A Journey into the World of Warcraft
Part 1: The Technicalities of it All!
In rooms all across the world a phenomena is occurring. People of different age, sex, religion, and nationality are coming together in a common bond, a bond that transcends the bonds of blood and faith as well as love and honor. This bond is one of imagination; it only exists in the form of digital images and sound-bites. The people of the real world are able to step into the roll and characteristics of someone and something that is not real. As the people log in to their alternate selves they are able to leave behind all the cares of the real world, because in this digitized world that has been created there are greater issues than paying the rent. An “Alliance” of humans, elves, dwarves and other good races battles continuously with the forces of an evil “Horde” consisting of orcs, trolls, undead and other evil minions. But the forces of either side are controlled by a real person. The person controlling this avatar sheds the restraints of their physical society, and enters a different world where there are a new set of cultural norms. In this digital world generosity is a norm and friendships are forged in the heat of battle. Even a battle with the enemy can leave both sides with a sense of camaraderie.
This digital world is called Azeroth, it is where the game World of Warcraft (WOW) takes place. Within this pixelated place there exists a culture all its own, one that differs drastically from any other social media culture. The players, daily, log into their accounts and assume the role of some fantastical creation. Some choose to play warriors or mages, while others choose to play as a priest or a rogue. There are many different combinations of race and class, but most players choose to be something that makes them feel good about their avatar. A new player finds themselves immersed in a beautiful landscape that differs with every race. What remains the same is the want to save innocents (for an “ally”) or conquer the weak (for a “hordy”).
A “newbie” (as new players are called) must prove his worth (gain levels) before most other players will choose them as a party member. But they can easily find companions who are of like mind and skill (level) to help them along the way. As these people play together they may find that they like how their teammates mesh with their skills, and so choose to add them as a friend. This can lead to just a friendship that exists only on Azeroth or maybe a fellow “guildies” (other players that have joined together as a guild). Sometimes these friendships will reach out into reality or may have even originated in reality.
Character Creation Screen
There are other issues that new players deal with also, the most important one is money. As in all societies there is always some form of currency, and WOW is no different. Gold pieces are the most common in the game, however when at low level you only get copper to start. As a player takes his character through the lands of Azeroth, they do quests and kill enemies to receive treasure and payment. And as the quests and the enemies get more difficult, then the payment goes up. Friends and “guildies” are usually there to help out when needed, as they need help also from time to time. As a character find or is awarded with better and better treasure, or “gear”, they might find it useful for themselves or they pass it on to a friend. They always have the option to “Vender” (sale to a merchant) an item or take it to the Auction House. Here a player may post items his character has no use for, for other players to purchase. There is a working economy here that allows players to buy and sell goods without the use of merchants or even the Auction House. By selecting the right chat channel, a player may announce to all other players that they have a particular item for sale, or that they want to buy a certain item. It is not uncommon to see in the chat window on screen “WTS Damaged Necklace” or “WTB Diamond Dust”
The next issue a new player deals with is, what skill should they choose? To pick the wrong skills can be not only a waste of time but also money. A mage has little use for the skill of “Blacksmithing” but would be better off with “Enchanting”. But if a player belongs to a guild it is best to try to fill any gaps that may exist (choose skills that no one else has). Skills are just as important as the choice of race or class, because the benefits of each skill are different. The benefits of say “Blacksmithing” is the fact that a player can make specialty pieces of armor, but they can only be worn by the maker.
What most new players must be aware of are enemy players. Some players will sit around a particular area, usually a starting area, and pick off the weak. This is not the right thing, as they get no Honor (a point system that lets others know how many and what level enemy players you have defeated), but it does slow down on the leveling of new players. This is un-moral behavior by the standards of most, yet it is still something that happens. And outside of the starting areas it is more likely that PVP (Player vs. Player) conflict will occur, but at most other characters will be similar level. Not to say that this is the only place that PVP will happen, there are places called Battlegrounds that players can team up with other players and fight an opposing team. As with all forms of PVP, the award is not always treasure but rather Honor points.
This is just a rough overview of the complexity of the world and the society within, the only way to truly experience this is to create your own character and join in the fun. It is not cheap and is not easy, but the rewards of feeling accomplishment and camaraderie are well worth it.
Part 2: A Short Adventure into a Digital Dungeon!
My loading screen finished, and I found myself surrounded by comrades. Just in front of me stood my best friend Kendrick, the human priest, and sitting next to him on the ground is our Night Elf rogue buddy, Nines. We are right outside of Icecrown, which is where the Lich King, Arthas dwells. It is our goal today to defeat the vile darkness known as Arthas.
In my Party Chat window Kendrick asks, “Are we all ready?”
Nines squirms and whispers, “Crap, no I forgot all my good gear back in Dalaran.” With scowls, Kendrick and I turn to Nines. “I’m just kidding!! Let’s do this.” He pipes in when he notices the looks.
“We need one more, any ideas?” I point out and ask. “The last time we tried with just three we failed miserably. One maybe even two more.”
Kendrick says, “I know a Human Shadow Priest who might want to help. I will ask.”
Nines asks, “What about a Dwarf Hunter, I know one. However he is all the way in SW (Stormwind, capital city of the Alliance). Do you want to wait for him?” Nines has now stood up from sitting and is now dancing merrily around my avatar.
After some thought and no response yet from Kendrick, I answer Nines question. “Sure, is he DPS (Damage Per Second) or AOE (Area Of Effect)?”
“DPS.” Answers Nines.
\ “She is on her way.” Shouts Kendrick through the Chat Box. “She will be here in five. Who is DPS?” He asks.
“Nines’ buddy. A Dwarf Huntard (what WOW players call a Hunter).” I respond. “It might take a bit for him to get here. He is all the way in SW.”
“Crappy. Is that our only choice?” Asks Kendrick, “That is quite the wait,” he adds.
“It is a wait, but we could use the extra DPS. It will be worth the wait, I’m sure of it.” I answer. Kendrick and I wait for a few minutes before Nines pipes back in.
“He is on his way, should be about ten minutes or so,” said Nines. “What about your Priest friend, Ken?”
“She should be here any minute,” was the response. And as if on cue, a great winged beast came into view above the landscape. “That’s her.” Confirmed Kendrick.
“Impressive mount!” Nines and I said in unison. The beast landed and the character on its back dismounted. We could all clearly see her now. It never ceases to amaze me how dark and evil looking the shadow priest is. “And she fights for the Alliance?!” I thought to myself.
Kendrick stepped forward and said, “This is my friend Ulsure, she does massive DPS.” Upon inspecting her gear, I found out that he was not lying. Her GS (Gear Score: a measurement of a players to bonuses provided by gear) was 5900, a ridiculous number. I felt relieved that she was an ally.
I said, “I am pleased to meet you. We are members of the guild, Death Legion Enterprises, a scourge against the scourge! We greatly appreciate your help.” With a few quick key strokes my character bowed low.
Ulsure did likewise, with no words however. She also kept her distance from the main group. Kendrick, Nines, and I kept ourselves in conversation while we waited for the Hunter to reach us. After some time, we could see a Griffon flying in the distance. It was headed straight for us.
“That him?” Kendrick asked.
“I think so, looks like his mount.” Replied Nines, “but there are so many Griffons out there.”
As the creature approached I could see a small figure on its back. As it got even closer I could see its race. “It’s a Dwarf.” I announced to my companions.
Nines chimed in, “It’s him. Finally!!”
We all watched him land, dismount, and summon his pet. His pet just happened to be a rare tiger from Strangevale. All Hunters dream for that pet. A smile crept across my face, “This is gonna be fun!!” I said to myself at my keyboard.
Nines introduced the Dwarf as Huntardio, and after some other quick introductions, we were on our way to the instance (the term used for a dungeon, involves a loading screen). During this whole conversation, I had noticed that Ulsure had not communicated other than a bow or wave. This was a little odd, but I made no mention to my Guildies, hoping that they had noticed as well. The loading screen done, we now stood inside the first halls of Icecrown Citadel.
It never ceased to amaze me how vast this first hall is, at least a hundred yards from front to back and side to side. Right within the entrance a small group of allied NPC (non-player characters, controlled by computer) stand vigilante to protect the entrance. Just past this is the first group of enemies, Frost Giants that will take all of us to take down. With the press of a few keys on my keyboard I cast spells to buff myself, I can see that my allies are doing the same.
With no words exchanged, Ulsure jumps into combat. We had little time to react I cast my first spell, one that creates a magical blizzard in a specified area. Huntardio’s pet leaps into action, instantly, pulling the aggro from the priest. Ulsure at this point is jumping wildly around the Giant Warrior. Kendrick is wildly casting spells that are healing both Ulsure and the tiger. I cast my second spell of the battle, a fierce frost-fireball, it first burns my enemy then it freezes them solid. Just in time for Nines to pull off a devastating sneak attack, but this fight was far from over. The Frost Giant was now intent on destroying that rogue, unfrozen now he spun on Nines and hit him with a strike that dropped Nines to the ground. With another quick strike the rogues health was now down to half. I could see that Kendrick’s mana (what a spellcaster uses for their magic) was low he wouldn’t be able to heal Nines in time.
This whole time, Ulsure had not cast any spells, her mana being full. She just jumped around making melee attacks. But suddenly the jumping stopped and she rapidly backed away from the Giant, casting several spells as she went. Nines instantly was healed and the Giant turned its attention to Ulsure. Huntardio’s pet still was dealing large amounts of damage but that spell Ulsure just cast did far more. I cast my third spell, one that would both do a lot of damage and also freeze the Giant in place. The rogue had now recovered from the damaging attacks he had just taken, disappeared before our eyes. The Frost Giant had resisted my spell and was now on Ulsure and had landed a couple good hits. Nines had snuck behind the Giant again, and was now poised to make one last attack.
At the same time we all unleashed one final attack. One last Blizzard from me, a poised arrow from Huntardio, a sneak attack from Nines, a vicious Shadow Bolt from both Kendrick and Ulsure. The Frost Giant dropped to the ground, dead.
All eyes went to Ulsure, who had almost gotten the party killed. “WTF, ULSURE?” Kendrick shouted. “You almost got us all killed at the first monster!”
The only response that she had was one that none of us had expected. “Sorry, guys! My kid got up to the comp while I was going to the bathroom. I did say I had to go right before we walked through the instance portal.” With that her figure faded as she logged out.
Scrolling up in my chat window showed that she did let us know with the statement, “gtp”. At my keyboard at home I smack myself in the forehead. At least we had survived!!
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© 2014 Jeremy Floyd