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There is nothing like a weekday sunrise in the middle of summer. Everywhere is empty but lit, like an apocalypse but with street-cleaners. In the summer between 2006 and 2007, we used to lie in the middle of Ghuznee St for minutes at a time, cracking shitty jokes about our obituaries and hearing our laughter echo. Then we would go home and sleep. We had been playing video games all night.
The first time I saw a sunrise from inside World of Warcraft felt amazing. Three of my friends were just starting to fall asleep in my bedroom behind me, their game of UT finally forgotten, but one of them got up to see the polygons change colour. He was soon hooked too.
I’m not quite decided on video games. On the one hand, they’re some of the best tools of narrative ever produced, a medium that is evolving like crazy, a medium capable of letting people unwind and fulfilling people emotionally. On the other, I lost around nine months of my life to WoW, and I got off _easy._
When you’re really into doing ‘one thing’ online, it can easily eat up your life. I was still going to school, still drinking with my friends, still spending around the same amount of time online as any teenager was in 2007 – but it was all WoW, all the time. At school, I was talking about it with my ‘WoW friends’, at home I was just getting through whatever else was in the way of more WoW. I was getting over my first big breakup, Wellington was rainy, and half of my friends started playing too, but this was horrible.
As is reddit, but I feel for the people in some of the micro-communities. On ‘NoWoW’, people recount their years-long stories with the game, stories of ignored spouses, lost jobs and anxious parents. Like most communities for people at their rock bottom (remember CuteDeadGuys? What a fun year!), everyone on NoWoW is supportive, understanding, even to those with neglected children. In fact, stay-at-home mums seem especially susceptible: “I played all night, took my son to school in the morning, got a few hours of sleep while he was at school, and played all night again.”
Of course, WoW is just a more potent example. Anything can consume you; anything can make you stay up all night. The internet makes obsession easy, makes falling into your own personalised clock and world a breeze. That obsession – whether it manifest itself in 35 browser tabs or a whole season of Gilmore Girls or a sunrise in a virtual world – it feels like nothing else. The trick is in keeping it from being a crutch, in keeping it as a fun activity rather than something you need to do before you sleep. When someone figures that out, they should let me know.
It’s been a privilege to rant about the internet at you this year, especially with someone as talented as Philip. <3