It Isn't Easy To Play World of Warcraft Casually

By Gus Mastrapa in Pretension +1
Friday, July 22, 2011 at 9:13 am
Every week I get an email from my sister. The subject line invariably says something like "Sunday Warcraft." The body is usually a terse confirmation of our scheduled play date. "Our next game night is set for the 24th," she says in the latest email. "Don't be any higher than 82, and try to be at least 81." The note goes out to five people: me, my brother-in-law and a pair of my sister's colleagues. 

We're not raiders. Until this month more than a few of us had never run a dungeon on the "Heroic' difficulty. Most serious World of Warcraft players would call us casual players. And yet we've all logged hundreds of hours playing. It's a bummer that we've got to spend so much time planning to play, but that's the reality of modern gaming. So many of us don't have all the time in the world to play. And when we do carve out our precious time to go online we don't want to do it with strangers. I'm not sure what Blizzard has in mind for their new MMO, but I hope their new ground-up online role-playing game isn't such a hassle to play with friends.

The big problem with World of Warcraft is that you nobody plays them quite the same way. When the game's Cataclysm expansion came out earlier this year I was able to recruit four or five friends into my guild and convince another handful to re-up. We all rolled Worgen. The plan was to have a group of friends to run dungeons with so we didn't have to deal with the hassles and headaches of pick-up-groups.


Things were great at first. In the excitement of the first few days we were all together, frequently meeting in Auberdine to quest or trade crafted goods. But as the weeks drew on our characters started to space out. Some folks leveled up and moved on to new zones. Others didn't play as much and got left behind. Our group got one or two guild dungeon crawls in before our most active member pulled too far ahead of the pack.

I could have been a dick about it and tried to force people to abstain from leveling. But that method would only have worked if we could agree on a time to get together and play. I tried to organize playdates with my Worgen friends via Facebook and emails, but we could rarely agree on a time to play. Some folks were on the East coast and had kids or work. Some were on the West and were busy finishing up dinner or going out for the evening. Now, there's only one of our Worgen still playing regularly. The group's lone-wolf and speediest leveller is currently in the his 80's just now reaching the new Cataclysm content. 

I'm not sure why the group I play with my sister has been able to keep faith. It could be that some of us have alts that we use to pass the time when we get the itch to play World of Warcraft. It could be that two of us (my sister and her husband) live under the same roof and have the same schedule. Either way I'm glad it is working. In my years of playing World of Warcraft I've never really touched end-game content. I have a feeling that this group will get there. We'll max out our characters at 85 and we'll able to roll through all the game's dungeons on the tougher difficulty -- and hopefully be able to nab some sweet gear. 

Then, I suppose, we'll be ready to tackle those ten-man raids that everybody has been talking about. That is if we can find another five people who have two free hours on Wednesdays and Sundays between eight and ten o'clock Pacific Standard Time. Doesn't seem likely, does it?

Pretension +1 is a "pointless, poorly-written" videogame column by Gus Mastrapa.

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