Right now I’m working on my first post of my new Run Back series, but I wanted to take a break to talk about something I find really amazing, something that I feel is often overlooked in WoW. (The first article will come out soon, as soon as I get enough material and stop getting my butt and immune system kicked by my intense work/class schedule.)
Do you ever notice how diverse your raid group is?
From the outside world WoW players are viewed as either A) A nerdy, awkward teenager, or B) An unsuccessful adult who has nothing going for them, because why would they spend so much time in an online world when they could be doing something productive like investing in the stock market or watching the news? People who don’t play tend to give me “Wow, you’re kind of a lonely loser, aren’t you?” look when I mention I play WoW. Sadly, I know where they’re coming from. Every college has that one group of really loud, greasy people who hang out in the cafeteria, or the student lounge and argue about the benefits of having a gnome warrior versus an orc warrior, and debate the complex rules of Magic the Gathering (which happens to be going on behind me now…). These are the people the world looks to when they think of WoW players. Theres nothing wrong with screaming about how your Yu-Gi-oh deck kicks ass because of the “card of awesome win”, or whatever, but these are the type of people the mainstream media thinks are the majority of WoW players.
Well, mainstream media, I beg to differ.
In my raid group alone we have a nuclear physicist, a mother of three with a Masters in psychology, a dog washer, a computer programmer who works from home, a grandmother in her sixties, an artist, a power plant operator, and college student who wants to be a lawyer. There are few people who I actually play with who are the image the average person has of a WoW player. Personally, I have a more diverse raid group than my group of friends who I’ll actually see on a regular basis.
In the end portraying us all as a singular identity is a flawed view. We have one thing in common: we enjoy video games. Clumping everyone into the same category is like saying all musicians are into jazz, or all chefs love to cook Italian food. The world is full of different people, with different backgrounds, life views, likes and dislikes. I can only wonder why the average person sees a WoW player and thinks “Look at that socially awkward geek, they’re so pathetic” no matter if that person is an extremely successful banker, a cheerleader, or just your average joe.
Recently I’ve started telling people that I play WoW. It has been an uncomfortable experience at times because, when I mention I have a raid Tuesday night, I’ve had friends turn to me and say “You play WoW? Oh man, I didn’t think you’d be into that sort of thing. You seemed so normal.” Well, I AM normal. With over 11 million people online WoW has turned into a cultural movement that has affected the lives of nearly everyone in the United States. Whether or not you will never consider playing yourself, you most likely have a friend who plays (or played) or a family member who may enjoy killing virtual dragons. Even if you know no one who plays WoW I will bet good money you know someone who has played another MMORPG, or obsesses over the newest Call of Duty release, or even logs dozens of hours on The Sims.
Video games are no longer the property of the technologically elite, the lonely teenager, or the jobless adult with to much time on their hands. Games like WoW have come on to the world stage with force, and I can’t help but feel sorry for the people who can look at what is a good chunk of the world and say “So you like to spend your time with a bunch of nerdy, lonely teenagers? Isn’t that a little pathetic?”
The types of different people I have met, the opinions I have been introduced to, and how broad my view of the people in the world has gotten is due to amount of people who differ from me that I have met through WoW. I know people from California, to the mountains of Minnesota, to the balmy shores of Florida. My world would be much smaller if I hadn’t started playing WoW, and I hope that as our generation gets older the idea that we’re all sad losers will be left at the door for a view that does justice to the amount of diversity WoW has brought to the over 11 million people who play.