Machvergil Comic number 043

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Deep wounds or scars?

Apparently I really really hate World of Warcraft now.  So much so that it is surprising even me.  It’s bordering on irrational.

As someone who likes following industry news as much as I do, I can’t help but hear about the king of MMORPGs even when I’m not playing it because, well it’s the king of the MMORPGs, if not online PC gaming in general.  So, like it or not, I know about the recent ploys to milk even more money from its player base, the excitement surrounding the revealing of female worgen, and the news that they are going to be simplifying the underlying systems in the upcoming Cataclysm expansion.

Sometimes I read the WoW headlines and it makes me go “man I’m glad I quit that mess,” and other times it makes me go “huh, that actually addresses something that I hated,” and it makes me entertain the idea of playing it again.

I haven’t played World of Warcraft in a while.  The last payment Blizzard received for my subscription expired nine months ago (and I’d stopped logging in even before then).  Normally with time and distance, whatever it was that pushed me away from the game cools.  I start to think that whatever I hated was something wrong with me, not the game, and I resolve to do better next time. Within 3 or 4 months of my subscription cancellation I’m back on the horse, trying to pwn hordies and clear dungeons and level toons.

That’s not happening this time.  Instead, every time I entertain the idea of playing WoW again I find something that reminds me why I left last time.  I read an elitist jerk guide about new raid content that reminds me how much I hate the community and how it expects people to be mindless min/max machines of flawless instruction following precision.  I watch a PvP video that reminds me how much I both hate face-owning blood elf paladins and at the same time wish I had one.   It reminds me how cold and lonely it can feel to be one of over 11 million people who, to quote the blizzard ad campaign, are “experiencing the intensity,” sitting around in Dalaran with nothing to do because you didn’t obsessively progress fast enough for your community, praying someone will be nice enough to mercy-run you through something or let you onto their arena team.  I could keep listing things here, but you get the idea.

Instead of these complaints, whines, QQs, whatever you want to call them, eventually fading with time and playing other games, they are festering.  They are forming a into gut-reaction revulsion to the product itself and everything it stands for.  Now when I sit through a “Night Elf Mohawk” commercial, which I used to find so funny, I feel embarrassed or even ashamed to admit that I once liked the product the ad is selling.

The reason I’m writing about this is because it doesn’t make any damn sense.  First of all it’s a freaking game.  This is not a warcrime or a debased corporate act, it’s a video game, one which millions of people across the world enjoy.  There’s no reason to erect an emotional hate wall around it, just don’t play it.

The second part that doesn’t make any sense is I hate WoW, but just WoW, not the MMORPG genre it belongs to.  Quite the opposite, at least once a week I wish I had an MMO I was playing again, where some IRL friends and some new ones made online get together and happily chat about whatever while we’re downing some challenging encounter cooperatively.  Somehow it doesn’t occur to me that any other MMO on the market is going to have the same problems WoW does but worse, be it worse customer service, an even dumber community, or even worse PvP balance.  My six months with Aion ended more or less for that reason, where I realized I could keep playing, but the game I was playing overall lacked the quality of the game I was using it to escape from (although let the record stand: Aion looks and moves better than WoW in pretty much every way).

Now I relish in every opportunity to strike at the mighty giant.  I (probably) bore my friends with rants about how much I hate the talent system and hope no other MMO copies it again.  I glee at people giving blizzard the ‘evil megacorp’ treatment for their increased micro-transactions.  I take the chance to agree with calls out as to why Cataclysm is a terrible idea and its lore moronic.   These efforts have no purpose, nor result.  My personal crew of friends have all quit the game already, so it’s not like I have people I care to convince the game sucks, and it’s not like I’m going to stop millions of people from playing this world-wide phenomena.

Today, I step back and ask myself “Why are you doing this?” Try as I might, I don’t have a good answer.

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