WoW on the Mind – Part Two
One of the most entertaining aspects of World of Warcraft is that it is a social game. You have the opportunity to do most everything within the game in a group, or tagging along with a friend. I am one of those people who does not enjoy one player games – if I am playing something on my own, it is generally a game like The Sims which I can do while keeping myself entertained with other things (this could explain, of course, how so many of my Sims managed to soil themselves in public, starve to death, or set themselves on fire. I am a bad Sim Mum). I get easily distracted if there is no one else around to entertain me, especially when I am doing a horribly repetitive quest – kill 50 of these dragons, why don’t you? *sigh*. It’s much more fun to get a friend or two together and really pwn instead. I also enjoy doing instances (apart from the inherent anxiety attack that accompanies every PuG – what if I am not good enough? Good Lord they are going to hate me! Oh no oh no oh no!) because i get to interact with people and tackle a problem from a team work perspective. Playing with other people is much more fun than playing on your own, take it how you will.
You also have the ability to meet and talk to people from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds, one which you perhaps would not get in the real world. Some of the people who I identify with very closely in World of Warcraft I would never have spoken to in real life, whether it be because of the age differences between us, or the differences in our background (I may be a little bit of an elitist snob, but I still believe that people tend to be friends with people who come from a similar socio-economic background to themselves. Obviously this isn’t true in every single case, it is just a generalisation). The faceless nature of computer games means that you don’t really know anything about the person on the other side apart from their attitude and the things that you pick up about their personality and interests. People who are talking to me can generally tell I am female by the way I say things. They also gather pretty quickly that I am not an American because of the way I spell (colour anyone?) or the things that I happen to mention I am eating, which you apparently don’t sell over there – quite a list by the way, I should make a page out of it or something and explain what each of these things are, with wikipedia references. Some people assume that I am older than what I am because I never use abbreviations/sms-isms such as c u l8r, or whatever people say. That’s more because I am somewhat strict about grammar and things (but not too strict, or my writing would be a hell of a lot better!) than because of my age. The point is that the only way you generally start to learn about the people you talk to is through what they say in general conversation. They can’t really determine much about me and I can’t tell a whole lot more about them either. The best thing is, I kinda like that anonymity in WoW. It lessens nasty things happening such as prejudice and it means, as I said before, that you get to meet all sorts of interesting new people.
Let’s have a look at the people who I am close friends with in World of Warcraft. We have a very broad age range (from memory, anywhere from 16 – 45), live in three different countries, and all come from incredibly different economic backgrounds. We all have different levels of education – some of us did not complete high school, while some of us have completed tertiary education. Some of us are parents, some are married, and some are single. The odds of many of us becoming friends if we had have only met in real life? Very low.The thing that draws people together in WoW I think is the shared interest in the game – it is something which we all enjoy, and something which we can enjoy together. This means that you can build up some absolutely amazing friendships based on a tiny little aspect of the game. In particular, I am good friends with a number of people who play warlocks, even though we can’t group together very often obviously. We like to share stories, discuss the boring nit picky stuff such as spell rotations, specs and gear, and just have a blast.
Another interesting social aspect of the game is that you have the opportunity to organise a diverse range of events. Not everything in the game has to be progression focused – sometimes it is fun to do something just for the heck of it, such as a Five Man Ironman, or a massive event like The Running of Da Bulls. Even small things such as a group fishing party can be great, with everyone kicking back, levelling up their fishing while enjoying some conversation (and perhaps a brew or two?). This flexibility is something which makes the game entertaining and fresh. Running events like these, as well as your regular questing/instancing, can be a powerful motivation for playing the game. People also feel at times like they have to log on, because otherwise they will be letting their friends down – another powerful reason to keep playing WoW. I certainly know that the friendships I have made are the main thing that keeps me playing!