Addendum Rev.1.2: – First, a glossary!
So, I was going to make today another Sober Geek Confession… about how I still play WoW, or World of Warcraft for the non-saavy. But then, I thought, “Is that really a confession? I mean, despite the fact that according to Blizzard, active subscribers have dropped to 7.7 million, that’s still a good amount of people playing. It’s not something you’d really keep quite about in a conversation if questioned, I suppose. Unless you’re a recovering addict, perhaps. That’s not necessarily the case with yours truly. I’ve been playing on and off ever since the game’s release in fall 2004. Never really hard core, but I’d go through my periods of sleeplessness and such. And at the drop of a dime, I’d stop for a few months, no big deal. Right now, with the release of Patch 5.4, Siege of Orgrimmar, I’m back in the thick of things: grinding rep and valor for new gear, failing at one-manning elites and elite rares on the Timeless Isle, and LFRing the raids leading up to me smacking Garrosh in his ugly, pointy-toothed mug.
Anyway, over the past 9 years I’ve learned a few things about being a WoW player, some cool things… others not so much.
1. Not everyone is who they say they are.
This may have changed a little with the advent of Real ID, which basically allows you to add friends through Battle.net, Blizzard’s online multiplayer platform. Real IDs are tied to email addresses, and display your real name once people add you via email address. You can still add people as in game friends through their character name, so anonymity is definitely still an option. And with online anonymity, you get all sorts of colorful folks out there, just like any social network. Dudes might actually be girls in real life, and vice versa. For example, someone you know may have lied to another player because he wanted to avoid having to share his email address with a random person. So to dissuade said attempted friender, he pretended to be a girl and said that it was a shared account with a jealous boyfriend, who would hate seeing a random dude’s name in their shared friends list. I have no idea who I’m talking about. Purely hypothetical situation.
2. Make a female character, and you will be hit on/propositioned for cybering.
I play a lot of female characters, for a guy, I suppose. I totally get shit for it and say something asinine as an excuse half the time, like, “Well, if I’m gonna have to stare at this character for hours, she better be something to look at!” Truth is, I don’t really care. Looking at my character list, I’m at about half male toons, half female. Back to the point, though, while the gender gap might not be as wide as people think with regards to number male vs female players, there still are more guys playing WoW. And really, we just can’t seem to help ourselves sometimes, even if it’s just a digital avatar. The female form just hits a deep-seated evolutionary switch in some people. While playing my female toons, I’ve been hit on a many, many times, and not even just on RP (roleplaying) servers. I’ve had male toons follow me around for an hour while I leveled my leatherworking in Stormwind, telling me every so often, “I love your transmog.” or “I just can’t stop looking at your gear.” I’ve had people RP propose to me and received random winks and catcalls. Of course, there’s the culmination too, being propositioned for cybering. That’s happened a number of times. A couple times, I was even promised some awesome loot to cyber with someone. And it’s just creepy, for lack of a better word. Of course, these may have all been from female players as well… because, like I said, not everyone is who they say they are.
3. Make a female character, and you will get free loot.
On a similar note, you can get free stuff in game from other players if your toon is hot, or you say you’re a girl IRL. Not even necessarily because you agree to cyber, or are super flirty, or anything. Some dudes will give you free stuff *just* because you could possibly maybe be a girl in real life. On one of my old toons, back in the vanilla WoW days, my night elf warrior got free bags (which can actually be quite expensive in game) and hundreds of free gold coins, simply for being a female toon. That was the only time I’ve ever accepted anything under those circumstances, because I just felt kinda dirty afterwards. The offers definitely kept happening, though.
4. That legendary X that you’ve been grindng X raid for, waiting for it to drop, for the last couple of weeks? It’ll be obsolete come patch/expansion.
A lot of people say that in WoW, the game actually starts when you hit reach maximum level, which is level 90 for the time being. “The game starts at endgame.” There’s a certain truth to that, as much of the content that becomes Warcraft lore is presented during endgame content, though questlines and raids. Back when WoW was released in 2004, the level cap was at 60. With each new expansion (xpac for short), they raised the level cap to give players more content, thus creating a new endgame with each expansion. With the Burning Crusade xpac, the level cap was raised to 70. In Wrath of the Lich King it was raised to 80. In Cataclysm, 85. Finally, in Mists of Pandaria, the cap sits at its current state, 90. During all of those endgames, which would last months, and sometimes years, until the next xpac was released, all the top level players would grind the endgame content to get the strongest gear available at the time, whether it be through loot drops from bosses or bought through valor and justice points, which were slowly accrued according for each boss or raid/instance completed. Sometimes, you could wait weeks to acquire a certain item, because, especially with regards to the legendaries, they wouldn’t drop all the time. Even with epics, sometimes it wasn’t your turn to take it. Or sometimes, you would lose the dice roll when the item did drop. So a lot of players would run the same content over and over again until they finally got that awesome legendary two-handed hammer that would one-shot anything that came in range.
And then a week later, it would be rendered obsolete by the a common item in the new expansion, because with the higher level cap comes more powerful weapons.
Still. I want Sulfuras or the Twin Blades of Azzinoth for some prime transmog action.
5. If you don’t know how to run a boss, just freakin ask.
A lot of what happens in WoW is collaborative, co-op style content. Basically, you need work together with other players to get through a lot of the game. This totally used to be a chore before Blizzard implented the Dungeon Finder matchmaking system, where players could be randomly matched up to complete group-required content. This is great, except when you have that one guy that doesn’t know what he’s doing. It becomes even more of a problem when it comes to some bosses. Much like in the Zelda games, bosses can require a specific mechanic to be performed to be defeated. Now, multiply that by the number of players in a group, which might range from the small 5-man dungeons to the larger 25-player raids. So when that one player doesn’t know what they’re doing and gets everyone killed, it’s not fun. Nobody wants to die, unless they’re trolling, and will take preventative measures against it.
So, ask. Ask people how this boss goes. Trust me, they’ll be more than glad to help. And if all else fails… FFS, don’t stand in the f**kin fire.
6. Add-ons are your friend.
Despite the fact that the WoW UI is actually really informative, helpful, and pretty user-friendly (it’s evolved much over the years), add-ons can really help organize how you play the game. Mods like Deadly Boss Mods provide helpful hints and reminders during boss fights, when there seems to be a hundred things to keep track of sometimes. Other ones, like HealBot can streamline your healing spellcasting, binding all your spells to different mouse-click combinations. Some help you to hone your playstyle and gearing, like damage meters. They tell you exactly how much damage you’re putting out, which helps when you’re learning a new spell priority or modifying your gear. I use Recount. Too, there are mods like TitanBars that allow you to customize your entire UI to suit your needs.
7. Some people just play WoW to hang out.
I didn’t really realize this until I recently found a guild on my main (character). It was the first time I ever stuck around in a guild longer than a couple months. It was a more casual guild, where the emphasis wasn’t really on raiding, but rather to have fun together while traipsing through Azeroth. These guys were always on Ventrilo (a voice chat software, vent for short). Every so often, I would hop on, especially if we were jumping into a raid, where it’s pretty much required that you’re on vent. One time, we were running through Icecrown Citadel and in the lull between wipes, the rest of my guildies would talk about life beyond the game. For some reason, it never really occured to me that this might be commonplace. Wow, for some people, is a social outlet. It’s where they hang out. Instead of going to the local diner, or dive bar, or having a board game night, these people played WoW. It’s how they meet people and and make friends. It’s all very, “The Guild” isn’t it? And I know, you’re thinking that these people must be those super-introverted, social-awkward types that don’t go for real-world interaction. Maybe. But I don’t think that was the case. They all seemed like very grounded, very social people that just so happened to do much of their socializing through a digital medium. The fact that it was through WoW may have been entirely coincidental.
8. Raiding is a way of life (at least it used to be)
Again, things have been introduced that might make this a moot point, like the Looking for Raid matchmaking and Flexible Raids. But, in previous patches, if you wanted to become serious at running raids at the highest level of endgame content, it required some real world dedication. First of all, endgame raids can last many hours. From getting people gathered, to transporting people to the raid, to running through the actual raid, to having to start over on a boss after a wipe, and getting through multiple bosses, it can go 3 or 4 hours… more even for the older raids. That’s just the actual time it takes to get through the raid. There’s also the fact that you’re scheduling 25 people to be at their computers for that amount of time, all at the same time, through different time zones. Yes, you have to write it into your actual real world schedule, because some guilds have set teams, and if you bail too many times, someone’s gonna take your place on their premier team that gets through the endgame content first, and therefore gets all the most powerful armor and weapons first. So, you have to work your real-world schedule around the raid. And you have to do your research on the bosses, if someone’s already gone through the raid before, which is likely possible because of the Public Test Realms. Plus, you have to make sure you’ve got your vent voice chat set up, and that you’ll have minimal distractions during the course of the raid. And this happens on a weekly basis, if not every day, because when you’re not raiding, you’re spending time prepping for raid. That means crafting potions and flasks to take with you or acquiring new gear through non-raid instances, so you won’t be drastically undergeared during the raid. Yeah…so there’s that.
9. WoW isn’t just for college kids and pre-pubescent asshats.
Sorry, but you guys are asshats. It’s been clinically proven by some study out there somewhere. Okay, maybe not all trolls are facial hairless school kids with shit else to do every day of their lives. But gosh darn it, that seems to be the case. Anyway, going back through all my old guilds, I’ve really e-met an interesting range of people – a real cross-section of America. Yes, WoW is international, but it’s split into regional servers, and until recently, I’ve only played on US servers, because latency is a life or death matter. I’ve met married couples who play WoW together, I’ve met EMTs that work odd hours so they’re on same time as I am. Once, I was running through a Lich King instance, when one of the guys disconnected. He popped back on a couple minutes later and let us know that his internet was spotty because he was on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. Most interestingly, I met an old guildie, who was a 50-something mother and played WoW because she had a condition that restricted her physical activity. She played WoW to connect to other people, and give her something to do. She was pretty good at all the non-hardcore raiding stuff, too. She had all the crafting professions on lockdown, whatever you needed to be crafted, whether it be a new piece of armor, or an enchantment scroll, she could do it. Of course, haha, I can go back to point one and say that these were all people crafting elaborate tales. This entire time, I’ve been catfished. But. who knows, really? I’m not gonna show up on anyone’s doorstep anytime soon to find out, am I? Am I?