I picked up my son's reserved copy of Blizzard Entertainment's second expansion for its online juggernaut, WORLD OF WARCRAFT (www.worldofwarcraft.com), when it launched last Thursday. THE WRATH OF THE LICH KING has been anticipated for a very long time by fans.

For those of you unfamiliar with WoW (as it is affectionately called by players), it is an online virtual world of warriors and warlocks, humans and orcs and night elves, swords and sorcery--all inspired by the Granddaddy of them all, the original EVERQUEST.

More than 10 million people worldwide play WoW, a subscription based game where players log on to quest, level their characters up, and hang out with friends to fish, fight, or freely roam the massive countryside of valleys, deserts, swamps, and tundra.

I remember buying the original WORLD OF WARCRAFT the day it launched back in November of 2004.

People are STILL playing it...subscriptions keep increasing by the millions...because it is a game that never ends. Content is literally added on a weekly basis, if not more frequently. New quests and locations are added constantly. The game day operates on a true 24 hour clock. So if you play at night, it's night in the game, etc. Talk about an immersive environment.

That's what leads many to be addicted to it.

I know when I first started, I could barely put it down. It offered me a nightly escape from a collapsing marriage and stressful days.

My son started playing in last year and soon got sucked in as well.

Thank God for parental controls. A password protected setting allows parents to block in AND out times when younger players can play. We use this with our son. And I would have to guess many people try to use it with their spouses as well.

And you thought people only lost their partners to football on TV?? Think again. Games like WoW and Everquest have claimed many relationships, jobs, and other real world events.

But like anything else, people HAVE TO KNOW THEIR LIMITS.

I was inspired to write this because not only am I a fan of the game (I am currently a level 70 warrior--the highest you could get until this latest expansion raised the cap to 80), I am concerned that people taint a good thing through their own irresponsibility.

Case in point--a story I saw on the news this week about a 15-year-old in Sweden who COLLAPSED from playing it. He had some friends over and they played, pretty much nonstop, for 24 hours!!

Don't you think doing ANYTHING for that long would lead you to collapse??

Try reading a book for that long or studying your algebra or brushing your teeth. The human body and mind were not meant to be pushed like this!!

But it makes it easy for people who already hate games like this to blame the industry for poisoning our children (and adults).

The boy's father was somehow oblivious to the fact that his son and half a dozen friends were in HIS house, playing a game for 24 hours straight.

The father is to be blamed in this case.

He claims he will limit the time his son can play WoW.

GREAT idea, Dad! Too bad you waited for your son to collapse and jeopardize his health before taking a stand!

Our son plays when homework and chores are completed and for mapped out, supervised periods of time. Isn't that just common sense??

As for me, I am no longer addicted.

But I AM anxiously awaiting my Collector's Edition which comes in a beautiful box filled with a hardcover book on the art, a DVD on the making of the game, the soundtrack, maps and a special in-game pet that only owners of the very limited edition get.

Hey, I am just completing my set! Leave me alone! Don't you have something better to do than snicker at me?!?! Go level your Rogue or slay a Murloc, for goodness sakes.

I would go play the game for a few but the servers are down every Tuesday for several hours. Wonder how that kid in Sweden will possibly get by and cope.