I still don’t intend to play the new “World of Warcraft” expansion, but I’m starting to see how I might want to.
I wrote previously about how I wasn’t going to play World of Warcraft any more: the story had reached the point where it should end, and it always required too much time anyway. Besides, the next expansion evidently forces the “heroes” to be pawns in a tribalist conflict, which is just depressingly real-worldly.
The first time I got the feeling that playing the expansion might make sense after all was, curiously, when a certain character smiled grimly in the opening cinematic. I had seen the cinematic before. The first time, I was all but rolling my eyes. The second time, I thought it was just sad. But the third time, I eventually felt a positive surge of adrenaline.
Here’s why: However awful these events might be in-universe, the character smiling when her opponent made a good move reminded me of something else from a player’s perspective. Player-versus-player gameplay really is just a game with no life-and-death implications, and it offers an enjoyable challenge. I’m sure it has made me grin at the challenge more than once.
Another cinematic brought home the point that the writers are still perfectly aware of the irony and tragedy of the Horde–Alliance conflict and are working with that aspect in the story.
Still, this video posted on Facebook also brought out the other side of things. I took a brief glance at the comments visible underneath it. Someone was arguing about which side “started it”, apparently defending an in-universe action meant to be heinous. This is one thing I’ve never liked and that I’m afraid of: people really take to these imaginary sides, at least sometimes. I’ve seen someone remark “Never liked Alliance players, never will.”
I’m afraid people are probably at least a little serious with hateful, illogical rubbish like this. Sure, the sides are just what you pick when you create a character, but any kind of group seems to be good enough for tribal instincts.
Maybe the upcoming story has some potential to help some people see the folly of such division. Maybe it will even explore it deeply. That thought makes me want to go on playing.
However that may be, it’s still true that the story shouldn’t go on forever. It’s also true that it makes no sense to play the same game for over ten years, especially when it’s not half as good as other games out there. (I do acknowledge it could have made more sense to me if I had engaged in it differently, such as by keeping my hardware more up to date and properly focusing on aspects of the game like socialization and more advanced PvP.)
And do I have the time for something like this now? Absolutely not. Is it a good way to spend time overall? Nope. I’m going to miss that world, but I don’t see how going back could make sense.