Two Weeks

…it has been since my last blog post. That sets a record on my blog for inactive days in a row. Yay! (Or not.)

In the meanwhile, I have had some interesting days at Cornell, including a few self-experiments involving a few extremes.

Experiment One: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft Logo

The first experiment has to do with the very well-known video game World of Warcraft. As many of you know, I am a huge Blizzard game fan. Prior to purchasing WoW, I had owned Starcraft, Diablo 2, and Warcraft 3 all with expansions, as well as the more recently released Starcraft 2. Regarding time spent, the largest would be Warcraft 3, though not on the game itself. Instead, I had spent a LOT of time with the map editor, where I self-learned the fundamentals of programming and game design.

For reference, my last post was Sept. 30. On the next day, Oct. 1, I began the 10-day trial for WoW, and by the second day I was hooked. I purchased the game (with no expansions) the next day, which actually came with +1 month of game time, but for the sake of experiment, I canceled my recurring subscription immediately after purchase. That way, I would only be playing for one month.

In case you haven’t heard yet, WoW is an addicting game. Terribly, terribly addicting. Even shown to be dangerously so. Why? It is mainly a combination of two reasons: the game is outstanding in quality, and that there are so many things to do in it. Millions of people play. In fact, when I bought the game, there were somewhere over 11.5 million subscribers. That’s huge!

Just a week after I began my experiment, Blizzard released a shocking bit of news: WoW just reached 12 million subscribers! How is this shocking? First of all, WoW is an old game. It was launched in 2004. That’s six years ago, which is considered ancient in the digital age. When WoW hit 11.5 million subscribers in 2008, analysts said it had peaked. And for two years it seemed they were right: the subscriber count indeed leveled at 11.5 million. But this news, from just a week ago, clearly shows WoW has not yet reached its maximum.

So WoW’s a huge game, and it’s addicting. But just how addicting can a video game be? To put a quantifiable amount on it, I made two approximations of my own time allocation on an average weekday, one before getting the game, and the other afterwards:

(Note: 4% equals approximately 1 hour.)

From these graphs, I see that my time spent in classes and doing homework is unaffected as I am still academically focused. My time on video games, however, shot up sixfold, primarily at the cost of sleep and social activity. The 4% drop in the “Other” category could be due to the total lack of blogging.

As I still have two weeks of play time left, I suppose this is still an experiment-in-progress. A side note to people who understand WoW: I currently have a level 56 Mage.

(Edit 10/21/10): Here is my post-experiment analysis.

Experiment Two: Fasting

Water Glass

I had a perfect opportunity for this as Fall Break was last weekend plus Monday and Tuesday, and I stayed on campus. Well, not for the whole period: I went with the Big Red Marching Band to the Harvard–Cornell game, so I was traveling and/or in Boston on Friday and Saturday. When I got back, it was Saturday night, almost Sunday. Between then and Tuesday night, inclusive, which spans three full 24-hour days, I had only two meals. They happened to be a cheeseburger and a sandwich at Bear Necessities.

It was also facilitated by the first experiment—when you’re playing WoW, you don’t have biological necessities. WoW somehow tricks your body into really believing you are in the virtual world. So, I’m not really sure whether fasting can be considered an experiment on its own or just a consequence of the first one.

Nonetheless, I don’t think fasting for three days had any, even if temporary, impact on my life. I didn’t feel different at all. On the other hand…

Experiment Three: Sleep Deprivation

Alright, this one I should not be allowed to call an experiment. If anything, the experimental part of this would be more aptly named “Procrastination.”

I was going to put a picture here…

For reference, before Sept. 30 I had never pulled an all-nighter for school (high school or college). Within the past two weeks, however, I have done it twice, the second time last night (to finish two English papers). So I am blogging right now with zero sleep.

Just to make it clear, I point out that the effects of an all-nighter are much more severe than those of a fast. Parts of my body ache. I fell asleep in math class. Twice. Other than that, I have been surprisingly energetic. It seems my energy level is fluctuating very extremely.

Right now it is 4:22 pm. I still have two written assignments due tomorrow, as well as a marching band rehearsal tonight at 9 pm. Hmm… I’ll blog tomorrow!

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