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MMO Weekly 01/09/09

Oh, to be a noob again.  I honestly found myself wishing that this past week.

It all started a short while back.  You see, my wife’s got a cousin (whom we’ll call Tina for the purposes of this little write up), whom she’s very close to.  They chat on Facebook, they play Farmtown together (no, I don’t get it either.  It’s a game about **farming**.  I just know that, somehow, Farmtown is more addictive than heroin), and they call each other four or five times a day. 

Sometime back, we learned that Tina had started playing WoW.  She’s got a druid and her character is, at this point, maybe level 68 or 69.  My wife’s got a number of high-end characters, and she’s pretty darned hard core, so her cousin started asking for advice.  These conversations became more and more frequent. 

About that time we also found out that Tina’s husband, Kevin, is also playing.  He’s got a 72 hunter, and he’s shooting toward the level cap.  They’ve got a son and sure enough it didn’t take long until their son started playing.  He’s only seven years old and plays a warrior around level 17 or so.  He’s also a total explorer.  Sure, he’ll kill the occasional mob, but he’s just as likely to walk all the way deep inside Ungoro Crater.  Thankfully, whenever he gets stuck in a zone, way over his head, he has a special skill he uses to get out of trouble.  He just utters the magic phrase, “Dad, I’m stuck and there are dinosaurs and mean gorillas all over.  Can you get me out?” 

That spell works every time.  🙂

I’m telling you all this because we got to spend some time with Kevin and Tina this past weekend.  Sure enough, the conversation eventually turned to WoW.  We talked strategy, quests, PvP, guild drama, spell rotations, specs…you name it.  During these conversations, you could just feel their excitement and enthusiasm for the game.  It reminded me of how I used to feel.

Of course, I’m all burned out and jaded now.  I recognise that WoW is a great game; certainly, the best MMO to date.  But I’ve got this “yeah, yeah, I’ve seen it all, and done it all” attitude.  The thrill of it has certainly faded.  I’ve just got no desire to run a daily quest, or hit the same instance one more time.

My equally jaded and burned out wife did something unexpected a couple of weeks back.  She made a new character, just so she could play with Kevin and Tina.  She even rolled an Alliance (/shock and awe!) toon, which was unthinkable just a few weeks ago.  Oh, and they play on a PvE server.  You’ve got to know my wife to understand what this means.  She’s a full-bore Hordie, and she never met an Alliance player she didn’t want to kill, teabag, and corpse camp.  She’s utterly ruthless.

And now, because there’s something contagious going on with her cousin, she’s playing a cute little gnome death knight on a carebear server.  Inconceivable, but true. 
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I didn’t fully get this at first, but after this weekend, I’m beginning to understand.  Kevin and Tina have that ‘still fresh’ ambiance to them, and it’s totally contagious.  They’re seeing the game with new eyes, and it’s full of awesome.  After this weekend talking specs, raids, instance runs, and other whatnot, I started catching the fever myself.  

It’s hard to put your finger on, but I think it all boils down to the fact that the game is still full of wonders for Kevin and Tina.  (Think about it.  Five years after launch,WoW is now simply overflowing with cool crap.)  The instances aren’t tired and dull.  They don’t know that you can sneak past the mobs here, and that there’s a trap over there.  It’s all still an adventure.  The mobs are cool, each new zone reveals unexplored content, and the new terrain features are even interesting.

On top of all that, they play with their son.  So WoW has now become a family event.  (Oh, go ahead, you hardened grognards.  Utter a collective “Awwwwwwww”.)

They even went to BlizzCon this year.  They were awestruck by the size and scale of it.  Never having been before, they found the huge displays, the professional gamers, the cosplay, and the whole over-the-top atmosphere to be beyond anything they expected.  They *loved* it. 

Both I and my jaded wife got to hang out with them at BlizzCon.  When a moonkin walked by, my wife and I were prone to smile wanly and say, “Oh look, dear.  It’s yet another druid costume.”  Kevin and Tina?  They pointed, they laughed, they stared, and they took pictures.  When we saw the guys all wearing the same guild tabard, we maybe chuckled a little.  Kevin and Tina found it nigh upon hilarious.

So, yeah, there’s a bit of a contrast.  We, the WoW burnouts, have apparently been having trouble appreciating the game.  They, the noobs, are enjoying every aspect, every nuance, and everything the game has to offer.  They can’t wait to log on.  They love to play.  I log on like it’s my job.  I really found myself wishing I was one of them. 

You can probably guess the end result of all this.  After our time with Kevin and Tina, I got home, logged in, and found their PvE server on the list.  Then *I* did the unthinkable.  Like my wife, I made myself an Alliance toon, a draenai DK on their server.  I really look forward to hanging out with them in game, and I’ll let you know how my adventures among the noobs turn out.

And, at this juncture, we have to depart.  As always, if you enjoyed this bit of MMO exploration, come and visit us over at WanderingGoblin.com, where we explore the nuances of virtual space each and every day.  For now, ciao!

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