You know, I’m an open minded kind of guy when it comes to video game. There’s pretty much nothing out there I won’t at least try, even if it belongs to a genre or franchise I’m completely apathetic too. I’ll ponder away at a puzzle title, command an army in an RTS until they all inevitably die in gruesome ways five minutes later, and (despite being the least athletic person on the planet) I’ll even play a game of FIFA or two given the opportunity. Yet there is one game out there that I refuse to approach; one experience that I dare not sample, for fear of what the dark and twisted results may be. That game is…
…World of Warcraft.
Yeah, probably not the answer you were expecting. There is, however, one key reason for this choice, and it’s one you might find peculiar; I’m afraid of getting addicted to it. It’s certainly a game which holds the propensity to take over your life, as a brief discussion with any former player will testify to. For instance, the last player I spoke to regarding this immediately recalled the endless loop he trapped himself in of returning home for work, starting up World of Warcraft as soon as possible, and then staying at his PC until the wee small hours of the morning. Each and every day. If you’re yet to be convinced, it only takes a cursory glance around the internet to find more evidence of the extremes that the game can take you to; prostitution, child neglect, and even deaths are just some examples. It’s not pretty to think about.
Of course, I consider myself to have a reasonably sensible head on my shoulders, and that along with the sheer busy nature of my current lifestyle makes me confident I’d never drop down to such dangerous levels. Yet even I can’t deny that when I look at what the game entails, it seems like a concoction of gameplay elements that could easily draw me in much more than I’d like. For example, the simple act of trying to reach max level is enticing in itself; games like Call of Duty have shown me (And indeed, everyone else) how compulsive watching an XP bar slowly tick upwards can be. Indeed, I spent so long playing Black Ops 2 in particular that I actually managed to reach max prestige – and anyone with even a merest inkling of knowing what that means knows how much of a time investment that is. Another endless time sink to me was Fallout 3, which once again has a levelling system, along with an endless list of quests to complete and a large open world… All features also common to Word of Warcraft. Sensing the pattern here?
Couple that with a few other points that tick into my compulsions, and you’ve potentially got a recipe for disaster. Couple together my noted compulsion to clear any checklist that’s put in front of me along with WoW’s endless parade of tasks and challenges, for instance, and we’ve got problems. That’s not even counting the possibility of joining up with communities, getting sucked into raids with other players, and much more… It’s a little bit frightening.
Of course, many of these points are true of most MMORPGs and not just World of Warcraft, and that’s very true. It’s not a genre I’m overtly familiar with (mainly because of that fear of being drawn in), but I do have one notable experience that just makes we want to keep a considerable distance away from them. That experience? Runescape – and no, don’t laugh. It’s a very basic game that’s incredibly repetitive and grind intensive, but it does what it does very well, and it doesn’t really pretend to be anything else. It’s a game which I put a lot of free time into; I whittled off most of its long quest list, and got my skill levels up to a point most casual players could only dream of. It was fun, and I enjoyed it.
But here’s the thing – Runescape’s very basic, and has its fair lists of faults, and I still found it compulsive. If you then give me World of Warcraft – a game widely considered to be the best of its type to this day, and one that fosters a healthy community even to this day over 10 years after its initial release… Well, I feel the sheer increase of quality would only take those seeds of addiction planted by Runescape and blossom them into a forest of pure insanity, where I might just lose myself in ways I thought not possible.
Perhaps you think I’m just being overtly paranoid, embellishing things for the sake of argument; perhaps that’s true. Perhaps I could pick up the game and just get some kicks out of it without anything ever going any further, and I freely admit it’s that thought process that bolsters me with a surge of curiosity every time I go to start Overwatch, only to see the World of Warcraft icon floating away in the corner of Battle.net. Yet the reality is I don’t even want to take that chance; there’s so much else I’d rather do, rather than perhaps triggering that 1% chance and spending my nights whittling away at a grindstone. So thanks, World of Warcraft, but no thanks – I’ll continue taking my business elsewhere.