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The Cultural Divide

January 16th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 7 Comments · Me, MMO

A year ago, I wrote about how everyone’s love of Oblivion was leaving me out in the cold. A hot, new title that became the game de jour for weeks. I eventually addressed that and found that they were mostly right – love it or hate it, Oblivion is a game worth talking about. (I lean towards the love side.)

Yesterday, I got an email from a friend asking if I was excited about the new World of Warcraft expansion. There was no sarcasm here. He was genuinely looking forward to being a blood elf. I explained that I don’t WoW but that I hoped fears of server troubles would not come to pass.

World of Warcraft is one of those once in a while games that transcends the gaming world. Even if you don’t play it, you can’t really escape it. I was at a dinner party and explained what I did for a pseudo-living and one of the guests immediately began asking about WoW – he didn’t play either, but he was fascinated by the idea (apparently oblivious that WoW isn’t the first of anything.) Wargaming friends are turning to WoW. It has become the amateur video maker’s setting of choice. It’s like The Sims only bigger because you are obligated to share the experience with your friends.

As a voracious consumer of gaming news and opinion, I pick up even more. I know what MC is. I can spell Azeroth. I know that you top out at level 60 (70 now, I guess). I know none of these things about Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot or Asheron’s Call – and I spent a lonely month in Asheron’s Call. WoW is bigger than any game since PacMan.

So why have I resisted? I must have had a half-dozen people try to strong arm me into their guilds. The subscription just means one less case of beer a month, or maybe more used books. Maybe the social scientist in me is more fascinated by the anthropology of this thing more than the idea of actually playing it. CGM/Massive Head Honcho Steve Bauman has pointed to the time crunch and lack of a finished state as an issue in MMOs, but he plays WoW.

Maybe I’ll try the Next Big Thing when it comes along. WoW can’t go on forever, right?


7 Comments so far ↓

  • Natus

    “WoW can’t go on forever, right?”

    Ha. Just you wait. Our grandchildren will be rolling pallys in their jammies.

    I don’t know, Troy, I am no pop culture vulture, nor am I an RPGer, but I’m glad I have spent a few months perusing the game. Some of the design is brilliant, and some of it makes me want to tear out my hair.
    But there’s really no arguing with the accessibility and ease of play, and let’s not forget, it’s a game in which no one can lose. As a poster wrote on Eurogamer, it’s about stamina, not skill. But for the moment, I don’t mind the hamster wheel.

    Even ten free days doesn’t entice you?

  • Troy

    Yeah, it does entice me, mostly because I want to see what the fuss is about. But isn’t this how drug pushers start? “One free hit! What’s the harm.”

  • Krupo

    There’s a monthly fee though, right? My “pay once and be done with it” attitude keeps me out.

    Then I tried GuildWars free trial – that one’s free once you buy a copy, right? Didn’t seem particularly interesting.

    Oblivion is enough RPG’ing for me. :)

  • Michael A.

    “One free hit! What’s the harm.”

    Precisely the reason I’ve steered clear of this as well. I spend enough time on games without trying to actively sink my social life.

  • Natus

    I know we’re all quasi-joking here, but it’s not that bad. I would think, at least for Troy, studying the addictive qualities of WoW would be as interesting as playing. You CAN put it down, and then you see the landscape. But whatever.

    If Oblivion were free for ten days, there’s no question. If my comp could run it, of course.

  • Krupo

    Funny to be talking about WoW – I was just in Future Shop today and they had virtually 360 degrees of Burning Crusade coverage at the entrance.


    Looks hot on a big TV screen, I must say, though.

  • Ken Wootton

    As a bit of a social science, WoW is fascinating. How do you entice 8 million people, including my wife, to sit in front of their PCs on a regular basis? What’s the secret sauce? We have an answer.

    As a piece of gaming culture, WoW is pretty interesting. It’s changing PC gaming all by itself, certainly alterning the MMO genre and quite possibly hobbling the single player RPG.

    Oh, and as a game, it’s pretty damn good. You might want to jump in and fart around. It’s much easier to talk about once you’ve heard WoW distinctive “ding” a few times.