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Why geeks play Warcraft

I have come up with a long tough answer as to why people play Warcraft. It's actually simple and obvious: WoW is an RP, so that means that the fighting is only a feature, but it seems to overshadow everything else. Like, people interact as their characters most of the time, and the number clicking is only a measure of skill.

It's obvious.


  • Ummm....

    Are you drunk? No... You can't be... Because I am right now and I still make sense.

    *calls Mr. Period* Oh hey, so I don't really like you but, uh, I need you to do this job for me...
  • Considering the time of night that was written..I said I was half sleep.
  • Tie fighter

    (that's lol to you...)
  • The reason people play World of Warcraft is because it has been designed by psychologists to be as addicting as possible. It's the same as sudoku and such. You perform menial tasks that have the illusion of requiring skill. Just as you are about to become bored or frustrated with those tasks, you are rewarded with something intangible and worthless. You are rewarded for something that you believe is skill, self esteem increases. You now have enough vigor to repeat the process.
  • I never played WoW and I plan not to play it in any way, shape or form.
  • The reason people play World of Warcraft is because it has been designed by psychologists to be as addicting as possible. It's the same as sudoku and such. You perform menial tasks that have the illusion of requiring skill. Just as you are about to become bored or frustrated with those tasks, you are rewarded with something intangible and worthless. You are rewarded for something that you believe is skill, self esteem increases. You now have enough vigor to repeat the process.
    And this, ladies and gents, is the EXACT reason why I couldn't play the game for more than a week.
  • So in other words it is just like absolutely every other hobby in the world...

    And, no, I have never even once played it.
  • If I were to try an MMORPG I would try guild war based only on the fact that it's free.
  • Is the idea behind your conspiracy a hypothesis or a theory Scott?
    I play WoW and i find it enjoyable exploring the world, interacting with other players, battling monsters and the usual stuff.
    The levels just define how long you have been playing the game and what areas you can play in, rather then skill (Since you can't drop levels)
    I have had WoW for months, and am level 20 at the moment. I play on and off for an hour or 2 at a time and don't find it very addictive.

    I think you would be surprised if you played the game for a bit yourself, you may be surprised that it's quite fun to play.
  • World of Warcraft is the current pinnacle of the Everquest genre. It's addictive because of the constant tiny rewards of levelling and loot that set off endorphins in the brain, and it's accessible because it looks very, very pretty, it can run on just about any halfway decent computer on the market, it's very social (read: a chatroom) and

    I disagree with the whole "you're just incrementing numbers in a database" argument though, because that describes every videogame ever made. Super Mario Bros., one of the best games ever, can be represented as a stream of hex! Bashing WoW for any of the following:

    - the main game is mostly running and killing things
    - the fantasy setting, however well written the lore is
    - the stupid degenerates spamming the chat channels
    - the end-game is 50% waiting and 50% doing the same thing as 20 other people on command

    is totally acceptable. Bashing it because you're effectively changing some numbers on a server, while still being ok with other videogames, is just silly. Personally, I found WoW to be amazingly fun for about 6 months, then my interest waned and I quit*. I will probably pick up the expansion and play that for a few more months when it comes out, then move on again. In either case, I find it hard to argue against the merits of a game that has pwn3d the internet. 6 million souls in thrall is a rather stunning achievement.

    * Best argument to convince someone to quit WoW: "How would you like it if someone paid you $15/month to NOT play?"
  • It's not a conspiracy. It is a well known fact that Blizzard hired psychologists to design the risk/reward schedule of WoW, as well as may other parts of the game, to make it as addictive as possible.
  • I know better than to directly argue with Rubin, so here's my take on teh subject:

    I play WoW, I've played it since the beta testing before it officially released. I think it's a fun game, and what makes it special is being an MMO. I like playing WoW with other people, and I find it incredibly fun. I like the story behind the game too, and I take the time to actually explore the story in game, not just hopping from quest to quest killing/grinding meaninglessly.

    Also, for almost my entire time playing WoW, I've been in a guild that is community based instead of leveling/raiding based. So in the end, WoW is really just a common ground for all of us to hang out together, and I think that's worth $12-$15 every month. I've actually quit WoW a few times for months at a time, but I always come back because I enjoyed playing with my friends.

    Also, I've found since playing WoW, I don't buy regular videogames as often, so where'd I usually buy games ranging from $20 to $60 on a monthly basis, I'm paying Blizzard $50 for 3 months of gaming. So economically, I think I'm doing better with WoW than without.
  • edited July 2006
    From now on, every time someone uses "story" as a reason that a game is good, I will make them read this article. He very clearly shows how, for the most part, story in games acts as a reward, no different than the items or levels. Games are about interactivity. If you're only using WoW as a community activity with friends, why even pay the $15 a month? Why not pay $0 and use IRC? You can even use Second Life, which is absolutely free unless you want to purchase property. The only thing WoW has to offer is the leveling, the items and all that jazz. If you agree that that stuff is silly, then what exactly are you doing in WoW that couldn't be done elsewhere for free? If you care about the story that much you can read it online for free as well.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • edited July 2006
    I would definitely question whether IRC and WoW are even comparable, let alone substitutes for each other. WoW is a community activity. There is a game in there, whereas in IRC, there is not. Yes, you can do chat role-playing, or IRC games and stuff, but... no. I get bored within minutes of chatting in IRC; there's just nothing to do but chat, and it's more akin to just sitting around and talking. (Which is fine, but I prefer doing that in person rather than online.) In WoW, there are huge dungeons to complete, jungles to explore, wars to fight and massive bosses to fell that require a gaggle of inter-monkeys to conquer. The sense of cooperation and achievement that comes from that is astounding. IRC is about as immersive as compiler output.

    Second Life isn't much better. As a social experiment and an example of some of the amazing things people can do with just some creativity and basic tools and the sort of economies and societies that can be made... sure. It really isn't a game; there are no goals, no direction, just a virtual space to goof around in. That, and you have to code an orc avatar yourself.
    Post edited by crowe on
  • I think we've been trying to avoid the "Why MMORPGS are no good" episode, but it might have to come to pass.
  • Where is that fark "Oh No Not this shit again" picture.. when you need it.
  • I'll just note that Scott takes a fairly radical position on these games, which I don't fully agree with... ^_~
  • edited July 2006
    There's nothing wrong with MMORPGS they are just a way to live what you would not be able to live on reality with a community of diverse people all over the world.
    Post edited by La Petit Mort on
  • edited July 2006
    I think I'd like to hear what you have to say on the subject, but I don't know if I'd want a whole episode devoted to it. Maybe you could start with that, then move on to another topic if turns into another Wikipedia debacle.
    Post edited by crowe on
  • edited July 2006
    Good Idea Crowe.

    Note: Also, besides Rym and Scott everyone calls each other by their user names. You don't see anyone calling me by Julius.
    Post edited by La Petit Mort on
  • The only MMO I've ever put a good amount of time in is WoW, I managed to get to lvl 43 on my third subscription. I think the reason people are so into Warcraft games is that they have a mythos to them that extends far beyond what is actually in the games, like Tolkien stuff or Star Wars (to some extent)
  • Thats a good reason Kiey.
  • Heh, that site is a good way too see the way role-players think.
    (I RP on a forum just for you people to know.)
  • I can't speak for most MMO players, but I've never played any MMO of my own volition; I've only ever played with people I know, and I only play BECAUSE I know people that play the game. For me, it's something to do with those people that live far away that I don't see too often, i.e. my brother in Long Island.

    The game can be fun if you derive your own fun from it, and stop playing once it is no longer fun. That's my rule with pretty much any game; I play until I beat it or until the fun runs out, whichever comes first.
  • I agree with what crowe said about the interactive content. I also agree with Pete in that I approach online gaming mostly as a way to hang out with people.

    However, I've also been an advocate of other online games with player interaction, such as Battlefield, Counterstrike, Natural Selection. Each of these games I played with friends, was in clans/squads, competed in small leagues, and had fun. But ultimately, it got to the point where my friend's stop playing, and then I'd lose interest server hopping and playing by myself.

    I've always sorta thought of most MMOs as chat programs with tons of features so you can do more than just chat. Given the massive amount of things to do in WoW and most other modern MMOs, $15/month isn't a bad price to pay. However, I know that some people take MMOs very seriously, often skipping school or work to play, and end up scheduling their live's around the game. I know I've been guilty of this a few times in the past, but I like to think that now I've matured past this.

    In the end, it's just another hobby. And very often, only the hobbyist will understand the attraction of their own hobby, and other just don't get it, or it just doesn't appeal to them. (For instance: I can't stand oval track racing. But I love most other forms of motorsports.)
  • I’ve played WoW since it was in alpha and I agree with tehmarken, thewhaleshark, crowe and dutopia that it can be an enjoyable gaming experience. I play for the interaction with other people, mainly my real life friends. I’m 1500+ miles away from almost all my friends and this is one of the few things I can do with them. While I know people who do the end game raid content I don’t think I will do that, unless my friends decided to try it. Then it can continue to be a group activity, replacing what I once had with my now far away friends. In the end all that matters is that I enjoy playing a game with my friends.

    Chat programs do not cut it for interactions with friends. You go from spending time with these people and physically doing things together to waiting for them to reply to a bit of text. With the game you can talk to them in the chat windows and over ventrilo. In addition to this form of interaction everyone can do something together at the same time: Play and enjoy the game.
  • So basically you all agree that the actual "game" portion of WoW is stupid, and that interacting with friends makes it worthwhile. Well then, I'd like to invite everyone over to my house. We're going to play a game I like to call "Make Wallets for Scott to Sell in Chinatown". Sure, it's a sucky game to play, and you have to pay Scott for wallet-making materials. But you'll be doing it in a room with all your friends. Not only that, but whoever makes more, better wallets faster will recieve kudos from all the other wallet-makers. Also, I have this great fantasy movie on DVD. For every 100 wallets you produce I'll let you watch the next scene in the movie. When that movie finishes I'll go get the sequel from the store, but you have to chip in to pay for it. The profits from selling the wallets all go to me. I will use those profits to pay for advertising that will trick more people into paying for the privilege of working in my factory.

    But it's all good because you're doing it with friends, right?

    There are other worthwhile games you can play with friends far away. Play a game that helps build your reflexes, your thinking skills, anything besides repetetive menial labor with imaginary rewards. You can play a giant strategy war game. You can play a D+D campaign. You can start a wiki and write a book together. You can play fpses, at least Planetside builds the fps skills. With your DSes you can play Mario Kart, Tetris or Animal Crossing. Even making an MMO together is better than playing one.

    If I gave you a program where you clicked on pictures of monsters and that caused numbers to increment, you say it is stupid. How come adding a chat box to the bottom no longer makes it stupid, yet a chat box on its own is no good?
  • Actually I think I might have made a bad example. Making wallets might actually give you arts and crafts skill. MMORPGs will only give you mouse clicking skills. Arts + Crafts are definitely more worthwhile.
  • Scott, that is such a straw man argument. Nobody said that the actual game is stupid. It seems that we (the players) all agree that the game itself is enjoyable and offers a lot of varied content to experience, and this experience is greatly enhanced by playing with a group of friends. It is also stated (though not directly, but still true) that playing alone, or if friends were to quit then the value of the game would quickly diminish and no longer hold interest.

    Your argument that other games are somehow better and help to train reflex, thinking skills, etc while WoW does not is just an argument from inexperience. Sure WoW might require a different kind of skill, and that skill might even be easier to learn/master, but there is still skill involved. Games like WoW that are level based with a lot of equipment rewards have the natural problem that in general, level/equipment will always win between two players of equal skill level. However, at the same time a better player can overcome a level/equipment gap based on their own skill, though it is difficult. So in the end, playing WoW will challenge reflexes and thinking skills in order to be a good player.

    I submit that your examples provide no more useful reward then WoW anyway. Other then interacting with friends, how does D+D give you anything of value in return? Same with FPSes, what good is FPS skill to you other then bragging rights? Tetris skill? Mario Kart? All of these games which you enjoy are very much similar to WoW. In the end you are performing a task, which is usually repetitive, and you get imaginary rewards which only serve as bragging rights to other players. Your "skill" in the game is meaningless to anybody else that doesn't play the game. The only advantage that these other games have is there is no monthly fee. Which it is up to the individual to decide if they are getting an enjoyment value greater then the cost, and to quit if the value is no longer worth it. Your opinion is obvious that you don't think it has value, but that is quite simply your opinion. Nobody is going to force you to play.

    The other examples, reading a book, starting a wiki, are both good things to do with spare time, but are not a group activity. A wiki might involve a group of friends to maintain, but there is no interaction there. Thus it really serves no purpose in this argument.
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