I have been following the latest goings-on in the gaming blogosphere with interest. It is somewhat of a detached curiosity seeing as I am unable to play, download, log in, or do anything else at this time. I suppose that I could wax lyrical about the latest patch offering and the 15% buff or nerf as it is depending on your point of view. The polemic raging as to whether or not there are morons in the game and if so who they may be is understandable but merely a distraction. I will say without a doubt that this latest change to the dungeon finder is the latest in a long line of community dividing changes. The first change was ill thought out, and the subsequent alterations have merely added to the original problem.
We now have a WoW community that is made up of ‘us and them’. That is players who receive special treatment and those that do not. This creates a state of perpetual animosity, and no amount of rationalising will undo it. Players who receive this special treatment often feel resentful and inadequate, while those that are not the beneficiaries feel equal resentment as well as a superiority complex. Overriding all of this is the fact that we are meant to be playing in a virtual world. While many aspects of life in a virtual world can be suspended without any problem whatsoever, (when was the last time that you had to take a dump before killing a boss?), the one aspect that unifies the world into a coherent whole is the sense of a level playing field. Remove that and you cross the barrier into a maze of discordant social problems and inequalities. What was a game played as a means of escape and enjoyment becomes merely a reflection of the life that we live on a daily basis, and a poor reflection at that. This is the exact reason why I was so against the thought of outside special interest groups influencing the game design itself. When you open that box you are doomed. Blizzard side stepped that trap but merely fell into one even larger. What was a merit based society is fast becoming a socialist nightmare.
The standard defense of kowtowing to make the game easily accessible for the entire player base has always been that more subscribers mean more money to generate great content. While this has always struck me as deeply insulting, more-soever to players who have been paying their subscription for a very long time, my comeback to this is one word:
Perhaps you have forgotten this seemingly insignificant 10 man raid content, or maybe you have never ventured there before. If so, here is an experiment for you to try: take a walk through Karazhan, look at the detail and the love and attention that went into every facet of its building and design. It is a breathtaking example of what this game can be. Now take a step into any one of the latest raids with the new expansion on offer. There is no comparison at all. They’re not even close. So this is what all that extra money from subscribers gets you. We play video games to have fun. But we play MMO’s for immersion. And the experience of each and every other player in that game effects our own.