« Best of the Decade: Super Smash Bros. Brawl | Main | Best of the Decade: Super Mario Galaxy »

Best of the Decade: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

Platforms: Windows, Mac OS

Release Date: November 23, 2004

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

This one took some soul searching. After all, I have a history of hating this game about as much as I love it. World of Warcraft is undoubtedly one of the biggest time and money sinks that this industry has ever seen. It’s mindless. It’s repetitive. It’s expensive. It’s a waste of so much time that could be better spent playing other things.


Well, maybe not.

Yes it’s true that I seem to treat it like an addiction, something to be shoved out of the way and ignored for personal health rather than indulged in and enjoyed. 

What I was finally able to admit, after much thinking over the subject, that there must be a reason I continue to be drawn to this world. Beyond seeing numbers crawl upward as I gain levels, beyond the addiction of growing stronger and gaining cool new stuff, there is truly something greater here that no other game in the past decade could match.

That thing is a world. That thing is expansiveness unequaled. The monthly subscription fee may be a pain, but it allows for a sheer scale no other game can even hope to achieve. More than any other game I’ve ever played or heard about, World of Warcraft lives up to its name; it feels like a world. There’s so much to explore and do that it’s simply staggering. It speaks directly to my love of exploration in games. It allows me to see and do new things on a consistent basis and inhabit this magical world that is so well fleshed out and fun to spend time in.

This is even more true with the recent Cataclysm expansion. The more WoW develops, the more I have come to appreciate how easy it makes it to dive into its world. Everything that’s overly punishing, boring, or tedious is slowly being phased out so players can get to the good stuff quicker. In a game that has a notorious reputation for being a pointless time sink, this can only be a good thing. WoW is undoubtedly more player-friendly than ever before and I love it.

So what if I get tired after a couple of months? No game I’ve ever played has managed to hold my attention for longer. The fact that WoW keeps drawing me back in fairly consistently over the years says a lot about its staying power. It’s not enough to overcome my natural tendency to bounce rapidly from game to game and stick with one thing for years instead, but it’s enough to keep me going for months at a time once or twice a year or so, which is pretty incredible by my standards. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize how obvious it is why MMOs keep drawing me back. They’re all about that quality I love most in gaming: exploration. No MMO does this better or with a friendlier eye toward its player’s needs than World of Warcraft. It’s about damn time I admitted to myself that focusing on the game’s downsides, of which it assuredly has many, would be ignoring the things it does so well. 

There’s something innately satisfying about the experience WoW provides. It can, at times, be a bit of a grind, but the persistence of the world and the time investment required to get a character to a high level gives you an attachment to both the world and the characters you play that’s just not possible in most other games. 

My most recent time with the game has made me realize that, yes, I still do want to spend the majority of my gaming time with titles that attempt to do something different with the medium; titles like Shadow of the Colossus, Metroid Prime, or Mass Effect. But what I have finally let myself admit is that there’s nothing wrong with WoW as a form of escapism like none other; as a way to indulge that desire to explore and inhabit mysterious lands that’s driven me in so many single player games. 

The fact that WoW is so expansive that I can’t explore it all within the confines of my lacking attention span is not the negative I have so long painted it as being. I now think it should be seen as a superb indicator of just how massive this game really is and why I keep wanting to go back. 

I’m going to try to stop taking a negative view toward World of Warcraft and appreciate the reasons it has continually drawn me back in instead. There’s no question there are dangerous aspects to WoW. There’s no question it has faults and tedium to spare. But there’s also no denying that no game comes close to doing those things it does right as well as it does, and for that, I lift the weight of a guilty pleasure off of my shoulders and admit that I no longer feel guilty to enjoy one of my Best of the Decade, World of Warcraft.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>