I don't talk about gaming much, but I figured I owe at least a passing nod to the game now played by over 8 million people worldwide, World of Warcraft. For those of you who are not geeks, I promise to be gentle.
The World of Warcraft Burning Crusade was released by Blizzard this week, which means I am spending a lot of time alone in this massively multi-player online roleplaying game (MMORPG).
See, I didn't reserve a copy of the expansion, so I have to wait until the fuss dies down before I will find an available copy to purchase. So for now I am still playing WoW without all the new features, and there are lots of them -
Ever since people found out this expansion to WoW was coming, they have been frantically trying to level up their characters so they could play in all the new areas contained in The Burning Crusade. Leveling up is just what it sounds like. You complete quests and fight enemies in order to advance, or level up, in skills and abilities. Up until now, the highest level character you could have was 60. Now there is a new cap, or high level, of 70. You can't even explore some of the new areas of the game until you reach these higher levels. Since many players have reached higher levels, they are off exploring zones my level 41 character can't visit.
So last night it was just me and a bunch of starving vultures and prowling tigers hanging out in the "Badlands" - which, incidentally was the name of a great bar I visited once in San Francisco, and I actually got propositioned to join a three-way that night - but that is not what this post is about.
Remind me later, and I'll tell you more about that.
Some players are actually starting the game over so they can create, or "roll up", a new character. The new races are the Blood Elves and the Draenei. I won't go into that now. New characters always start in a newbie zone where they can begin fighting and leveling without harassment from powerful enemies. Since so many people are starting up in the Blood Elf and Draenei homelands, that means more room for me in all the other areas. Usually I find that I am sort of competing to kill monsters, but right now the creatures are plentiful. In fact, they are a little overwhelming. The minute I kill one raptor, another one is right behind me.
I am curious about what it must be like to play a Draenei or Blood Elf, but even if I had the expansion, I wouldn't start over with a new character. I am too monogamous for my own good sometimes. I have been really committed to my rogue character, Secrecy.
World of Warcraft, for those who have goals, must be so much fun. For me, it is a way to pass time. Yes, I enjoy "leveling up", but I also waste tremendous amounts of time. The other day I just followed random non-player characters (NPC) around Stormwind to see where they were going. NPCs are just computer characters who are built into the game. You can interact with some of these characters. Or, if you are like me, you can just follow them around.
I saw one NPC walking with her two children. Her son kept saying, "Are we there yet?" or "Why are we going this way?". I thought maybe if I followed them I would get to see the children get kidnapped by an evil wizard - or maybe the frustrated mother would murder her offspring. (Things like this never actually happen in the game, but I always think I will be the first to witness a wizard kidnapper or a double filicide in a dark alley.) So I followed behind them for about 35 minutes as they trekked from one end of the city to the other. Finally, the lady, we'll call her Shirley, and her children entered a shop. This is the riveting scene I witnessed:
Shirley: Hello, Mandy. I need to buy some cheese.
Mandy: Certainly! It is good to see you.
Shirley: How is business?
Mandy: Great! Well, here is your cheese. Thanks so much for coming in, Shirley. Say hello to your husband.
Shirley: Will do! Light's honor, friend.
Shirley and her children exit the store, walk a few feet and disappear back to their "starting point" to begin their story all over again.
What a waste of 35 minutes. Now you can see why I am still level 41.