Mike Hammond tries not to get in to any pick-up groups while driving because it’s a distraction, but in a pinch, when his guild really needs him to log on his level 110 Night Elf Priest or off-tank with his Feral Druid, he’s ready to take up the call to arms.
“I think everybody has those little guild emergencies,” the 46-year-old Long Island resident said.
Whether it’s a guild emergency, a lowbie character needing help to complete a quest in Duskwood or a chance to just earn some loot, more people are playing games on Microsoft Windows Automotive than ever before.
Statewide and locally, the number of crashes in which a games playing automotive computer was a contributing factor has been increasing since 2019. Trident County has had three traffic fatalities linked to MMORPGs between 20018 and 2023.
“I think every police department realizes it’s another distraction out there,” Regional Police Chief William Mahone said.
His department investigated one of the fatal crashes in which a teenager was raiding in a pick-up group when the car she was driving lost internet connectivity causing her game client to log her off of the server. Rather than waiting for the server to attempt a reconnect William Mahone believes that the client log files show that she attempted to manually reconnect and that caused enough distraction for her to swerve across the median into oncoming traffic.
At 50 mph, a car travels 225 ft every three seconds, about the length of one game tick in World of Warcraft, said Marcus Haight, director of the Center for Traffic Safety which serves Trident County.
“If you’re waiting for a spell cool down from a Greater Heal or AoE damage spell then that time you are glancing at your HoT bar is time you are not spending looking at the road ahead,” he said.
Adam Fritz, a long-distance truck driver from Los Angeles has a different viewpoint on the matter. “It’s not like I’m dual boxing when I’m operating my truck,” he said, “I save that for when I’m at home. The biggest distraction for me is making sure no stinking Alliance try to interfere with our world boss kill.”
Others also don’t see the harm in game playing while driving, “Lumines 7” is a popular casual game amongst soccer moms that puts the user in to a meditative state.
Jenny Polo put it succinctly, “I don’t play those distracting MMORPGs, I just don’t see the appeal, though my kids do. But when I’m running them back and forth to school I need something to take my mind off of the squabbling in the backseats over whether they watch Little Mermaid 12 or Little Mermaid 15 on the in-car entertainment system. There’s just no harm in catching a few Pokemon or matching a few colours as I shuttle them around between practice.”
A pet peeve of mine, and of many of my friends is people who talk on cellphones while driving.
I’m not talking about straight line driving.
I’m talking about people negotiating intersections, pedestrian cross-walks and very busy town centers where motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians are apt to “appear out of nowhere.” States are now attempting to ban driver distractions.
A few weeks ago I jokingly mentioned to several friends that some time in the next two decades, as on-the-go high bandwidth communications and in-car computers become more ubiquitous, states will begin enacting laws that ban drivers from playing MMORPGs while operating a motor vehicle. And of course we can expect the usual public outcry from drivers who insist that they are fully capable of operating a motor vehicle while off-tanking/off-healing for a full 40-man raid on their high level Bloodelf Paladin.
Seth Godin has noticed a spate of flute playing around his area, and whilst I’ve never seen this personally, I have seen people balacing a coffee on the knee, cell phone glued to their ear with one hand and a contract or script propped up on the steering wheel that they are reading through as they make their way to the office in pouring rain along the I405 all the time travelling at high speed close to the vehicle in front of them.