Over the weekend, I got immersed into World of Warcraft in a way that I haven't been since I played the game regularly. I stopped a couple of years ago simply because I didn't have the time to play anymore (writing this blog and posting in Facebook are only two of the things that have taken up my time in the past couple of years), but if I had the time, I certainly would still be playing.
For those who haven't played WoW - gee, how to explain this? Basically, it's an interactive online game (technically called a MMORPG) set in an environment that will remind you of the Lord of the Rings movie. In fact, there are elves, dwarves, and orcs in WoW, but they're not like the ones in the LOTR movies. Very briefly, on WoW you play a character (also called an avatar, but usually called a toon) of a given race for one of two factions: The Alliance or the Horde. The game takes place on an Earth-like medieval world named Azeroth (one WoW expansion, called The Burning Crusade, takes place on another world named Draenor, but the original game plus three other expansions all take place on Azeroth).
I've said before here and on FB that those of my generation (those born in the 1980s) will need to have played this game sometime in their lives, because it is a cultural definer for my generation of nerds and geeks. I've made this point once before in a previous blog entry. WoW allowed us to interconnect socially in a way that was unprecedented in human history: A means of social interaction and communication that was exclusively through technology. Along with communicating through the game itself by way of real time texting, WoW users also sometimes used a vocal means of communication to better increase interaction with other players. Usually that was through software called Ventrilo or Skype, but there are others.
WoW then, basically created an interconnected nerd culture that had never existed before, because the technology wasn't available to this extent before. Like any culture, WoW culture developed its own slang, standards, and expectations. And like any culture, there were good guys and bad guys. However, this was the first time in human history that the majority of this culture was taking place in a real-time virtual environment rather than in person. In other words, we were all part of something that was uniquely ours!
You too, can play WoW, and for free for up to 20 levels if you want to try it out to discover a taste of this experience for yourself. I did that for old times' sake over the weekend just so that I can try out the new pandaran race. I'll be describing my experiences in the new expansion later in the week.
Before that, however, I'll be reviewing the novel Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War as well as the graphic novel Pearl of Pandaria. Along with all that came with WoW, the one thing that really appeals to me the most is the lore. I'll get more into that later as well. Quite a bit about the game has changed, but one thing that remained the same is the culture online. Different players to be sure, but still playing the same roles. I don't know how much longer WoW will go on, but I hope it holds out long enough to me to get back onto it when free time opens up for me again! LOL Ah, good times.