At uni today one of my friends happened to say something that's still stuck in my head. He said, "You know, when someone stops playing a game they usually just say that they're done with it. But with Wow they always say they've quit."
I hear this sort of thing from everyone. My boyfriend strongly believes the game is an addiction that interferes with real life. The media has done its bit (of course); I still remember that story they did on how Wow was dangerous because it had so many kids addicted to it. And I just read a post from Pugnacious Priest considering her own addiction (or lack thereof) to the game.
Quite frankly, I'm tired of it. Wow is not like cigarettes, or drugs. It does not have a chemical component that induces addiction. People who get "addicted" to the game most of the time are missing something in their lives that Wow happens to fulfil. If they didn't use Wow to escape reality they would do so in other ways, like reading or watching telly or obsessively collecting stamps. The people who become dangerously addicted and suffer withdrawal when they can't play are not okay in the head to start with. Often they genuinely need professional help. This is not altered by the fact that they play a game.
Speaking from my own experience, I'm grateful my mum bought me the game five years ago. I learned a new talent and discovered I was really good at it. I've developed team work and leadership skills. But most importantly I met (and continue to meet) lovely, kind, talented, non-judgmental people who have become good friends. I was once incredibly awkward in social situations, and Wow (among other things) has helped me overcome that.
No I'm not getting paid by Blizzard. I just think that sometimes the good, beneficial side of Wow is completely overlooked in favour of sensationalism.