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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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It’s a Mumorpuger!: The World of World Of Warcraft and Friends

I’m going to open with a small intervention: there is only one MMORPG. That just happens to be the titular mention. Everyone else is just painting themselves in cartoon graphics and screaming Azeroth till they turn blue. World of Warcraft is the pope of the multiplayer world and people love it. And what’s not to love? The game itself is impressive, even if I wouldn’t touch the franchise with a ten-foot pole. But this isn’t an article over which of the raging nerds has the biggest Lvl 85 Staff of Wankery and Social Awkwardness.

Okay, maybe that’s slightly misleading. The population of World of Warcraft clocks in at over 11 million: nerds, doctors, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers alike. Hell, it could annex itself into a decent island nation, and start military coups to boot. With the game finding its niche as a cultural phenomenon, as well as the mumorpuger scene as a whole having roughly fifty million players worldwide, what’s going on? Are they selling sachets of crack cocaine and Hustler magazines with every subscription? Or is there more to mumorpugers than clicking until “YOU WIN” appears in shimmering gold?

For those allergic to technology, I’ll fill you in. Using World of Warcraft as the template for all other mumorpugers – which it is – the whole experience can be boiled down to collecting sticks for hundreds of hours until you get the biggest stick and beat the biggest baddie with it. Sure, you collect stones, shiny things and bunny ears in your online game of Pooh sticks, but that’s generally the rut that players get into. Where mumorpugers differ is the patch of daisies you pick sticks up in. Space, forests and isometric wonderlands all act as backdrops for your hours of Code Red Mountain Dew and Cheetos.

If it’s any consolation, the simple act of having the biggest stick is something we can all relate to, from the schoolyard to crazy uni stunts. Mumorpugers all revolve around painting your adventure in such a way that you sit down to play and, in turn, never fucking stop. Blizzard has built itself a fortress of aircraft carriers and platinum-coated Skittles just by polishing their game to solar panel shininess. Not to mention the small fact that you’re only paying for the basic package of a game if you get it the moment it’s released. What’s that? You want the new content that changes the colour of everything to match your drapes? Send us your firstborn, then we’ll talk.

Above all, though, the key to a good game is always the experience of the gamer. I mean, you wouldn’t see Star Wars fans running around making voosh and shwaaow noises if the movies were nothing more than wallpaper paste pudding. Mumorpugers offer you a living, breathing environment for you to frolic in, with nothing spared. So, after immature naming your heroic saviour of dimensions “Whorey McCockington Sr.”, you are free to take the world as your new plaything. Sort of. Except for all the dragons, the monsters, the goblins and even the petunias that want to, for want of a better phrase, fuck up your junk.

A mumorpuger is never polite. You are the juicy new steak on the yard and the world is a grizzly bear with machine guns. It wants your ass on a silver platter, one way or another. Of course, the game doesn’t initially curb stomp you into tiny pieces. The game revolves around player advancement, raising your gaming proficiency higher and higher until you’re strong enough to swing around entire trees. But eventually, when the fecal matter hits the proverbial leafblower, you’re going to have to call in the big guns. If you haven’t been lobotomised by the experience yet, this is where the heavy duty players reside, and also where all of the MMO antics seep into the outside world.

Again using World Of Warcraft as a model, the biggest part of social interaction in mumorpugers takes place in guilds—special SWAT teams of players that take on monsters that would make a poor Etch-a-Sketch weep, all for nothing more than high fives and pizza at Denny’s when they’ve ripped the Galactic Beast of Zorgon a new black asshole. You have the tank, the medic, the shit wrecker and the one that sits there holding his knees and wetting himself. Wait, that’s just me. These guilds are akin to army detachments, where every single person looks like that one bald guy from Full Metal Jacket. I doubt the non-player could distinguish one flamboyant medieval green-skinned Carson Kressley from another.

To the player, on the other hand, they are part of something bigger than themselves. For example, the feeling that you would get when a study group that you’re in passes their test as a team is the same feeling a guild member would get when the last pixelated bad guy finally loses that last shred of health. The satisfaction that you have helped and been helped as part of a team is universally relevant, as is the sense of community that people that play the game may have never had before.

The added component of anonymity mentioned in passing earlier garners a closer look as well: the fact that people have an avatar to hide behind gives them confidence to make friends with like-minded individuals. People behind their computer screens can be normal people in a digital world where their own personal world may have been closed off to them by various means, be it discrimination, physical deformity or just being anti-social, without ever showing themselves.

Anonymity and community combine to create an environment that seems understandably appealing to someone with not a lot of time on their hands, and all mumorpuger producers might has well print their own money, because they are designed like this to simulate a world. Not just a game, mind—a whole freaking world. And this world becomes the player’s community, where they contribute and work together to create a social network. The game, eventually, becomes secondary—people then don’t get on their respective MMOs to game, but to catch up with friends. The stick fight is officially a Facebook stick fight. Hooray.

The biggest issue is that video games are being consistently ignored in modern media, or at least seen in a negative light, when in actual fact they are gathering greater popularity than a lot of other media. It turns out video games are just doing a better job—nay, a unique and specialised job—at creating an experience that is not only engaging and interactive, but interactive on an interpersonal level. The queue of pretenders to WoW’s throne of diamond and rare panda pelt goes out the door, and, in all fairness, it’s not hard to see why people would pay through their orifices to be a part of something that is destined to be the future, for good or for ill.

Also, in the economic forecast, a shortage in red food colouring. I don’t think there’s a link.

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  1. The world of war craft is gaining much popularity now from children to adults of all ages. This post is great and very much informative on the latest trends, status and standing of the game. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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