I uninstalled Blizzard's World of Warcraft for the Nth time since I started playing a decade ago.

I reactivated my account and purchased the two expansions I missed – "The Warlords of Draenor" and "The Mists of Pandaria" – because I needed something to do where I could disengage from from my to-do list and other daily obligations and relax a bit. There's an idea of a mental state called "flow" and it had been too long since I enjoyed that state of mind.

During the last four weeks, I made it through most – if not all – of the single player content, keeping my Loremaster status fresh. I didn't get into any of the PvP content this time around, mainly because while I enjoy taking on other players, I'm not particularly good at it, especially after my three-year hiatus. Some thoughts from the past several weeks…

Storytelling: I think the thing that stood out the most for me is how much Blizzard has learned in terms of storytelling and how the narrative has evolved since I last played. While WoW has traditionally been an open-world design – you choose what to do and when – I was very impressed with some the new sequences in the game, especially some of the mythos quest chains in the expansion. The net effect was an engaging experience that pulled my character into the latest conflict.

World-Building: While WoW is an achievement on multiple levels, the thing that I appreciate the most and keeps me most engaged is the scope of this fully-realized virtual world that lives inside my computer. I have as much nostalgia for some areas in-game as I do in real life. Such as the floating island where I farmed dragon eggs, the Lunar Festival in Moonglade, and in this latest visit, my new castle on Draenor. I was planning on one last flying tour of the various areas, but decided to skip that so I didn't get sucked further in the game.

Game Evolution: While the core WoW game is largely unchanged from when I started playing – I picked it back up after about 15 minutes of making Holly laugh at me while I verbally tried to reacquaint myself. That said, there have been multiple times over the past couple of weeks where I declared I was "done with Warcraft", only to find a new aspect of the game to suck me back in. Whether it was building up my followers and sending them on missions, turning my lowly outpost into a castle, or dipping my toes into naval battles, Blizzard was very effective finding a fresh hook to keep me interested in the game and returning to the world.

Time Commitment: I'm very intentionally an anti-social player, mainly as a means to keep the time spent in-game to a manageable level. The game itself does a very effective job at keeping me engaged – there are things you can accomplish if you have 5 minutes, 50 minutes, or 5 hours to kill – that I didn't need to start getting on a guild raiding and farming schedule to be a productive part of a larger group.

If I were to estimate the time I've spent in this latest jaunt, I probably logged somewhere between sixty and eighty hours of playtime over the past four weeks. I've had a good run and gotten my much-needed mental reset, so it's time for me to disengage for a while and get back to my other personal projects.

(On another note, as an Activision Blizzard shareholder, I'm a very happy camper given that the company continues to execute very well on the core reason I purchased that stock: buying into the company best equipped to deliver interactive narrative experiences.)

comments powered by Disqus