WoW’s Drug-Culture

Over the last few years, I’ve had the occasion to talk about a lot of things. One of them I haven’t yet is the prevalence of the drug culture in MMOs. Well, thanks to trade chat, that day has finally come.

I see this all the time on my realm. Whether it’s in trade chat or, simply, at the beginning of a PuG run: people talking about using drugs while playing the game. Most often, it’s pot. Some stoner in party chat has to let the group know how high he is or that he just smoked some “green bud.”

Well, good for you, guys, but I really don’t care.

In party chat, it’s usually no big deal. More often than not, Stoner A says he’s high and no one responds; in the age of zero-talk-LFD-runs, you get high in silence. Unless, of course, Stoner B is in the group. In which case, the rest of the run is filled with talk of buds, bowls, blunts, and bomb-ass weed. But, like I said, no big deal. So long as I can get a message across when I need to, we’re cool.

Then there’s trade chat. Trade chat is about as close to virtual soap-box as you can get without starting a blog. Stoner A pops up here and you have a debate. Conservative C wants to STOMP Stoner A. Conservative C wants to melt Stoner A’s face. Publically. Repeatedly. But, he forgets one key fact: Stoner A is stoned. Stoner A probably has a notepad full of facts on how beneficial pot is and how “studies show…” even though Stoner A has never read any real study in his life.

Stoner A and Conservative C are both rocks. Rocks with mouths, each shouting at the other, neither noticing they’re getting nowhere.

I’m not saying either side is right. Or wrong. Actually, I think it’s entirely possible to agree with both sides. Sure, pot kills brain cells, but it also makes the game “so much more immersive.” I buy that studies show pot doesn’t cause lung cancer but that it also drops your sperm count. That’s all great. Points for each side.

But, does it matter?

Not really.

The truth is, I think anyways, that people with strong feeling about drugs have something to prove. They want these arguments and their indulgences to be public. It’s a “listen to me, I’m smart” (and stoned) thing.

I recently got the chance to sit down several times with one of these trade chat aficionados to talk about some of these things (and wrote up an article for Lagwar on it– up later today). There are whole guilds founded on drug-love. In-game celebrations of 4-20. Emotefests where “SirStonezalot hands the bong to TokeLove” and “TokeLove takes a lovely toke.” Burn with Ragnaros/Onyxia nights.

It’s true, and it’s more than I ever thought. Once I started to dig in, I began to see the outlines of a flourishing little community of drug-users in WoW. It’s really some crazy stuff when you see how far people go to endorse their love of the drug. Fun, light-hearted, and a little bit frightening.

But, it all comes to the face in trade chat. Stoner A wins because he’s sure all the reasonable people are on his side. Conservative C wins because he’s sure those same people all support him. In reality, 98% of them stopped listening when someone said weed.

I’ve found the whole experience of researching this, interviewing on it, and writing about it very interesting. There is a drug-culture in WoW, just like there’s a raid-culture, and RP-culture. Some players are loose, light, in their embrace of it. Others get defensive just by being in the same game with the previous group.

In the end, it’s all just rocks. One on one side, the other on the other, banging away at each other all day long, thinking they made a chip. In reality, its a scratch-line, waiting to be washed away by the next rain.

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