Friday, August 19, 2011

Top 50 Video Games: Number 34

Stats of Import

Platform: PC
Absurdly Specific Genre: Monthly Payment: The Game
Difficulty: I don't really know how to answer that. Most of the game's experience was knowing one's role, which I was always terrible at. I'll give it a 7 for the parts that I played.
Beaten: Obviously not possible, but I never even raided that much.

I have a... complicated relationship with this game, but first, a story...

September 2005 was unkind to me. I worked 30 hours a week at a small town computer repair center, but got paid for zero of those hours (for a variety of reasons). Fed up with this, I looked for a new job, finally scoring one at Unicel. To treat myself for my first substantial paycheck in well over a year, I got myself a subscription to World of Warcraft...

The world of Azeroth is an easy one to lose one's self in. Like every MMORPG I've played, it invites exploration to a very defined extent. I essentially said "screw that" and walked wherever I damn pleased. As a level 20, walking in the Deadlands occasionally proved to be treacherous (and a little bit foolish) but hell, I was playing the game the way I wanted to play it.

I died.......a lot.
My new job was fantastic, but unfortunately, it was an evening shift - two to midnight most nights. This is actually the type of shift I'd prefer if I had no other concerns. Sadly, my other concerns were a long-term girlfriend (soon to be fiancee) and a social life on the days that I didn't work. Playing from one in the morning til five was all well and good, but strangely enough, none of my friends were able to play on similar schedules. Roaming the wilds of Azeroth soon turned to just that... walking around aimlessly trying to find a couple quests I could do by myself while I waited for a time when sometime I knew would be online at the same time to finish up what I couldn't do with a pick up group.

I was never particularly good at raid mechanics in World of Warcraft. Since about 70% of the enjoyment of the game is locked up inside those instances where you and a dozen or so of your closest friends take on the depths, this presented a problem. I was never in sync with anyone, because anytime a friend would create an alt and level him alongside me, they would eventually overtake me. I was never driven enough to actually play the game the way it was meant to be played.

Pictured: The ideal way to play World of Warcraft
I eventually began to feel trapped by the Unicel job as well, stuck in a shift that precluded spending any meaningful time with my fiancee, as well as destroying what little social life I had to begin with. I found a new job, and with the end of the Unicel era came the end of the World of Warcraft era. A couple of friends mentioned that now that I worked "real people" hours, I could actually play the game alongside them. I declined - I felt that I had gotten out of the game what I wanted. 

World of Warcraft is a game that confounds me where this list is concerned. On the one hand, this is the one game on either list that I can guarantee I'll never play again. Life has moved on, and while I still play quite a lot of video games, I just don't have the time to commit to something like it. On the other hand, even though I never even scratched the surface of the game proper (there are loads of raids that I never darkened the doors of), a lot of the experiences I had while playing are indelible. The first time I walked into any of the major cities (esspecially Ironforge), the first time I saw the pirate ship in the Deadmines, the hours I spent playing in the PvP arenas. All of it merits the game a spot on the list - even if sometimes it felt like I spent more time killing boars than I did interacting with the world at large.


  1. I really loathe games like this; not because they're not good, but because there really is no end. They're intentionally designed to pressure people into devoting way too much time to them. I nearly lost a friend to Diablo but he got out before it ruined his life.

    I feel the same way about Magic: The Gathering. Played with a starter deck and loved it. Then after a few weeks I realized the game would get boring unless I bought more cards. No sir.

  2. Like I mentioned above, the way I played the game made it difficult to truly lose myself in it. On the other hand, we nearly had to stage an intervention with one friend of mine who quit school and played WoW for about 10 hours a day - every day. People who snidely talk about "Video Game Addiction" as if it's not a thing are blind to things.

    This is a long way of saying "I know exactly what you mean."

  3. On an unrelated note, does anyone else feel uncomfortable when your brother introduces you to others as "my friend"?

  4. Heh heh. He was protecting you, Ryan!

  5. More to the point, Final Fantasy XII used some of this MMO bullshit in its game...the game's best weapon could be obtained in only two ways, and one was to fight through a ludicrously difficult area, after which there was a 10% chance of a chest being there. If it was there, there was a ONE PERCENT CHANCE that it had the weapon in it. I was pissed. The game manufacturers knew that they'd taken the ridiculous concept from MMOs designed to make players pay for more playtime, but they didn't seem to understand there was no benefit to this if players had already paid for the game in full.

    FUCK, man.