A while back, about a month after I finished the Rank 14 PvP grind, a close, concerned friend of mine asked me what the fuss about this game was all about, and why I was spending so much time logged in. My answer wasn't short and to the point.
"Well, it's strange. I haven't played video games in quite a long time, but this one is good. It's like Castlevania meets Final Fantasy meets Zelda, all at their peak. Best game I've ever played."
He wasn't content with that answer. "Well, what is it exactly? What's the point?" he asked.
"Well, you level your character in dungeons and fulfilling quest objectives and what have you. Then when you are all leveled up, you beat the last bosses." I didn't really have a good answer, and my friend sensed the bullshit in that statement almost immediately. He's a lawyer, after all.
"You've played a while. Why haven't you beat the game yet?"
"Well, you can't really beat the game." I could feel the puzzled, almost embarrased look on my face. "It's just really fun to experience the content is all. It's a really well designed game." Cop out ftl.
"That doesn't really tell me what it is. What it's all about."
"I can't really say, to be honest. It's just fun." But that was a lie. The game wasn't all fun at that point. Spending 22 hours online, hitting the spacebar in AV half the time in order to out-Honor the AFKers was hardly a good time. Nor was half the time I spent raiding, in which drama seemed to be the main focus and not the game's content itself. Nope, "fun" was only half the matter, and so really, all I could truly give was a half-assed answer.
What I realized today after a moment of crystal-clear epiphany isn't a good thing. Well, it isn't really a bad thing either, but it's definitely not positive. Infact, the whole idea of it all makes me a little more sad than it does happy, and a little more frustrated than content. Sure, it responds to the question my friend had asked, but it definitely doesn't provide a better answer to his question. One that he had asked almost one year ago.
So what is it that has taken me about 356 days to figure out? What is it that comprises the other half of the answer ass? What else is this game truly all about?
This game is half fun, half disappointment. There's no arguing it. The fun aspect is obvious. The questing, the PvP, the items, the skills. Like I had said to my friend, the game is comprised of all of the best qualities of all of the best games before it.
The disappointing aspect, imho, is even more apparent and readily available to everyone that plays the game. It's in the drama, the unfulfilled expectations of your co-gamers, the loot you don't get, the boss you don't kill, the progress and content you don't see, the rating you can't achieve, and all the rest of the stuff that has lead to many temper tantrums, QQ posts, and /gamequits that we've seen over and over, time and time again. And there's one terrible aspect to the disappointments that make this game incredibly frustrating. They naturally happen.
The fun stuff, you have to work for, put time into, etc. The disappointing stuff, well, it's just there. Innate. Natural to the game's environment. If you stand around long enough, it'll slap you in the face. Yeah, even if you're active in all kinds of things, eventually, you'll have your moment. We're that engrossed in it. We are it's bitch.
So there it is. There is your answer, friend. WoW is fun and disappointment. That all makes sense now, right? Why people keep playing even when they seem incredibly miserable? The fun reinforces, so we keep coming back. The disappointing punishes, so we act like asses and kids. It all makes perfect sense.
What a game this is.