April 2, 2012 by chrisklamb
Last week we played World of Warcraft in class with an interesting effect. Before when playing multiplayer games such as Left for Dead the class group seemed to band together or offer advice to the players, even in single player games such as Myst (in my group) everyone assisted with solving puzzles and progressing the game. So what happened with World of Warcraft?
In the beginning of lab, during Alex’s insightful briefing on gameplay, other players who were already logged on in gamespace were already on the move, beginning and completing quests before he finished, and keeping the team together and on track in the traditional MMO sense was a curious endeavor. All of this begs a few questions, starting with the beginning of flying solo, and ending with the tasks undertaken after a brief collective career in quest tracking. So what caused our initial split? First and foremost WoW is an expansive wide open gamespace, where you are not required to follow quests-if you can manage to solely grind out however many levels-and narrative is not very prevalent. This freedom early-game undermines the teamwork that one now associates with MMOs, and without a team committed to the game, this teamwork can be even more challenging. Keeping everyone on the same quest chain proved somewhat difficult, so it was decided that we would jump that ship and do what every videogame player strives for: we were gonna ‘kill big.’ Everyone was suddenly on the same page; this idea was one of the soundest things I had ever heard in my life at the time- unfortunately the ‘biggest’ thing within 30 (in-game) kilometers were some odd boar-looking fellows, but I digress. Then the thought hit me, “in so many games we do the best at messing about, or following zealous missions to ride in rocket ships, or chasing some generally small off topic goal within the game.” As earlier posited this may also have been because of the game, but this relegates it to a minor influencing factor. Why do we change the ludonarrative so often? In lab at least I believe it has to do with the players themselves. We all come from different gaming backgrounds and enjoy different aspects of games. If a game doesn’t fit with our interests will we play in a manner that belittles it (unintentionally) because we do not take it as seriously? I think the relatively short lab time (compared to times usually invested in MMOs) made it more reminiscent of an arcade experience in that the investment of time and energy into a character is less. I think both of these are accurate, but I cannot make a definitive or scholarly assertion, because I have not done the research required, just some semi-deep thought. Lastly, I give you my reaction to World of Warcraft. I enjoyed it. It was fun revisiting it after learning more about the theory that goes into its creation and our reception of it. Although this knowledge has not changed my opinion of it: not bad, but not for me. Playing with the video games class though was refreshing as always. Hearing the reactions of impending doom from one, as classmates either came to the rescue or watched said doom was hilarious. Oddly enough playing WoW this time around was a much more fun experience, but I would have to give that point to the company over the game this time around.