World of Warcraft is life.
Depending on your perspective, that statement could mean many things.
I would understand if you stop reading at this point. World of Warcraft (WoW) has claimed many social lives over its fifteen years of existence. Maybe it was your significant other, or maybe it was you, who became so engrossed in this imaginary world that it had a negative impact in real life (IRL).What makes WoW the most popular Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG)?
Some of you, like me, are in the throes of digital role playing once again with the release of WoW Classic. To call WoW Classic a success would be a gross understatement. Nearly every realm is full of excited players, and unsurprisingly, there are queues to get into the game. I waited 45 minutes to get in opening day, which was short compared to others, and it was more than worth it.
Why am I so excited to be playing a game that I stopped playing years ago? Have I changed or has the game changed? What makes WoW the most popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game)?
As a young gamer, I dreamed of a digital fantasy world with real people playing together. In 2008, my young dreams came true when I first played World of Warcraft. The 2nd expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, had just been released, and there were over 10 million people playing. I still can remember what it felt like to walk into the Alliance capital of Stormwind with my very first character. I was in a massive online world, meeting the biggest group of nerds that I had ever met! I made so many mistakes and died so many times, but I was not dissuaded. I met many lifelong friends who aided me with questing and dungeon runs. A friend bought me my very first flying mount. WoW had me hooked. For at least four years, I played almost no other game.
I never imagined that my love for WoW would change, but it did. The game became too easy for me. So much of the content I could do on my own. Any group stuff was helped along by new group finders. Guilds died out and realms became empty. With each further expansion, there would be a wave of players coming back, but sooner than later, I would find myself walking down the streets of Stormwind without a soul in sight. It felt like I was playing a single player game. Eventually, I just quit.
Now, with the release of WoW Classic, this version of the game is very close to the original or what players call “Vanilla” WoW. Gone are all the things that make the modern version of the game easy. This version of the game is very challenging, but I find myself engrossed with this online world all over again. Why? What has changed?
World of Warcraft is a real world because it is inhabited by real people.
For good or for bad, WoW is made up of a whole lot of different humans, just like IRL. I meet the generous and helpful players. I see global chat that makes me cringe with horror. I see bad etiquette and rude behavior. An online world is made up of real people, and real people have real problems.World of Warcraft is a real world because it is inhabited by real people.
At this point in my life, why does this game appeal to me once again? I love people. I want to be a helpful, kind, and generous person IRL, and WoW gives me the ability to be that way with people from all over the globe. This desire stems from my deep rooted faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said things like, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matt 7:12 NIV). Being kind and generous should be a way of life for those who follow Jesus, and that’s how I live in the online world of Azeroth, too. I heal those who are nearly dead from a mob. I lend gold to those in need. I help lonely questers to finish killing monsters that have been beating them to a pulp all day.
IRL, I have become more empathetic and patient with the people I meet. Rather than getting angry at the teller in a store, I show compassion and express concern. I try to make people smile or blush with embarrassment through compliments.
WoW may not be real life, but it can be a reflection of my IRL character in a digital world. When it comes right down to it, I want to make the world a better place. Are the words I am saying going to benefit those who listen? Will I walk past someone in need without lending a hand? It may not be for everyone, but being like Jesus in WoW is one of the best parts of my life once again.