Wednesday, May 21, 2008
A friend of mine, whose wife is about to start a job at Blizzard (oh envy, oh jealous heart), admitted to me recently that he's tried to play World of Warcraft, but has had a hard time getting into it. "All I know is you've got to kill a bunch of spiders," he told me ruefully. "Am I missing something?"
Well, yes. actually.
But it's not his fault -- the truth is, unless you have a particular mindset, or previous experience with a certain kind of game play, WoW can be difficult to get into at first. The manual, what there is of it, doesn't help much. The in-game tips are useful, but limited. To learn the game, you have to play the game, which means you have to be willing to feel lost and bewildered for hours before things begin to click into place and make sense. Some of us enjoy that sense of disorientation and exploration; some of us don't. Those who don't, feel frustrated, and eventually give up. They don't get it, and honestly, I don't blame them.
Myself, I blundered about the newbie area for hours the first few days I played -- not understanding, for example, that my weapons and armor were gradually being eroded during battle, and that I had the option to replace them with new weapons and armor from fallen mobs. ("Mobs" are the creatures and NPCs you kill during game play; they drop goodies which you can pick up by right-clicking on their fallen bodies. See? Now you know something I didn't know the first couple of hours I played.) Eventually I had no weapon to kill anything with, and I was stuck -- till I asked another player what the heck I was supposed to do now. He showed me how to fix my weapon at a weapon dealer, and voila! I was on my way.
A little while later, around level 12 or so, I got stuck again when I came upon a fishing quest. I had no idea how to fish, and there were no tips to tell me what to do. So again, I asked another player; she showed me how to fish -- and voila! I was on my way again.
You may see a pattern developing here.
One of the secrets of WoW -- in fact, the secret of WoW -- is that you can't play the game alone; you need help from other players. Once you understand that, the rest falls into place.
Yes, asking for help in the early stages of the game marks you as a n00b, a newbie; but the fact is, at almost every level of the game, you are a n00b, at least compared to somebody who's been at that level or in that situation before you. There's nothing wrong with being a n00b -- a newbie -- though there are always jerks who'll act like there is. Most players, though, will be happy to help you; most of us remember what it was like to blunder around those first few hours, or days, or weeks, trying to figure out what to do next. A lot of the fun in playing WoW comes from helping other players. So don't be afraid to ask for help.
I've promised my friend I'll give him a hand the next time he wants to start a new character. I'll even start a new toon with him, if he wants, so we can play those early levels together. I'm pretty sure it'll be fun for both of us.