There are many games that have achieved pop-culture status, silencing once and for all the myth that videogames are for kids only. Games such as “Halo 3” and “Grand Theft Auto IV” have shattered records for single day grosses, far surpassing even the biggest Hollywood blockbuster. Most of these games come and go, leaving only a small trace of their popularity behind.
However, there is one game which has spread to nearly every corner of the globe with such an impact that it’s not only a part of culture, but has its own world and economy surrounding it.Welcome to the World of Warcraft.
Commonly abbreviated as WoW, the game is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). Players create a character and play on one of the several dedicated servers (commonly referred to as realms) developer Blizzard Entertainment has set-up specifically for the game. Users must pay a monthly fee to play with some 11.5 million players currently running through the magical world of Azeroth.
With such a high level of popularity, WoW has become a pop-culture phenomenon. Because of this saturation, many Northern students have taken up the game as a hobby. For junior illustration major Rachel Caauwe, co-founder of the student group Lazy Peons, this was more than enough reason to start a group.
“There’s just so many other people who play WoW on campus, and no one was bringing them together,” Caauwe said.
Caauwe said she and fellow Northern student Amber Kostopolus decided it was time to bring the numerous WoW players on Northern’s campus together. The name of the group is a reference to a quest found early in the game.
What separates WoW from other games is its emphasis on communication, Caauwe said. She added that this aspect is what attracts so many people to the game.
“There’s a very strong social aspect,” she said. “(WoW) rides entirely on communication.”
For Northern graduate and Lazy Peons member Adam Johnson, WoW is just as much a way to communicate with friends as it is a game.
“It’s a social networking tool,” Johnson said, adding that he has used it to keep in touch with friends.
Because of this aspect, WoW attracts a wide-variety of people, well beyond the stereotypical image most associate with gamers.
“It’s just everyday people,” Johnson said, adding that their reasons for playing can be just as varied. Johnson, who is currently serving in the military, said that he started playing WoW because it was the only game that could get around the military’s firewall. Since then, he’s become hooked.
However, the culture of WoW has produced a few side-effects that many who play the game have to look out for. The biggest, and most commonly known, is addiction. Almost everyone who plays WoW knows someone who plays it a little too often. Caauwe said that even those who only play occasionally have to keep their priorities in mind.
“WoW is notorious with addiction because you’re never done,” she said, adding that the game has a seemingly endless supply of quests and weapons and armor to buy. “I have to balance it out every once in a while.”
Another concern is gold farming, an activity that violates the terms of service for WoW. Gold farming entails people who play the game solely to acquire gold, WoW’s currency, and actually sell it to other players for a real world profit. According to a recent report published on the videogame Web site Eurogamer, 30 percent of people who play MMORPGs buy gold, which contributes to a $2 billion industry.
Even with these downsides, Caauwe still enjoys playing, and said the experience WoW provides is definitely a great way to meet new people and have fun. She said that this has always been the intention of Lazy Peons.
Lazy Peons meets Saturdays at 4 p.m. in the Peter White Lounge and is free to join for all NMU students. Those interested may simply show up at a meeting.
Mastering WoW speak:
WoW is unique in that it has its own language. Some of the terms are specific to the game, others are acronyms borrowed from other Web sites. Regardless, spend just a few moments in WoW and you’re bound to see some of the following:
N00b — People who are just starting to play WoW or any other game. They have no idea what they’re doing or are just plain dumb.
LFG — Looking For Group — Since WoW is a social game relying on teamwork, many of the quests and raids require a group in order to complete them. The easiest way to let others know you need to group up is to use this short acronym.
WTB — Want To Buy — This lets other players know you want to buy a certain item, so don’t seem too surprised if you see a Gnome leatherworker say “WTB frozen orbs” – it actually makes sense.
WTS — Want To Sell — Just like WTB, except you need to unload some epic loot. Miners are always running around screaming, “WTS titansteel cool down.”
DPS — Damage Per Second — This is the amount of damage characters can do every second. It’s something Rogues should be doing if they’re doing their job.
Pulling Aggro — This is what happens when you come across a group of enemies (better known as mobs) and they all come after you.
QQ — Said to players who are whining. The two Qs are supposed to represent a pair of crying eyes. N00bz do this a lot.
Less QQ more Pew-Pew — When a character is QQing instead of DPSing. Typically said to Hunters.
CR — Corpse Run — When your character dies, your spirit can run back to your body and resurrect you.
RP — Role Playing — When players want the authentic Azeroth experience, they shed the common WoW-lingo and take on the persona of their character. The equivalent of LARPing in WoW. If you don’t know what LARPing is, it’s probably for the best.