Star Wars: The Old Republic

The endless expanse of desert reflects the harsh glare of the twin suns’ rays as my speeder glides silently across the planet’s surface. It may seem lonely, but the dunes are crawling with womp rats, sand people and, of course, Republic scum.

First announced three years ago, Star Wars: The Old Republic was officially released by Electronic Arts on December 20, 2011. With development costs estimated at upwards of $200 million, it may be the most costly video game ever produced.

It may also be one of the most addictive.

You see, The Old Republic (TOR) is an MMO — a massively multiplayer online game. Anyone familiar with the lineage of this genre that includes such iconic titles as EverQuest and World of Warcraft knows how they can suck players into their near-endless worlds and practically infinite game play.

Since I gained “early access” on December 13, I have logged 14 days, 22 hours and 14 minutes in game. That’s over 358 hours, or a little less than 13 hours per day. Of course, many hours were spent AFK (away from keyboard) while my character sat idle, but this is the absolute amount of time the game has been running on my computer.

And I’m not alone. According to a recent press release, over a million registered players have since logged 28 million in-game hours – roughly equal to viewing all six Star Wars flicks two million times.

Sacrifices have been made. I am neither a student, nor am I unemployed. My game play has been sandwiched around a full-time job that demands a full-time business-week commitment. Sleep? For the weak. Food? Fasting is good for you. Hygiene? Fortunately, I mostly work from home.

I know I can’t keep this up indefinitely. Eventually, something’s gotta give. The desire to attain the highest level of achievement in both our professional and personal life — be it online or cold, hard reality — often comes at a high price. In my case, it has been a month of sleep-deprivation and malnourishment all so I could prove to myself that I could perform at the highest-level at both of my “jobs.” While the temptation to move into my parents’ basement to become a full-time MMO player is not exactly strong, the desire to exist in a universe of lightsabers and wookies can, at times, outweigh any urge to participate in a world of bosses and emails.

I logged on briefly today, to check my /played time for the purposes of this article, but have otherwise resisted TOR’s siren song. Today marks a significant step on my journey back to a reality that doesn’t exist a long time ago and far, far away.

To anyone considering starting their own MMO saga, I strongly urge you make the jump to hyper space. Just try to get all your work done first.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is available now for $59.99 plus $14.99 per month subscription fee. Like any good MMO pusher, EA gives you the first month free.

Image courtesy of John Spence.

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