I played a dangerous game yesterday. I discussed Worlds of Warcraft with a friend. Several of my friends and relatives have fallen prey to the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing genre, spending hours of their time running around in fake worlds with other enthusiasts. My understanding of the gameplay went as follows:
#1 – It’s just like a regular videogame, but there all kinds of annoying real-world people running around bugging you.
#2 – You start off and people pick on you because you are new. Then you spend all kinds of time doing boring shit because you need to level up. Once you’re at a respectable level, the newcomers ask you for stuff all the time.
#3 – Any time you do too well, the company that maintains the game sends somebody in to slap you around.
#4 – It’s expensive, time-consuming, and unforgivably geek-ass.
Now, all of these things may or not be true. Nonetheless, people just love the hell out this Worlds of Warcraft game. So what’s the draw? I’ve heard that the social aspect is fun, that you team up with your friends and do stuff, that there’s a great deal of variety of diversions. Still, though… pretending to be a magical elf-warrior? Come on.
So, I quiz a compatriot of mine on the game last night. His answers were satisfactory. Almost too satisfactory.
So, you don’t have to fight anybody?
No, man. I don’t player-kill. And you can level up by doing quests. Like “bring me some stuff” kind of things.
What do you do?
I’m a tailor. I make armor, bags, and stuff like that. I sell it to people, or give it away.
Are there sports?
Kind of. There are places where you can join a team of capture-the-flag and stuff like that.
This all sounded fine. A lot better than the “go hunting for beasties, raid their dead bodies for currency, spend that currency on better gear, repeat” formula I expected. As he went into detail of how the various races and classes interact, something caught my fading attention: “…different languages…”
Turns out the different races speak different languages, and if your character doesn’t speak them, the text the other users type come out as gibberish. As a language-geek, this raised a mighty eyebrow.
Fortunately, there’s no way my machine could run the game. Otherwise, I have a real fear that some night I’d end up drunkenly setting up Atharien, the Enchanter Linguist.