Weekly Warcraft Wednesday: 5 Things I Learned From WoW.

I know, I know, it’s not Friday, but I’m still going to give you a top 5 list.  World of Warcraft has been a tremendous influence on my gaming habits over the years.  Some of it’s influence has been good, some not so good.  Either way, I cannot deny that WoW has affected how I play games nowadays, so I thought I’d share some of the more influential parts of the my WoW experience.

  1. It made me more patient.

World of Warcraft all about patience and diligence.  This was a very jarring reality for me when I first started playing.  I was used to games I could play at my pace.  I could play for 8 hours or 15 minutes, and I could accomplish things.  The most obvious example of how WoW differs from other games is raiding.  You simply cannot raid by yourself, so it’s necessary to find a group that raids, and then raid with them at some scheduled time.  If there is some item that you want to get from the raid but your group doesn’t meet for another 4 days, tough.  You have to wait.  And when your group does meet and the item you want doesn’t appear, tough.  You have to wait to try again next week.  Before WoW I would have never had the type of patience to be a part of that.  After WoW, every other game feels easier.  Spending 40+ hours on a Final Fantasy game feels like a simple task now, where it used to feel like a monumental accomplishment.

  1. It made me obsessed with numbers.

    How to play WoW.

WoW is a game about numbers.  If that’s not your thing, that’s fine, but if you’re going to play WoW you’re eventually going to have to confront the fact that a very large part of what makes up the game’s core is maxing out some number.  Whether you’re a damage dealer, healer, or tank, there is some number you’re trying to make go higher.  Add-ons like recount have taken the math game to an entirely new level, giving players a real time bar graph comparing their output to everyone else’s on a second-to-second basis.  Seeing my damage made me a better player, but possibly for the wrong reasons.  I become so obsessed and competitive that if my damage wasn’t the highest on that graph, I was mad.  I went so far as to create my own spreadsheets trying to simulate my damage output so that I could improve it.  That’s a little nuts.  That said, in some weird way WoW has given me a deep understanding and appreciation of mathematics in general.  That’s a good thing, but probably not for a good reason.

  1. It made me more social.

Believe it or not, WoW made me more social.  A lot of people believe that MMO type games turn people into trolls, living off Cheetos in their basements.  That’s not entirely incorrect, but we do communicate with the other basement trolls.  Joining a guild, typing in guild chat, and eventually using my mic to actually speak to other people helped me to feel more open when speaking to others in real life.  After meeting strangers in WoW, meeting strangers at a party felt less threatening.  I was never one to have serious social anxiety, but I would still get nervous going to parties where I didn’t know anyone.  WoW helped me to feel at least a little less threatened by that prospect.

  1. It made me an elitist.

There were a couple of times when I realized, while playing WoW, that I was becoming a terrible person.  There were moments when I was genuinely upset because other players weren’t adhering to the insanely high standard I was setting for myself (see number 4).  At the height of my raiding career I would get angry with other members of my raid group for not doing as much damage as me.  I liked these people from a social standpoint, but I became resentful that I had done so much extra work to be really good, and they hadn’t.  To them, WoW was a fun game, but to me it was an outlet for my obsessive personality.  Where they were able to enjoy WoW in moderation, I became an addict.  The end result of this was me being a big jerk, and feeling like I was better than others.  Among this odd social circle I developed I had crowned myself king because I could do more damage than anyone else.  Writing about it now, it seems really stupid, and it’s a bit embarrassing.  I never wanted to be “that guy”, but looking back, I totally was.  To a large degree I’ve let go of that mentality, but I can still feel it creep back in every once in a while with other games, or even real life scenarios, and it’s something I constantly have to keep in check.

  1. It made me stop cheating.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I grew up during the Game Genie generation.  As a kid I loved cheat codes.  Anything I could do to make a game easier to beat I would.  This might be a natural maturation process too, but I know that WoW helped to change that mentality.  There’s really no cheating in WoW.  There are no cheat codes, and if you’re caught using a hack to improve your performance your account is immediately banned.  This makes getting cool stuff in WoW that much more rewarding.  I remember seeing players standing around in Stormwind with their cool gear and their awesome looking mounts.  I wanted to know where and how they got that stuff, and I was impressed when I realized how much effort it had taken them.  I developed a new respect for doing things the hard way, and have come to really dislike cheating.  The gear you earn in WoW is really just a manifestation of the effort you put in, and cheating steals that sense of pride.  I now enjoy taking on the hardest challenges that a game has to offer, in hopes that I can feel that sense of pride that comes with overcoming them.