Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Into Teh World!

I'm a geek by many widely held standards. I enjoy using the computer almost as much as I enjoy getting outside and playing with the dogs or kids. Speaking of getting outside, I think I need to get some of the bicycles fixed. It's time for a family bike ride, me thinks. That was not, however, the point of this message.

I'm one of the members of a growing club - 11 million subscribers according to one of the latest reports. I play the game developed by Blizzard called the World of Warcraft. I'm not going to disclose how much time I've devoted to this pixel based, internet phenomenon of an alter-life. I've watched lives totally altered by this alternate reality. No, no altered for the better. Some of the players play so many hours a day they are left with nothing more than sleep and food require. They even eat only out of necessity. Baths seem to be optional. Even at my height of playing this game, I was never one to pass up good food and my need for a shower at least once every 24 hours.

I realize the pull to play this game can be rather intense. If your real life (that is what people in the game call the life outside the game), if your real life is not as fascinating or exciting as you think it should be you can live a fantasy in the game that is complete with accomplishments. Even minor accomplishments are met with an instant reward.

I do very little interaction with players in the game that I don't know outside the game. I prefer to maintain relationships with people I know, people with whom I've actually shaken hands. However, the game provides an alternate reality where a community has thrived. Groups of players combine themselves into guilds and the guilds work toward common in-game goals. The goals of most guilds take priority over any personal goals the members might have. These goals exceed the importance of even those goals the members might have in their real life. Nothing is more important to the guild than the advancement of the guild. The most exclusive content in the game can only be attained when you have 25 players working in concert for hours of uninterrupted gaming. Technology provides for voice communication, which improves a guild's ability to work together. These guys are serious about the game.

If you think the draw to this game will end, you're wrong. Just at the point a couple guilds might "beat" the hardest and newest element of the game, Blizzard adds more content. Like a drug dealer, Blizzard parses new content out fast enough to keep the most fanatical players content but slow enough to keep the content flowing at a standard pace. As long as Blizzard can keep the millions of subscribers paying a monthly subscription, this cycle will continue.

Now, I've admitted I enjoy the game. At one point, I was playing a while just about every day. I've cut way back and play once a week - sometimes as infrequent as once every other week. I don't get nearly as much accomplished in the game but it provides for a more balanced life. Anyway, last week Blizzard released an update in their preparation for the next big expansion, which is going to be released in November. As part of this expansion, new pets have come to be available to the Hunter. I've one Hunter and was able to tame two of these new pets.

Although one of these guys took little effort beyond going to the cave where he resides, the other took a lot of planning and the help of a friend. Taming the Lava Core Hound found in Molten Core was made easier by having a pretty well geared Druid healer, the rocket boots xtreme and a parachute cloak. The Druid stealthed to the location of the Core Hound and waited for me to rocket/parachute cloak past the first group of monsters, where I feigned death until it was safe to move into position. I sent my temporary pet in after the Core Hound with a misdirect and healed the pet for as long as I could before he died. Upon the pet's death, I dismissed him which allowed me to start taming the Core Hound without worrying about the healing I was getting pulling the Core Hound's attention to the druid. We accomplished the taming with just the two of us.

I have had more than a few people in-game ask me about the Lava Core Hound as it is truly a rare sight due to the difficulty of taming this beast. Yeah, I'm a geek.
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