I logged on to WoW on Sunday morning around 11am. None of my guildies were on, there were a couple of people that I knew but Dalaran seemed strangely deserted, (everyone was probably off trying to work out how to purchase one of the new vanity pets …) I didn’t feel like doing any dailies, there obviously weren’t any raids going on, I don’t do battlegrounds so nothing happening there. So, what to do?

There wasn’t anything to do to be honest. And at that moment I realised that I hadn’t logged on to play a game and relax a bit. I had logged on because I felt that I had to. I got on my flying mount and flew a bit over Northrend. Maybe I’ll do some fishing, I thought. You know you’re bored when the best thing you can come up with is going fishing. Lets face it, there’s nothing much to do now. Oh sure, there’s heaps of things to do, Blizzard puts all this content in, whah whah whah. There was nothing to do. So I logged off.

More than that, I wasn’t having any fun. It felt like a chore. Am I paying however much it is that I pay per month to take out the garbage? Is that what it equates to? The common knowledge is that WoW begins at level 80. Oh yeah? Then why is it that so many players get to level 80, quickly gear up and then turn around and start leveling another alt again? This is what WoW has been feeling like to me for a while now. The game is being reduced to a series of instant gratification rushes. Like getting that turtle mount. I got a rush out of that. It was so hard to get. And then I had it and it was like … okaaaay. I now have a turtle mount. The rush didn’t last. It’s why I’ve never been hooked on achievements. You’re just always chasing that elusive goal. The Dalaran coin fishing achivement is a great example of this. You fish up all these coins, one after the other, and it gets harder and harder, until there’s only one coin for you to get, and you fish and you fish and all the other coins keep coming up that you’ve already got …

And then you get it.

That last coin.

And you get that flash on your screen, and the sound comes out, and you got it! You got the achivement!

… and then what? Well, that was great, yeah … guess I’ll just go and achieve something else now, try for that little rush again …

This is what the game amounts to now. Little hits of instant gratification. It has to be this way because the game has been systematically dumbed down for the masses. People who play these games are now the main-stream. But for the original WoW crowd, we were never the main-stream. I got my first computer in 1986 and do you think I told girls at school that? Computer games were our secret world. And they were hard, complex, challenging. They were magical.

WoW was magical when I first began playing. I can still remember my first time in Elwyn forest, coming into Goldshire. It was Dungeons & Dragons come to life. Westfall just blew me away. And then the Deadmines, and the gameplay. It was just one thing after another. I used to log off because I had to get some sleep. And when I woke up, before I had even opened my eyes, I was ready to jump back on again.

And now we can buy vanity pets for 10 bucks. And I’m surrounded by people who love them. I used to play games to get away from this. I’m a social guy, don’t get me wrong, I own a nightclub for fucks sake. But video games were my way to get away from the stupidity, from the dumbing down of regular life. And the ironic thing is that I’m now playing what seems to be the most dumbed down game of them all. And the really frustrating thing is that I love my rogue, I love how she plays, I love this game. But it’s gone in a different direction. It’s a victim of its own success. Whereas before it was for a group of people who had lived and breathed these games for years, now it’s on the same level as a facebook application that lets you farm strawberries. The thing that fucks me off the most about the vanity pets is summed up by Tom Chiltons interview on the Instance podcast this week. He said that they had to make the vanity pets so good, such a high level, because people were paying real money for them. Excuse me? I’ve been paying real money to play this game for years. Why didn’t you guys put the same effort into vanity pets before? You mean, to get the really good stuff we have to pay extra? Oh, that’s just awesome.

The funny thing is, nobody cares, at least not many anyway. But I feel that this moment in WoW’s history, when they brought out real money vanity pets, this is the moment when you will be able to look back and see that this was the tipping point. This was the moment when WoW jumped the shark.

Is Age of Conan any good? It’s probably crap, isn’t it.