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So, now what? (or, the six subtle sub-games)

March 24, 2011

Liyly with yellow quest giver question mark

After finding myself abandoned by my sister and brother-in-law, I found myself wondering what kept me engaged in the game.  As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the symptoms that I noticed in my sister’s game time that led up to her departure was the continual narrowing of her interests in the game.  What had started out as avid questing, dungeoneering*, profession leveling, and pvping at the start of Cataclysm slowly trickled into the occasional battleground.  Furthermore, she stuck to her main and never experienced any of the lower-level content on an alt.

The six subtle sub-games that make up WoW

Dizzae’s death left me thinking about how I spend my in-game time.  In any given week when I am logged on, I participate in all of the following:

  • PvP (battlegrounds/arenas/TB/defending Garrosh**)
  • End-game content (heroics/raids/dailies that lead to better gear)
  • Achievement garnering (pets/mounts/reputation grinding/professions/pvp/raid)
  • Gold making (AH/professions/profession dailies)
  • Leveling (questing/instances/battlegrounds)
  • Socializing (RP/Ooc)

Each of these six areas is a separate, independent game in and of itself.  Sure, they can (and do) intersect some, but they don’t have to.  With minor restructuring, it would be possible to have six different game modules sold separately.  Of course this is probably a dumb idea, but I just want to show that these areas truly are distinct.

Blizzard is smart

I believe that this structure of WoW has been key to its continual and phenomenal success.  It’s entirely possible to enjoy the game and avoid any number of these sub-games.  You probably can easily name off players that you know who hate to PvP, or who think Achievements are worthless.  Players who play solo, or who get a character to 85 and then start on another, or players that hate leveling.

That last one about leveling even brings up another point.  It used to be that there was less independence between these sub-games.  For instance, questing was really the only efficient way to level before experience was gained in battlegrounds and from herbing/mining.  Even using instances to level was not usually feasible due to the difficulties in finding a group before the LFD tool was implemented (at least on my server).  So if you were really wanting to play WoW: End-game, you were required to first play WoW: Leveling/Questing.  Now, with the changes Blizzard has made that I listed above, it’s much easier to play the End-game with a minimal amount of the leveling sub-game.

This isn’t ‘dumbing down’ the game

I’ve read may complaints from veteran players who are frustrated with some of these changes that Blizzard has made to WoW, claiming that they are making the game too simple.  I submit that many of these changes that have been made have been to expand the game to a wider audience by making it more modular.  And why not?  It benefits us all, by letting us play the game in the way that is most fun for us as individuals.  I expect that we’ll even see more developments in this direction as the game continues to evolve.

Coming back full-circle

So there we have it, Dizzae, who had only ever really participated in a few of these sub-games (and even then to a very limited extent), eventually got in a rut and lost interest.  Now, that’s not bad per se; interests, circumstances, and situations change and sometimes there’s very little that we as individuals can (or should) do about it, even if it’s heart-breaking.  I do wish, though, that I had organized these thoughts out in my head already.  Then, when she muttered something to me about how she was going to quit WoW because “Cata was a bit of a flop” without having anything more specific to back it up with I could have suggested that she give one of the other sub-games a try to see if that refreshed her interest a bit.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to proselytize to her or anyone about the game.  I love the World of Warcraft, but I know that it’s not for everyone (like my significant other who never quite figured out how to not continually be looking either at the ground or the sky) and that it’s entirely possible to have a full, worthwhile life without ever even touching a computer, let alone petting one’s Mechanical Squirrel while watching a beautiful Azerothian sunset.  I just won’t accept unfounded, bull s!*& excuses, and will cut through them like a hot knife through a snowman’s jugular.  Needless to say, she’s my sister, and I love her, so I left it at that.  If she’s done, she’s done, even if she doesn’t have the guts to tell me why.

The upside of all of this, however, was to really analyze how I play the game.  Overall, I’ve enjoyed dabbling in just about all of the sub-games that I came up with: I love the cooperative aspects of the game in pvp, raiding/dungeoneering, and socializing, and I also have a strong affinity for those worthless shiny points known more commonly as ‘achievements’.  Check my character page and you’ll see that I have plenty of alts, but I haven’t ever pursued active gold-making.  I’ve always had sufficient gold for my needs (mostly because I’m about the cheapest person alive), but I’ve never really focused on any activities that have increased gold as the primary end-goal.  The loss of my sister in-game not only helped me to realize this, but motivated me to try my hand at playing the AH.  And hey, it’s good!  (One of my most-favorite commercials ever… I’ll try not to link to it too often throughout the life of this blog.  And yes, it’s dorky, but I’m a musician, so cut me some slack, okay?)  I’ve had substantial success in AH PvP recently, but I’ll save the gory details for a future post.

Today’s moral

So the moral of the story?  Every time an alt dings, an angel bites its wings… er, rather, every time a tauren dies, increased gold to Liyly flies?  Okay I don’t really know what the moral is.  I guess just enjoy the game in the way that you like to, unless that way happens to be spamming dps meters, trolling trade chat, or being mean to others, of course!


*Why has the player base not developed a single-word verb for running a 5-man instance?  With so many linguistic innovations in the culture, this surprised me as I struggled to find an elegant gerund to fit in my list above.  I’ll have to explore this more in a future post!  Exciting!

**Wait, why do I want to defend Garrosh?  He’s mean, ugly, and loud.  Plus, he’s an orc, and orcs are, well… you know.  Let’s just say that you won’t find one on my character selection screen anytime soon.  Now that I have just recently won my City Defender achievement, I can probably cross this one off my list. :)

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