What makes World of Warcraft so addictive… for me?

With an online population the size of a small country (about 11 million), each paying a monthly fee (£8.99) – you have to wonder what is behind the success of the biggest and most dominating MMORPG in the last 5 years.

World of Warcraft logo

My housemates whom I was living with during my university years signed me up to the open beta of a game in which I held no interest. I thought it was ridiculous to pay monthly to play a game, the graphics seemed cartoonish and lag was my biggest worry concerned it would be unplayable.

However, despite my reluctance I gave it a go and my subscription has since only enjoyed a 4 month break in 5 years since its creation, leading to a worrying amount of money spent on one game. Getting rapidly sucked in by the easy learning curve, rich content, humour and pop culture references, I found a world that easily absorbed me and it hasn’t quite let go yet.

WoW’s Azeroth became like a second home to me. I found myself meeting people with similar interests in-game and after grouping up to form a guild, to enter into the world of raiding, we became one of the fastest expanding and top10 sucessful guilds on one of the top European servers. Increasingly I found myself playing WoW more and more, slowly neglecting life outside the game.

As addictive as the game is in itself with its ability to instil a “just a couple more skeletons to kill, then I’ll stop” attitude, I think the real addiction is the online community. Playing with friends or randoms – who will at least be guaranteed to have one thing in common with you – being in a guild, battling some of the most difficult tasks the game can throw at you, working together as a team, and succeeding, are where you will have most fun and keep you coming back over and over.

After my guild imploded due to our own rapid expansion, and the several splinter guilds eventually died out also with people quiting the game, or simply trying different factions or servers, the appeal for me has started to wear off. The sense of community has gone and I am left filling my time with random people who I will play with for 15-20 minutes and never see again just to collect some point or other. This could be partly put down to myself growing older, having a full-time job and no longer having the same amount of free time I was able to put into the game and the community.

Will this spell the end of my WoW career, will I finally hang up my wizard hat and lay down my sword after all these years? Or will the upcoming new expansion, Cataclysm draw me back in with new things to explore and to re-engage with the online community?  

Who knows, all I know is that like a smoker in denial, I know it’s wrong and bad for my health, I’ll cut down but doubtfully I’ll stop until Blizzard decide to turn off their servers.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

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