No matter which new game I play, I somehow always end up back on WoW – World of Warcraft, a.k.a. World of Warcrack – and enjoy it, at least for a season before I move on to something else for another season or two. In all the years I have been playing World of Warcraft, there has been a striking decrease in the community aspect of the game.
Those of us who are WoW veterans remember the “good ol’ days” back in what is called “vanilla” WoW, the days prior to even the first expansion when it actually took time to level and there were actual world raids. We all remember the Tarren Mill and Westfall raids, or the horror and agonizing pain that is Stranglethorn Vale. If I had a nickel for every time I was “ganked” there…well, let’s just say I could take an early retirement in Honolulu!
The very first expansion, the Burning Crusade, brought in two new races – the Draenei and Blood Elves – both of which brought much controversy. There were those who tried making various lore claims that Blood Elves should be on Alliance, and how the Draenei shouldn’t even be a race to consider for the expansion. This controversy wreaked havoc on the forums for some time, and some even left WoW because of this decision on Blizzard’s part and then came back at a later time. However, the one aspect that still remained intact was this sense of community.
Whenever we had to spend an hour trying to get a group together and then mount up to go to the instance, we didn’t mind that much as we felt like we were actually doing something together. There was no question that we made friends and often would synchronize schedules to make sure we could all group up. I remember the great times sitting at a summoning stone and waiting for a party member to run all the way to the instance, even if it was on the other continent; this was back when the beginning mount was level forty, and the epic mount was level sixty.
Instead of featuring each expansion and then going into detail about each of them, you can simply look all this information up. I want to focus more on how the sense of community has degenerated over time, even with the improvements in functions. The one question that will remain unanswered for me is, what can we do as the players do to restore this sense of community?
Before the days of guild levels, cross-server dungeon finders and battlegrounds, it didn’t matter which guild you were in (to an extent), because each brought a little something different to the table. Today, for the most part, it’s just about getting the Guild to level up for guild perks and rewards to buy from a vendor. Where did the community go? When I play WoW now, while I do have fun and it keeps me busy, I still wonder what happened to the days of just sitting around somewhere and chatting with someone, even on the non-RP servers. Nowadays it seems like everyone’s trying to earn those achievements, the guild rewards, the guild perks, but for what ultimate goal? How fulfilling can an achievement be if it was done without any teamwork, any sense of camaraderie? It warms my heart when I see guilds coming together to bring back that sense of community that was present in the beginning days of WoW.
I would much rather see Blizzard do away with the Dungeon Finders, the Raid Finders and all of that mess. I know many will disagree with me and that’s fine. But if you talk to any of us who were around during the time of vanilla WoW, you’ll find out that these new tools Blizzard brought in destroyed the sense of community that kept everything stable and strong. WoW may still be an MMO, but I feel like I’m simply playing a multiplayer game mode with a chat box in the lobby.
With the degradation of community came all of the non-pleasing personalities. Granted these were still present prior to all the different tools implemented into the game, but when these types showed up we simply blocked them and refused to group with them from that point. With the dungeon finder tool, the chances of someone with a less-than-desirable personality grouping with you was very slim, unless they were a tank or a healer queuing in the late nights or early mornings.
For instance, I was actually playing last night when a hunter in our group begins to basically spout off how he’s achieved all these great things in the game (seriously, in a game!) when one of our more vocal group members – a rogue – basically told him off using words that I don’t feel comfortable repeating in a public place.
Perhaps many of the veteran WoW players will voice with me in agreement that the prime days of WoW were back before the expansions. Those were the times when people would hang around in Goldshire and simply chat, or if they felt like wreaking havoc then some Warlock would unleash an Infernal on all of us there; that kept everyone busy for about five minutes! Or, for the PvPers it may be when people would organize raids between the three capital cities and charge into Tarren Mill, a battlefield I remember very well when there would be Forty Alliance versus Forty Horde, and the battle would go on for hours. What has happened to these days? Now when I play I see mostly everyone sitting around in the cities.
Don’t get me wrong – I still love the game. I just miss the old community and the fun times we had often just sitting around waiting for party members to get to an instance. So, you’ve heard my little rant (or is it medium-sized?). Now I want to know your thoughts. Are all the tools provided for us worth having if it means sacrificing a part of the foundation?
This was written by Josh Byrom– philosopher, gamer, and random dude extraordinaire – and hopefully this shows a bit about the way he thinks. He’s grown up around video games, and has been a gamer since he was about eight years old when he played the SEGA Genesis and Game Gear. Now he’s more of a PC gamer, but when he finds a console game he enjoys he usually doesn’t put it down until he’s beaten it; his most recent ones were the Assassin Creed series.