Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy expansion night

It turned out I was an outsider, an alien, an intruder.

As I told you before, I had decided to join the midnight party outside a game store in my home time. It was part of a ritual and a great opportunity to satisfy my curiosity and give answers to some questions I had been carrying.

Who are those people I’m bumping into in the crowd in front of the auctioneer in IF? What do those guys who instantly kill me whenever I dare to enter a WSG look like in reality? It was time to find out the truth.

Men only
Judging this two-hour experience I must admit that I was a bit surprised at the homogeneity of the player base. There were several hundred players around and of those only a handful of women. The age span was very small. In fact it felt like 90 percent of the people in the queue were young men, 17-25 years old, and I noted they were generally slightly more overweight than the average. In fact what I was seeing was pretty much the gamer stereotype, alive.

It was rather disappointing to be honest. The diversity among players is one of the things that I find attractive in the game. But maybe this event didn’t show the true face of the player base; maybe it just showed the special segment of players who are prepared to do such a stupid thing as to spend hours in a queue for a buying a game in the middle of the night, when it is so late that you need to go to sleep as soon as you have installed it anyway.

I never saw anything of the small talk to other people in the queue that I had anticipated. I turned up sort of squeezed between two parties, each consisting of a few young men, who knew each other in real life and had no interest whatsoever to talk to that odd old lady (who probably was only there to pick up a copy for her son).
So I focused on trying to snap a bit of their conversation. Apparently one of the guys played a mage and was in a guild which was first to take down Kil’Jaeden on the horde side on their server. He seemed to be pretty serious about his playing. For a second I hesitated – I would have wanted to ask him what spec he had picked for levelling and have an exchange of experiences between mages. But then I realized I was to shy. The effect that WoW has on me, making me socialize and talk to strangers without feeling awkward, seems to work best online.

One hour after the midnight opening it was finally my turn to pass the security guard and be admitted into the shop. And after another hour I was at home, smiling in triumph as I logged in. Success!

Like a happy school class
I had anticipated huge technical problems – a nightmare of mysterious error messages. And if I after all did manage to install the game I had not expected to be able to get into it – the server surely should be overloaded and unavailable. But none of those things happened and instead I joined the crowd standing on the boat in Stormwind, setting course for our new destination.

We entered the Borean Tundra with the same enthusiasm as a school class rushes into an amusement park right at the opening, taking all the merry-go-rounds in possession. I didn’t see anything of bad behaviour, whining or mob stealing. All I saw was happy, excited players, helping each other to orientate in this strange new world. I did a few quests just to get the taste of it and I felt instantly that I’m going to love this place.

Reluctantly I realized I had to go to bed. And that was the end to it – my wonderful, happy expansion night, full of promises and void of disappointments. It couldn’t really have been any better, except for the long and lonely hours in the line. But they were soon forgotten.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes when I overhear people talking about WoW, I just want to jump in, but I always decide against it. Not sure why. I think it's the fact that WoW has so many millions of players that not all of us are bound to necessarily get along beyond the fact that we play the same game.

Being a blogger can even bring out two different aspects of yourself. You will either be shy because you're used to the anonymity behind your blog and character. Or you will be outgoing bcause you are used to interacting with so many people in the community.

Hope you're having fun in Northrend!

Anonymous said...

"maybe it just showed the special segment of players who are prepared to do such a stupid thing as to spend hours in a queue for a buying a game in the middle of the night"

More likely the segment of players who didn't have to get up for work the following morning. I hate queueing for anything, this 40+ working mother had her copy pre-ordered from Amazon as soon as it was possible to do so :)

Gevlon said...

Well yes, queuing up in the middle of the night is pretty weird so most people don't do it.

But somehow people gained the Lich King since both starting lands were way overcrowded. In the mornings, it's much better.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it was most likely you were seeing the overweight, still living at home in the basement, stereotypical gamer.

As for not joining WoW conversations? I don't either. No one at my work talks about it, but I do know for a fact that there are a couple of others that play. I think we're all too scared that we'll be overheard and considered part of that stereotypical gamer group. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm Aurdon's new helper over at I've just recently started reading your blog, and I really enjoy your perspective!

As for LK I had to be at work at 8 in the morning on Thursday... needless to say I wasn't standing in line anywhere at midnight. It's always been a small minority of players that camp out for things. My copy is being picked up on my way home from work tonight (even though I can't go to Northrend for a while yet).

My office has a great collection of WoW players, and it's been a lot of fun discovering who's who. We seem to run the gamut from older to younger, women, men, peons (like me) and managers and everything in between. I'm always amazed what a wide demographic there really is.

Beth said...

But then I realized I was to shy. The effect that WoW has on me, making me socialize and talk to strangers without feeling awkward, seems to work best online.

This is me. ^_^; I wrote my own post about the midnight release, and it was mostly guys standing in line, in silence, studiously avoiding eye contact with each other.

I was expecting a lot more energy, even for that late at night. Also, my husband's best friend thought that we 3 were probably the most progressed people in that particular line. I wouldn't know, but. /shrug Possible.

krizzlybear said...

60:40 M:F ratio at my midnight party. pretty fun to talk to everyone in general.

Anonymous said...

@Loronar: I think I would have been more likeley to start a conversation with other people in the queue if they hadn't all been in party with real life friends. I think that increased the feeling of being a lonely wolf there.

@Hulan: yes, I think so too. Actually if I had been sure that the copy would arrive that day to me and not the day after I would have ordered it online as well. But now I didn't trut the postal services.

@Gevlon: the very first night, the hour I stayed online, it wasn't badly crowded at all. It turned much worse the next day when more people had picked up their copies. I wish I could play in the mornings...

@Kyrilean: in that queue at least you had no reason to feel ashamed... I guess that was one of the reasons I wanted to join it in the first place. Feeling that I wasn't alone in this sort of madness.

@Rhii: thank you and welcome to the Blogosphere! I've noticed you and I think it's a nice idea, that Aurdon is hireing you to get a sort of "fresh" perspective to the game. I hope you'll enjoy blogging as much as I do.

@Birdfall: I have no idea about what kind of game the other people in the queue played. Were there hardcore raiders? Pvp-ers? Role players? How was the horde-alliance ratio? Were there any people playing on the same server as me? I had hoped to get to know a little more about them, but alas, no.

@Krizzlybear: an amazing ration M/F! My guess its that it beats how it is in the game.

Beth said...

I had definitely hoped it would be a jubilant fest of sharing where I could give my server, character information, and play style. Alas. :*( I can guarantee you a line of WOMEN would have been sharing! We would have shared our socks off! (I'm thinking particularly of my mother, who shares information with strangers in the toothpaste aisle at the store. You and I standing beside each other in a line probably would have wanted to talk to each other, and even come up with interesting conversation starters in our heads, but we would've been too shy to actually start.)

Anonymous said...

"...maybe it just showed the special segment of players who are prepared to do such a stupid thing as to spend hours in a queue for a buying a game in the middle of the night, when it is so late that you need to go to sleep as soon as you have installed it anyway."

Not sure why exactly, but I got a good few chuckles out of this one. :)

As for talking about WoW, I've never once (over)heard random people out and about in the big wide world talking about WoW at all, so I have no idea how I'd react there. I also only know of one person among my casual acquaintances who plays but he isn't someone I want to talk to anyway, for reasons that have nothing to do with the game. It does make me wonder how many other closet players there are though.

Anonymous said...

I have a few discreet "Azerothian" touches about me. My mousepad at work is the one that came with my CE and I have a very nice little pewter Alliance keychain. I find that these are enough to invite conversation should someone want to, but not enough to tar me with the "mom-basement-dwelling-overweight-cretin" sort of brush.

As for my midnight release, it was bloody awful Canada-style cold and I pulled my hat down low, pulled my collar up high and snuggled up against my better half for warmth. I was really cold and more than a little grouchy, so I didn't talk to anyone and I'm sure I looked like some poor, suffering GF who had been dragged along to keep her WoW-gamer BF company.

I was a little chattier once I got in