Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Living With Rogues and Druids
by Pam Ripling
WoW. And I was going to talk about Pong. Your parents-grandparents?-will remember: black screen, two white paddles (actually, two little bars that only move up and down), one blip on the screen that was supposed to look like a bouncing ball. Prehistoric man’s first video game.
Instead, let me tell you about Daniel and James.
Daniel is my son. He is also a Druid, who spends several hours weekly immersed in the World of Warcraft, or WoW, the biggest, most successful MMORPG ever. Oh, that’s massive-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game for you noobs out there. And that word massive? An understatement. Get this: there are over 11.5 million druids, priests, mages, warlocks, hunters, shamen, rogues and warriors subscribing to this fantasy franchise universe, landing WoW in the Guinness book!
Role-playing games are certainly not new. Think Final Fantasy (Square Enix, 1987, for Nintendo), an early RPG that holds seven Guinness World Records. What makes WoW different is that it spans all platforms and is played exclusively online, worldwide. “Old time” gamers will remember playing Warcraft: Orcs & Humans way back in 1994; World of Warcraft was announced in 2001 but not released by creator Blizzard Entertainment until November, 2004.
But back to the Druid in the corner bedroom. This character is also a healer, and he is part of the Alliance. (I, of course, immediately conjured up Luke Skywalker, but he said that wasn’t right.) He is part of a “guild” – a collection of players that meet (either in person or online) in real life and form a sort of a team that always play together. They will even talk to each other with headsets while they play. Dan, er, the Druid, can shape shift, too. Some nights, his guild goes on raids, attacking other dungeons and collecting various gear and other cool stuff to help them progress to higher levels (there are 80 in all!) These raids can last for hours, and it might take a typical player a year to reach that 80th level.
Did I mention James? Okay, he’s in the other bedroom. Or, uh, a different guild, that is. He is a Rogue, and he plays for the Hordes. The tough guys. The black hats. He is sometimes a Troll, sometimes a Blood Elf. This is because, of course, Blood Elves can be Paladins but Trolls cannot. (Didja get that? If you didn’t, Wiki has lots more confusing facts and info on WoW.) As these warring brothers actually “play” in different but identical worlds (okay, “servers”), they rarely have to attack each other, which is a big relief to me.
So what's the big deal? Well, for one thing, it's not GAME OVER if you die. You just kind of become a ghost, wander around a graveyard, find your body and get resurrected. And of course, there is no end to WoW: it's a perpetual, ever-changing world of endless possibilities and new challenges.
I’m not there yet, but I suspect when I am done gathering gold coins for Mario and Luigi, I will find myself wandering around Azeroth, trying to avoid the Wrath of the Lich King. Maybe I will be a priest or a shaman. Mage sounds good. What about you? Horde or Alliance?
Pam Ripling is the author of middle-grade mystery, LOCKER SHOCK! Buy it at Quake, Fictionwise or Amazon today! E-book version now available for your Kindle! Visit Pam at www.BeaconStreetBooks.com.