When WoW launched and Blizzard immediately announced that they would need to open more servers to cope with the flood of players, I think we realised that the gaming landscape had irrevocably changed. Now, 7+ years later, it’s been a good time to look back on not only how WoW changed gaming but how individual gamers were changed by coming into contact with WoW.
(This is not even including changes because of other people met while playing.)
Syl asked other bloggers who WoW changed them, both as players and as people, and has summed up responses here.
How WoW changed me
Warcraft wasn’t the first (or last) MMO that I played. It wasn’t the first game in which I was a guild officer or a raid leader: but it was the first game where I was part of a (fairly) hardcore endgame guild, it was the first game in which I kept a regular raiding schedule, and it was also the first game when I switched guilds just for the sake of progression. It was also the first game in which I played a tank, and the first game in which I burned out on endgame.
That is quite a lot of firsts. In vanilla WoW, I was the priest officer in a 40 man raid guild which ended up in 2nd place on the server. So I saw how these things worked from the inside. In TBC, I saw that guild break up painfully on the rocks of 10/25 man raiding, switched back to a different server and set of friends to raid Karazhan and recover from the sad guild breakup, and eventually switched an alt into a more hardcore raid guild because I wanted to clear Zul Aman and see The Black Temple.
The 40 man guild days were probably the most hardcore I personally have ever played. I used to log in on BWL nights and sit outside the instance for 3 hours just in case they needed a substitute. I had to leave work at 5:30 on the dot in order to get home in time, and many evening meals consisted of a mug of soup by the monitor. I was constantly recruiting new priests, trying to keep the active ones happy, and working with players on improving their performance and fine tuning our tactics.
I have to say, my partner was very understanding.
It was exciting, but it wasn’t something I could sustain. In retrospect, I was almost relieved when the guild split up. I was upset too, but I couldn’t have carried on for much longer. That type of raiding does burn people out, not from the actual raids, but from the stresses of trying to keep a raid guild together.
So I suppose I learned that I could play like that, I was good enough, but I also learned that I didn’t want to and that for me, progression wasn’t worth the cost. I also learned that a lot of other players would judge you purely on progression, and would not accept that you might be a good player who was motivated more by other things than achievements. And that I kind of regret losing out on progression even though I know the decision and play/life balance is much better for me this way.
I also learned to hate Blizzard just a bit for:
- Making me PvP to get a decent raid weapon (that was in TBC)
- Nerfing both my main classes hard at the beginning of TBC (that was warrior and priest, if anyone is counting)
It’s a funny thing because I have been raiding casually for far longer now than I was ever raiding hardcore, but I’m still bitter about some of the ways hardcore raiding forced us to play. I enjoyed the camaraderie and team spirit, hated feeling that we had to run just to keep still as far as keeping raid members went, and hated being stuck with fixed team sizes when I knew fine well that the DaoC ‘just take whoever wants to go’ method both worked and was less hassle for raid leaders.
I’ve also made good friends via WoW, but they tended to either drift off, not go to the same games I did, or abandon my friendly 10 man Wrath raid for a hardcore progression raid to which I wasn’t invited (which did put me off raid leading again, possibly ever.) I’m also still quite proud that my little raid team did some of the 10 man Naxx achievements in Wrath while they were still current, especially the 4 horseman one.
Although TBC shaped my playing style a lot, Wrath was my personal high point in the game and was when I was main tank for a 25 man raid guild as well as leading my own 10 man team. But that’s also a time I don’t know that I’d want to return to. It was fun, but I burned out on that style of raiding too and now am more in favour of a more relaxed type of raid schedule.
So I learned a lot about MMO mechanics, made some friends who mostly weren’t permanent, and got involved in MMO endgame. And learned more about myself and achievements, and that I’m more motivated by social and internal goals than my extrinsic motivators, which I sometimes feel separates me from the great mass of gamers who seem to love pointless achievements. So it goes. I also learned that while tanking and healing are good ways to make friends and make yourself useful to your guild/ raid, I’m just as happy with dps and it tends to be a stronger solo playing style, and I’m tired of having to gimp my solo play just to get groups.
I also learned that flying mounts are awesome, I will never get tired of flying.