Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Worst of Warcraft

Taking a little break from Path to Design, but part 3 is coming soon. Promise!

I've been playing this game for almost a year now. I'm afraid to total the time spent playing with all the characters I created and I know I'm not the worst time spender. Others spend more time playing with even more characters. At least now as a game designer I have the added excuse that I'm "doing research".

World of Warcraft is a Massively Multiplayer On-line Role Playing Game. Those games aren't meant to be finished in a week or even a few months. They are built to last for years. They are meant to be played socially with other people and drain a huge chunk of your free time.

I just wonder what better things I could've done during the hundreds of hours I spent playing the game: Written books, scripts, drawn comics, volunteered for worthy causes, develop my skills by creating game demos and so much more. Heck, even cleaning my study a bit would've been great.

But then again I'm enjoying WoW. It's not that different essentially than going out regularly to play Golf for the day or going on frequent fishing and camping trips. It is a fairly social activity. Even when you're not actively in a group of people and do things solo, you're still chatting to your guild buddies. Not only about the actual game, but also socially in general. When I tried to get my brother playing the game he claimed he didn't have the time or money for something like that. My selling point, which turned out to be true, was that if he was playing the game on my server we would spend much more time doing something together. Now if I can only get my partner playing the game it'll be great, but alas he won't touch anything other than Zuma - the only game he's better at than me. If I'll get him hooked as well I could get away with playing it so much. He is already tired of the "I can't help now because I can't pause this game, it's played on-line with other people" excuse. To avoid a world war I had to make my dedicated friends wait for me for ten minutes in the Stockades dungeon while I quickly helped unload shopping from the car and unpacking it. They were very nice and understanding, thankfully.

Another question is: am I really enjoying the game? Or am I just hooked to several of its addictive mechanics? On the surface, many of the gameplay mechanics are tedious. The game is so huge it involves mini-commuting to get from one place to another. Most of the quests are pretty much the same: deliver something, kill something, create something, protect something and so on. The battle system itself is simplified and unsatisfying compared to first person shooter and fighting games. But it is still very addictive to level up the character, learn new abilities, buy new equipment and gradually open up the massive World of Warcraft.

I can certainly find some very obvious signs of addiction, such as neglecting playing any other games. I pretty much didn't touch my consoles since We Love Katamari (a wonderful original game). I only play my DS on the way to work or in bed. This hopefully will change soon as now I'm busy catching up and levelling up my character. I used to have a level 45 Dwarf Hunter on another server, a character I pretty much abandoned to go play on a new server with my friends. That's OK, since with my Hunter I played the game alone 99% of the time which was quite painful, but now I feel like I have to work hard to quickly go back to that high level.

Oh well!



Anonymous said...

Computer game addiction signs:

Mickey said...

Interesting list. Yap, some of those things do apply to me, but I don't think I'm quite addicted yet. I spend much less time on the game than the average player and I manage to keep other elements of my life intact.

The key word is "yet".