World of Warcraft as a game needs little introduction, at its height it boasted millions of active subscribers and mainstream popularity. That peak popularity is long gone but the game continues to pull an extreme profit and continues to hold the players attention. I have personally sunk hours into this game, I meet many people who I continue to communicate with through this game even when they begin to drift away from the game. Developed by Blizzard entertainment World of Warcraft is a continuation in a series of games that originated as a top down strategy game. The tolkienesque fantasy setting gained its thematic legs through 3 main titles of Warcraft as a strategy game. However in 2004 they would release this world to the public but this time in an MMO RPG format allowing for players to interact with the world and each other in a cooperative and antagonistic fashion as was the norm for many previous MMOs.
AS A GAME
As a game World of Warcraft offers its
players an extreme amount of content to play through and progress on. Having been a running game for more than ten years the amount of things one could do is staggering. However for a player like me all the extra bits are just that extra. I continue to play for the sole community reasons. I’ve been a part of a guild(group of players) for years now and I continue to be a part of this guild because to put it simply I want to kill big monsters that require the cooperation of 19 other real people. As a game this is easy to define through Caillois “The Definition of Play and Classification of Games”
- Free, While I do have a obligation to my friends I am free to drop the game at any point and when it fails to be a fun experience I will exercise this.
- Separate, while the some people take this game into the real world and let the results affect them in real life for me it still remains a recreational activity.
- Uncertain, How well we do or what items I will acquire is random and this adds a sense of surprise to the experience.
- Unproductive, While I have gained real world wealth through the game I never went out of my way to turn this into a job.
- Governed by rules, this is obviously a game that is governed by preprogrammed rules.
- Make-Believe, While I may not exercise this aspect many people find this sort of game exciting because they can make-believe within it, I do not.
What is interesting is that people also begin to group themselves and create spaces based on that they enjoy about the game. https://www.wowprogress.com/ this allows for people ranked their groups based on who kills the current bosses in the shortest amount of time. This is a news site that focused of guides for people who either need help or are focused on completing every aspect of the game. http://www.wowhead.com These groups form within this game as the way people interact with the structure provided differs dramatically from group to group.
This is a little more complex especially
when we take into account all the different groups playing this game for different reasons. To start we could have the people who wish to defeat large scale group content (player versus environment) or raiders create sites, communities, and videos to not only teach but to share their experiences and victories with the community. Those who do this well and can prove it through percentile ranking consider what they do an art. Something that can be shared and held up within their community. There is also more traditional forms of art like fan art, but this exists outside of the game and so this can’t be considered as the game as art. However when it comes to comedic sketches and story based videos through Machinima that is done within the game and is also in some cases able to be relevant outside of the games community.
…it also illustrates its role as a part of critical play genealogy that has its origins in avant-garde movements. -Hjoth
The idea that this game and it’s combat system can combine to relive a classic Abbot and Costello bit “Who’s on first” is charming and funny to the average person thanks to its avant-garde style. That a futuristic video game that allow for people to play as a multitude of things, can be molded into a classic silver screen era comedic routine is not what many would expect.
With so many opportunities for World of Warcraft to reclassify it’s Game play, and provide varied amounts art the game has become and will remain a cultural cornerstone for not only the players but thoughts who have ever interacted with its many groups and artistic products.