Why World of Warcraft?

by Jon Sullivan - 2019-09-07 - Gaming

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Maybe a video game shouldn't be a lifestyle. But that seems to be working pretty well for me.

When World of Warcraft came out in 2004 I knew it was going to be a problem. One of my friends at work was in the closed beta and confirmed Blizzard was creating a great game. But for me, video games were an addiction and it sounded like this game was going to pure crack. In the 15 years since I've played it constantly with only brief breaks for anything else.

I'm sure I should see that as a problem : Lack of a real life, never getting out of the house much, basically wasting years on a silly game.

But I don't. I have a great job, have done plenty of travel, people seem to like my photos, I cook a pretty mean seafood cioppino. Overall I'd say my life is a success, in a time where many Americans struggle to get by. So while WoW addiction might be a very big character flaw, it's obviously not ruining my life.

And as addictions go, it's pretty benign. The $15 a month fee is way cheaper than the piles of money I'd be spending on food and travel if I wasn't stuck staring at a computer monitor. The chat channels may be a bit toxic sometimes, but no where near as toxic as Twitter and Facebook. You might assume it's a place where your social life goes to die, but it's really the opposite. As someone who actively avoid being around other people, it's a social space I can embrace. And I've run into many players with disabilities or other circumstances that make a traditional social life impossible. For them it's extraordinary.

Blizzard has done a very good job of creating a "game" that really transcends the category. Warcraft is a game obviously, but it's also novels, videos, and a vast mythology. Even as an admitted addict I can't keep up with it all. The game and the novels and the videos all work together to create a universe much more vast than anything I know of in movies or fiction. Star Wars comes close, but as a whole Warcraft seems bigger to me. I think one of the main things that hurt the Warcraft movie was that they tried to be true to the content and cram weeks worth of story into a few hours. Warcraft is too big for a movie.

Countless times while playing in the last 15 years I've wept big tears for some story arc, or cheered out loud. Like any MMO, the game has it's share of boring chores, but more often I find myself carried along by one cool moment after another. I'm getting my face chewed on by a bear, and my hunter pet charges in to taunt it off me. But he pulls three more mobs and suddenly we have four bears attacking us. It's close, but I trap one and kite another as I try to heal the pet at the same time. We win and move on. Always a different challenge and a different solution.

But for me the main draw is the lore. The god of Warcraft story telling is Chris Metzen who got hired at Blizzard when the only thing on his resume was being a great Dungeons & Dragons DM. The universe he created for Blizzard is very dear to me. It's sometimes embarrassing how often a story will bring me to big sloppy tears. The protector of the Emerald Dream Ysera corrupted by the satyr Xavius and the Emerald Nightmare, then slain by Tyrande, only to be lifted upward by Elune as a new constellation in the night sky. As I played through again several times to level alts I had IRL look away and not watch. Seeing it again was too emotional. So many stories like that, year after year.

The 10,000 year redemption of Illidan.
Arthas' transformation from heir to the crown and holy paladin to undead Lich King.
Walking through the cherry blossoms in Pandaria with Lorewalker Cho and Mishi.
Returning to Argus with a (finally) seriously pissed off Prophet Velen.

So many unforgettable moments.

So.... That's the answer to the "why Warcraft?" question.

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