to be a good public relations move to accept the program and even support it, showing that it is concerned about the possible addiction of some of its players.
Blizzard might also remain skeptical of such efforts, saying that any condition can only be diagnosed and then addressed in real life and not within the confines of World of Warcraft. For better or for worst, talk of in-game treatment and addiction might serve to increase the profile of the game.