Goblin Addiction

Is the Goblin identity just another of the addictive aspects of WoW? When you really look at it, we’re just trying to hoard all these little pieces of virtual gold for ourselves. We really don’t get anything tangible out of it, since in the end, we can’t cash it in to put food on the table or buy ourselves a new television. So why do we do it? What drives us? I think that the answer is pretty much the same as why we most of us started to play the game so much in the first place: Achievements.

I don’t mean this in the sense of in-game tracked achievements. I’m talking about the psychological idea of accomplishing goals. In the case of WoW, these are typically short-term goals, so they are easy to accomplish, one after another, in the span of a few hours. Let me explain what I mean:
A typical day for me involves going to work and putting out fires all day long. (I mean this figuratively of course… my brother is a firefighter by trade, but I’m a computer tech.) I’ll face anywhere from two to fifty different computer issues during a day, many of which are quick and easy to resolve, while many could take days to figure out. Like most people in the industry, there is little personal return on the time I spend in fixing these problems. Most of the time, a user will thank me, but that’s usually where the appreciation ends. If I’m working on issues that are behind the scenes, but are imperative to keeping the company up and running, I rarely get any appreciation at all. Either nobody knows there was even a problem, or those who do know don’t have the technical understanding to realize that I just saved the company from coming to a complete operational standstill and saved the businesses millions of dollars from potentially lost revenue. 
So… I come home from work feeling like I’ve busted my ass, but haven’t really accomplished anything. I log into game, and for the next several hours I’m running quests to level up my character. The quests in game are mostly short, but are often designed in a linear path leading to increasingly harder quests, usually culminating with a final “boss” mob to kill. Thus, I steal the scroll from the enemy, booby trap their ballista, learn who was in power, and kill them to save the day. The quest giver showers me with gold, gives me greater reputation within their faction, and lets me buy some cool things that will help me kill bad guys more easily down the road. I’ve also now managed to hit level 20! I can get a mount so I don’t have to keep running around so slowly to get from place to place! I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. Though it’s only a virtual accomplishment which doesn’t affect my real life, my brain still produces the same sort of chemical reaction that I would have from receiving a “gold star” from my boss for the work I’ve done. 
What do I do now? More questing! Why? Because I want that chemical reaction again, and I know that I will get it by completing another quest-line! That’s the addiction. I find that when my real life experiences offer that feeling of accomplishment and productivity, I am far less inclined to be interested in playing the game for long hours. I might log in to just mess around with my professions, or run a dungeon or two for the item drops, but I’m not as interested in (or just don’t feel that I need) the accomplishment feeling from questing. 
How does this relate to being a Goblin? In the same way that we set a goal of achieving X level for our character by questing, we aspire to accomplish the goal of mastering the AH and beating the others around us at making gold for ourselves. When we come up with a new idea on how to make money, implement it, and meet with success, we get that same feeling of accomplishment. Honestly, the success part isn’t as important some of the time. It’s acting on our own to implement the plan that gives the feeling. The first time I bought motes for cheap and flipped them into Primal Might to post to the AH, I felt way more apprehensive than accomplished. I worked hard to feel out the market at the time, figured out what the demand was for the Primal Might, and made sure that it was likely to sell at the price I set. It wasn’t until I checked my mail the next morning and found that I had pulled in 2000 gold profit that I felt that sense of accomplishment. When I left for work shortly after, I really didn’t care if I received the feeling from my real life efforts. I had already received it from the game.

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