Opinion: World of Warcraft - Is it normal to want to play a game you hate?

Listening to Mr T

Having seen several adverts on TV, Itook Mr T's advice and visited trywarcraft.com. I downloaded the game, got the patch, then set about creating my character. At first, I tried making a cool-looking undead character, but even though I was cycling through face types, they all looked identical. So I switched to a Tauren and gave him a big, plaited goatee. Awesome.

At first, I tried to call him 'Bob', but it was taken. So I tried 'BobBob'. Taken. 'BobBobBob'? Taken. 'BobBobBobBob'? Taken. It was getting a bit silly, so rather than go round sounding like a goldfish, I called him 'Chingrab'. You know, because his goatee would be perfect for grabbing if you wanted him to follow you or something.


Above: Mr T seems very excited about World of Warcraft... but then heis being paid for it

Baulking at the outdated gameplay

So Chingrab and I set off on our epic adventure. I was immediately reminded of the South Park episode 'Make Love Not Warcraft' as I began killing low-levelPlainstriders outside the camp for my first quest. I'll happily admit I'm not a keen PC gamer, but I was struck by how dated it all looked, not just in terms of the low-detail graphics, but at the horrendously outdated combat mechanic. Right click, wait, collect loot. Right click, wait, collect loot. Right click… I wasn't having much fun. It was dark (because Azeroth's day/night cycle is realistically long), I was in a near-empty field and experiencing 'the grind' first hand. Not impressed so far.


Above: Playing at night probably isn't the best way to experience Azeroth for the first time

My girlfriend joined me on the same server. Her level 70 character is probably long-gone by now (and she was hardly going to resubscribe for what might well turn out to a be a single evening), so she chose a Taurean Hunter. Despite being a couple of levels behind me now, she was making short work of any creature we encountered, y'know, being a Hunter and all. By this time, I was on a quest to visit a nearby village, kill its elder and bring back his head. Nice.

There was a sudden surge in my interest levelsas we made our way out of the valley and through a cave. This is more like it – exploration! There were different enemies to kill and it was good to be out of the field. But, playing the trial version, we couldn't form a group so we had to vocally decide who would attack first to collect the loot.

We killed the elder and I got the head, but by now all the villagers were understandably a bit annoyed and attacking us. As my girlfriend's character was still level 1, it was too much. I was left on my own to finish up. Then her ghost appeared, which weirded me out.

Having a nagging sense of wasted time

After completing the quest and getting some equipment that I wan't allowed to equip yet (erm, yay?), we decided to call it a day. In all honesty, I hadn't really enjoyed it at all. I suggested maybe if I hooked my laptop up to the TV, it would be better to play (my eyes were dry from the laptop screen). Butthat wasn't the problem. Sure, I'd barely scratched its surface, but the basic facts remained: WoW looks old now.


Above: The game itself looks nothing like this ultra high quality promotional artwork. This looks awesome

I'm not just talking about the graphics, either. The core combat mechanic feels incredibly basic and detached. Even the quests appear to be the most basic fetch and carry fare, whichagain just adds to the repetitive nature of the gameplay.With today's savvy eyes, you can see straight through the facade of a game world to thebare-bones nature of the game itself, which is little more than stats dressed up in low-poly character models. Also,I don't like orcs. In short, itfeels likea waste of valuable time.

I apologised to my girlfriend for not liking it, and admitted that maybe I hadn't approached it with the right attitude. So, agreeing to put it down to experience, that should have been that.

Withdrawal symptoms

But the next day came, and I was grumpy. My girlfriend noticed the change in my behaviour. I felt weird. All I could see in my mind was the back of Chingrab, as he lumbered forward through a dimly-illuminated field. I wanted to play it again. In fact, the feeling was very similar to one I felt as a kid, whenall I could think about was playing Mega Drive (and Spectrum before that), which had resulted in my parents selling the machine.

It was that same feeling with WoW - withdrawal. I wanted to get back to the game, even though the only image of it in my mind was of the back of my character plodding through an open field. Which is clearly an incredibly dull thing to want to look at through choice. Look:


Above: Even WoW players will tell you that this bit is not fun. So why do I have the urge to play it again?

So my question is this – how can you suffer withdrawal from a game you've only ever played once and, to be blunt, disliked for 98% of the time you spent with it?

Deletion

If you've got an addictive personality, it's a very good idea to know you have it. I don't want to be the guy who comes home from work and goes straight on WoW, which I'm certain I would be if I got further in. So I deleted the client from my PC. Chingrab now lumbers no more. I won't miss him. If I'm feeling withdrawal after one session, it would be stupid to continue with a massive gamethat doesn't appeal to me in the first place.

Blizzard has created an astonishing business model. People stillpay to play a fairly antiquated game engine (necessaryfor low system requirements, perhaps) that's based on repetition for… what? The promise of a dragon at level 70?

I fully expect to get angry comments from WoW fans but I want you to tell me I'm wrong. That it isn't addictive. That it doesn't change your mood when you're not playing it. That the game is fun. Or maybe you don't actually know why you play it either? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

10 Aug, 2010