I dread to think just how many hours I’ve spent playing video games. I can honestly say that at various points in my growing up I was addicted to gaming, more specifically to MMORPGs. Looking back, whole school holidays were drowned with gaming. Guild Wars comes to mind straight away, swiftly followed by Lord Of The Rings Online. There are countless others that I have trialled and binned, but a ridiculously long list of my past gaming experiences wouldn’t be very exciting. All of them pale in comparison to one in particular though; World Of Warcraft.
Rewind almost eight years and you’ll find me unpacking my brand new Battle Pack. This was a combination of the original World of Warcraft release title, plus the brand new (at the time) expansion pack; The Burning Crusade. Fast forward those eight years again and here I am blogging about that very same game, after what is probably the best part of a 9 hour session of the new(ish) content; Mists of Pandaria.
Never before have I found myself both amazed and annoyed at a game, for the simple reason that over basically a decade I have yet to become bored with WoW, or even come close to completing all they have to offer. It will surprise and tickle some of you that I have only just recently managed to get a character to the level cap (I’m a RPer, it’s never been a high priority!). So for me, that was quite an achievement. I did briefly find myself thinking “So now what can I do at level 90?”, but that worry quickly disappeared when I realised that this is where the game really begins.
MoP itself is beautiful. I mean absolutely visually stunning. I actually had to turn up my computers settings to max, just to enjoy the view at many points throughout my exploration. Something else was massively different when compared to other games I have played – I found myself really involved with the dialogue and storyline that unfolding as I played. Very rare for a MMO, where normally I’d find myself button mashing through quests to turn them in as quick as I could. But not this time. This experience was much less about the rewards and a lot more to do with story and character progression, and a feeling of success as I handed in quests.
Historically, WoW gets a lot of bad press for causing young people to become addicted to gaming, but I personally think that people should look at their own “real world” lives before blaming a game. It has always been at particularly bad times in my life that I have found a much stronger connection with the game itself, and have poured countless hours into gaming. But I think the main reason people become addicted to games, WoW in particular, is because of the high quality of content and story progression that is found within the game. It gets people involved and makes them feel like they have achieved something. A lot of people have to said to me “Mark, what do you get out of gaming?” and my answer is always the same – “I get everything that real life sometimes fails to give me; a place to be myself, a place where I feel accomplished and proud of my achievements, which in turn boosts how I feel day to day”. And that is something worth spending so much time on.