Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's just a game

Yesterday, I spent more time than I have a while playing World of Warcraft. More than anything about playing the game itself, I'm fascinated by the way people behave in the game. I myself play WoW the same way other people participate in other leisurely activities. I play a few hours a week, about as much as other people watch tv. For me, it's a nice way to focus on something completely unimportant and take my mind off any work or life stresses. I'm not the key demographic playing WoW. Many WoW players are aged 15-25 and mostly male. Many, I suspect, have few responsibilities. Though many, I also suspect, have stresses in their lives.

It never ceases to amaze me how seriously some people take the game. The fact that I'm paying about as much attention to the game as to tv reflects in the way I'm geared. The really good gear is in dungeons and dungeons take a long time to go through--on the order of a few hours. I just don't have that kind of time to commit to playing something I don't take that seriously. So I have less powerful gear than those who commit the time and energy to running dungeons. I also don't like going into dungeons over and over again once I've figured out a strategy to go through it. People who take the game more seriously will go through some dungeons over and over in order to get every possible item that drops. For me, once the challenge wears off, I'm done. I also don't do a lot of PvP (player vs. player) though there are some versions of it that I like. Again, PvP is an area that gains you good gear if you're willing to put the time in to acquire it.

The thing is, those that take the game seriously often give those of us that don't a hard time. I've been in PvP battlegrounds where people have asked me to leave cause I'm going to bring the rest of the "team" down. They've yelled at everyone for "sucking." I've called people out for this behavior before, reminding them specifically that they're playing a video game and to chill out. If someone wants to run a battleground before their character is ready and die all the time, who cares? Does it really matter that much? Isn't it just about having fun? I've also seen people so focused on getting the right gear that they pretty much ignore other parts of the game. Of course, the things I focus on--exploring new areas, raising my professions--are things that would immediately get called "gay" (that's the most common epithet I've seen for disapproval of gameplay).

The incident that prompted this post was a favor I did for someone yesterday. I am a level 70 warrior, the highest level one can get (so far). A much lower level character asked me to run him through a dungeon. This is common practice, a practice I understand but find bizarre because it takes the challenge out of running a dungeon. At any rate, we got to the first boss, a boss that I have never beaten and I almost died. I beat it and I was doing almost all the work. The boss is hard because it spawns a bunch of mini versions of itself throughout the battle that you have to kill in addition to the main boss. So anyway, the guy I was running died in the process, and he said to me, "WTF!? That should have been easy for you. Aren't you taking this seriously?" At the time I was pissed because I thought, hell, I could spend my time in any number of ways in or out of game and I'm spending it helping someone I don't know do something in a virtual world. I told him so at the time. Now that I look back on it, I think how funny it is that he wanted to know if I was taking a game seriously. Really.