I have been terrified of World of Warcraft (WoW) for half a decade. I watched one of my friends sent to boarding school after becoming a WoW addict. It ended my first relationship in high school. While studying abroad in Italy, the boys next door to me shunned the beautiful streets of Florence to go on raids and dungeon quests. In my mind, World of Warcraft is the heavy narcotic of the gaming world, just lying in wait for the next sucker to give it that one try. And despite the pleas of many friends, I have been able to avoid this game… until the end of this year.
In the upcoming semester, I will be participating in an independent study on storytelling in video games and my teacher’s one requirement is that I play WoW. I would have to venture into Azeroth where even some of the bravest geeks have not dared to travel. Unable to say no, I watched Felicia Day’s The Guild and visited the WoW site to prepare myself for this new adventure. Azeroth can be intimidating, not only is it massive, but there are many people who have been playing this game for years. My previous gaming experience has been strictly console, so I felt even more overwhelmed because I would have to get used to my computer keys and mouse to control my character.
Thankfully, WoW makes it very easy for you to sign up. There is a “Beginner’s Guide” on the website that provides you with the basic steps needed to take to play the game. To start playing, you first need to make some key decisions. First and foremost, you have to choose which faction you wish to align yourself with – the Alliance or the Horde. Each of these factions is comprised of different races. I wanted to play as a Blood Elf (yes, because they are the prettiest) and so I sided the Horde. Although I chose my avatar’s race for girly reasons, it is important to research each race before choosing. Certain classes, which determine largely how you'll play the game, pertain only to certain races. For example, if I wanted to play as a Shaman, I could not be a Blood Elf. Each race their own vast history and properties. Luckily, I wanted to play as a Hunter so that I could start off with a pet, and Blood Elves are perfect for that class.
Another important decision starting out is the realm to play in. WoW provides you with four options: Normal, Player Versus Player (PvP), Normal-Role Playing, and Player Versus Player-Role Playing. Normal, or Player Versus Enemies (PvE), gives the player the option of role-play where if another player wishes to fight you, they have to receive your consent. This is the option I chose because I am new to computer games and wanted to learn some skills before taking on the PvP realms, where anyone can attack at will.
The decision making and character creation process took about fifteen minutes to complete and before I knew it, I was in Azeroth. More specifically, I was in the Eversong Woods, the starting point for Blood Elves. Although the graphics are not as sharp and realistic as console games like Mass Effect 2, the maps of these games are very easy on the eyes and full of detail. The Blood Elves’ kingdom is called Quel’Thalas. The landscape is bright with reds, greens, and oranges and very whimsical. The beginning quests were easy and mostly consisted of a higher up telling me to kill a certain number of low-level enemies or find specific items and report back to them. Like most role-playing games, the player receives loot, money, and experience points after the completion of these quests. In the beginning, I leveled up quickly and the immediate gratification of these easy quests only made me want to play more. The first seeds of addiction had been sowed by level six.
Then disaster struck at level eight. When I started playing WoW on my Macbook Pro, it was at first without a mouse. Although this worked fine for the previous levels, combat was starting to become difficult. It was time consuming to use the track pad to roll over and click the spells I needed in the heat of battle. I foolishly decided to rush into a higher-level quest, resulting in the death of my pet Dragonhawk. I was traumatized. As a hunter, I rely on my pet to take on my enemies in close combat so that I can perform my range attacks. We are a team. I frantically searched the Internet on how to revive my poor Dragonhawk and found that I had to be a level ten to perform the necessary spell. I racked up as many quests in the area I could to reach level ten, which also happens to be the first milestone of the game. Like console games, players receive achievements for performing specific acts or reaching levels. Becoming a level ten player was my first major achievement. I immediately bought the skill to revive my pet, bringing my beloved Dragonhawk back to life.
After the tragic Dragonhawk episode, I decided that playing on a trackpad wasn’t going to cut it. I needed a mouse, specifically a gaming mouse, and some serious headphones for when I decide to join a guild. It was after I used my leftover Christmas money to pay for Razor Naga gaming mouse and TRITTON headphones that I realized I was hooked. I had taken another step down the road to WoW addiction and I no longer cared.
Come back next week for a deeper look at gameplay and travel within Azeroth!
Courtney Woods is a senior at NYU with a major in Villainy in Literature, Film, and Other Media. She plays as Armoura the Blood Elf on Darrowmere.What do you think of this journey into Azeroth?