My PC Brings All The Boys To The Yard

I took a break from video game consoles this last September to try my hand at PC gaming. (I must admit, the prospect of using an entire keyboard to maneuver a character when my experience with gaming peripherals had been limited to joystick controllers for over two decades, was intimidating.) I upgraded my computer's graphics card, power supply, RAM, keyboard, mouse, and bolted up the diving board stairs and jumped off into the deep end.

Now, I'll be the first to admit I was drawn in by the flashy advertisements, the overwhelming number of users, and the massive environment that comprises World of Warcraft. Yes, I am a sucker. Warcraft, as far as I was and am concerned is sort of like the Harry Potter bastard child of PC gaming (hype much?). There are probably hundreds of other amazing titles (Crysis) that I could have chosen to purchase and probably would have enjoyed, but, how could I ignore Warcraft's 11.5 million user base? When 4 out of 5 doctor's recommend a particular brand of toothpaste, I use it. Why should this be any different? Furthermore, I wanted an experience all together different from the rich single player modes my consoles all ready offer me. Granted, I have played several multiplayer games on my Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, from Guitar Hero to Tiger Woods to Gears of War, but felt multiplayer was lacking that extra something. Never in my time on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network did I feel that I was actually part of a gaming community – more like I was in a queue with a bunch of antisocial people who had been thrust together for the sole purpose of proving superior gaming skill. Warcraft proved to be more than advertisements and hype by creating the community my consoles could not, and for this reason, I am happy this was my first PC game experience.

Just like the real world, Warcraft has its fair share of punks, know-it-alls, spammers, idiots, and slackers. But for every one of these people, there are at least 10 or 20 other people who are well mannered, love gaming, have jobs and families, and are eager to play the game with other polite gamers. Warcraft is a lot like Myspace or Facebook, or even Gamespot, in that it will allow you to connect with others who have similar interests and hobbies.

However, because Warcraft is an interactive 3D experience, where you can use voice chat and emotes, it is a much richer communications experience than what you will find on Myspace or even your video game console. The difference between platform multiplayer and Warcraft multiplayer is perhaps best represented by the Guild system which allows players to form a cooperative ensemble, kind of like a club. Some guilds stay reasonably small (around 20 or 30 people) and some are quite large (100+). There are advantages and disadvantages to the various sizes. Larger groups are more likely to perform 25-man dungeon raids together, but people tend to know less about one another are more "game focused". Smaller groups tend to be closer knit, often have multiple players from a single household, or friends from the same town, and tend to be a more social group. The pitfall of smaller groups is they often have more drama. Whichever type of guild you join, chances are you will have gotten to know numerous people over the course of several weeks. Therefore, there is a sense of belonging, camaraderie, dedication, and commitment which feels altogether absent from platform gaming.In other words, the entire time you play Warcraft, you are making friends and, potentially, enemies.

Communication as a lower level character is not as rich or enticing as that of a higher level character, but it is possible. Many of my Warcraft friends have other friends that they've been playing with since their first day in the game. Friend networking is also beneficial when you have a hard quest to complete, don't know how to obtain items, or just need general advice. More often than not, people help people playing the game and many enjoy doing so. The Warcraft community is unlike any community I have seen in any other game and with the right communications skills, is one of the single best ways to connect with other gamers.

The game itself is rich with content and is not entirely unlike other RPG's such as The Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect. Its greatest pitfall is that quests often feel repetitive and a great deal of the game is spent grinding through levels. However, the world that is Warcraft is constantly changing. New gear, items, and dungeons are regularly available through patches, and with the implementation of the achievement system (similar to the 360) there is always something new to do. What keeps users coming back to this game despite its repetitive qualities is the community. Obtaining gear upgrades from a 25 man dungeon is sort of like sporting a BMW through town. Furthermore, co-operative play with friends who help you get that special sword or helmet is incredibly rewarding. Gone are the days of obtaining that long sought after sword alone in your living room, where you stifle your cheer because it seems rather ridiculous to be applauding yourself by yourself. There is a reason 11.5 million people have subscribed to Warcraft and aren't playing another installment of Rainbow Six multiplayer on the Xbox 360. I hope that console game developers are looking at the success of Warcraft and trying to figure out a way to implement more community-esque multiplayer.

I am looking forward to news regarding The Old Republic MMORPG from Bioware at E3. While many other MMORPG's have tried to capture the Warcraft audience, most have been unsuccessful (Warhammer Online). Where The Old Republic may convert Warcraft subscribers is in story and deviation from the repetitive formula – something Bioware has been very successful with over the years. Only time will tell.

For those of you who have yet to take the Warcraft plunge, either because of some bizarre nonconformist value which dictates you should not play what everyone else is playing, or because like me, you have little PC gaming experience – avoid Warcraft no longer! That is, unless of course, you hate interacting with people, can't stand role-playing games, have no desire to explore an open ended world rich with story and atmosphere, or can't afford the monthly subscribers fee. No, Warcraft is not a perfect game, but it is an engaging communication experience.

12 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by JediMaster

I took a break from video game consoles this last September to try my hand at PC gaming. (I must admit, the prospect of using an entire keyboard to maneuver a character when my experience with gaming peripherals had been limited to joystick controllers for over two decades, was intimidating.) I upgraded my computer's graphics card, power supply, RAM, keyboard, mouse, and bolted up the diving board stairs and jumped off into the deep end.

Now, I'll be the first to admit I was drawn in by the flashy advertisements, the overwhelming number of users, and the massive environment that comprises World of Warcraft. Yes, I am a sucker. Warcraft, as far as I was and am concerned is sort of like the Harry Potter bastard child of PC gaming (hype much?). There are probably hundreds of other amazing titles (Crysis) that I could have chosen to purchase and probably would have enjoyed, but, how could I ignore Warcraft's 11.5 million user base? When 4 out of 5 doctor's recommend a particular brand of toothpaste, I use it. Why should this be any different? Furthermore, I wanted an experience all together different from the rich single player modes my consoles all ready offer me. Granted, I have played several multiplayer games on my Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, from Guitar Hero to Tiger Woods to Gears of War, but felt multiplayer was lacking that extra something. Never in my time on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network did I feel that I was actually part of a gaming community – more like I was in a queue with a bunch of antisocial people who had been thrust together for the sole purpose of proving superior gaming skill. Warcraft proved to be more than advertisements and hype by creating the community my consoles could not, and for this reason, I am happy this was my first PC game experience.

Just like the real world, Warcraft has its fair share of punks, know-it-alls, spammers, idiots, and slackers. But for every one of these people, there are at least 10 or 20 other people who are well mannered, love gaming, have jobs and families, and are eager to play the game with other polite gamers. Warcraft is a lot like Myspace or Facebook, or even Gamespot, in that it will allow you to connect with others who have similar interests and hobbies.

However, because Warcraft is an interactive 3D experience, where you can use voice chat and emotes, it is a much richer communications experience than what you will find on Myspace or even your video game console. The difference between platform multiplayer and Warcraft multiplayer is perhaps best represented by the Guild system which allows players to form a cooperative ensemble, kind of like a club. Some guilds stay reasonably small (around 20 or 30 people) and some are quite large (100+). There are advantages and disadvantages to the various sizes. Larger groups are more likely to perform 25-man dungeon raids together, but people tend to know less about one another are more "game focused". Smaller groups tend to be closer knit, often have multiple players from a single household, or friends from the same town, and tend to be a more social group. The pitfall of smaller groups is they often have more drama. Whichever type of guild you join, chances are you will have gotten to know numerous people over the course of several weeks. Therefore, there is a sense of belonging, camaraderie, dedication, and commitment which feels altogether absent from platform gaming.In other words, the entire time you play Warcraft, you are making friends and, potentially, enemies.

Communication as a lower level character is not as rich or enticing as that of a higher level character, but it is possible. Many of my Warcraft friends have other friends that they've been playing with since their first day in the game. Friend networking is also beneficial when you have a hard quest to complete, don't know how to obtain items, or just need general advice. More often than not, people help people playing the game and many enjoy doing so. The Warcraft community is unlike any community I have seen in any other game and with the right communications skills, is one of the single best ways to connect with other gamers.

The game itself is rich with content and is not entirely unlike other RPG's such as The Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect. Its greatest pitfall is that quests often feel repetitive and a great deal of the game is spent grinding through levels. However, the world that is Warcraft is constantly changing. New gear, items, and dungeons are regularly available through patches, and with the implementation of the achievement system (similar to the 360) there is always something new to do. What keeps users coming back to this game despite its repetitive qualities is the community. Obtaining gear upgrades from a 25 man dungeon is sort of like sporting a BMW through town. Furthermore, co-operative play with friends who help you get that special sword or helmet is incredibly rewarding. Gone are the days of obtaining that long sought after sword alone in your living room, where you stifle your cheer because it seems rather ridiculous to be applauding yourself by yourself. There is a reason 11.5 million people have subscribed to Warcraft and aren't playing another installment of Rainbow Six multiplayer on the Xbox 360. I hope that console game developers are looking at the success of Warcraft and trying to figure out a way to implement more community-esque multiplayer.

I am looking forward to news regarding The Old Republic MMORPG from Bioware at E3. While many other MMORPG's have tried to capture the Warcraft audience, most have been unsuccessful (Warhammer Online). Where The Old Republic may convert Warcraft subscribers is in story and deviation from the repetitive formula – something Bioware has been very successful with over the years. Only time will tell.

For those of you who have yet to take the Warcraft plunge, either because of some bizarre nonconformist value which dictates you should not play what everyone else is playing, or because like me, you have little PC gaming experience – avoid Warcraft no longer! That is, unless of course, you hate interacting with people, can't stand role-playing games, have no desire to explore an open ended world rich with story and atmosphere, or can't afford the monthly subscribers fee. No, Warcraft is not a perfect game, but it is an engaging communication experience.

Posted by Gizmo

Playing WoW for too long is a numbing experience, I think ultimately its success and popularity has stumped the growth and development of more ambitious MMO's, I played it for a couple of years, I still play it occasionally, it's a great game, probably the greatest. I think it's time for a change though, a lot about the game is dated.

Posted by Feanor

I like how MMOs are now failures if they do not get 12 million subscribers.

Posted by RsistncE

I think that beyond your wholehearted recommendation that everyone and their mother run out to buy this game is that you're failing to realize that WoW is a type of game that many (including myself) just do not enjoy. I'll be completely honest I've tried it and I now hate it with a passion as a result. I can not for the life me figure out why anyone would want to play out. To each his own I guess.

Posted by End_Boss

I agree with most of what you're saying, especially that WOW doesn't deserve all the flak it gets from today's jaded, too-cool-for-school gamers. I played for roughly a year before the current expansion and got my Paladin up to level 70. There were great moments, there were shitty moments, but most of all there were memorable moments and that, to me, is what separates a good game from a great game.

Now, you mentioned that Warhammer Online tried to "captivate WOW's audience." I have to say, I wholeheartedly disagree. I think you'll see upon further examination of Warhammer Online that it is an altogether different experience than WOW, and that it is difficult to compare the two within the same parameters. I think there's an MMO out there for everyone (mine happens to be The Lord of the Rings Online) and it is absolutely undeniable that for some reason WOW has become that MMO for most. Still, as Gizmo said, I can't help but wish that the juggernaut would relinquish its grip on the MMO world, if only that newer, innovation-rich experiences could obtain the recognition they deserve. Sadly, I think the day that WOW steps down as reigning MMO champion is still many years (perhaps decades) off.

Posted by jakob187

WoW was fun for the first three years, but now, there's just nothing to keep me interested.  It still has my brother and a good number of my friends by the left testicle (nicotine has them and me by the right, so WoW had to take what was available).  Then again, maybe it's a completely different experience for those who are just now coming into the game rather than those who were there during its launch.


Actually, I wasn't there AT LAUNCH.  I came into WoW when AQ was being added to the game.  It was an awesome experience back then, as you felt like you were a part of something big!  Now, though...I don't know.  It's just too damn casual.  It kind of drives me insane.  It's not the fact that you have to deal with noobs coming into dungeons and raids unprepared.  I'm more than willing to help people along the way if I can, and I don't use the word "noobs" as a derogatory term towards anyone.  They are new, therefore they are noobs.  However, it becomes tedious when the company making the game decides to nerf the shit out of everything in order for those noobs to see the endgame content.  There is a reason why there is endgame content:  it's for the dedicated players.  Those who were casual back in WoW rocked their T1 and T1.5 dungeon sets while hardcore players were rocking their T1 and T2 dungeon sets.  I remember when Dreadnaught armor FIRST came out for Warriors, and it was jaw-dropping to see those stats back then.  T3 was a pinnacle in WoW for people to have.  Naxx was fucking rough.

Now, I could go with my guild on a 2 and a half hour run of 25 man Naxx without issue.  It's a joke.

I'm glad you are enjoying your time with the game, though.  I might get back on one of these days, so hook me up with your toon name and server and I'll start up a Death Knight and show you the ropes of some things if you need any help.

Also, Warhammer is a superior game to WoW.  It just refuses to lower its standards in order to appease to a larger audience.  Don't knock a developer for having integrity.
Edited by JediMaster
@jakob187: Perhaps one of the things I enjoyed about WoW in the beginning was the simplicity of it all. Not being overly familiar with the mechanics of PC gaming (the last game I played seriously on the PC was DOOM, yeah, DOOM. LOL), WoW was easy for me to play right out of the box. It required little or no effort on my part to learn. So, WoW makes itself available to a group of people that might never have dared to dabble in PC gaming or role-playing games otherwise. A few years back I wrote a fairly detailed piece about how ignorance surrounding video games perpetuates negatively charged stereotypes about the video game industry. My point was, that its difficult for parents to moderate a child's video games for violence when they have absolutely no experience playing them. Many parents I have seen in Gamestop have been completely duped by their children into buying M rated games. So, it has long been my hope that video games would become more and more accessible to a mainstream audience, thereby increasing intelligence about the industry and decreasing some of the myths. 

WoW does fail for hardcore gamers, and you'll get absolutely no argument from me on that point. After playing it for months on end I can see that there is very little the game still has left to offer me. However, this should not diminish the fact that WoW is a truly engaging social experience. It may have your brother by his left nut, and it currently has me by my right arm (but its grip is waning and I am truly looking forward to moving on to something new like The Old Republic). My point about Warhammer is not that it is a crappy game or that the publisher was off their creaky rocker when making it, but that it is perhaps not as available to the mainstream audience as WoW is. My love for games started back on Nintendo, but most people are only recently being introduced to this hobby. I am fairly certain that as gaming grows more and more in popularity, difficulty levels will be revamped. After all, we could safely argue that the majority of current generation games are ridiculously easy. I mean... you couldn't even die in Bioshock. No death? Take that Mario! 
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw
@End_Boss: I play LOTRO too.  Love the attention to lore and the easy-going atmosphere.  Fun game to play for five minutes or a couple of hours.

Anyways, back on topic... I enjoyed World of Warcraft, but then again, I'm the type of gamer who enjoys RPG's in general.  Feed me such a massive RPG with a bunch of other players, and I'll eat it up.  However, the fonts in World of Warcraft are extremely difficult for me to read (I have some severe vision problems), so I switched fully to LOTRO.  However, that's completely a personal problem and I highly recommend the game to people for at least a trial basis.  Can't hurt to give it a shot at least.
Moderator
Posted by TheMustacheHero

Warhammer Online gets no love, no love I tell ya!

Posted by jakob187
@JediMaster: You may not have been able to "die" in Bioshock, but try getting the achievement for not using a Vita-Chamber on the hardest difficulty setting!!!  LOL

Personally, parents are responsible for what their kids play.  If they say it's okay, who am I to say otherwise?  I wouldn't let my kid play or watch GTA, but then again, that's me.  Just because parents would be playing games doesn't mean that things will be any better or worse.  I see it everyday at work.

Bringing gaming to a mainstream audience may increase the number of people interested, but the quality of games continues to be questionable.  In the last five years, the average score review of games is between 67% to 74%.  That tells me that there aren't a lot of good games coming out, but instead, there are a strong number of mediocre games coming out with a few hidden gems in there.  Look at the five years before that, however, and you'll find a different story.  Average score reivew of games was in between 78% to 83%.  Why?  Less mainstream, more focused on the crowd that made gaming what it is.

Too many folks in the industry look at this as merely a business now and not enough of them see it as the hobby that we all loved.  Once they found a way to get rich off it, they stopped caring about why they got into it in the first place.  Games like WoW, honestly, feel like a representation of that mentality.  I almost have the feeling that I'll end up feeling the same way towards Diablo III, which I hate thinking could happen.

Warhammer isn't as open to the mainstream audience because it refuses to give in and be an easy type of game.  
Posted by End_Boss
Sparky_Buzzsaw said:
@End_Boss: I play LOTRO too.  Love the attention to lore and the easy-going atmosphere.  Fun game to play for five ... [more]
What server do you play on? I'm thinking of starting a new character on a different server and am looking for opinions on which is best suited to me. I like servers with medium-high populations, not vacant, but not overflowing constantly with people, either.
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw
@End_Boss: I tend to play mostly on Landroval, which has a decent sized population.
Moderator
Posted by Gunner612

I keep getting scared that once i reach endgame and get all the good gear that ive always wanted, that i might get sick of it and quit.

But then there is Warhammer, I still have an account there so it should be pretty easy to get back in if i ever had the need to.