Wednesday, May 07, 2008

World of Warcraft Wednesday

So if you're following my blog, you may notice a subtle pattern developing... different topics on different days.  Movie Monday, Political Tuesday, and now today, World of Warcraft Wednesday.

Yeah, I know, it's terminally precious -- but it's a way for me to structure my updating of this blog, and to keep me from straining for something to say on a topic I already covered yesterday.  Not that I won't strain to find something to say on my chosen daily topic on any given week, but the odds are a little better that I won't come up dry if I'm only dipping in each well once every seven days...

Talk about overwrought metaphors.

Anyway, World of Warcraft -- to put it the way J. Jonah Jameson might have, is it addictive, or just habit-forming?

Beats me.  I do know this: I enjoy playing it, and I've played it for over two years now, and while I get sick of it from time to time, I keep coming back.  Like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, "Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in."

For those of you who've never tried it, WoW is what's known as a Massively Multiplayer Online game.  It's set in a fantasy-based world that's vaguely Tolkeinesque, but with an attitude (and a self-referential, pop-cultural sense of humor).  You pick one of several different races to play, from human to night elf to orc to dwarf to gnome, etc.; you choose a "class" of character, ie:  warrior, hunter,  rogue,  priest, and so forth;  you choose whether to be a male or a female; and you pick some physical characteristics to make your character your own.  Then you name him or her, and send your character off on a journey of adventure and discovery -- along with ten million other players from around the world.  While playing the game, you team up with other players, join a guild, make friends, and hopefully, have fun.

Did I mention ten million people play this game?

Those ten million people come from, as they say, all walks of life.  You've got kids, of course (my daughter Rachel is a sometimes-player), and nerds (like the guy who writes this blog), and World Series-winning baseball players (like Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling), and cartoonists, and bus drivers... basically, a full cross-section of humanity.  Men and women, young and old.  All playing this game.

Weird, huh?

I think of it as a kind of online, non-athletic golf.  (Assuming you can call golf "athletic.")

Golf is one of those games that's hard to explain to a non-enthusiast.  I mean, basically, an average of four people in shorts and tube socks drive around a hilly green field in a cart, get out and swing ridiculous-looking clubs at little pock-marked balls, in an attempt to knock those balls across the field into a hole marked by a stick with a flag on it.

Sounds pretty silly, huh? 

Yet some people spend a good portion of their free time, and a large portion of their disposable income, pursuing the perfection of this so-called "sport."  And while we can make jokes about it, and chuckle with amusement at how seriously they take something that seems so inherently silly, there's no question that the people who enjoy golf enjoy it with a dedication that's positively awe-inspiring.  In fact, they love it.  And who are we, really, to say they shouldn't?  They have fun, it's social, it's harmless, and it gets them outdoors.

Well, except for the getting outdoors part, World of Warcraft is a lot like golf.

And every Wednesday, I'm going to have something to say about it.

Hope you'll tune in.  (And maybe join me and my avatars online.  More on that next time.)

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