First of all I need to apologize for a long post. And for possible mistakes, English is not my native language.
I'm a former MMORPG addict. This addiction has cost me about 30000 hours of my life and was my only activity in the last 8 years (although I finished university 5 years ago and had some job this doesn't count, I had no life anyway). That's very sad and I know that. Now I'm 27. However, I don't think my life is over and nothing can be done. I've got a strong intention to have an interesting and well paid job, a family and other attributes of a normal life. I've also got a belief that every person has to create, leave something behind in his (her) life. Not to go to work just for money.
That being said, the first thing I decided to do after getting rid of my addiction was looking for a direction for my future career. At first I thought that game development (MMO development in particular) could be the thing, for three reasons. First, this is a creative work, just what I was looking for. Moreover, it's like an art. I know I can't start making my own game right now, it requires a lot of studying, gaining experience, a qualified team, money and what not, but this can be a very motivating goal. Second, I've got an appropriate higher education in a Computer Science field. Third, I've been in it for too long. I have some interesting ideas and it seems to me that I know how to make an MMORPG better and more desired. So I started learning a programming language and getting prepared for a job as a junior software engineer. With a chance to have my own developer team in 5-7 years.
But then I faced a some kind of ethical dilemma : is it really a good idea to try to create something that has stolen such a large part of my own life? I don't want to create anything harmful even if it can bring me a lot of money. And I can't create something really cool unless I'm absolutely sure it won't harm anyone. Of course I might be responsible for my addiction myself but I'm not the only one. There're hundreds of thousands of addicts worldwide who waste their lives in simulated worlds among those millions who play MMO. Instead of self-perfection and making something useful.
So is there any way to make an MMO that would be simultaneously awesome and wouldn't have such a terrible side effect? I mean addictivity of course. Let's think about it. For example, we can require players to go offline so that their skills could advance in level, or introduce a durability timer for items that would stop ticking if a player goes offline. Or perhaps make the player's progress tightly linked with others so that there will be no point in spending a lot of time in game to become "the best".
All features I could think out to achieve this goal seemed too artificial for me. And I can hardly expect the players to like something that limits them in game that way. As a result the game won't probably be popular and will not sell. And not worth making.
So does a truly awesome game have to be that addictive or not? And is it worth trying?
Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!