Bored of analog life, a passive wife, and uninterested in their premarital newb baby, Shawn has taken up a 40-hour World of Warcraft habit instead of embracing the harder and less entertaining quests of young parenthood. The first video segment tells the tale of a bored fiance looking at the back of his head, baby crying in her lap every night, sleeping on her own as he passes out at 2 AM on the sofa daily. So what does this woman decide to do to salvage their relationship? Does she take steps to help him with his addiction, save their engagement, and ensure a better life for their child? Does she put her foot down and get the hell out of there so he can realize the errors of his ways?
No. Any of the above would be too logical. Instead, this lady decides that she needs the help of the Tyra Banks Show. That's reason enough for me to recommend against marrying her, but let's watch and see what happens. Hit the full story for the riveting finale video of the confrontation, other thoughts on good reasons for asexuality, suspiciously lame women, the future of compelling video games, and my frustrations with the slowness of natural selection.
[Videos spotted via AOL Joystiq]
During the second half of the show, Tyra and some crock shrink talk about his "relationship with the computer" as if he's screwing his CRT. What's worse is their complete and utter lack of understanding of the game's social attraction.
Here is what nobody on the show understands: Shawn isn't playing solo MineSweeper for 40 hours a week; he's hanging out with possibly hundreds of people from around the world that like, respect, and need him on a daily basis. Shawn is feeling the biggest sense of accomplishment he has ever felt.
The truly addictive dynamic of the game is never discussed; they think men like him are some kind of anomalie "antisocial loser" archetype that's been spotted in some updated psych reference manual on the curious wonders of video games. It's much more basic that that, but he's a much easier target if they don't do the research or pro/con it for the passive audience. Do they understand? Do they really want to break down what is really happening here, in a microcosm of Shawn and what's-her-face? No. They are there to watch a freak show unfold and feel empowered by Tyra.
When the camera pans to the crowd, I see a mix of the giggly or the nervous. They want the damsel in distress to be rescued and they want the nerd on the whipping stand to rise up and become a cowboy right before their eyes. They want to sleep better knowing that they don't have to try harder or be better for their men to compete with distributed technology -- and they especially want to believe that it's "a computer game" not a social revolution in how people communicate and choose to spend their free time.
Get with the program, Tyra -- this is a new kind of antisocial loser; a new age form of the kind of men that ignored you to hang with their friends (but online) and with the growing number of female players on WOW, we can assume he's probably spending time fantasizing in Azeroth with a few. Now that we've established the true severity of what is happening to this couple and how oblivious everyone on the sofa is to deal with it, the stage is set for Shawn's joke. Anyone that's ever played an MMO will instantly catch the hilarity.
In the second part of the show, sideshow Bob and Tyra confront Shawn with his hardcore preoccupation, never actually exploring the failings of their relationship. They conclude he's a liar, scared of being a dad, and unanimously decide that if he quit the game and -- I kid you not -- shred his install CDs that this marriage is going to be saved. The crowd stands and claps and they kiss on the air. Tyra is a hero for saving another marriage from Warcraft. O RLY?
The main problem discussed on this show isn't Warcraft. The underlying problem is best captured by this motivational poster: never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
Naturally, any gamer watching this laughing his ass off at their expense. Shawn may be a selfish bastard, but he's not as dumb as he lets on. Every single person on that show got pwned -- the producers, the model-turned-miniOprah, the LA shrink; everybody. There was no "shredding" of Shawn's WOW account. The game was not uninstalled from his PC. He walked away from that studio knowing that his months of raiding are safe on Blizzard's servers and a trip to CompuSUCK to get a laptop and hang out "with the guys" elsewhere solves his problem.
Had these Dr. Phil wannabes made him log in and delete his account, it would have been a completely different show. We would have heard about how rare some of the items were, how much money he could sell them for, and so on. Shawn will rise again, relapsing without missing a beat when the time is ripe. You can see it in his face; he didn't bring up any of his virtual accomplishments, relationships, or how the game is actually cancelled. We didn't get the full story about WOW means to him, and what's worse -- the most important person in his life doesn't know. She's on a stupid show asking for help and yet nobody is asking the addict the right questions on what exactly is driving his actions. In the end, the entire cast fails to do any real good for each other. It's sad.
My advice to this couple? They need to find a lifestyle compromise or break up, not shred a stupid CD on a lame TV show where people are on their best behavior due to the peer pressure of the audience and camera. It's bullshit. If they can't do that, just break up. Don't screw up their kid. She needs to find a better husband, and he needs to lose what he had to find out if he actually wanted it in the first place. The lack of action on both their parts is annoying; further reinforced by the act of shredding. It's symbolic: it looks like something happened, but nothing actually changed.
The other thing the show doesn't cover, because it is pro-female programming, is an unbiased investigation on whether or not this woman is a boring useless piece of flesh not worth quitting Warcraft over. If this is any indication of her weak personality, think about what kind of a mom she's going to be -- when that kid grows up he's going to walk all over her, too. They deserve each other.
I leave you with one last thought: Video games are going to become even more increasingly interesting, engaging, and social from here on out. Traditional person-to-person relationships are going to have it much tougher than this. Remember Everquest wives? Their problems are a joke compared to how sticky modern MMO's have become; and today's WOW relationships will seem crude in ten years when HD graphics reach maturity and stronger broadband connections enable even more intimate, human remote interaction. If this couple can't handle chat/voip WOW, they're not going to last the next wave of video games. Case and point:
Yesterday's MMO addiction problem: Everquest
Today's MMO addiction problem: World of Warcraft
Tomorrow's reason for the rampant rise of asexuality:
(not available at the time of story, please check back in 10 years)
In the future I also hope they go on Jerry Springer so we can at least enjoy people like this in a fist fight. Shawn's kinda small; I think she can take him.