The massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, or Wow, is one of the most popular online games of all time. Despite its relative age, in gaming terms, it continues to expand and to attract new players in droves. The primary draw of this game and one of the reasons for its continued success is the massive quantity of in game content, which allows a variety of player types to experience and explore the world in a manner that suits their play-style. These ways, however, are not at all new to online gaming. In fact, the thing that draws people to Wow is the same as what drew people to MUDs. According to Bartle, there were four attributes of MUDs that players typically enjoyed: In game Achievement, Exploration, Socializing and Imposition, and all four of these characteristics are available options for Wow players.
Having played this game for several years I have had the opportunity to be deeply involved with its community and meet a variety of different players, of both genders, who all played the game for vastly different reasons. Through my experiences, I have noticed certain trends of play and can form some broad archetypes, which are just nuanced versions of Bartle’s taxonomy, of the certain types of Wow gamer.
· The Power Player – This person takes the game very seriously. They are very goal-oriented players seeking Achievement through better items and status within the game world. They usually end up raiding or competing in battlegrounds.
· The Lore Lover – This person loves the flavor and background of the game. They enjoy the story behind the game as much as the mechanics themselves. Often explorers, they will go out of their way to discover some little explored zone or detail or possibly
· The Savvy Socialite – This person plays the game to experience it with other players. Be it through role-playing or regular social networking, they have the most fun playing with others.
· The Greif Giver – Also known as the “Greifer,” revels in the misfortune of others. They have the most fun when they are preventing others from accomplishing their goals.
While the vast majority of players are not confined to just one of these groups, their play-style is going to consist of some sort of combination of these aspects. It is these allowances that have provided so many different personalities opportunities to enjoy Wow. It is because of this that MMORPGs such Wow have been a major draw for females into gaming. According to Taylor, it is the freedom of play-style and diversity of social spheres that have been the major selling point to women. The same seems to be appealing the “baby boomer” generation, as Pearce’s paper provides quantitative evidence that these adults play more online games than their teen counterpart.
From a design standpoint, these different perceptions of how the game should be played and the cultural and social backgrounds from which they stem must present within a games mechanics to have the kind of staying power that Wow does. In Taylor’s paper on virtual Environments there is a game designer who is quoted in saying that “Diversity in all its forms is better than any kind of monastic or singular representation.” This is a goal that a lot of game designers strive to achieve, but because of outside, often uncontrollable issues are forced to abandon; However; it is the universality and diversity of these MMOGs such as Wow that is allowing them to be so popular.