World of Warcraft: I don’t get it

Blogger and freelancer extraordinaire Kyle Orland has an interesting column at GameDaily Biz about how many games video game writers actually play, why they skip certain ones, and whether being familiar with every game is even important. In responding to Orland’s question for his column, I tried to explain why I haven’t played World of Warcraft (beyond the monthly cost). And apparently I’m not alone in having skipped WoW, he says in the column. Here’s the rest of my reason for not diving in to WoW. And I know some of this blog’s readers are WoW players, so if anyone wants to chime in to explain what makes the game so compelling, I’d be grateful.

Wow I’m not ready to invest the time that I think it would take to really get into the game. I’m also turned off by the monthly subscription fees; I think you should have to pay to buy the game or to play it, but not both. But for everything I’ve read about WoW, nobody has satisfactorily explained what’s so great about it. Seth Schiesel’s recent serial review<!–
D([“mb”,”offers specific, compelling reasons to dive in.<br /><br />Most reviews of WoW refer to its presentation – its polish, as<br />Schiesel puts it. But the game seems to be a more polished version of<br />the same old fantasy RPG tropes. Elves, warriors, shamans. Mountains,<br />forests, fiery areas. Hundreds of quests to kill dragons and other<br />enemies. Big dungeons to explore to find better equipment. How is this<br />different from any other RPG? Or from other MMORPGs? Schiesel writes:<br />&quot;I have been impressed over and over again at how richly textured the<br />world is that the team at Blizzard Entertainment has created and how<br />much care they clearly lavished on making sure it is almost impossible<br />to get bored. Everywhere you turn is a new spot to discover, a new<br />monster to gawk at, a new problem in need of solving.&quot; Again, how is<br />that different from Final Fantasy XII or any other polished RPG? What<br />if those new spots, new monsters, new problems are all just versions<br />of the clichéd fantasy stuff we\’ve seen so many times? Maybe they\’re<br />not, but Schiesel hasn\’t convinced me otherwise. I played Guild Wars<br />for a little while and got bored because it was the same old, but<br />online.<br /><br />Schiesel hints at what I suspect is the real reason for WoW\’s success:<br />&quot;What makes online games unique among all media is that they give<br />people who may be separated by thousands of miles the opportunity to<br />create their own fun together.&quot; But I don\’t particularly like chatting<br />with strangers. I don\’t even fully understand how a 25-person fight<br />against a boss works. Is everyone just pressing buttons to bash away<br />(and heal away) for a half hour? I haven\’t seen a good explanation for<br />why the online aspect alone turns clichéd fantasy RPGing into an<br />incredibly compelling, monster time-suck.<br /><br />Likewise with the Metal Gear Solids. I have Subsistence in my to-play<br />pile, but I\’ve yet to read anything that really explains why it\’s such<br />”,1]
);

//–> of Burning Crusade in the New York Times is typical of the writing about WoW. He lauds the game and says it’s an amazing experience –- he played for 186 hours for two weeks, so you know it has something going for it -– but to a skeptic like me he never offers specific, compelling reasons to dive in.

Most reviews of WoW refer to its presentation –- its polish, as Schiesel puts it. But the game seems to be a more polished version of the same old fantasy RPG tropes. Elves, warriors, shamans. Mountains, forests, fiery areas. Hundreds of quests to kill dragons and other enemies. Big dungeons to explore to find better equipment. How is this different from any other RPG? Or from other MMORPGs?

Schiesel writes: “I have been impressed over and over again at how richly textured the world is that the team at Blizzard Entertainment has created and how much care they clearly lavished on making sure it is almost impossible to get bored. Everywhere you turn is a new spot to discover, a new monster to gawk at, a new problem in need of solving.” Again, how is that different from Final Fantasy XII or any other polished RPG? What if those new spots, new monsters, new problems are all just versions of the clichéd fantasy stuff we’ve seen so many times? Maybe they’re not, but Schiesel hasn’t convinced me otherwise. I played Guild Wars for a little while and got bored because it was the same old, but online.

Schiesel hints at what I suspect is the real reason for WoW’s success: “What makes online games unique among all media is that they give people who may be separated by thousands of miles the opportunity to create their own fun together.” But I don’t particularly like chatting with strangers. I don’t even fully understand how a 25-person fight against a boss works. Is everyone just pressing buttons to bash away (and heal away) for a half hour? I haven’t seen a good explanation for why the online aspect alone turns clichéd fantasy RPGing into an incredibly compelling, monster time-suck.

— February 11, 2007

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s