Friday, July 18, 2008

Why do I WoW?

This week Blog Azeroth ask all the bloggers to share our motivations for playing the game. Why do we WoW at all? What keeps me coming back to Azeroth night after night, instead of knitting, tendering to my plants or ironing shirts or doing other stuff that you expect from grown-ups?

I’ve got a vague feeling that this topic isn’t entirely new in this blog – though I can’t pinpoint the post where I covered it. Maybe it’s just that I keep coming back to it all the time – I think a great deal about what’s motivating me and what gives me the most joy in the game.

Still – I’ll sort out the thoughts on this once again, under this shared topic headline. Of course there are short and easy answers to it: Cheap, price worthy entertainment. Escape. Just a Bad habit or even Addiction if you want to put it that way. But I’ll try to elaborate it a bit more, and I appologize if it's partly a repition from some previous posts.

Basically I think you could group my reasons for WoWing into five categories:

To experience the magic of team work
At school I just hated it whenever the teacher told us it was time to do some kind of team project. I knew it just meant that I would do all the work and then four other lazy guys would get the same cred for it as I did. Unfair and annoying. And I was never any successful player member of a sports team - on the contrary I’ve got quite painful memories of how it was to be one of those who were picked last when it came to forming teams for playing basketball at school.

As a grown up I’ve of course been into or lead teams at work, and seen that there are other sides of it – that team work can be fun. And WoW really gives me the opportunity to make up for what I missed when I grew up.

To form a good team and to make it work not just for one raid (or other kind of guild event for those that aren’t raiding), but for months – to take it forward through wins and losses, joy and sorrow, to knit it all together.. it’s just awesome! There’s no way I can describe the feeling you get sometimes when all the pieces sort of slip into the right spots and you know that you’re a great Team and you’re a part of it.

To enjoy the process of improving myself
Isn’t it a great feeling when you realize that you’re actually learning something, that you’re improving yourself? I’ve done this kind of learning journeys before. Like when I started to learn how to ride a horse. The first time I sat up and the horse just moved his weight a bit, leaning over to one side. I almost panicked, convinced I’d fall off. A few years later I wasn’t any elite horse rider, but at least I could jump over some barriers, ride comfortably outdoors or indoors and make some nice moves that looked pretty good.

Starting out playing WoW was the same thing – I was totally lost in a world that was totally alien to me and entered a new learning curve. One and a half year later I’m at least a bit more comfortable in it. And I still challenge myself all the time and I see that I improve – not just that my char’s gearing up, but that I’m actually learning. Every single day.

To escape and explore
I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy – call it escapism if you want to, I don’t mind. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than to drift away from ordinary life and be somewhere where things are totally different. I used to explore and be thrilled and entertained by new worlds through books and movies. WoW offers the same thing, but through another media, and combined with interactivity, which makes it even more fun.

I’m aware that the development is going fast – probably there are other games around with even better graphics, environments, monsters and so on – but for me, with my limited experience, WoW is just amazing the way it is. It’s huge, it’s varied and there seems to be no end to it.

To get the kicks
I guess this is the chemical side of the game – I’m not sure whether it’s adrenaline or dopamine or both – I’m no physician – but you know what I mean. Being totally focused, all alert, struggling with the endless 1-percent stage of a boss fight – and odds are really against you, but maybe there’s a small chance you can make it. It really gives me a kick – the tension and stress in itself – and the relief when you finally actually get the boss down.

To be honest, loot may give some kicks too from time to time but not the same way as kills do, when it comes to me. But I’m pretty sure you all know what I mean about the kicks. I guess you can get them in PvP as well, especially when it comes to Arena matches, though that area so far is unknown territory for me.

To socialize
In real life I’m not one of those people who own a Facebook page crowded with friends. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been any good at getting new friends or keeping in touch with the one’s I’ve had. Socializing at home really isn’t one of my strongest sides (work’s a different thing though.) WoW really has been a big improvement in that aspect. For some reason it’s so much easier to get to know people online. Some of them become friends – some of them are people you just chat with like you’d chat with someone you happen to sit beside on a journey – you make that nice PUG and then you part and will never meet again. But still it’s socializing in a way that fits me very well.

There’s something so relaxing and refreshing in this possibility to look beyond what’s on the surface – age, looks, class, status, gender. I refuse to think of the online friendships as inferior to real life ones – they’re different though. And perhaps in one way they’re more honest. You can be true to who you really are without fearing anything.

These were my five motives for playing WoW. Pretty good ones I think – so I guess I’ll stick around for a quite a while (unless Armageddon's coming, servers closing down, you know).

1 comment:

gnomeaggedon said...

Someone mention my name... ahhh a reference to that other mythical Armageddon ;-)

You know the thing I am enjoying most about these explorations of why each of us WoW's - they expose those other forgotten (whether in the heat of writing, or just long subdued) reasons we WoW.

Thanks for stirring those memories!

And yes, I am the Gnomeaggedon, and I am coming!