Social taboo has different levels for different positions, depending on what you admit. Nobody, of course, is as upstanding and saintly as they seem. Some might admit to cheap wine, or using Emacs. Sexual preferences and kinks are generally edging into the red zone.
Gaming genres have their own levels. Playing Call of Duty marks you out as a bit immature, playing Peggle means you probably don’t have a job, or you are six years old. But nothing causes quite as much of an uncomfortable stir as somebody piping up. “See you, everyone. There’s a raid in half an hour and my clan needs a good shaman.”
I would not go so far as to say that MMORPGs are universally shunned; fellow gamers are more forgiving, with the exception of the frat-boy fraternity. Nevertheless, it was with a certain amount of trepidation a few weeks ago when I stepped into the monolith itself: World of Warcraft. While other teenagers were sneaking bottles into houses under their jackets and smoking dubious weeds in cannibalised juice boxes, I was investing my time in a rather different kind of substance abuse.
Much like the examples listed above, it’s best taken lightly and with a group of friends. It can also be dangerously addictive in the wrong circumstances, but those circumstances are unlikely to come about while Minecraft and Counter-Strike still exist. It’s even fun to be a newbie and laugh at the obsessive players that spam the global chat with meaningless advertisements.
The problem, (which is the sheer reason this post is titled as it is) is that there is no role-playing in this role-playing game. Oh, sure, there are special servers, but they’re little more than the regular game with particular chat restrictions. As an avid textual role-player, it rather annoyed me to set off into the world, a troll magus on an epic journey, and get all my replies in poorly-worded pidgin. “Hail, fellow hordesman!” Feresk cries, waving down a passing blood elf. “Pray do tell, which way to Orgrimmar?”
LOL, dum noob
It’s not the players that ruin this either. MMORPGs are a game of numbers. You don’t equip the Hallowed Gauntlets of the Flameborn because of their heroic and awe-inspiring nature; you equip them because they give +12 fire resistance and a 5% crit strike bonus. Most players end up giving up on their character’s appearance in the pursuit of better numbers, and start looking like they’ve walked through Armour ‘R Us with an electromagnet.
At the end of the day, it’s fun. You can forget everything, because it’s a massive world, wonderfully fleshed out, and fun to play, which is more than a good enough reason for me. And as Sir Thomas Beecham said, you should try everything once except folk dancing and incest.
Okay, so I’m seven years too late. Deal with it.