Posted by Digital Paladin
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft off and on for several years (…and just for the record: yes, I’m a girl and no, I don’t live in my parent’s basement). I resisted the pull of MMOs long before I ever found WoW, largely due to the fact that I do not consider myself a “social” gamer. It’s not that I feel I should be wearing a sign that reads, “Does Not Play Well With Others,” it’s just that when I play video games, I find it difficult to immerse myself within the story that is unfolding on my screen if I’m having to drown out the insipid chatter of 13 year olds yelling, “DOOD, I JUST PWND U!” Okay…maybe I should be wearing a sign…
When I play socially, I like to play with people I know. Maybe I’ve seen Meet the Parents one too many times…you have to be in my circle of trust before I’ll give you gun cover with my AK-47 as you dive through a slavering group of hungry zombies. I’m not an elitist bitch, I swear, but when the smoke clears, I’d rather give that virtual high-five to someone who doesn’t sound like they’ve been playing Russian roulette with the English language.
When I was first introduced to WoW, I expected its gaming community to be filled to the rafters with trite in-your-face commentary, thus ruining my gaming experience. What I didn’t expect is how easy it would be to drown out the background noise and actually become absorbed with the rich story, entertaining quests, and challenging dungeons. And once I did, I was pleasantly surprised when I became acquainted with some real nice folks.
I thought that by playing a MMO, that meant you had to be a social butterfly, join an uber-guild, start speaking l33t, and otherwise act like a giant tool. And while some people choose to play like that, it’s not those people that shape my gaming experience. Multi-player games, at least in my pre-WoW opinion, were games that you could play in co-op or death match modes with a small, select group of friends, thus placing your overall game play in a shiny, protective bubble. But with technologies like XboxLive and other online gaming collaboratives combined with cheap high-speed internet, the art of social gaming has quickly become a standard way to play.
There are over 11.4 million World of Warcraft subscribers – people that open themselves up to one of the largest online gaming experiences currently available. I’m one of them. I can choose to quest solo, or I can dip into the multi-player pool if I want. I can be as social (or anti-social) as I want. I can play with people I know in the Really-Real-World, or join an unknown group of nameless avatars. The great thing is that it’s entirely up to me to play the game however I want.
Remember, all things (including video games) should be taken in moderation. If you’re on a 36-hour straight WoW bender, it might be time to step away from the keyboard and get some fresh air. Ragnaros will still be there when you get back.