King of Lichness 1 – New Discoveries

wotlk-1This is the first of a selection of entries based on my adventures around the new continent of Northrend, from the World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. It may indeed seem more than a tad nerdy to be writing a blog on this subject, however it’s unlikely that I am the only one!

My new game arrived in the post, and unwrapping was a delight, yes I know that seems sad but I seldom buy anything leisure or hobby wise so this was a real treat. Even the installation was harmless and easy going, despite my eagerness to explore! So to business, new discoveries are indeed the order of the day! I took a steamboat from Menethill to Howling Fjord this afternoon with a friend sat watching me. I’ve played many video games in my life but not many have left me open mouthed and eager for more wonderful sights!

Upon reaching the new continent I could see packs of penguins on the icebergs, burning ships wedged between rocky outcropping far over head. The sights and sounds were awe inspiring, so much to see and do and it is all new!! I disembarked along with a dozen other eager explorers and wondered around the small Alliance town of Valguard. First things first, I need to visit my trainers: Alchemy, Herbs, Cooking and Fishing, and what wondrous new things I learned! But more of that later!

I found my first quest, slaying nasty beasties in the woods to protect the town. I had respecced from healer druid to feral kitty cat big old dps and was ready to do battle! Running in to the fray I found other people in combat and was soon set upon by huge wolf beasts. After slaying them and running back to the town I saw a ready cooked turkey on the ground and within seconds I saw a live one cluck past me. I reached out and snapped it neck (cruel but hilarious sound effects) and it vanished in a puff of feathers and plopped neatly on the ground as a ready roasted turkey! Marvellous!

I soon found more quests open up to me, taking me slightly further into the woods to rescue helpless survivors and slay more beasts! I found a herb, picked it, stashed it in my backpack and hurried on, eager to see more of this wonderful new land. After exploring a mere snippet of the new land I was forced to log out and re-enter the real world, much to my dismay.

It seems Blizzard have brought its loyal players a continent smothered in riches, new plants and buildings, new beasts and evil nasties. The textures and sounds were fresh and vibrant, and so far there isn’t a hint of the garish blue/red/purple plasticness that riddled the Burning Crusade, yay! Who knows what amazing adventures will unfold! I am happy to be taking my time to explore and totally enjoy the experience. I will not be surprised to see people who are level 80 within a few days, but then some people ready do have no life an nothing better to do.

The quests came thick and fast, and I was happy to spend time searching around for those ever important items I needed. For several months most quests I’ve done with alts I have previously done and know exactly where to go to complete them so this really is like a breath of fresh air. I have been reading up on the comments by the BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones and his comments on the addictive nature of WoW. Seems like he whipped up a frenzy with his distaste for the World of Warcraft, a game he clearly has never played, yet feels able to comment on and slag off.

His blog criticises online gaming, WoW in particular for being far too addictive, and it impacts on the lives of the young and students, invading their lives and pushing them into a solitary existence where the game is the only important thing in their lives. After reading the majority of readers replies I decided not to add my thoughts and instead have a slight moan here.

I agree with some points made, that games like WoW do have an element of addiction for a certain section of the population, those who have addictive personalities, behaviour problems etc. However, like a good few parents point out there are parental controls, and letting your kids play WoW for endless hours is a case of bad parenting. On the other hand I don’t think anyone, journalist or other, has the right to blatantly slag off a game like WoW or any other form of online gaming, when their very approach to this genre is incredibly old fashioned.

The world is changing as we well know, and like so many people have pointing out: What does it matter if your few hours of leisure time is spent in a virtual world rather than watching TV or flying a kite or drinking down the pub. Surely if you choose to spend a few hours each night socialising with friends online, then head to bed and next morning off to work, then where is the harm? From my experience in WoW 98% of people I interact with have real lives, they study, work etc, and play WoW in the evening, it does not impact on their lives in such a horribly dramatic way Rory Cellan-Jones thinks it does.

And then there is the fact that so many activities can be viewed as addictive, not just online gaming. Drinking, drugs, stealing cars, even addiction to TV, films, sports, gambling, the list is endless. Online gaming has been around for such a short period of time, and has not yet had enough time devoted to its impact on society, and I find it unfair that a journalist sees fit to make such sensationalist comments where he:

a) hasn’t played WoW (or online gaming full stop)
b) has done basic research into the very new online gaming phenomena
c) needs a trendy topic for his blog that will get a response like he has.

If a single person is playing WoW for 18hours a day it is likely that this is not the fault of Blizzard, but more the personality of the individual who would have become addicted to anything given the chance. I myself like writing, this blog is an example, but I write fiction mainly. I find that I get carried away with a plot, scene etc and a few hours have flown by. Now and then, whilst working or away from the pc, I find myself thinking of the next scene and where the characters are going etc. I muse these things over and then get on with my current task. Does this behaviour mean I am addicted to writing? No. It means I am imaginative and able to switch that part of my life on and off. Just like WoW gamers who play for a few hours a night or on the weekend.

I’d like to conclude by saying that there are pro’s and con’s for online gaming, and that all things should be taken in moderation. Journalists making sensationalist claims about online games are not interested in the genre as a whole, but merely jumping on the bandwagon. Timing is key for journalists who blog, after all it is only with the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King that Rory Cellan-Jones managed to drum up such a response. The same can be said for any trend or fad that is splashed across the media. I’m not against Rory, but I do believe his efforts are shallow and naive at best. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however I prefer to base mine and my arguments on an objective point of view with some knowledge of my subject, rather than a hash of reworded jargon and old quotes we’ve all seen before.

And with that final word I shall post this, switch off my PC and cook a wonderful meal. And no, I won’t be switching straight to WoW because I am not addicted. I enjoy it as a pastime, pure and simple, just like t 99.9% of online gamers. We play because it’s fun, you remember what fun is don’t you Rory?

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