All MMO players and WoW players especially, know about the significance of the /played command in the game. In World of Warcraft it is often subject of running gags, guild mates teasing one another or daring each other to do a /played. Not rarely does it happen that a player will outright refuse to tell you his number and even those that do, usually cringe at least for one moment before going over to long justifications about the result, explaining how “this isn’t the net time played after all, a lot of it is also AFK” or “but I have no alts beside this” and so forth. Really, /played is a bit of a taboo in the game and it makes me a little sad because that shows us one thing: that most MMO players still feel a certain amount of shame or guilt regarding their hobby.
I’ve been reluctant to check my /played time in WoW myself in the past and really need to ask myself why – I’m most certainly not ashmed of being a gamer. I’ve been involved in video games all my life, briefly even professionally. I’m a self-proclaimed proud-to be gamer and geek. I run around wearing Leeroy Jenkins and “Green is the New Purple” T-Shirts (yes, outside my home) and there’s nobody in my family or wider circle of friends that doesn’t know about my hobbies. At my workplace I am happy to inform whomever likes to know too. There’s a shiny figureprint of Syl sat next to the monitor I’m writing this article on.
Yet and despite all of that, apparently something’s wrong with /played. I don’t know if it’s the ingame mocking à la “you addict!” that usually goes with it, even the friendly one, but somehow there’s a semi-conscious part of me deep down inside, that still believes the time I spend in WoW is outrageously too high “for a useless hobby like that” – huh? OH JUST SHUT UP!!!
The thing is, I don’t actually believe that’s true. For one, I probably have a very average playtime in WoW and the game has never created any form of issues or impacted negatively on things in real life for me – in fact quite the opposite. There’s times when I haven’t played WoW and times when I’ve played it lots. I don’t see how it’s different from enjoying any other hobbies or pastimes that aren’t directly “useful” but entertaining. I believe WoW is a great deal more social than some other activities the way I play it. You can also actually learn a lot in this game, if you chose to.
Many other WoW players will share these views with me. So why is there still this controversial, guilty feeling about the /played command among gamers? Have we simply heard the negative stereotypes for too long? After all the media are ever-eager to convince the world that online gaming equals drug addiction and causes babies to starve in Korea.
What’s the point of /played anyway?
Have you ever asked yourself what the use of the /played command in the game might be? I am wondering about this a bit. I know the feature can be found in other MMOs too and I can’t help but marvel at the idea behind this – why did Blizzard install it in the game? Why this focus on “time spent” in the online gaming branch especially?
You will struggle to find many other hobbies where measuring quantity is actually a concern; the guy that spends several nights a week in his football club, avidly plays the piano, is regularly hanging out with buddies in bars or watching TV in the evenings, wouldn’t do a /played or /drank or /TV every few months to double-check and question his favored activities. Even for most other games on PC or console there is no such data – at most you’ll find a time indication on your saves that counts net time. Nobody would ever bother to ask about it.
It almost feels as if the game you love to play is agreeing with those trying to tell you that you spend “sooooooo much time!” by storing this ever-increasing number as if it was important. I fail to see a dev’s reasoning here; in any case if they thought it would serve as player-epeen or decoration in WoW they have utterly missed their point.
Laughing in the face of /played
Anyhow, I do hereby protest against the tyranny and taboo of /played in WoW and all other forms thereof in other MMOs! I refuse to feel guilty over a number that can never express the myriads of emotions and experiences I’ve had and made through this game, the countless adventures, moments of epic win, the endless fun and joy shared in the great company of friends over the past few years. If my time spent on the game is all that interests you about it, then GFY. ^^ I happen to enjoy this game. I’m having good times with it.
As for the number, writing about it actually got me intrigued and since we’re kinda at the doorstep of Cata, it feels like the perfect time to have a look –
*quickly logging into WoW*
– 253 days.
That’s since the EU launch in February 2005, counting my main character and also the sole lowbie alt I am rumored to have. Assuming that I’ve played the game for 68 months, that breaks down to 12% of that time or 20 hours a week. If a player’s active time in the game (=actually being ingame at the keyboard) is roughly 80% of the total number, that means I’ve spent an average of 16 hours of gaming and socializing in WoW per week.
I enjoyed every minute of it (ok, not so much that one exalted grind in Silithus) and I would never wanna miss that time in my life. Yeah, I could’ve learned a sixth language instead or restore world peace – I could also have done a lot of silly or stupid things instead, so make of that what you will. I’ll say 253 days of good fun – wohoo, YAY, /cheer!
If you ever want to know my playtime in WoW again at some point in the future, I’m happy to answer your question without cringing. I also dare you all to check your /played next time you log into the game and tell all your friends (feel free to add it in a comment too!), not because it matters but exactly because it does not!
P.S. It is highly probable, if not to say very likely, that I made a calculation error somewhere in that last bit, in which case I’m happy to be rectified. It is rather late here and I’ve never been much for maths – there be dragons.
Update: I need to thank all the trolls that have repeatedly tried to derail the comment thread to this topic, spamming me with wild accusations or threatening me (on my own blog) that I have “crossed the line” – you have all proven my point better than I ever could have. It is no wonder so few WoW gamers publicly admit to their hobby or time spent in the game. Further spam or trolling will be deleted – my blog, my rules, ya know.
“He who judges does not define that which is judged, but only defines himself as someone who needs to judge.”