Many of you, I’m sure, have heard about World of Warcraft (this will be shortened to WoW from this point on). If you haven’t, just Google it and see. I will try to write this with the reader having the possibility of being someone with little to no exposure to the game. I could get really philosophical about how the game really can be as “real” as reality (and I probably will a little bit), but I mainly just want to outline some of the reasons it sucks people in, etc..
When you first start playing the game, if you’re like me, you get filled with a sense of virtually endless possibilities. You see all the possible combinations of races/classes and think “Man, this could never get old!” And, for a while, it really doesn’t. You spend about 10 levels (out of 60) killing boars, bears, etc. and occasionally you might see an upper-level player with badass armor/weapons and think “Someday, I will achieve this glory.” And, if you devote enough time into the game, you will get to that point. That is, however, where things go downhill.
You sit there, having leveled up your character to 60, having most of your tier 1 raiding set (without really getting into this, it’s basically just to show how far you’ve progressed in the game’s content) and you keep going into instance (dungeon) after instance trying to get more and more gold, better/more armor, and better weapons. An important thing to note at this point about raid instances (10, 20, or 40 players in one dungeon) is that they can sometimes take around 5 hours. So, let’s whittle this down into a clear explanation of means-to-end: You play for hours leveling up your character to 60 just so you can have the opportunity to get better armor and better weapons and skills and such. “Ok so when do you beat the game?,” you ask? You don’t, and that’s where the sucking in comes into play.
Yes, that’s right, you spend hours on end (sometimes getting to the point where it could be more hours per week than a full-time job) try to get better stuff than everyone else. Sure, there’s the aspect of going into new dungeons and seeing new things. But really, when all is said and done, it’s about who has the better weapons and armor. The trick is that there is, and never will be, “the best” armor or weapons. Blizzard (WoW’s production company), will always come out with new content to keep people occupied. So, where does WoW go “wrong”? Why do people talk so much crap about it like it’s heroin in polygonal/pixelated form?
The reason is that it can create a false sense of reality, temporarily boosting people’s egos and bringing them right back down when there’s a new armor set or weapon you “need”. Most people will join a guild, which is basically a large group of like-minded people with the same goal in mind: progressing through the game’s “end-game” content (things you can do only when you’ve hit the level cap of 60). This provides your community and the people that you will spend hours and hours with doing the same thing every week. Basically, you’re spending hours and hours of your life getting nowhere and for no real reason. I will agree with the masses that this is a horrible thing for kids who are at the age where they are forming their social skills and the habits that they will carry throughout their lives. If you’re at a certain point in your life where you can let it be a “hobby” with normal hours, then it can just be something to pass the time.
What I’d like to get into more in future posts is examples (and perhaps screenshots) of the pure geekery that comes out of playing this game “full-time” and how it can really ruin people’s lives if they let it. There’s not much difference between WoW and real life if you think about it. The only thing separating the two, really, is the tangible nature of real life versus the synthetic nature of WoW. Both have their ebbs and flows and ways of “progressing” to no foreseeable end, and both can give you what you want if you look for it in the right places. Think about it.
Anyway, I hope I’ve been somewhat informative… I will get less formal in my subsequent posts and probably even make fun of an in-game person or two. My angle for these posts is to provide all of you who don’t play with an insight into the lives of people who do and have a little fun in the process.