PortalHomeRegisterLog in

Share | 
 

 The Straits Times - Sat, Apr 19, 2008 - WoW - opening up new worlds

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Bllue
Officer
avatar

Posts : 405
Join date : 2008-03-17
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: The Straits Times - Sat, Apr 19, 2008 - WoW - opening up new worlds   Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:43 pm

http://www.asiaone.com/print/Digital/Features/Story/A1Story20080419-60670.html

Digital @ AsiaOne

WoW - opening up new worlds

10 per cent of male gamers polled admit to having gotten married to other characters online; while one in three females report tying the virtual knot. -ST
Joanne Lee

Sat, Apr 19, 2008
The Straits Times

HI, I'M Joanne and I'm a WoW-aholic.

My newest amusement, the World of Warcraft, has become a huge joke among my friends ever since I started playing the computer game last September.

Am I not too old for games? Don't I have better things to do? Isn't the gaming world the domain of the socially-challenged?

Buying into the stereotypical nerd image, I probably would have agreed previously. But that was before I picked up the paperback-sized box containing the DVD game software for less than S$50.

The thought of being a beautiful elven maid fighting alongside chivalrous warriors to save the world from demonic forces was appealing. I blame Liv Tyler and the Hollywood makers of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

The World of Warcraft, shortened by players to WoW, was released by Blizzard Entertainment in its MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) form in 2004. To date, it has garnered 10 million faithful players hosted on countless regional servers worldwide.

That means 2-1/2 times Singapore's population is running around the fantasy worlds of Azeroth and Draenor, killing lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

After installing the software, players subscribe to accounts for US$14.99 (S$20.25) a month or US$41.97 per quarter or US$77.94 for six months. With an active account, they can create as many characters as they like to explore the different worlds.

The permutations are endless. Racially, one can be human, elf, dwarf, orc or gnome, among other things. Class-wise, the choices include warrior, priest, hunter and rogue.

Like most people in their early-30s who narrowly missed the Internet generation, I used to dismiss computer games as beneath me. I am serious. I am respectable. I have a life.

Then I met James. At business school.

It was at our MBA orientation in Chicago. A bunch of us, all mid-career executives, were introducing ourselves and exchanging name cards over a morning cuppa before the lectures began. James got my attention when he said that he played WoW.

'I'm a Level 70 mage,' he said, quite matter-of-factly.

The man is pushing 60, runs his own business managing the investments of a major Arab family, and he is a Level 70 mage?

Wow. Literally.

Level 70, the maximum level currently achievable, translates to almost 700 hours of intense gameplay.

This maximum, initially capped at 60, was raised in January last year, when Blizzard released an add-on expansion pack for the game, entitled The Burning Crusade. The next expansion pack, The Wrath Of The Lich King, will boost the maximum to Level 80. Its release date has yet to be announced.

These expansions open new classes, worlds and talents - ensuring WoW-aholics stay with the game.

From the outside looking in, MMORPGs appear silly. But like any other game - like golf or Sudoku, say - it is all about advancing your skills and the attendant bragging rights.

At lower levels, a player gains experience points by killing beasts like wild bats or misbehaving owls as part of missions doled out by non-player characters. At mid-tier levels, a player gets to group up with other players to tackle quests of a larger scale, called 'instance dungeons'.

At higher-levels, these battles involve 20- to 30-person 'epic raids' and serious tactical planning.

In a widely-circulated YouTube video two years ago, a character called Leeroy Jenkins became infamous for ruining a carefully-planned strategy by charging into the fray without warning his faction. The battle-cry 'Leeroy Jenkins' has become an in-game joke and the person behind the character, player Ben Schultz, is now an Internet celebrity.

Car-maker Toyota last year even spoofed the Leeroy character in a Tacoma truck television commercial.

The impact of MMORPGs like WoW on pop culture has been intriguing. Although I played fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons while growing up, gaming has never really been my thing.

So I was shocked to 'meet' married couples who play together or parents who hijack their teenagers' game accounts.

One Australian guy, whom I now play with regularly, is divorced and plays only on nights when his son is with his ex-wife. He is 42 - as in 42 years old and not a Level 42 player.

Somehow, knowing that other 'mature players' are out there legitimises my current obsession. To this 'noob' - WoW-speak for newbie - the sociology behind real-time interaction is just fascinating.

There are the control freaks who insist on being the 'party leader' in charge of crowd control; while the socially-inept stand around blocking every one's view during fights. The snobs boast about 'levelling-up' in record time or show off their gold savings (the preferred currency in WoW) and super high-level gear.

Then you have the 'care bears' who offer help to anyone in their 'guild' or team; as well as the inevitable troublemakers who create drama and get kicked out of the guilds.

As with all societies, however, there is an underbelly catering to baser instincts. Some players, for example, perform strip-teases for gold. More alarmingly, WoW has been dubbed 'World of Warcrack' as more young adults get addicted to such MMORPGs.

In order to gain the requisite points to advance their characters, some players have been known to clock 16 hours a day or more of 'grinding' - killing enemy after enemy of the same ilk just to gain experience or gold.

Game developers like Blizzard and Sony Online Entertainment, which publishes another popular MMORPG called EverQuest, have come under attack for developing more sophisticated ways of ensnaring consumers.

Some behavioural scientists have labelled game addiction a clinical disorder akin to drug or alcohol abuse.

Others, like Dr Nick Yee, a research scientist in immersive virtual reality at the Palo Alto Research Center in California, say that moderation is key.

'MMOs are seductive because they empower some people in ways that the real world does not,' he wrote.

'The people who we let fall through the holes of our social fabric are caught by an alternate reality where they feel a sense of satisfaction and purpose.'

According to his widely-quoted surveys, 10 per cent of male gamers polled admit to having gotten married to other characters online; while one in three females report tying the virtual knot. These weddings, and some funerals, have even been chronicled on YouTube.

Well, it has been three months since I 'rolled' my 'main' character, Onyxith. I am now a Level 29 Undead frost mage and still waiting for a +33 spell damage engagement ring.

Somebody stop me before I have to go to www.wowdetox.com.

joannel@sph.com.sg

This is a new weekly column.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AN ALTERNATE WORLD

According to surveys, 10 per cent of male gamers polled admit to having gotten married to other characters online; while one in three females report tying the virtual knot. These weddings, and some funerals, have even been chronicled on YouTube.






Copyright 2007 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.

Privacy Statement Conditions of Access Advertise
Back to top Go down
 
The Straits Times - Sat, Apr 19, 2008 - WoW - opening up new worlds
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
BoObs  :: General :: Chit-chat and News-
Jump to: