Matt Chat 39: World of Warcraft MMORPG Double Feature

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Hi, guys. I'm back this week with my first two-parter. The first part offers a brief glimpse of pre-WoW MMOs, including muds, Forgotten World (Neverwinter Nights Online), Meridian 59, Everquest, and of course lots of WoW footage. The second part is a "live" recording of my friend Max Shelton and I doing a short quest and discussing the game. Enjoy!

Part One:

Part Two:

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Mark Vergeer
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Thanks for making this excellent two parter mate!

I've been treating quite a few people who got into serious problems with WoW taking over their real lives!

If it wouldn't take such? an incredible amount of time this would be something interesting to play.

For me it would only be fun playing with a group of people you actually know. But I won't be playing this game - I tried a demo version once but I had to download gigabytes and gigabytes of total? updates that actually resulted into me downloading the entire game multiple times. One would imagine incremental updates or smarter updates being applied in such a big game.

This video is very informative. Thanks mate!

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Matt Barton
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Thanks, Mark! I often find

Thanks, Mark!

I often find people who worry about what I call "wowcaholism," that is, folks whose lives are ruined or productivity shot to hell because they can't help but play wow (or some other game) all the time. MMOs seem to get the worst press for this, perhaps because of the old days when people had to pay by the hour and ran up irresponsibly large phone or AOL bills (thinking here of Neverwinter Nights Online in particular). I still run into people who think that WoW or MMOs in general are extremely expensive, when in reality they are quite cheap (assuming you already have an internet connection).

From what I've seen, "wow addiction" is usually a case of someone not doing things they really didn't like doing in the first place, such as hanging out with the family, doing chores, or "spending quality time" with a loved one. If those things aren't fun or important to someone, then something like WoW is a handy excuse. Oh, I don't spend more time studying because of WoW. That feels better to think than "I don't study because I'm too lazy," or "I don't study because I don't really don't care about school" or even "I don't study because I'm not really worried or concerned about my future career." It's really about not wanting to accept responsibility for your own decisions.

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Rowdy Rob
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Definitive WoW video on Youtube?

Not only was this a great Matt Chat (two-parter!), but this was the best video on WoW that I've seen on Youtube! I've seen many WoW "trailers" and "gameplay" videos when doing research for my "Perfect World" article I posted here a long time ago, but this one (or two, actually) really explains what WoW is all about. This may very well be the best introductory primer on WoW available on Youtube! The forerunner games were well-presented, and the in-game commentary was interesting. How did you get the "guest voice" in the game? Was he talking to you via in-game headset, or through a telephone, or what?

Matt Barton wrote:

From what I've seen, "wow addiction" is usually a case of someone not doing things they really didn't like doing in the first place, such as hanging out with the family, doing chores, or "spending quality time" with a loved one. If those things aren't fun or important to someone, then something like WoW is a handy excuse. Oh, I don't spend more time studying because of WoW. That feels better to think than "I don't study because I'm too lazy," or "I don't study because I don't really don't care about school" or even "I don't study because I'm not really worried or concerned about my future career." It's really about not wanting to accept responsibility for your own decisions.

I'm sure there's a lot of truth to this, but there's probably a bit more to this that I can speculate on. It could be that when you play WoW, you get "in the zone," much like you would when you're doing something creative (writing, art, etc.), and the right side of the brain becomes dominant, reducing your sense of time, space, responsibilities, etc.

Video Poker machines were banned in South Carolina, and one of the turning points in the de-legalization debate was when a woman went into a store to play a little bit of video poker, leaving her baby in the car while she played. She came out over 8 hours later. Her baby was dead from the heat in the car.

The point is: that wasn't "laziness" or "lack of accepting responsibility," it was far beyond that. There's something else going on there, and perhaps it's the same kind of response that some people have when playing these MMO's. Certain people may very well be "zoning out" in these games.

When I played "Perfect World," an apparently similar game to WoW, I didn't get any sense of compulsion to play it non-stop, and in fact became bored with it after a few weeks. Perhaps WoW is designed better in the "compulsion" factor, but my sense was that I was immune to the "crack" factor of this particular MMO, and therefore assume that only select people can get "addicted" to these types of games.

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Chris Kennedy
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Hey Matt -

Loved the two-parter. It really gave you a chance to talk a lot about the history of the genre as well as dive into specific details about the game.

I have not played World of Warcraft or Everquest or any other MMO. The reason? Because I don't want to get addicted. Sound familiar?

While I do not believe that would be as possible due to my schedule these days compared to days past, I am sure I could make it (an addiction) work if I wanted. The closest I have ever come to ridiculous amount of gaming addiction would be Diablo II. I spent way too much time in that game. Despite the fact I was in the game along with friends (that is...friends I knew in person), I still feel like I should have hours of my life back.

I think these types of games are easily - EASILY - addictive due to their very nature of improving one's character. I am mostly speaking from the point of Diablo II. While that game is certainly not an MMO, it has a lot of the same characteristics of it. Diablo II has a very finite amount of quests compared to these MMOs, but that is irrelevant. The game practically never ends. You create a player, seek to make them better, can nearly ALWAYS make them better, and strive to hit level 99. When you hit level 99 (this takes....a ridiculous amount of time), you can always start a new character and repeat the entire process. Unless you had some sort of clan or something, the hours required to obtain all of the goods you want as well as level up was just ridiculous.

I never hit level 99, but I did get up to around 93-95. I had a friend or two that played more than I did, and they would help me with equipment. It was pretty tough to get some of the primo items to drop in the game, and you usually had to trade for them.

So I am not talking about WoW, but this should give you enough background to know that I do not want an enhanced experience of Diablo II (Read that as "more quests and more hours"). That is a lot of my life I cannot get back. Did I have fun at the time? Yes. Would I consider the experience "too much of a good thing?" Definitely.

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Catatonic
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Pay people to play the game for you

This web page has some ads for World of Warcraft related sites - one of them lets you buy "gold" for real money, and they even tell you approximately how long it will take to be delivered. Does this mean you are paying to have someone else (presumably in China, India, Russia) play the game for you?

Bill Loguidice
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Gold farming and outsourced leveling
Catatonic wrote:

This web page has some ads for World of Warcraft related sites - one of them lets you buy "gold" for real money, and they even tell you approximately how long it will take to be delivered. Does this mean you are paying to have someone else (presumably in China, India, Russia) play the game for you?

If you're talking about the Google ads on our site, we don't have much control over what keywords trigger what ads. If you're talking about the practice of people buying "pre-made" high level characters, yeah, I agree, that's completely insane, but a pretty standard MMO practice. For many MMO games, it's all about the levels, and some people don't have the time or desire to level up the regular way and just want to jump into it for the "good" stuff. I don't like to be too judgmental of others gaming practices, but buying high level characters, in-game items, etc., using real world money seems very wrong to me.

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Catatonic
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ecosystem
Bill Loguidice wrote:

If you're talking about the Google ads on our site, we don't have much control over what keywords trigger what ads.

Yes that's right - there was also an ad for a service that hosts a web site for your guild... it seems there is an ecosystem for this game that keeps people involved even when they're not actually playing it.

Matt Barton
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Yes, this game can easily

Yes, this game can easily become a hobby in and of itself. I liken it to the glory days of tabletop role-playing, when groups of friends would get together every weekend and play until the wee hours of the night. It's not like most games that you play for a few weeks, beat, and move on to something else.

I always found it funny that so many folks are reluctant to try it out, since they might end up enjoying it so much they might spend too much time on it. Heck, I love games that are so fun they're addicting. Isn't that what great gaming is all about?

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Bill Loguidice
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People saying that they

People saying that they might enjoy it so much that they would spend too much time on it as a reason for not playing one is probably a bit apocryphal. I know I don't want to bother with a MMO because I wouldn't have the time to properly devote to it to play it properly, not that I'd be afraid of being addicted or something. To me, that's a big difference and probably what stops a lot of people (that and the monthly fee, which all told, is not a major expense).

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Mark Vergeer
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It takes too much investing....
Matt Barton wrote:

Yes, this game can easily become a hobby in and of itself. I liken it to the glory days of tabletop role-playing, when groups of friends would get together every weekend and play until the wee hours of the night. It's not like most games that you play for a few weeks, beat, and move on to something else.

I always found it funny that so many folks are reluctant to try it out, since they might end up enjoying it so much they might spend too much time on it. Heck, I love games that are so fun they're addicting. Isn't that what great gaming is all about?

I am so reluctant to try it because the setup/download patch procedure is just horrendous and then there is the fact that you really need to invest an awful lot of time in this game in order to enjoy it. I tend to be rather picky how I spend my time. It's just too steep a threshold for me and my time is too precious to waste on WOW :(

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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