Playing with Wolfram
I was inspired by a recent tweet by Doc Searls to play with Wolfram|Alpha and get some stats on how old I am. In particular, if you make a query of the form [<month name> <day of month>, <4-digit year> birthday] Wolfram|Alpha (why is there a pipe in the middle of the name?) will calculate your age in a number of differen units, and how many days until your next birthday. You will not be surprised to learn that I am a total statistics addict, so this got my brain juices flowing.
First, I’m 9,720 days old. I recently got a good laugh by pointing out that I was “twenty-six and a half!” after someone commented on how young I look; I think the “and a half” made me sound too much like a 4 year old being ever-so-proud of being closer to 5 than 4 :oD.
Quick aside: someone (I forget who) on a SWIL mailing list suggested the notation of writing search queries demarcated by square brackets, since this is not something that is typically in search strings. This was in response to people saying things like “You should just google “search string””, which leads to nasty quote-nesting problems and also induces some ambiguity as to whether to quote (and therefore group) the specified search keywords. I’m not going to post the full BNF notation for this, so I hope that [<search term> …] is a clear enough explanation of the format.
Second, I realized that I’m pretty close to 10,000 days old. While I usually am not a big fan of celebrating arbitrary anniversaries, particularly those that favor Base 10 (that’s for all you decimalists out there), I missed 213 days a while ago and I have a ways to go until 214 :oD. Another quick Wolfram|Alpha search ([today + 280 days]). I guess this means I’ll celebrate my 10,000th day of existence on March 12th, 2010. A quick glance at Wikipedia doesn’t indicate anything particularly auspicious about that date, but hey.
I don’t have a problem
I am of course referring to World of Warcraft. Seeing my age in days reminded me of the /played command in WoW, which gives you how many days you’ve played a particular character. I have only one primary character, which I had a vague recollection of being at over 100 days; however, I have two other level 80 characters (as of Wrath of the Lich King, the level cap), plus a number of mid-level alts as well as some very low-level alts rolled on various other servers either as experiments
I didn’t feel like mathing this all myself, so I grabbed the addon AllPlayed to do the hard work for me; all I had to do was login on each of my characters so that it could accumulate the data. This addon also has some other nice features, including allowing me to see which of my characters are fully rested (giving them the optimal XP bonus while leveling). I enjoy all of the character classes, and while sometimes I’m in the mood for one class or another, I try to make leveling as fast as possible given my play time (which I’m sure is more than most casual players, but less than a lot of people I know and play with, primarily because I’m limited to a few hours in the evening, possibly with longer sessions on the weekends).
The cold, hard total is 179 days, 4 hours, the vast majority of which (61.2%) is on my main Kjallstrom (109 days, 15 hours). That means I’ve spent about 1.84% of my entire life playing World of Warcraft. I’m pretty sure I could have done some amazing things with that time (which probably does not include writing the great American novel), but on the other hand, it’s entirely after work entertainment which most people would spend watching TV (about 13.5% on average over a 65 year lifetime). I would argue that it’s a bit different, given that it’s interactive and social, but I know a lot of people disparage online socialization as “not as good as the real thing”. I contend that I’ve greatly expanded the diversity of my friends on a number of axes thanks to long-term involvement in the guild community.
I’ve been playing WoW since October 2005 (I don’t have an exact date), and I’ve been playing on Kirin Tor (and a member of Mellonea) since November 2005. I did play non-trivially on other servers with real-life friends well into 2006, and briefly convinced them to join me on Kirin Tor, although they eventually gave up on the game. If we isolate the percentage to just the time that I’ve owned WoW, the past 1300 days or so, that gives about 13.7%, which is on par with the typical American’s TV usage.
Even more absurd details below the cut.
I can quit any time I want
Here’s the full data table of my characters, and how long I’ve played each of them; where available, I’ve added a link to their Armory profile. You’ll note that I play almost exclusively on the roleplaying server Kirin Tor; this is where I am guildmaster of Mellonea, and where I also spend most of my WoW-based socialization time. The table is in descending time-played order.
|Character Name||Race and Class – Level||Total Time Played||Server|
|Kjallstrom||Dwarf Rogue – 80||109d 18h 57m||Kirin Tor|
|Maruval||Night Elf Warrior – 80||17d 12h 21m||Kirin Tor|
|Eleonara||Dwarf Priest – 80||19d 6h 53m||Kirin Tor|
|Nicklaus||Human Warlock – 50||6d 9h 54m||Kirin Tor|
|Ataarah||Draenei Shaman – 44||3d 8h 32m||Kirin Tor|
|Hodei||Human Priest – 30||2d 19h 5m||Ursin|
|Enabrona||Night Elf Druid – 28||2d 7h 56m||Kirin Tor|
|Macomb||Human Paladin – 28||2d 4h 40m||Kirin Tor|
|Qamero||Human Death Knight – 71||2d 2h 3m||Kirin Tor|
|Thrun||Tauren Hunter – 22||1d 19h 10m||Bloodscalp|
|Casandrea||Blood Elf Mage – 18||16h 34m||Kirin Tor|
|Mellobanka||Dwarf Paladin – 10||12h 50m||Kirin Tor|
|Feaglin||Gnome Warrior – 10||7h 59m||Kael’thas|
|Sengu||Orc Shaman – 11||7h 53m||Sen’jin|
|Krios||Night Elf Druid – 10||7h 2m||Kael’thas|
|Orsonis||Night Elf Druid – 10||6h 59m||Sentinels|
|Plexon||Gnome Mage – 6||4h 55m||Proudmoore|
|Enabrunos||Blood Elf Paladin – 8||2h 27m||Sentinels|
A few things to note: the old abandoned characters on other servers took much longer to get to their level, for a number of factors: Blizzard has significantly sped up leveling; I’m a more experienced player (knowing where stuff is); and on PvP servers there’s more death while soloing. Another odd thing: Thrun the Hunter was the very first character I rolled (because I had heard hunters were easy, and a good way to learn the game, and I liked that Tauren felt more alien than other classic fantasy races), but I don’t have any hunters I’ve leveled with any attention after switching to Alliance on Kirin Tor. Also, the character Mellobanka is a guild bank mule with bags, so I only log into to buy and sell items for the guild.
As you can see, the play time falls off pretty quickly, down to “just trying the class” and “just checking on people on that server”. Another thing to keep in mind is that Death Knights, as a hero class, start at level 55, and are also insanely easy to level. I have deleted a few characters, so I don’t have data on them, but all were below level 20. The nubs on other servers basically don’t affect the total, compared to my mains who raid at the level cap. Also, these values are only valid at the time of this post; I’m still playing, after all :o).
I would say that I do play too much WoW, but I find it to be a fun source of entertainment, a social activity, and a good way to unwind after work. I probably do read less, although I always have a book that I read before bed; I certainly watch less TV (although I sometimes have shows or movies I don’t care about that much on in the background while playing, particularly if I’m soloing). I have forgone real-world social events to raid with my WoW friends; I don’t know what people think about that generally. I would guess the most significant problem is that between work, WoW, and assorted other computer uses, I spend nearly every waking hour in front of a screen. No doubt this is why I started going nearsighted near the end of college!
What is your dominant non-work/non-school and non-sleep activity? Feel free to judge me now :oP.