Monday, November 22, 2010


Have I become desensitized?
Several blogs write about the Pilgrims's Bounty and how it does not fit into a world in the midst of an elemental invasion that is about to be ripped apart by a cataclysm.
Honestly - I did not notice.

I, generally, do not take part in holiday events in WoW. Firstly, because these are holidays for citizen of the United States of America and I play a Tauren. Secondly, because it does not make sense that Garrosh Hellscream, Mighty Warchief of the Horde, does a Pilgrims' Bounty celebration. You laugh? I cry!

Moreover, there are so many things in this game that do not make sense, I really stopped noticing, I think.
So, as much as I like to applaud the bloggers who suddenly realize: "Hey this does not make a lot of sense!", as much do I cry that it requires so much to invoke a reaction.

I mean, it is one thing if somebody accepts that WoW is a collection of things to do that are represented in a three-dimensional geography. It is an entirely different thing if people still believe that WoW is a credible virtual world, but only start to realize immersion-breaking stuff when there is a Pilgrims' Bounty celebration taking place next to a burning capital of brutal Orcs, while a group of citizen asks to be allowed entrance to the city, while other citizen flee in terror, while fire elementals are setting every house on fire without these houses actually changing in form or shape at all. And I am not even talking about concepts like heat or that this 'event' 'repeats' every two hours.

To conclude this, let me ask you a question:
Do you think the fact that some people notice immersion breaking things earlier has genetic reasons? Or cultural? Do you have any explanation?


  1. I think it's a good thing that at least a few of us still react. But basically I'm afraid a lot of the "one world" feeling is gone if it ever was there. We're not playing a WORLD of warcraft. We're playing a bunch of mini games loosely attached to each other. The mini game of food eating/tossing/making has vary little to do with anything else. Maybe it's as simple as that the game is just too big now to hold it together anymore.

  2. Larísa, are you stalking me?
    I post this one and see your comment already attached!

    Mmh.. maybe I misclicked on 'post' too early. Mmh.. still frightening ;)

    On topic:
    This is a rather brutal judgement you post here!
    Nowadays I try to restrain from writing such comments in other peoples' blogs. But then, somebody who critizises WoW less often can maybe do it more fiercly.

  3. I know, shocking isn't it?
    I think it came out a little bit more harsh than I really meant to. If I wrote a post about it I would make it more nuanced. Maybe I will in the future. However: it was a thought that passed my head reading your post. And not an entirely pleasant one. :( In any case I shared it. I'll have to think a bit further about it before I'm ready to write a post of my own about it though.

    Live everyone else I have both praise and criticism on the issue of WoW. As little as Wolfshead ONLY hates wow, as little do I ONLY love it.

  4. We have all become desensitized, Nils. When I first started to make my way in Azeroth, I was shocked at some of the things I observed that we players take for granted. We are all desensitized to these now.

    More recently, I found an interesting article about why we fail to notice things (link here). It's because we are too focussed on something else.

  5. Dàchéng,

    maybe I'll make a post about all these things we do not even recognize anymore. If only to remember myself.

    Reading your link, however, I have to say that I differentiate very seriously between immersion-breaking things that are not possible to fix without serious impact on gameplay.

    And those immersion-breaking things that would not have had any impact on gameplay if you fixed them; like the current Pilgrims' Bounty 'celebrations'.

    I wrote before:
    A MMORPG has to be as immersive, credible and consistent as possible and as little as necessary.

    The 'as little as necessary' part is very important to me.

  6. I think it's essentially scope creep.

    Originally MMOs were designed to be escapist worlds. Then designers decided they'd like to do something special for Christmas. Then Halloween. Then.....

    We've ended up with a constant stream of obscure holidays in most of the major diku MMOs.

    Sooner or later someone is going to be brave and not do it. Then everyone will suddenly discover the pure pleasure of losing themselves in a consistent and immersive fantasy world again, like first reading Lord of the Rings or Dune.

    Of course in some games it's more excusable than others. Warcraft has always had easter eggs and pop culture jokes that are cool but anti-immersive. That goes right back to Warcraft 1. Lotro has a very homely feel with its Shire, its pies and so on. It makes sense that hobbits would celebrate festivals.

    The game that does this with the lightest touch is Eve. They give players a freebie but there aren't happy hand-holding parties in space. People will quite happily murder you and steal your stuff on Christmas Day.

  7. I would say there are several degrees of disbelieve. For me, immersion already breaks on the character generation screen. I'm playing a cow casting healing spells and summoning lighting from the sky? Yeah, right, very believable. So I settle into the game with a given level of disbelief already from the start, and as long as that level doesn't change much, I'm actually fine.

    It is things like Thanksgiving being celebrating during the Shattering, or Haris Pilton selling handbags in game that take me to a different level of disbelief, which is the point where I start to notice lack of cohesion.

  8. Stabs,

    what I really don't understand is the evolution that takes place. The games started the way you describe. This is the way I would want them (not the actual games, but the underlying philosophy).

    And then they evolved into games like current WoW. You would expect that this (d)evolution would not have happened if there were no majority that enjoys celebrating christmas with Garrosh Hellscream. (?)

    Perhaps evolution goes like waves. While a fantasy world is serious it is too much fun to make fun of it. Once you made too much fun of it, it's no fun anymore. Thus, you need to start again with something serious ?

    I, at least, hope so. Christmas is something I celebrate with my family. Not with Orcs and Night Elves !

  9. Tobold,

    I completely agree with you. There is maybe only a slight difference between us.

    I totally accept and definitely expect a fanatasy world to be different to the real word. I want magic in there.

    But I also want the game to be consistent, once the magic is in there. A good wooden chest is impossible to open for a normal guy from real world, but a mage can set it on fire, can he not?

    Just like you, however, I notice different levels of disbelieve. Even then, however, I am usually very forgiving, if there are gameplay reasons. For example, I never complained about the stupid AI of mobs.

    What I absolutely hate is if there are no gameplay reasons for something that is immserion breaking. That would be (most) RMT, pets for real world events, holidays ..

    And I always try to convince people that real world things can actually be very good gameplay concepts.

    A small bagback, for example, can be a very good gameplay concept. There is no reason for backpacks to contain 64 items of any size.

    If you give players only small backpacks you can have mobs drop lots of stuff without consequences on the economy. What to take with you is an 'interesting decision'.

    Most of these concepts cannot be found in todays games, because of a misguided assumption of player convenience.
    "But I want all that stuff to fit in my backback!!!".

    Worth am extra blogpost, I think :)