World of Fucking Warcraft

posted October 13, 2012 by Jer

Jer

Fuck this game. I've avoided this game for eight years and I only played it because a friend paid for it for me so she could get the grand glorious "best thing ever" that you can only get if you corrupt an innocent to the digital crack-pipe. I've already dealt with MMORGP addiction, way back in college when it was called Everquest. I've lost weeks to the consistant short-burst dopamine release these things are designed to provide, but like a damn fool I was weak on my convictions and dove back in to help a friend.

Now credit where credit is due, World of Warcraft is well crafted and legitimately fun. It's a beautiful game with meticulously painted scenery and astoundingly high production values with an inordinate attention to visual aesthetic where you spend the entire time dressed like a hobo. You sit there like a lab rat hitting the feeder bar to get your next incrementally-better set of shoulder pads which look like their made of a burlap sack and simply don't match your chest piece which looks like it was made from a giant insect carapace, but if you want to survive the dungeon where you get a pair of gloves made from rat skin that allow you to jump 3 inches higher, you better fucking wear the best fucking thing no matter how fucking ugly it is.

Let me give you an example. I was a Druid. At level 35 or so, I got a quest to acquire the staff of my order. This thing was awesome. It was head and shoulders above any other weapon I could get at the time and it was beautiful. Someone had a ball designing this thing. It was animated with leaves falling off of it and random flowers blossoming. I was more proud of that stick than any other item I found over my entire sentence playing that game. It was rubbish in one day. Within 24 hours, it was completely obsolete and I couldn't proceed in the game without upgrading. The next best stick for me to use was called the Ice Cream Churner. I had to relinquish the totally awesome official-staff-of-my-order for the magical stick an ice cream man used to stir ice cream made from fish guts. I did not make any of this up.

But maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point is to experience the story and explore the world. You even get to fly at level 60, and let me tell you, that feels great. They put scenery in this game that you can only appreciate from the air. Of course no one mentions they're fucking extortionists about it. This is also a fact. When you get to the stage where you can fly, they give you the flight spell. It's right there on your computer screen, a happy little button waiting for you to click on it. Oh, but you can't yet. It took me two weeks to find out why. It turns out you have to pay actual money - money in addition to what you've already spent for the software and your regular monthly dues - if you want the esteemed privilege of flight. They dangle it in front of your face with the absolute certainty that - like me and every tool before me - you'll shell out the actual money, learn to fly, and continue playing the god damned game.

We can take a breather from the hate though, because as I mentioned there was actual fun to be had. I got to run on adventures with my friends and get immersed in an visually incredible imaginary world. As a druid, I could run, swim and fly anywhere I damn well pleased. I could turn invisible and explore pretty places full of monsters that would brutalize me otherwise. I got to tame an evil little winged, antlered bunny thing that followed me everywhere and kicked the shit out of other animals for my amusement. As soon as I could fly, I was able to do my favorite thing in large-world video games: land on the tops of buildings/trees/mountain peaks and crouch, surveying the world like a ninja who doesn't give a fuck. Once, I was asked to charge into a building full of dudes, kill all the dudes so I could steal the head dude's good luck charm, but through craftiness, I figured out I could sneak in through his window Assassin's Creed style. That was satisfying. That was real fun.

I lost it tonight. Tonight was one of my top five rage-quits of all time. I deleted WoW from my hard drive then set the hard drive aflame. I canceled my account and when they made me fill out the survey about why I'm leaving, I selected "other" and entered "BECAUSE YOU SUCK." Tomorrow morning I'm driving my ass as far north into Canada as it takes to find an actual blizzard so I can punch a god damned blizzard out of spite for the software company that shares it's name. After that I'm going to drive to the zoo and flip off a panda bear.

What pissed me off so bad? I'm so glad you asked.

The game made me dig through shit.

Despite all that fun stuff I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, and except for a couple particularly clever deviations, the core of the game is as follows:

  1. Meet a dude with a problem.
  2. Solve dude's problem by killing 15 derps.
  3. Return to that dude with 15 bottles of derp juice.
  4. Gain very slightly better equipment and grow very slightly stronger.
  5. Goto 1.

This gets repetitive, but with big goals on the horizon like being being allowed to fly (at level 60 for the low, low price of $59.95), the repetition can seem almost worth it. The trouble is in that repetition, you stop reading the story and you stop caring what the actual POINT of all the running around clicking on shiny things to get the shiny thing out of them actually is. So, as you're grinding away, forgetting that you already learned to fly five levels ago, not really sure what you're shooting for at this point considering the rewards don't get much better then FUCKING FLIGHT, you look at what your making your little character do, and realize that you - who has fought ogres and demon lords - who has walked all across the realm killing every living thing that hates you and solving the problems of every living thing that doesn't - who became the hero of the fucking ages, spoken of in good graces by 20 different tribes - who ever so recently TRAVELED INTO HELL ITSELF because you heard folks could REALLY use your help keeping the demons from leaking into the regular world - who wasn't really paying attention to the jobs you were taking because you generally assumed they were all working towards the whole greater "keep the bad things out" goal - you sir are now picking magic beans out of wild animal shit.

This is real. This is really what I was doing. I had done it five of the required fifteen times before I realized I was walking my digital man around a digital world picking digital beans out of digital shit.

I can't even try and rationalize this. There's no explanation. I've been playing video games a long fucking time, and picking beans out of poop is not something I've ever had my digital avatar do. The closest I have ever come was the one time in a game that was a straight-up joke from beginning to end I was required to flush a gigantic opera-sining anthropomorphized mountain of shit. Even if this was a reasonable challenge for a video game, it's not what you'd traditionally consider a job for your elite troops. I surveyed the land upon realization, and there were literally seven huge, dangerous monsters in my field of view who were totally within my skill-set to slaughter for the tribe's safety. Good use of resources, guys.

I don't regret playing this game. It was beautiful and kinda fun for a while. It's an important part of my generation's culture. It's a game made by smart people who care about making games fun and beautiful. It's a game with an adoring fan base who have genuinely loved it for eight years, not least of which is MISTER I-PITTY-THE-FOOL-WHO-DONT-DRINK-HIS-MILK T. There aren't many titles as important to the history of video game art as World of Warcraft.

But it's still a game where you pick beans out of poop.