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Why Knock It?

Adam Tingle Posted:
General Articles 0

You lot are a very angry bunch. From developers "nerfing" various content, to adding in the "will they, won't they" issue of free-to-play, there is always a reason for messages of hate to span through these very forums. You see here at MMORPG.com, while we primarily aim to entertain you and inform you with our various scrawling, we are also deeply committed to finding a way to channel the various rage-fuelled emotions that weave throughout the website into a source of energy that we can store, mass produce, and ultimately become millionaires from. We have the means in which to incite you, and yet we just have yet to figure out how to bottle it, stick on a label, and sell it to consumers. The first part is easy, for instance "I think that Warhammer Online is a fine use of its IP" - see all of that latent aggression, think of the financial possibilities: we are just waiting for Suzie to finish her "science thing" and produce a business model.

I am not here today to talk about Cyber Creations' plans to dominate the world however. I am instead here to analyse a certain bugbear that most of our readership hold dear like a very abused teddy bear. Of course I am talking about World of Warcraft; El Diablo, The MMO That Must Not Be Named, The Anti-Christ, Hell Bitch, World of Poop-Faces, That Dirty Popular One - and finally - World of Warcraft? More like World of Gay Craft. Because that’s totally not offensive.

People have a problem with World of Warcraft. Perhaps it is the result of being loved by millions; perhaps it is because it has indeed used a form of voodoo to ensnare players with very mediocre gameplay. Whatever the case may be, today I plan to get  to the bottom of the this name calling hootenanny, and hopefully by addressing this issue, we will bring forth a state of nirvana from our community and the world can live as one, yada-yada-yada.

Reason 1: It is not (Insert your first MMORPG here)

Any MMORPG lover will hold a special place in their heart for their first ever MMORPG. I know I certainly do, and if it wasn't illegal to both marry and father a family with a big box version of EverQuest, then I wouldn't be writing this right now. The problem with World of Warcraft is that it just isn't that first game. Where is the huge and expansive world from EverQuest? Where is the brilliantly immersive skill system from Ultima Online? Where are the floating dudes from Asheron's Call? The answer is quite simply: nowhere. World of Warcraft is a fine update of early MMORPGs, and a brilliant refinement, the problem is not with the game but with us: it can never live up to our expectations, and it will never be our first online love. The only thing we can do is look towards the happy and serene faces of our peers, see the adoration in their eyes and feel a warmth inside our hearts that someone has found a special piece of software that will stay with them forever. If that sounds a little too girly though, just call them a name, make a comment about their sexual orientation, and run away choking back the tears. Tamay-toe, tomato.

Reason for Hate 2: The Brood

Conceding for a moment that World of Warcraft was both a fine refinement and excellent progression of the genre, a sticking point may be the general direction that all releases since have taken. From dual faction settings, to almost copy-and-paste gameplay, a lot of MMORPGs these days are thinly disguised clones, each with a different take on just how big Elvin boobs really are. To this I can concede that Rift looks a little too similar to Warhammer Online, and Age of Conan and Aion are not that different- but wasn't this the same for Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, and Anarchy Online? Oh sure we may have an abundance of traditional fantasy themed games, but even the Sci-Fi imaginings of Anarchy Online shared common traits with the high-fantasy antics of EverQuest. We could go on for hours about the negative effect that Blizzard has had on its peers, but that is the simple fact of genres. Games generally copy each other, from Modern Warfare to Mario, special games emerge and the industry follows suit - given enough time another MMO creature will emerge from the thicket of games development, sporting an extra limb of PvP and a cloak +43 strength of Monkey Slaying and conquer all attention. It's all about time baby. It's all about time.

Reason to Hate 3: Chuck Mother Effing Norris

I am going to be cringe inducingly honest to our more aged community. I didn't know what a Chuck Norris was, did, ate, looked like, or how much he could mud-wrestle a crocodile with nothing but an erection and a smile - that is until I played World of Warcraft. I am 20 years of age; I am from the United Kingdom; in my spare time I watch HBO series and listen to The Smiths thinking of myself as a sort of wounded poet - I have no business watching a red haired man throw Kung Fu shapes. Until I headed into the Barrens I didn't realise that Chuck Norris could, or could not, defeat a bear with his little toe, or take on a ninja pirate with nothing but a toothpick and a raised eyebrow. For this I have to thank the more immature minority of the Blizzard's game, and you are sublimely correct by being annoyed by people that live their online life like an open wound; placing every thought and idea into the chat channel whilst also adding a moronic dose of sexism, racism, and homophobia to the already excrement filled sundae. Given that World of Warcraft is one of the first games to truly push the 60-day game card to retail stores (in the UK at any rate) it seems natural that those horrible teenagers might start to ruin our role-playing, and they did. This isn't to say that they cannot be avoided, and certainly many servers are bereft of mention of the ginger bearded one. For this one call of hate however, I concede that perhaps uncontrolled fury is right, and as a group we should form a posse and go teach Mr. Norris a lesson, and in doing so prove that Chuck Norris cannot defend himself from an angry mob.

And don’t get me started on the new commercial.

Reason for Hate 4: Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Apparently World of Warcraft is easy, while other MMORPGs were hard slogs through barren wastelands, fending off the hazards of nature while honing skills, and enduring steep inclines to the level cap. If the various forum posts about Blizzard's game were to be believed, you would be forgiven for thinking that the whole game was nothing but a merry dance through sunny locales following a smiling unicorn called "Jeremy" that hands out free hugs and swords when you whistle his favourite tune correctly. While certainly the game's almost cartoon-esque art style lends itself to a more sanitised view of videogaming, World of Warcraft is certainly not easy. Like an alcoholic in an AA meeting, I have a confession to make: I have never reached the level cap. Not 70. Not 80. And not 85. I have bested other games, and I have slung the Tingle flag into the caps of more difficult titles, but World of Warcraft has bested me. This isn't to say it is terribly complex, but I have always given up before I could surmount the level cap. Embarrassing yes.  And while the game has become increasingly easier as group content slims down to mere instancing, and the quest helper is inbuilt, all I can say is "YOU ASKED FOR IT!"

The markers that indicate quest objectives are only about because of third-party add-ons, and the group content in open zones has largely disappeared because nobody was attempting it. Blizzard largely built their game upon the lessons learnt in earlier games: in EverQuest we tired of long hours travelling and so we gained Gryphon points; in every MMORPG to date we grew sick of not being able to find level appropriate groups to take on dungeons - and this is where the group finder conquered all. World of Warcraft is not forcing us into stupidity: we asked for it, we wanted it, and now we have it we are all shuffling our feet with a slight redness to our cheeks mumbling "Well I liked the Qeynos to Freeport run actually". I think the term is "reaping what you sow".

Reason for Hate 5: You just like to moan

Let's face it, if World of Warcraft was as popular as Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the vast majority would sing its praises like an undiscovered gem. Its popularity is its unmaking, and essentially we MMO players are like the cool kid in school with the long fringe that refuses to listen to Green Day because they are now popular. It is human nature to want to be the Columbus that discovered new territory and is in some way more intelligent and savvy than the next man. And let's face it; we all love a good moan. Hailing from the UK as I do, complaining is a national pass time, and if we have our way with the Olympics, a soon to be national sport. We love to have something to rally against; a bad guy; an enemy. We can't just see the announcement of a new game and say "jolly good-looking if you ask me!" we have to proclaim its title as the WoW slayer, as if we have entered in the "End Game" and now there "Can only be one!"

We adore that World of Warcraft is around to hate, and it could be worse - it could actually be terrible, and the genre could be taking heed from an actual horrible game that has somehow slipped into the echelons of fame because Lady Gaga's gurning face is upon the box with double thumbs-up, or it has achieved 40 million views on YouTube for being so ironically crap that now everybody can't get enough of it. As a species we are dumb, we are easily led, and we largely have no quality control - at least with Blizzard in the driver's seat we are safe in the knowledge that they aren't going to go crazy with the formula. For all of its "cookie-cutter" gameplay, its apparent ease, and its immature fanbase, it is undeniably an enjoyable experience.

The Conclusion of Hate

What we have learnt from this essay of hate is that World of Warcraft is a torch bearer and guardian from the forces of evil. Like He-Man it is all that stands in the way of a really horrible game taking the mantle of "world's most popular MMO" and without it we might all be playing World of Glee: The Musical Age. While there is a degree of righteousness to feeling disgust from a game that embraces a younger generation, and sure it isn't quite as good as your memories of Ultima Online, but truly it isn't as bad as that fire in your belly is telling you.  Think about it, is all I am saying. Now carry on cursing, caps lock arguing, and forum quote debating - Suzie isn't quite finished yet harnessing your distaste.


Adam Tingle