Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quitting The Wow Drug

I just can't quit you

Once in a faraway land, known as Glendale, lived a simple boy. As he grew into a young man, he would hear rumors of a dark power. This force would be called many things, some called it an idol that held forbidden magic, others a portal into another realm with untold adventure. The only thing that ever remained consistent was that it's influence was so grand, that its engulfed any who dare touch it.

One day, as the boy boarded a magical device known as a bus, he ran across a figure draped in exotic fabrics. One that he could not resist then be memorized by it's allure. He would see the figure appear every once in a while. Catch glimpses of it in the streets, or at school. As the boy returned home, the figured appeared. It offered its hand, and in a harsh whisper said.

“If you desire me, then partake in this power I offer you. A new world in which you will not be a simple boy, but a warrior of considerable power.”

The boy could not resist. I could no resist.

So, that's how I got into World of Warcraft. I started playing because an ex got me into it. I never had any idea what the game was beforehand, nor had I known what an MMO was. What I did know that it was something so incredibly addictive that on the invisible hierarchy of geekdom it was just above pen and pencil RPGs, and LARPing.

When I first saw the game, I thought it looked pretty lame. The graphics looked sub-par compared to other games I have played. I grew up playing console games, and my X-Box 360 looked a lot better then my ex's low end computer. So watching a blocky low resolution figure who was suppose to be an elf casting a “fire storm” which looked more like circular balls hitting the ground. I also thought the control layout was extremely confusing and convoluted. Never have a even touched a computer game, (Next to Howie's playhouse when I was ten) and next to a standard controller this was a little......overwhelming to say the least. Even with my apprehension, I decided to give the game a chance. I mean, how bad could it be?

Now, as I lay down my mace and shield two years later. I have two lvl. 85 characters and about three lvl 80 characters as well. Most of a MMO language is as familiar as my own, so while words like tank, pvp, pve, arena ratings, raiding may seem outlandish to some, its a language that is like a hand-shake to others who understand it. Looking back I can see the allure of MMOs, and how they seem to attract people who aren't into video games otherwise. The overwhelming sensation of community (once you actually find your place), the bright and beautiful world to explore, and the addictive nature of improving your character. Yet, as I look back, I can't say that I enjoyed the game completely. Which I'll get into later.

While Wow was not the first MMO, it does by far have the largest numbers of superscribed players. Which adds to this amazing sense of community and immersion. These aren't NPCs, these are actual people you're communicating with. Some will be guardian angels and save you from an enemy that was eating your face, and some will be dicks and steal that tin node you were so passionately beheading yetis for. While I never thought I would really get into the faction war thing, even I found myself nerd raging about how undead rogues were so OP in the main cities while having other players agree with me validated my existence in the world. However, its also important to remember that a majority of Wow players fall under the pre-adolescent boy. So I also would run into billions of level one female night elfs in main cities. Kids complain about their mommies limiting play time, and most of all. The wonderful and exotic extend of their grasp the English language such as gay and fag.

The graphics in Wow (or most any MMO) seems pretty lacking, but after having explore majority of the world. I found myself memorized by the breath-taking architecture. The moment you step into Darnassus. My jaw dropped. Structures based on ancient Greek buildings reaching far into the sky. Vines encircling them to give them a rather aged look. Gorgeous (presumably marble) arches reaching over a sparking pond, decorated with frogs and lily pads. Blizzard has some insanely talented art designers. As you level you'll come across some breathtaking scenery; a gloomy area overran by zombies and infected wildlife, lush jungles with Aztec-like temples, and the Barrens......which is well barren. So maybe not everyplace is enjoyable to travel through, but there are definitely some painfully dedicated set pieces that impress. There is truly a living breathing world for a player to explore, and its impossible to go through it all in one play through.

So my issues with Wow don't really start until endgame. Leveling was a bit always more fun for me, (endless grinding, boring quests aside) but when you're at the maximum level, and there is no more exotic areas to explore. The game turns into well, more grinding. Yet this isn't nearly as a level of progression at this stage, you don't learn any new abilities, get into new areas, its just an unless grind for meager equipment upgrades. While this may be addictive for a while, I found myself wanting. You either raid or PVP. Raiding it taking any dungeon crawler to the extreme. Imagine playing a dungeon in Dragon Age, or Diablo. Fun right? Well imagine being forced to play it for four hours in a row with little or no break. Not as fun? Well now imagine trying to work with ten to twenty four other people (some nicer then others) consistently being demolished by the last boss, and when you do finally beat him getting nothing for it? While doing this one or twice for the story elements were fine, doing this once to three times a week became obtrusive. Having to schedule my life around a game just didn't sit well with me. It became more like a second job then a game I want to sit down and enjoy. Every day I would have to take time out to sit and do my dailies, get my daily bg out of the way, farm gold so I could improve my professions. And for what? To get gear, so I could raid, so I could get even better raid some more.

Towards the end of my Wow career, I joined Taint, the biggest gay guild in Wow, and I stuck with Pvp, because I'm competitive gamer overall. But this always fell into disarray as my classes would fluctuate in their effectiveness. Arenas, which worked like death matches in two on two, three against three, or five vs. five formats, became hit or miss because if any of my team member's classes would be weaken due to class balancing, we would have to combine other classes to stand a chance. It got even worse when Rated Battlegrounds were introduced. Working with other gay wow players (some who just weren't very good) in a competitive setting made me want to nerd rage every other match. Also just like in real life, get any groups of gays together and watch the catty remarks we all know and love commence. Imagine the drama that ensued. So slowly I just stopped logging on, and eventually I just didn't.

World of Warcraft was kinda like an ex boyfriend, yeah we had some good times, we smiled and killed millions of innocent beasts for the sake of gold, but good riddance. While sometimes I get the warm and fuzzy feelings that I just might go back, I remember the hundreds of hours wasted, the fighting among guild members, the endless grinding loop. Then I think I'm okay, I think I'll go back to Dragon Age.

Also I'm waiting for Star Wars The Old Republic.

1 comment:

  1. That last sentence is the real reason you stopped playing.