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Any gamer who has played WoW for any particular length of time would know that it’s easy to have an on and off relationship with the game. The berth of regular new content, new features and the general poking by current addicts is usually enough to tempt the casual player to re-install and reactivate.

Blizzard’s clever marketing team knows of these “swing players” and has some nastily effective tools at their disposal. The buddy system, which allows a current player to quest along a new player and earn 3x experience for 60 days, is one that, truthfully, managed to pull me in for a month or so.

But can WoW really draw you back in, permanently? Or is it really just one of those lonely game experiences that holds some strange appeal.

I first encountered WoW in closed beta. Back in those days, the game was pretty rough, but very popular. I joined a guild quickly and, being my first *real* MMO experience, I enjoyed it immensely. I followed it into Open Beta and finally purchased it when it released. The problem was, I was very quickly outpaced by my few playing friends and found myself alone @ 30. I didn’t last much longer.

Over the next few years I would re-activate my account probably around 8-9 times, hoping that a new patch or a new promise by a friend would follow through to some of the much lauded “fun experiences”. But time and time again, the friend would get sucked into that raid schedule, the neverending hunger for loot, and once again, I would be left alone.

I’m sure many of the regular WoW players are rolling their eyes at this point. Why not play Solo? Well, I must hold a pretty unpopular position where the “MM” part of MMO tends to be the stickler. The game is infinity more fun when played with a group, PVE or PVP. But the problem is that the game isn’t made to be easy that way, you honestly need people questing or instancing with you and it’s far too difficult or time wasting to find them.

But over and over, I try. Sometimes for a few weeks, other times a few months. Guilds don’t want you unless you want to raid 12hrs a week, others are on so infrequently its tough to find a group to trudge along with. So again, and again, I’m stick wandering, bored, through gorgeously drawn landscape as I beg for a group on the LFG channel.

I still don’t know why I do it. Some part of me yearns to get a return on the money I’ve spent and the time I’ve spared, while another remembers the fun I have had, taking down a huge boss or having a grand ol’ chat while ripping through a string of quests. But the problem remains – WoW is a lonely game. It requires a strict dedication and a huge, unorthodox timesink.

I recently purchased Wrath of the Lich King, after a friend’s gentle nudges brought me back into Azeroth. After reactivating my account, my friend generously offered to power level my old character a bit to get me on my way. The generosity quickly turned to frustration as he quickly became bored babysitting my character and complained that he had missed a crucial raid.

So there I was, back at square one. Too far away from 80 to be of any use, too old to find some younger characters to level with. But hey, at least the Death Knight starting levels were fun, right?

  1. My brother, a WoWhead, tries to get me into this game all the time, and even recently tried to entice me with that 3x experience stuff (mostly because my biggest complaint is how long it takes to start having any real fun with the game). But, more importantly, I think I want to avoid it because…well, what if I DO really like it?

    I already think that I play a little too much video games. So, here’s my brother, who only bought the PS3 to have a BluRay player in the first place…and this guy plays WoW in ALL of his free time. He gets his work done at his job and is responsible about it, so he’s not flaking out on life. He got his girlfriend into WoW, so the only person who could whip him into shape is playing WoW, too. Hell, he even brought his laptop up when he visited me for my graduation ceremony so he could play WoW when he was bored.

    All I ever think about when he brings up WoW to me is, well, I really like games (unlike him). Will I become like those people you talk about – the 12 hour raiders who can’t even spare some time with their friends – if I were to get into an MMO like World of Warcraft? I don’t really know, and I REALLY don’t want to find out.

  2. avatar G2

    A woman I know started playing WoW in January. Now she has her husband on it with 2 PC’s in the spare room. They’re both in their late 40′s.
    They’ve also joined a guild they found out about online for older players. I was amazed, I read all these stories online of older players never before playing games, getting hooked on WoW and here’s an example right in front of me.

  3. What’s really funny about this article, is how you note “WoW fans are probably rolling their eyes at this point”, in regards to not having fun playing it solo.

    After a few characters to practice with, I got my most-played Shadow Priest to 70, and hardcore raiding, in 7 days game-time: 100% soloing, without friends running me through dungeons. If you know where to go, it’s not that bad of an experience, but like you said, it’s all alone, for 168 hours. 168 hours just to “get started!” Thinking back on that game blows my mind, James.

  4. avatar Chris Bolt

    12 hours a week? Try 20 hours a week. Sunday-Thursday 8-12pm.

    But the game is so big and different. I only raid on my level 80. I don’t do daily quests with him, I don’t really PvP with him, I just raid. To really play the game and enjoy the lore and the beauty of it, you have to have other characters. Right now I am enjoying leveling my Druid and it is totally solo.

  5. @Jamie, that’s the same reason people don’t do drugs! Sure, it might not be so bad, but what if you like it? Then you can’t stop, and you sink deeper, and deeper, and deeper, and pretty soon you’re a level 60 crack whore with WAY to much “experience.”

    BTW, I never got into WoW for the same reason. What if it really is as great as people make it seem? I already don’t have time for all the other games I already own… I don’t need another full-time job sucking my life away.

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