April 11, 2012 by bnoble6
For my gameplay reflection, I will be discussing my experiences playing World of Warcraft. The experience with this game was immediately very different from other games because of the way the room was set up. Instead of everyone sharing a screen and console, there were numerous computers set up in the room and everyone had their characters meet up in the virtual world. In my opinion, this configuration had various pro’s and con’s. On the positive side, it gave everyone much more time to play the game and create their own in-game scenarios. However, when Alex was trying to go through a quick tutorial of the game for the class, many were already distracted by killing creatures and saving dinosaurs as they roamed the vast landscape. This is to be expected since when someone is presented with something new, they just want to delve in and see what it has to offer for themselves instead of listening to someone else discuss it. But, since I was not one of the individuals able to play immediately, I found Alex’s presentation of the game very interesting and was amazed by the incredible depth the game had to offer.
Perhaps my amazement was a result of never even playing an MMORPG before and having little experience with RPG’s in general. (This has changed since the class, as I went out and bought Skyrim and have enjoyed the game immensely.) Alex’s introduction to the game, although only scratching the surface of everything it has to offer, illustrated how deep the game is in terms of races, classes, and potential objectives one can complete. Before this session, I didn’t understand how so many people have lost their grasp on various aspects of their lives as a result of this game, but I was much more understanding after learning more about it. The possibilities within the World of Warcraft are truly limitless. In the game, a player can complete assigned quests, travel around leisurely, or even get a job! Hours to days of gameplay could be dedicated to any one of these single tasks (for example, this Youtube video shows how much time a single player has dedicated to their job of being a clothes tailor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_UvtN1-O2k). The fact that this much time can be spent on, what are in effect side missions, is truly astonishing to me since most of my life has been spent in competitive FPS online multiplayer games and campaigns that are much shorter and more linear.
But in regards to the actual gameplay experience itself, the game was surprisingly easy to pick up and play, but I assume much more difficult to master. The graphics and environment were not awe-inspiring, but definitely satisfactory. The environment was very “fantasy-esque” and full of vibrant colors. I think this was intentionally done to try to appeal to as many different types of gamers as possible, instead of cornering itself into a teen-age boy niche game. Another aspect of the game that I found extremely interesting was its lack of a definite and clear narrative. It is typically assumed that when a game is as successful as this one, it has some sort of epic narrative that drives players to keep playing (i.e. Mass Effect, Halo, or Metal Gear Solid). However, this is absolutely not the case in WoW, where there are two separate factions, the Alliance and Horde, which a player is allowed to choose from. From there, the path and narrative one chooses is almost completely up to them. I think this freedom and ability to create your own story is where the real draw of this game lies. The game is full of books and information that add to the environment and story to some extent, but since nothing is really forced on the player, any two people playing the same game could have completely different experiences.
One aspect of the game that surprised me was how silly various aspects of the game were. For a game that so many people around the world take so seriously and dedicate so much time too, I found it very interesting to see the game doesn’t always take itself so seriously. There are various comedic things one can do in the game, from the types of messages you send for communication or even just standing around dancing. I did not expect this when imagining what the game would be like prior to playing it. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing either, and honestly I found it somewhat refreshing and necessary. People become so entranced into this world that it almost becomes a sort of job, but I think these aspects of the game do a great job to break up this monotony and keep things entertaining.
After playing World of Warcraft and experiencing the incredible feeling of opportunity in the game, I have a newfound interest in this genre of games and could see myself playing more of them in the future. The only reservations I have are that I may become too enthralled in them and other aspects of my life would take a hit. In the end though, I think that is what makes these games so impressive, the escape they provide and constant re-playability value they bring to the table.