I pulled this out of a Junkbox yesterday, pick-pocketed from a Scarlet something in Tirisfal Glades. Here’s an area of game that was updated in Pandaria, in a move that predated the now almost obsessive concept of Timewalking. It was a way to make what was once considered obsolete and broken up to date, with the occasional nod to what used to be the norm but which has become part of history. As a lot of people’s memories is of late filled with what matters most about what Azeroth left behind, it is a cautionary reminder to those who feel recollections of the past are more important than the events themselves.
Having come to the revelatory conclusion yesterday that we are the ones responsible for the game’s shortcomings, in most cases, it seems unfair to keep blaming designers for lapses in memory. It is also largely disingenuous for users to malign the people who make this game for not understanding their product, yet we keep doing it. I am reminded this morning of a very vocal Twitter follower, now long silent, who absolutely detested what the team did to Warriors, to the point of what seemed like utter fixation. That’s what immersion in Azeroth can do to you, and that still troubles me greatly.
One of the most competent people in my ex-Guild was totally committed to us and the cause, right up until the point where he got his first proper job, and then just vanished. There would be half hearted returns, but eventually the truth was that for him, this game had lost its pull forever. That’s also the case for my husband, who admitted to me via conversation last night that his truth is much the same. There are better things to do with time: bikes, exercise, self-improvement… not sitting for hours at a screen. Without a cohesive social framework as restriction, my husband has returned to things that distract him more.
It was the people who kept him playing, not the game.
Once you can grasp why it is things happen, life becomes a lot easier to cope with. When I look at the amount of emotional investment other people hold in this MMO it becomes easy to grasp why passion will run so high, how lives are inevitably altered with time within it. However, what matters more to me right now is the understanding that for some people, it is just a game. Attacking those who disagree with you has become a spectator sport with far more interest for some than the esports ActiBlizz would love us all to buy into. When you realise that without the Community there would simply be no game, that point scoring becomes pointless and petty.
The people who play make this game more than it is not because of the UI, but how they use it. The Gold Farmers and the Ironpeople and the RP-ers and the Hardcore Casuals may overlap in Venn diagrams of increasing complexity, but without each other there would simply be no correlation. I can lament the loss of certain things yet accept that without this constant reassessment, the majority of players would have vanished long ago. In fact, without this perpetual reinvention and reassessment, I doubt Azeroth would have lasted a decade.
All those games who aren’t self-aware, who could take a lesson from the customer service and feedback that Warcraft has effectively created from scratch…
Once you realise that the Community now fuels this game in a fashion that has effectively altered the perception of the game itself, a lot of stuff is more acceptable. You allow certain individuals the space to create, and rant. Importance is placed on individual ability to exploit systems to a micron of alienability. Respect is paid to the costume makers, the polymer clay sculptors and anyone who can make Azeroth exist in the Real World. The Community is the UI and the UI is built and altered by the Community. It is a symbiotic relationship that works, only if you are prepared to accept that a part of you is never returned in the transaction.
To make Warcraft what it is, you must give yourself freely and without consequence.