In today's New York Times there is an article (warning: they may require you to register) on the runaway success of "World of Warcraft." It's a massive multi-player online game that appeals to both player-vs-player and role-player crowds, and has over 4 million subscribers worldwide - a phenomenon in the industry that used to be proud of half a million. Anyway, the Gray Lady quotes a skeptic thusly:
"I don't think there are four million people in the world who really want to play online games every month," said Michael Pachter, a research analyst for Wedbush Morgan, a securities firm. "World of Warcraft is such an exception. I frankly think it's the buzz factor, and eventually it will come back to the mean, maybe a million subscribers."No need for imaginary outlets? Why, then, are millions of Americans investing money they don't have into plywood palaces at obscenely inflated prices, courtesy of Boss Greenspan's cheap credit and fiat currency? Why are thousands of bureaucrats intent on reshaping the world against the wishes of its "reality-based" community? The world would be a better place if they all paid $15 a month to stay at home and play "American Empire" or "The Sims." Or "World of Warcraft," come to think of it; having to earn money the hard way - fighting monsters and crafting products people can use - might teach people a thing or two they appear to have forgotten.
"It may continue to grow in China," Mr. Pachter added, "but not in Europe or the U.S. We don't need the imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment here. It just doesn't work in the U.S. It just doesn't make any sense." (emphasis added)