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A Week Without WoW

March 15, 2013

Dear Reader,

It’s been a week now since I’ve last logged on to WoW.  I don’t think this is some trend, nor do I think this will result in a huge break as it often does.  Quite the opposite, in fact; I want to play WoW, but for the first time in a long, long time, my wife doesn’t.

I’m not entirely sure how to attribute her lack of interest (I had “what to attribute her lack of interest to,” but didn’t like that.  What a wonderful word how is!).  I know part of it is her sudden, obsessive  (to use an inappropriate word) interest in League of Legends.  My friend – pardon the expression – accused me of having a “hard on” for LoL, but if that’s the case, my wife must have taken 3 or 4 Viagra.  In a few more metaphorical hours, she may need to seek medical attention.

Beyond that, though, I’m not sure what’s going on.  Since it’s both our spring break week, we’ve got plenty of time to play a variety of games.  She even brought up trying Portal 2, a “non-shooter shooter” that I’d tried to get her to play a year ago.  I keep mentioning doing some leveling in WoW, but she keeps redirecting to other activities.

I wonder if the patch had something to do with it.  We logged on once after the patch but weren’t terribly engaged.  We checked out our Sunsong Ranch, looked at the elite pet battles, and logged off.  We weren’t even remotely interested in doing the new dailies nor grinding thousands of dinos for a mount or pet.

I think that’s something that can be safely said about WoW: The more things change, the more they stay the same.  If you’re happy with WoW, I think it does a great job maintaining that focus, that branding that’s built it into the giant it is.  Sure, old timers complain about how it’s “changed,” but has it, really?  Each change adds a “new” set of challenges, each new raid a “new” set of skills.  Whereas once it was a challenge just to get a dungeon group, now it’s a challenge to get a dungeon group you can tolerate.  Whereas once you had to mash your rotation in exactly the right order to maximize your performance, now you have to mash the WASD keys to move around in exactly the right pattern to survive.  In the end, WoW’s done a ton of stuff right, but I’m not sure how much it’s done different.

I’ve been aware of this for a while – at least since two Christmases ago when I stopped raiding.  Since then, I’ve been clearly and overtly a casual player, unsure whether I could get back into the raiding mindset.  I think that may have just struck my wife.  At first, it comes with a feeling of cognitive dissonance, or believing two opposing ideas at the same time: “I should be playing WoW,” and “I don’t want to play WoW.”  Admittedly, those aren’t direct opposites, but to a loyal WoW player who logs 20 or so hours a week at minimum, they feel that way.

I’d argue it’s akin to losing a job that you held but didn’t love; you’re not completely lost and wandering, like a defrocked priest or, yes, a teacher who can’t find work, but still it’s a shock to the personality system.  “I am a WoW player,” begins to be untrue, and with it, a part of your personality is suddenly missing.

Just last night, we watched the lastest Extra Credits, a PATV show which I’ve come to really respect.  In it, intrinsic and extrinsic game  play rewards were analyzed, and the show took a completely valid shot at WoW’s grindy design.  I didn’t know this was coming; I hadn’t meant to sit her down and potentially reaffirm her burgeoning distrust of WoW, but there it was.

The funny thing is, I still want to play.  I still want to level Stubborn and my DK, Liberated, on my friend’s new server.  I can do one without her, but not the other.  Perhaps it was a mistake to get her interested in LoL; she’s very competitive, and since LoL is a more level playing field than most of WoW PvP (though not completely so), I think she’s becoming addicted, to use another completely inappropriate word to describe her interest.  I suppose we’ll have to see how this plays out.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and oddly on the other side of the WoW or no-WoW argument)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Tellah permalink
    March 15, 2013 10:55 am

    This is an interesting post, and very timely in my personal gaming life. I have several games that I rotate through, depending on my mood and what I’m looking for in my gaming experience at that particular moment. For the past several months, I’ve been heavy into Minecraft, but in the past 2 weeks, I’ve only logged on to get the reward that’s for simply being online a certain period of time. And the past 4 days, I don’t think I’ve logged on at all. Granted, it comes at a good time from an update standpoint, but I haven’t felt the *urge* to play it. I’ve played other games, and have had the urge to play them, but minecraft has been my addiction for months now…not to play it is a huge change in my habits, and has freed up time that I found myself twiddling my thumbs and chanting “bored bored bored bored bored bored”. Not precisely optimal.

    This is not an uncommon part of my gaming cycle. I’ll get into a game heavy, then I’ll drop playing it, often with nothing in game that triggers it. Just a matter of satiation, is how I’ve come to think about it. And, if the cycle holds true, I’ll get the urge and be hours deep into it again before I come up for air.

    “The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.” -R. Jordan

    • March 19, 2013 2:31 pm

      Clearly you struck a chord, which I then retwanged with the more recent post. I think what you’re describing is more where I was with WoW 2 years ago, but since then something’s fundamentally shifted in me, though I’ll say honestly I’m not sure what. Recently, in particular, I’ve wondered if I’d be happier not gaming and doing something else with my time; that’s certainly a new thought. So far I haven’t convinced myself of that idea’s truth, but who knows; it’s weird even thinking it.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Krel permalink
    March 15, 2013 11:34 am

    “This is not an uncommon part of my gaming cycle. I’ll get into a game heavy, then I’ll drop playing it, often with nothing in game that triggers it. Just a matter of satiation, is how I’ve come to think about it. And, if the cycle holds true, I’ll get the urge and be hours deep into it again before I come up for air. ”

    This is EXACTLY how I tend to go through games. I play pretty much one at a time, and when I get tired of it, I generally go from lots to nothing very quickly. World of Tanks right now, probably for a lot of the same reasons you’re playing LoL. I like the competitive aspect of it, the games are pretty short and so doesn’t require a huge time commitment at any one point, etc.

    • March 19, 2013 2:32 pm

      Yeah, and I’d probably be playing WoT if my buddy could get it to run on his computer (which I’m sure I could if I was there, but he’s about as technologically competent as Ned Ludd). Still, I think they’re essentially the same game in different genres.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. March 15, 2013 1:26 pm

    You know what, I love how you summed this up:

    “Whereas once it was a challenge just to get a dungeon group, now it’s a challenge to get a dungeon group you can tolerate. Whereas once you had to mash your rotation in exactly the right order to maximize your performance, now you have to mash the WASD keys to move around in exactly the right pattern to survive.”

    That’s exactly it. And though I love the “challenge” of figuring out just how to dance the dance (re: dps vs survival), I’m kind of against the whole LFR/easy-sauce pattern developing in newer players. The attitude they come with is baggage that makes me resent the “new” aspects of the game.

    Great post! :)

    • March 19, 2013 2:34 pm

      Yes, I cannot overemphasize how sick and tired I’m getting of those poisonously entitled players who don’t wait, don’t work together, don’t communicate, and basically treat others like AI NPCs. It may not have been LFD that did it, but my observations of the great “jerk explosion” in the community was shortly after LFD. Now if we could just organize another type of jerk explosion…

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. March 15, 2013 2:02 pm

    The more I think it through the more convinced I am that my generalized problem with WoW gameplay is the way difficulty is gated. It’s been this way since TBC, Shadowmoon Valley at 70 was far easier than EPL at 60, but it seems very pronounced with this expansion. I understand why they do it this way as the bulk of the paying customers seem to be looking for a quick-and-easy loot haul. It does make it hard for people who want some challenge outside of the raid environment.

    I will say that the raid bosses are more challenging now than they were in vanilla; the main thing I remember from MC was staring at green bars and wondering if the Mage would keep up with decursing. And obsessively checking my candle supply.

    • March 19, 2013 2:36 pm

      Yes. Regardless of what anyone else says, the game has gotten easier. I think that’s directly a result of the challenge shifting from gameplay to meta-gameplay. Instead of having to fight for your life in-game, you have to fight for your spot in a raid either by understanding the meta and practicing your rotation (for higher end guilds) to silently suffering the toxic player (in low-end situations). Neither is an attractive option, but I feel like the middle ground has quickly eroded.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Samus permalink
    March 16, 2013 4:00 pm

    I actually think the “fun vs reward” discussion is something I’ve read quite a bit. Is there really anyone arguing against “games should be more fun to play?” If this was really what makes a game good, City of Heroes would have been the most popular MMORPG ever. That game had the most fun combat, was the most enjoyable to play.

    I find the other side is more interesting. Most people stop thinking about it after “players will do what gets them the most reward.” Well, City of Heroes had rewards that on face appeared to be mostly the same as any other MMORPG. Why did doing missions start to feel like repetitive grinding faster than doing questing in WoW? Why did task forces not feel as worthwhile as dungeons in WoW?

    I really think these questions are at least as important as what makes a game fun in the immediate moment.

    • March 19, 2013 2:39 pm

      Fun, though, is a damnable word. It has completely different meanings for different people. CoH may have had the most “fun” combat available in any MMO to you, but who knows if I would have agreed?
      Instead of catering to a particular audience, though, big-name MMOs try to homogenize everything so that as many people can be mostly-satisfied as possible. When you break that mold – as The Secret World did – you get a lot of negative reviews and are considered a “failure.”

      The rewards for game playing should be more intrinsic and less extrinsic, but the big names are going in exactly the opposite direction, getting the gameplay to be acceptable but increasing the quality and ease of loot drops. That’s far easier than designing a more fun game.

      Thanks for the comment!

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