Where Does Your WoW Character End And Your Life Begin?

Jun 1, 2010

I saw a video recently that I kind of took to heart. I won’t file this under ‘Butthurt’, but I will say that I’m kind of tired of stereotypes being enforced when it comes to video games. The video in question is about World Of Warcraft, which is an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and is made by Blizzard. It’s called ‘Avatar Days’ and it’s something of a spoof on James Cameron’s Avatar. .

The video portrays actual in-game characters in a real world situation, mimicking the person in their every day life. It goes on to talk exclusively about how they act in the game, and what their avatar means to them. In the very end, they show the actual people and how they feel playing World of Warcraft is an escape but it’s no different than any kind of hobby.

Yes, I am aware that there are easily obsessed people out there. Either looking for a distraction or missing something in their life. Although I am by all means a casual player nowadays, I will admit that there was a time where I played World Of Warcraft every day for a year. It’s not as embarrassing if I were to say the same thing about Farmville, or Tetris, but WoW carries a social stigma that’s the equivalent of admitting you have herpes. I was a normal player in the respect that I didn’t care terribly about gear, and would often delete a lot of high level characters (which is blasphemy), but it didn’t matter how little I cared or what I did; the shame was still there and the smirks were still apparent when I said I played this game.

Why is there such social ridicule, though? Let’s face the facts here. World Of Warcraft is THE most played game of our time. Here’s something to back me up.

With more than 11.5 million monthly subscriptions in December 2008, World of Warcraft is currently the world’s most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62 percent of the MMORPG subscription market

That was just in 2008. I think they recently broke 14 million. 14 million people are playing this game and yet they’re regarded as outcasts and a minority. Gamers, as a whole, are looked upon as a tiny group when we’re really not. We are a formidable force, although most are basement dwellers and virgins who can’t drive. The fandoms for some games are so huge that they create cult followings, and often those people are more passionate about the genre or subject than someone who’s regarded as ‘normal’ by society. Games like WoW create a social net that’s very hard to replicate, in the fact that everyone can identify and understand the other person because they’ve played the same character or have done something similar in the game.

But, again, who wants to admit they’re part of a geeky social group? When you look at a game like WoW and the people that play it, the first thing that comes through your head is that the player is shy, a geek, and a virgin living in their mom’s basement with no social skills or job. That stereotype is somewhat reinforced if you watch Avatar Days, because all of them are men who are seeming to live alone and in boring jobs. One in particular even gleefully talks about killing people in-game because he’s upholding to his character as a Warlock, and all because someone smiled at him. Bringing the Role Playing into MMORPG.

Just like any group, though, the exceptions are pointed out the most. But why is there so much hate and ridicule towards playing this game? Is it just uncomfortable to face the fact that most people are socially inept and feel more comfortable behind a persona they created? It’s basically how the internet works. Why single out the one thing that makes us human, which in this case is our insecurities, when most people can overcome these things and have fun playing a mage or warrior? I understand where there’s obsession, and neglect in personal lives (and hygiene), but the people playing WoW shouldn’t be regarded as outcasts or like they have a mental defect. On the opposite spectrum, there’s plenty of people who waste their lives watching reality TV and Home Shopping Network and not doing anything with themselves. At least playing a game adds mental stimulation and has goals. Although those goals are often dragon slaying and fishing.

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  1. Ryan D /

    Good article Sarah. WoW to me isn’t an escape for me, it’s more of goal to be the best in the game that is populated by so many. It is time consuming and I will admit social obligation becomes non-existant but being the best in a game, like I said that is taken over by 11 million people around the world, is something I want be apart of.

    Looking forward to many more articles! 8D

  2. Audrey /

    Video game popularity has really grown with my generation (those of us born in the 80s) and will continue to become more and more commonplace. As that happens gaming will be like any other hobby. So my cousin likes football, my neighbor is into birdwatching, but I am a gamer. It’s frowned upon because of the assumed lack of social interaction (I feel the opposite is often true – gamers are sometimes more social than another person) and the sedimentary lifestyle it can cause. People are learning how to integrate gaming, a rather time consuming and expensive hobby, into their lives still. More people have to do it for a real in-person etiquette and acceptance to develop in my opinion. In ten years the 25 year olds will be openly gamers, I hope anyway. (:


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