I bought the World of Warcraft expansion pack, with about a billion other people, apparently, more out of obligation than anything else. I’ve kept my account open in the game for at least four months, without ever logging in, just to wait for the expansion pack, so I might as well buy it, right?
And since I installed it, I’ve played more out of a different sense of obligation — to validate spending money on the damn thing — than out of a desire to play it. Which makes a game that already feels like work, feel even more like work.
As far as I can tell, it’s a fine game. They’ve added a good bit of stuff, kept with their same winning formula with several improvements, and the kids seem to like it. They’ve even added some of the stuff — in particular, a PvP Domination-type game in the open environment — I wrote an overlong post about months ago, saying “wouldn’t it be awesome if they added this?” Turns out it’s not all that awesome.
So it’s a videogame that doesn’t really thrill me anymore and I’m not that inclined to play. As somebody with more money than free time, I’m buying, trying, and abandoning videogames all the time. So this would normally be too boring even for this blog’s low standards, and not worth writing about.
The problem is that with an online game, it’s not just a game failure but somehow a social failure. The meat of World of Warcraft is all about playing with other people. I’ve never had any luck at all with this, though. In the two years I’ve owned the thing, I’ve not once had a good experience finding random people to play with. I’ve got no doubt that they’re out there, I’d be that there are even more good people online than idiots, but hell if I can ever find them. Somehow the same goobers that yammer on sub-literately turn into game design experts who know how to play your character better than you do, as soon as you get into a group.
Tonight I joined a random group for a place I’d never been before, after not playing the game for about four months. Somehow I became The Weakest Link (even though I never caused the whole party to die, when everybody else did). I was being pretty gracious about it, and thought the rest of the gang was being pretty cool, and said I’d have to leave in a few minutes. Then all of a sudden I found myself booted from the team, with no warning.
On the grand scale of internet assholitude, that incident doesn’t even register. Still, it annoyed me. It’s just a little bit too like a date gone wrong. Both parties know it’s not working out, and aren’t even that interested in keeping the date going, but you still get dumped. I always thought videogames were supposed to be a substitute for dating. Where’s the escapism in that?
And of course, now more and more games are getting online. I haven’t had any success with the Xbox Live thing either, and there’s a lot less time investment required there. So there’s another venue to have people judging me and even getting a big visible star rating to show me how popular I’m not. I think I like the antisocial games better.
So if anybody wants a good deal on the World of Warcraft expansion, let me know. I think I’m done with the massively multiplayer thing for a while.