I’ll waste no time in dropping the hammer: I really don’t like World of Warcraft.
The grinding bores me, the mentality upsets me and the game world just doesn’t engage me enough to warrant the odd five gazillion hours that you need to pour in just to get… well, anywhere. I’ve tried it out, honestly!
Of course, the above statement is far from something that would actually do the game any justice. I’d be blanket-commenting on something that millions of subscribers enjoy, that hundreds of developers have poured their lives into making and which many, many critics have praised as being a pretty awesome offering.
And so with this in mind, I revise my initial comment: I hate you, World of Warcraft. But dammit, I respect you.
As game developers, it’s always important for us to have a second glance at the games that we don’t like. The luxury afforded to the average gamer (“lol, this sux, usuk, baibaiz”) isn’t something that any self-respecting dev should really indulge in. Goodness knows that there’re a lot of awesome games out there that, at some point or another, will evoke a “just not for me” feeling, but it’s certainly a mistake to instantly label them as inferior because of it. Your opinion is, after all, only subjective.
I’ve seen entire communities slander a game to the point where it’s almost just “fashionable” to do so. I’ve also written before about the lamentable division between casual games and indies (and will most likely continue to do so, since there’s people out there who actually agree with me). It’s a very major problem amongst developers: they’re still absorbing games like a common audience, instead of studying things properly.
This is not to say that we should become crusty and academic about the issue — it’s just important that we open our minds once in a while and acknowledge the good in even the most dolorous of personal gaming experiences.
Reading up on World of Warcraft, for a start, has been quite refreshing for me. Most articles related to its creation and development are truly insightful: they offer lessons about game balance, effort versus reward and setting short-, medium- and long-term goals for the player. Are we aware of how carefully the developers tailor an experience for us? Do we consider what the game couldhave been if a little less attention was paid to detail and player feedback? When we start out with that level 1 Dranei mage and go about beating up what looks to be a randomly mutated poppy flower, do we see the intelligent design behind your experience? Are we aware of just how much everything is tailored towards us, the gamer?
In all due likelihood, I’m probably never going to give WoW another run. But I can certainly learn from it, and I’ll salute the developers for creating such a remarkable and well-thought out gaming experience. Because, as a conscientious audience to projects like this, I shall always place credit where it is due, even if what I see doesn’t go with my particular tastes.
I think more people should consider doing the same.