It totally is!
We were conversing about using Operant Conditioning Chambers (also called Pavlovian conditioning by a select few) in class today in order to procure more “conventional” behavior response patterns when developing computational stimulation types for artificial intelligence parameters. As I was listening to the lecture and playing around in the lab trying to complete some of the coursework, I was utterly absorbed with a consciousness. World of Warcraft, in essence, is a Skinner Box, which is a basic device that we have all seen where a manipulandum is influenced by a subject creating a behavioral response. Like a rat hitting a lever and getting some cheese. WoW is analogous to this arrangement in the sense that it simply advances the minimalism of a Skinner box with more refined manipulant timetables of fortification to supply incentives for rhythmic events. This is most evident with gear rotation in the game, for example arena seasons while having some great pool of averages, is essentially a random agenda. And if Skinner gave us anything, we know that random occurrence have been fantastically successful when generating condition behavior (you can substantiate this is indeed the case by glancing over Operant Conditioning of Cortical Unit Activity by Eberhard E. Fetz from the University of Washington School of Medicine).
Furthermore, there is even more psychological ties to why the game has been so successful, albeit the content not being very inimitable. It is fundamentally a virtual setting that is so alluring to players because it meets the basic requirements of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Just to point out a few within the games sphere, physiological needs are met because you can eat or drink (or get drunk which I really never understood the entire appeal of online alcohol), safety needs are met because you are provided health and well-being through your guild and peers, social needs are met through social constructs through varies mediums of communication, likewise you are grouped with your guild to the point that it is tagged directly above your name, esteem needs are met because the entire game is built around having gear, and showing it off to people, etc.
Huh. I think Blizzard hired a staff of psychologists to analyze the game, and then make appropriate suggestions on how to tailor it to make it more repetitively playable.