World of Warcraft

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“Warcraft. Huh. Good God y'all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”
~ Edwin Starr on World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, often referred to as WoW or WhoA [1] is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment.[2] It is the fourth released game set in the Warcraft fantasy universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans: Why Can't We Be Friends? in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, two years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: Join the Army.[3]

The main objective of World of Warcraft is to click on animals. The challenge of the game lies chiefly in the sheer volume of animals needing to be be clicked. It is estimated that players need to click on one cubic mile of animals in order to complete the game. Players seeking to take a break from monotonous animal-clicking can partake in one of the countless many sidequests such as catching 10,000 fish one at a time, crafting 10,000 necklaces one at a time, clicking on enemy players of lower level,[4] or selling plastic daggers to n00bs for 50 gold.

Gameplay

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For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about World of Warcraft.

As with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third person view, exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, performing tedious collection quests, interacting with Non-Player Characters, completing tedious deliveries for lazy Non-Player Characters, clicking on animals, and carrying out tedious escort quests by helping excruciatingly slow Non-Player Characters travel vast distances through obvious ambushes. World of Warcraft requires players to pay for a subscription, such that one year of gameplay will cost the player around two hundred dollars.[5]

The main story behind the game focuses on two warring factions: the Alliance, made up of humanoid races, and the Horde, made up of the less attractive humanoid races, such as trolls and giant cow-people. The conflict between these two camps drives many of the events in the plot of the entire Warcraft series. In this particular installment, the Alliance and Horde must form an unlikely truce to drive off an invading zombie infestation. Blizzard has received many complaints[6] about the overall story of World of Warcraft, both for its similarities to several George Romero films and its use of the "enemies teaming up to vanquish a common foe" plotline, which gamers have found to be "just too original--please, give us more clichés!"

Starting a Character

Omgskellator

A typical player character in WoW, shown with Tier 5 Pwnzorz equipment.

To enter the game, players must select a 'realm', or server. Each realm acts as an individual copy of the game world, and falls into one of two categories: Standard and Role-Playing. The Role-Playing realms cater to those players who consider simply playing World of Warcraft to be too cool, and need a way to further enhance their nerdliness.[7] In such realms, players must remain in character or risk being branded an outcast of dorks, a fate worse than rejection by a girl. Dialogue between players is vastly different in the two realms: for example, whereas in a Standard realm a player might say "Looking to sell Murder Knife of Stabbiness, 40 Gold", the same statement in a Role-Playing realm might look more like this: "Attention, fellow mortals. I, the humble wizard Radagast, seek a buyer for the Murder Knife of Stabbiness, a most excellent blade truly worthy of being wielded by a heroic knight or stealthy rogue. I humbly ask for a mere forty golden pieces in exchange for this most high-quality of items. I thank you for your attention, humble folk of Stormwind, and bid you good morrow!"

Perhaps the most important decision the player faces when creating their character, other than breast size and breast shape, is the character's class. This attribute determines what sort of abilities and stats the character will start with.[8] From the mighty warrior to the powerful druid to the feeble hunter, there are literally several classes to choose from. Some classes, such as the priest, are more useful for so-called 'grouping', where multiple players gather to support each other in the quest to rapidly click on animals. Up to sixty players can join the same group and adventure together, resulting in furious animal-clicking episodes.

Ongoing Gameplay

As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, most of them exact copies of previously learned skills but with differing numbers. Professions such as fishing, cooking, engineering, first aid, exotic dancing, insurance salesman, and mining can also be learned by characters. Players may often join or form guilds, a sort of organized gaming syndicate or MMORPG mafia.

Much of World of Warcraft play involves "questing". This typically involves forming questions at other players or NPCs[9] until they are annoyed and offer you money in exchange for leaving them alone. Questing can also mean carrying out tasks for various in-game entities. These tasks are, again, mainly animal-clicking related, but can also involve many other types of chore, such as excruciatingly long journeys in order to deliver inconsequential items[10] for a disproportionately small reward. So-called quest chains are punishment for focusing too much of one's time on questing; these chains must be worn around the character's hands or feet and greatly reduce stats, primarily speed and libido.

Cylon

A hardcore WoW player in full Epic gear.

When a character dies in WoW, the penalty is significantly lower than in similar MMORPGs. The only adverse effects are time lost while running back to the player's mangled corpse, a high probability of resurrecting next to the very animal that mangled the player in the first place,[11], a large deduction in the quality of the player's gear requiring large sums of gold to be spent on repairs, several minutes of "resurrection sickness"[12] causing the player's statistics to suffer a temporary reduction, and, of course, the social stigma that is associated with performing so poorly at video games.[13]

Other Gameplay Aspects Warranting Mention

"Instances" are specific areas containing high-level enemies which much be undertaken by groups rather than individuals. These areas often offer superior weapons and armor, and also offer unique bosses and a linear progression, unlike every other aspect of World of Warcraft. An example of a typical instance would be the Dire Mall area of northern Feralas, featuring such challenges as the Dual Escalator Ambush, the Food Court Gauntlet, and the final battle atop the Multi-Level Parking Structure. Instances are the main focus of the so-called "end game", meaning they are the main activity undertaken by players who have clicked a sufficient amount of animals and have advanced to the highest rank, eliminating the need for further animal-clicking. These end game raids require dozens of players to work together in perfect harmony, and oftentimes players will undertake instances many times consecutively in order to seek out a single rare piece of equipment that will help them in the next instance, which has even better equipment.

In 2008 a list of achievements was added in a direct response to similar features on console gaming systems. There are nearly one thousand possible achievements players must accomplish in WoW, ranging from the mundane (purchasing bags, hugging cows, clicking every type of opposing player possible) to the intricately impossible (slaying zombie laser dragons while keeping one's fifteen pet turkeys alive and using a signature battle cry). These achievements have also highlighted the holidays that Blizzard has introduced into the game. These holidays mirror real-life occasions, such as Brewfest (Oktoberfest). Blizzard has come under fire from conservative groups for naming their December holiday "Winter Veil" instead of some direct reference to the birth of Christ.

Many ethics issues have been raised concerning various aspects of World of Warcraft. One particular event was the Corrupted Blood Plague Incident in 2005, when an in-game disease wiped out many lower-level characters. Without these players, the higher-level characters resorted to clicking on each other, which disrupted the entire game dynamic and force Blizzard to perform a hard reset of its servers.[14] Another issue is the sale of virtual goods in the real world. Many illegitimate markets have appeared which are associated with World of Warcraft, and virtual money or even whole characters can be purchased in the darker, more sinister corners of the internet. While not strictly illegal, players of low moral fiber who buy such amenities often find that months later, their accounts have been hacked, their gold and goods stolen, and their precious pets have been set loose to fend for themselves in the wild.[15]

Expansions

Since its release in 2004, two expansions have been released for World of Warcraft. Both of these include several new features, such as playable races, maps, or ways to change a character's hairstyle.[16] In 2006, The Burning Crusade was released, introducing two new races to the game: Draenei and Blood Elves. The Draenei are an ancient spacefaring race that resemble blue minotaurs, with a focus on nobility and chivalry. The Blood Elves are Night Elves with a palette change. This expansion also unveiled the Eye of the Storm battleground, where players can click on each other dozens of times for increasingly small rewards, which may later be turned in for equipment that in turn helps the player click on more enemy players resulting in more small rewards.

In 2008, Blizzard released Wrath of the Lich King, the second in the series of expansions that give the player the illusion that he is purchasing a brand new game. In this installment, the class of Death Knight is introduced. Death Knights were once mindless servants of the uncomprehensibly evil Lich King Arthas Menethil, but they are now free to frolic in the woods and perform other WoW tasks. The other feature new to this release was the playable continent of Northrend, featuring over a dozen new types of animals that are fully clickable.

Footnotes

  1. Or occasionally EgaD! by British players.
  2. Formerly Snowflake Entertainment & Lawnmowing Service. No longer affiliated with Snowflake Lawnmowing Service.
  3. Blizzard received much criticism for both its thinly veiled attempt at U.S. Army recruitment and its decision to use a rhyme in the title of the game.
  4. Blizzard received further criticism after cracking down on rampant abuse of lower-level players, since this practice is the favorite pastime of the more vocal higher-level players.
  5. Although considering the amount of hours played by a typical WoW gamer, this turns out to be less expensive per unit time than games such as checkers.
  6. This is getting to be a theme now, isn't it?
  7. Or, at the very least, increase their Schwarzschild Dweeb Index.
  8. If any.
  9. Non-Player Characters. But if you're not up on the lingo, just make up your own meaning for the acronyms...like Neon Plastic Cabbage.
  10. Such as alcohol, containers for alcohol, or ingredients for making alcohol.
  11. This inevitably renders the player to be unquestionably and exceedingly dead.
  12. Also known as Zombie Shingles or Lazarus' Annoyance.
  13. Also known as The Nerd's Revenge.
  14. Which involved several gallons each of holy water and chicken blood, as the WoW servers are large enough to achieve borderline sentience.
  15. Lost pets are a rampant problem in World of Warcraft, and it is estimated that nearly 60% of advertisement space in larger cities is devoted to "Missing" posters.
  16. Which was, quixotically, one of the least criticized aspects of Blizzard's releases.

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