I played World of Warcraft for a month last summer. My friend, Jimi, wanted to try the free 10 day trial, but I refused. I thought World of Warcraft was beneath me. He kept badgering me, and, eventually, a small part of the wall I put up between me and WoW scratched off. We played the trial for 10 days together, and, when we exhausted those 10 days, we went to Best Buy to purchase our first month of subscription (which is technically only purchasing the game, and the first month is free, so technically I’ve never payed to play the game since I never renewed my subscription). He bought the expansion pack, while I settled for the base game.
This summer I’m feeling that buzz again. I probably won’t buy another month, but I want to so bad! Why?! What makes WoW so fun?
I think its the quests and the relationship you build with your character. That sounds incredibly geeky, but we all develop close relationships with nonhuman and nonliving things; I’d say I have a pretty close relationship with my camera and cello. When you develop an intimacy with a human analog, though, that relationship becomes even more intimate. My female Undead mage is around level 35 when I last played, and although she will cap at level 85, I see her as limitless, as someone who can make and be a difference in Azeroth.
In addition to the character, people spend so much time in WoW because we want life to be like that. We want defined goals that we will spend our entire life chasing, and we want to believe that we are and can make a difference. Even when we hit our “cap”, we will still want to look for things to be accomplished. We want to continually make ourselves better and to discover new ways to make ourselves better. Then when we do get better, people want to be like us and so they look for ways to get better. Imagine if gamers could see the world as they do WoW; that’s an untapped potential in a demographic so looked down upon. If we can see and enjoy life as we do WoW, we’d be unstoppable. If we could do that, Azeroth and Earth might be a very different place.
Note: Since writing this, I have exhausted my 10 day trial for the WoW expansion pack, Burning Crusade. Surprisingly, I didn’t spend the entire 10 days logged into Azeroth, but I spent more time than I normally would with any digital game. Sometimes I wish I had played WoW during high school or some other time when I had less care and responsibility.
Also, I think it’s a shame that our society looks down on gamers. We muzzle our disbelief behind muffled laughs when we hear about someone who expresses themselves more openly over the internet. I do not discredit the notion that this is unhealthy, but I don’t think it’s something we should shame. I think that form of expression is something that we shouldn’t necessarily inhibit, but cultivate and redirect. If the people who do find shelter behind a computer screen could unleash their creativity and passion that they pour into the internet into the real world — gah! That would be overwhelmingly beautiful and incandescent. The world would never be the same! Gamers ftw.