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All MMORPGs are WoW

WoW LogoAs copies of The Raider’s Companion arrive across the U.S. and internationally, this morning I awoke to an email from Chris consoling me on my first bad review. It seems someone on Amazon did not like my book at all. Now were this my first book I’d be pretty upset. This time, I honestly don’t mind. Not everyone is going to like the book and I am able to accept that. The fun thing about this review is that the complaint was “This book is not about World of Warcraft.” I’m not kidding! Go check it out! I thought, what a wonderful thing! I have something to write about!

I honestly can’t say I blame the guy (although he does start his review with So many schlock World of Warcraft guides). World of Warcraft is still an extremely prevalent MMORPG. Even in decline it far exceeds what most games dream of. I am still surprised to still see players with such a WoW-centric mentality. Nowhere does my book claim that it is a “WoW Guide” and the product page on Epic Slant Press specifically says it isn’t. So that leaves me to ask the question: Does the average MMORPG player still use the term MMORPG as a synonym for World of Warcraft?

The Uninformed

Just recently Gordon wrote a great article asking whether people were ashamed of playing MMORPGs and I had to comment there, just as I do now. When I meet people outside of the genre and I say “I play Rift” they stare at me blankly. Then I smile and say, “WoW” and they nod sagely and go, “Oh right, my friend plays that.” It has truly become part of the vernacular. Even as more players come into the fold the baseline still seems to be WoW. That is slightly frustrating to me as a UO/EQ player but it is what it is! I don’t call tissue tissue, I call it Kleenex. World of Warcraft is the Kleenex of MMORPGs and, evidently, raiding!

A Charitable Opportunity

What concerns me most about this trend is that a lot of players are missing out on truly great MMORPGs! Think about that for a minute. If you only know about WoW you might miss out on something amazing like Eve Online or Rift. You’ll never know the joys of EverQuest and the dangers of Ultima Online. Most important of all, you’ll never understand why this is funny:


(For more hilarious MMO/gaming themed comics like this check out Gu Comics by Woody Hearn, he is one of the best)

Do we have a duty as the informed MMORPG player to educate our WoW brethren? Should we form some sort of coalition of the “other than WoW players”? I’d say yes, but also, that sounds like a lot of work and I’ve got other things to do. I agreed to stop picking on World of Warcraft as part of my New Years resolution but I didn’t say anything about teasing the players! Enjoy your Saturday everyone!

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6 Responses to All MMORPGs are WoW

  1. “Do we have a duty as the informed MMORPG player to educate our WoW brethren?”

    As someone who entered the genre through WoW and now has around 300 GB of MMO clients on my desktop, my advice would be that your effort failed when you began to think of it as “educating” your less-enlightened brethren. No one appreciates having someone else take it upon themselves to “educate” them on why they’re wrong, and the attitude becomes apparent pretty quickly.

    As far as the raiding question goes, a thought – is it possible that the modern MMO raid structure can accurately be traced back to WoW? Based on things I learned from listening to Ferrel, EQ1 had no raid cap, which meant much looser limitations on class and gear requirements, and a death penalty that actually discouraged death (much less full group wipes). By contrast, WoW raids are intended to be strictly tuned, requiring specific numbers of specific classes with specific levels of performance (gearscore, etc), and feature scripted events that can only be learned by wiping repeatedly – hundreds of times in some cases. As nearly as I can tell, most modern MMO raids are closer to the WoW version than the EQ1 version.

    Might it be fair to say that from a gameplay perspective the modern MMO raid is a WoW raid, even if many of the social issues such as the ones in your book include both types of raiding?

    • Ferrel says:

      The educate part was a joke ;) but I get your meaning.

      Actually EQ1 went to raid caps before WoW was released. Even when it wasn’t officially capped it was still capped by people’s ability to render all of the characters and play effectively. You had scripted fights that required precise actions but on a larger scale. Imagine three or four WoW raids all acting in concert. The main difference is that a single person couldn’t wipe the entire raid (unless they pulled aggro off the main tank).

      So to answer the question, I don’t believe so, no. WoW has certainly influenced all raids after the fact (especially when it comes to fire dancing and cheesy instant wipe mechanics that single individuals out), but EQ still holds the title of progenitor.

      • I definitely would not dispute that EQ1 was the progenitor – quite literally given the backgrounds of the folks who made WoW’s raid game in the first place. What I’m suggesting is that EQ1 is the wolf and vanilla WoW is the first domesticated dog. I don’t see a ton of evidence that the raid games since 2005 are descended directly from the wolf. Instead, they seem to be emphasizing the domesticated traits of the dog more with each generation – gear resets, smaller group sizes, fire dancing (because that requires increased practice, not skill, and you can’t ramp up skill requirements without losing customers with each new tier), etc.

        • Ferrel says:

          Any time you use a wolf analogy I’m going to outright agree! It is my weakness.

          Truthfully though, that is a most astute and fair analogy that even were it not wolf-oriented I would agree with. Wow raiding probably is the Kleenex of what raiding is across all MMORPGs these days. We see a lot of that type of influence in Rift (which we’re not super thrilled about). I like the practice point too because that really is a huge part. Can you practice enough to overcome mechanic X. Once you achieve X then you just have to meet the required numbers to win. Kind of sad.

  2. Tremayne says:

    I’d give WoW credit for changing the nature of raiding. Raiding has changed from “a large number of players working together to defeat an epic foe” to “what would be one group of players in other games working together to defeat an epic foe” :)

    Seriously – my initial raiding experience was in DAoC (up to and including Trials of Atlantis) where you turned up with a veritable army to try and take down the realm dragon, or fight your way through Caer Sidi. I still can’t get my head around the concept of a group of eight or ten players constituting a “raid”.

    • Ferrel says:

      Ah the good ole days. DAoC had some really cool raids and without a doubt the best realm PvP. It was a pretty cool dynamic that the realm that was winning got the raid zone!

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