Ah, World of Warcraft. It is the one thing that makes every non-player shudder and think: "That's only for nerds or idiots who obsess over a game. I'd never play that." The biggest news is the addictive quality and how "lame" the game is, how everyone who plays it is anti-social and has no life... When I mentioned to a friend that I was playing it, they gave me a look and didn't say anything. Nothing at all. That speaks volumes, doesn't it? However, if I had said something about the other games that I like (Pokemon for the DS and older, Fable for the xbox, Okami for the PS2 etc), they would have had plenty to say, even if it was simply: "Never heard of that one before - what's it about?" But Worled of Warcraft, or WoW for short, is a different story altogether. No, play that one and you're a loser spending their life holed up at the computer. Should I continue?
Truth is that it's a pretty fun game. I started playing in February and it mostly follows a standard RPG format where you complete quests and gain experience points - all the while finding treasure and improving your "armour" and general statistics. Nothing too special there, but what I love about it is that the game is always evolving. There is always something new to find and a new quest to go on. That said, there are so many different "races" and storylines to follow that it feels like you are getting twelve games in one! For a thrifty student, that is surely a good thing!
Let me take you through a bit of the game.
In the above screenshot, I'm using my Tauren (Shadow) Priest to complete some quests. At the top left of the screen, attached to my character picture/headshot, there are two bars: green and blue. The green bar keeps track of your health and the blue bar keeps track of your mana, or how many points you have left in order to cast spells. Spells range from a protective shield, healing yourself, resurrecting a friend, slowing down an enemy, scaring away enemies, causing damage with shadow magic and much more. It's difficult to keep track of them at some points but it keeps the game fun as it's a learning curve all the way through.
Next screenshot! Enemies in the form of animals, enemy humans (sometimes even of the same species as you, if you play as a Tauren, for example) and general monsters roam the land and you have to find some way to get past them. Some of the creatures are peaceful and will let you run past without attacking but others, such as this rhino-like creature, will charge and engage you in combat. Always a chance to gain experience points and the enemies you encounter will count towards quests, which you can then turn in for money, experience points and, sometimes, armour pieces. As the graves in that image show, there are sometimes more casualties than victories!
Combat is often fast-paced while you keep an eye on your health. Oh and you can have "pets" or "companions" in game too - that's mine floating behind me. Cute, right? Only a girl can get away with saying that, but I'm in this to have fun and not be "cool" or something. ;-)
So what's the deal with it? It's just like any other game? Perhaps the addictive factor lies in how much there is to explore and achieve here; you can gain achievements for completing certain quests, doing certain actions and finding certain creatures, which are usually very rare. Don't even get me started on the dungeons and battlegrounds. I'm not a dungeon-goer yet, but I will try them out later on. Battlegrounds are often hectic and rushed, good if people play smart, however. You gain honour points from battlegrounds and the armour that you gain from spending these points is pretty impressive; it certainly helped me out twice when I got to new areas! (Invincible! ...well, not really, but it helped a great deal with defence!)
There's a lot to do in this game and there's even a new expansion pack being released in September, so I expect that I'll be repeating myself soon enough. However, while there are people looking forward to this expansion, I am sure that there are many more sighing and groaning over losing their partner to the online world of adventuring once again.
Like any game, WoW is something that must be taken in moderation. Anyone can get caught up in any game if they play it for long enough and don't limit themselves or pay attention to their other interests. There is more to life than this game, though it is also nice to chat to friends through it and join up with them to play through dungeons, battlegrounds and quests, of course. Even though people will sigh and scoff at me playing (hey, I was laughed at for playing Pokemon, don't judge me), I'm still going to play and have a whale of a time at university simultaneously. My studies will always come first, as does work. But I know the importance of downtime after working myself too hard and, if this gives me some "chill out" time, where's the harm in that?
Everything in moderation!