So the most recent edition of the academic journal Games and Culture was dedicated to articles on World of Warcraft, aptly abbreviated WoW, a phenomenally popular release in the genre of massively-multiplayer online games (MMOGs). Previous to writing my thesis, I had always found the idea of these games compelling- they truly do seem to represent digital 'third spaces' (see Steinkuehler and Williams' "Where everybody knows your (screen) name: Online games as 'third places.'") , or at the very least microcosms of social life accessible to those interested in a variety of questions ranging from the economic to the cultural to the legal. But it was only when I was engaging in case studies on seven varying genres for my thesis that I actually created an avatar and joined the huge numbers within the WoW universe.
Even though I found it to be a game that managed to strike a balance between an immersive persistent world with lush settings and well-plotted landscapes and a game with a series of at times repetitive quests required to allow the player to level sufficiently high enough to progress through said landscape, I became one of the statistics in Ducheneault et. al.'s abandonment rate after getting to level 9, largely because I was killed on a distant island and felt too aggravated to find my corpse again (in proof of their statistics on class and abandonment, I was a shaman).
But upon reading this journal, I felt compelled to again take up Mashyla, my dwarf shaman, and see if I couldn't get past those nasty voodoo trolls and further into the game.
My persistence (truly, I was killed another 18 times on that quest, so persistence may be another word for obsession) paid off. I made it to the Crossroads, where a quest led me to my first flight on a winged beast, over the landscape I had spent hours running across, to the huge commercial centre of Orgrimmar. Huzzah!
All this to say, stay tuned for lots and lots of WoW posts in the future. Every quest you complete and level you reach opens up new terrains, trickier quests, and meaner enemies, as well as greater oppportunities to meet other players. Reaching Orgrimmar opened up whole new channels of communication, and in the time it took me to disembark, I saw more real other players run by than my entire time playing. It seems to me like it may just be time to put my own post onto channel 4, LFG.
Believe it or not, I never used to be a video game geek before this game.