When 1up visited Blizzard Studios in Irvine, CA, they had the opportunity to sit down with some of the crew members behind the game's design and ask them some questions. As tempting it must have been for them to ask the questions you and I would ask, like "CAN I BE A GM?! PLEEAASSE!!!!" or maybe "How about some gold? Free items? Umm, how about naming an end-game boss after me? Oh #$%^ you guys," they kept it pretty professional and got some very interesting dialogue going on.
One of the topics 1up editor Luke Smith initiated was the idea that World of Warcraft makes players gaming monogamous, playing WoW exclusively and giving no time whatsoever to any other game while involved. When he asked the Bliz boys if they were mono-game-ous, he was greeted with a list of games that the guys enjoy alongside WoW, which included Gears of War, Guitar Hero II, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Crackdown, God of War II, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Civ 4, and Viva Pinata. It makes sense that they do, I guess. Afterall, when you serve coffee all day long, the last thing you wanna do when you get home is drink a bunch of it. Variety is good in that sense, so why do so many people limit themselves to just this one game?
Okay, so maybe a bunch of half-naked gnomes aren't the answer...
Thankfully, Smith asked that question of the Bliz boys as well (he really didn't pull any punches, which is quite admirable), and their response was, surprisingly enough, quite philosophical. Basing their reasoning in classical conditioning, they stated that gamers seem conditioned to play games as if each game has an ending, and get into a mode that leads to a "just wanna finish, wanna finish, wanna finish" mentality. Games like WoW, however, are like the internet and never truly end, so they must be treated as such. The key, they stated, was playing the game casually to leave time for other things. "WoW will be there tomorrow, and the next day... try to play other things." Funny coming from the guy who just admitted to having planned "Lunchtime Runs." WoW > Food, apparently.
But if we truly need to play WoW "casually to leave time for other things," and "WoW is like the internet," that naturally leads to Smith's next and maybe most important question. "Where the hell is the porn?"
Okay, that's not the question (maybe next time), but he did ask where they are in their own WoW travels. Ironically enough, it seems that those who can "create 100 Onyxias and kill them all in one blow" are happily raiding Karazhan on their anonymous toons, which are intermingled in the general WoW population. It definitely creates for some interesting times, they say. "Nothing like having a raid leader explain the mechanics of a boss encounter to you that you know aren't in the game." Lol at that.
Oh, and incase you were wondering. Onyxia's "Deep Breath" is a totally random attack that has nothing to do with DPS or player positions and what not. I know it's old material, but it's still funny as hell to learn about it considering all of the times my old guild was yelled at by our GM for just those things. Lol at that too. =P
Another very interesting topic of discussion that kind of encompassed the mono-gaming issue was the concept of the frapsing culture and why it has become so addicting and popular. The Bliz guys apparently pinpoint the birth of said culture to a guild named Conquest, whose members were banned for questionable methods while raiding MC and AQ40 back in the day. Their way of getting back at Bliz was to publish all of their strategies via text and video (to force Bliz's hand, I guess), and through their massive efforts at doing so, they created a new trend where it was not only required to get the world first, but to get that first, publish it and the strats, and claim it all as your own as others soaked it up to do the encounter "your way" themselves. This takes incredible amounts of time and dedication, obviously, and feeds the need to play WoW above all else, leaving little time for anything outside of Azeroth and Outland.
What it came down to, and I think Smith caught on quickly to this, was that the game's design maintains the "must play, must play, must play" behavior. Blizzard puts a lot of thought and effort into their game to keep people playing as long as possible, and while they didn't openly admit to helping to maintain addictions in their interview, they did give a glimpse at the grandiosity of their methods when discussing Naxx, one of the most respected raid instances (if not THE most) in the entire game. It's design began before WoW was even released, and the attention to detail resulted in a "very polished product and experience." Polished like a rock, if you know what I mean.
The basic question I came away with from the piece was how much time do I, and really, all of us, give to other games or activities, outside of WoW. I go running with my puppies, mountain bike, play Wii titles with the wife (who also plays WoW), and try to "play" outdoors as much as possible. Yet, I find myself playing the game for hours a day, and even sometimes, most of my waking hours. So I guess it comes down to personal choice and level of self-control.
With that in mind, ask yourself what your WoW habits are. What kind of WoW gamer are you? Are you a die-hard mono-game-ist or a hardcore poly-game-ist (read "filthy gaming whore")? Leave your comment and let us know what's on your list and why. Maybe it'll help us to better understand why so many people leave little time for games other than World of Warcraft...
...well, for reasons aside from that one. =)