It was around three o’clock in the morning in December 2006, and 13-year-old Willy’s family was asleep, deep in the winter darkness of their small Connecticut town. But Nashaal was wide awake, and ready for the raid. His cohort of warriors—their “guild”, they called it—needed Nashaal’s special powers; if the raid was successful, they could loot armour, maybe even the Royal Crest of Lordaeron shield. For Nashaal, the cold night held promise; everything was perfect.
Except, that is, for the jarring hum from the desktop computer in the otherwise quiet living room. Nashaal, 13-year-old Willy’s alter ego in the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, needed complete focus. Plus, if Willy’s parents found out he was still awake, they would throw a fit. Such interruptions would not do. Willy silently covered the computer with blankets to muffle the internal cooling fan. There, that should do it, he thought. Nashaal and his guild were ready.
Nashaal had transformed family dynamics. Developing his powers and plotting game strategies had become Willy’s main activity, as though he lived for and through Nashaal. His mother, Jane, thought she was looking at Willy when she saw her red-eyed son. But now, that figure appeared to be a medium for Nashaal, the new member of the household. To only know Willy, and not Nashaal, was not to know her son at all.
Jane agonized. Was Willy hooked on something she and his father, Bill, did not understand? Or was it just a game, Willy just a child, and the whole thing just a phase that would fade away? She couldn’t help but worry, though. She could hardly recognize Willy anymore; he was under the game’s spell. Was there such a thing as an addiction to a game, she wondered. Is that what she should call it? Would anyone believe her if she said that Willy was addicted? Should anyone?