Mi warcraft no es su warcraft

…or English for: my warcraft is not your warcraft.

In a past article of mine I wrote that gamers are not a community, a fact that has often grieved me on my journey through the gaming world. Even if we love the same MMO that doesn’t mean we have a lot in common, our views and values inside and outside of our cultural backgrounds and upbringing can be entirely different, even if gamers often wish to speak of themselves as a community, a group to belong to and identify with. My heart jumped a little at Metzen’s “Geek is…” speech at the Blizzcon 2010 but in reality many of these geeks will give other geeks a hard time because playing golf is so much cooler than playing tennis, ya know. Even in the world of geekdom there are nonsensical pecking orders.

Yet a facet of this that often strikes me, and on a much brighter note, is the diversity in which MMO players can and chose to play the game. When you look around in the WoW blogosphere you can already see the multitude of different approaches to the game, different interests and playstyles. For all I know, some WoW players are playing a completely different game than me! Every time I read an article on improved goldmaking or the many-colored world (and drama) of pugging or finding the right guild, I am strangely fascinated about the experiences and issues of some players, feeling oddly remote from them.
I actually love reading such articles because they show me how diverse an MMO really is and what “sub-cultures” there are entirely untouched by myself, existing like some parallel society.

Inside our own bubble

When I read this article by Spinks some time ago, I was reminded very strongly of the disparity in which all of us experience online games. I play WoW in my own little bubble which is the safety of my PVE raidguild of many years with its stable, longtime member base. Some of my guildmates have been around me since vanilla. I play on a European PVE server on which I have played my holy priest since day one. I’ve a long friendlist of people that have shared this server with me, acquaintances in other guilds and resources I can rely on if required. My entire outlook on the game and my future therein is safely founded on this.

I’ve no idea how it is to play this game as a more casual player, a non-raider, a role-player, a trade seller, a pugger or a frequent guild-switcher. The last time I filled out a guild application form was in vanilla WoW because ever since I have been an officer in raidguilds I have helped founding myself. I do not know how it is to feel “homeless” in WoW, I don’t need to pug and I don’t get scammed after paying a stranger to do my enchants. If people talk about the trolls in tradechat, I don’t know who they are – I haven’t followed any public chats in years. In my guild everything is available to me, access to content, free services and most of all shared companionship and laughter. I couldn’t imagine playing WoW in any other way and I dare say I would’ve quit ages ago if I had not found and created this space for myself.

We all live inside our own bubble when we play MMOs – the “massively” is actually only so much true. If we’re lucky, we find like-minded people to share them with. Sometimes we meet players who live in bubbles different from our own and when we do, we’re impressed or surprised at best, although irritated or annoyed are an option too. One such “clash” I’ve experienced myself was when Adrenaline established a temporary raiding alliance for lack of active raiders during our very first summer in TBC. All too soon we realized that our partner guild (which had a somewhat similar progress orientation, or so we thought) had an entirely different and (from our standpoint) less serious approach to raiding – it was two different worlds colliding, much to our own dismay. Of course they felt exactly the same way about us with our set standards and quiet, militaristic raid style. Needless to say our alliance didn’t last for long but it got us through the worst weeks of summer. It also taught us that lobotomy is probably preferable to raid alliances, even if a common enemy is great for building team spirit.

MMO subcultures

The more sandboxy an MMO is, the wider the potential spectrum of bubbles or sub-cultures becomes. I’ve played MMOs where big groups of people dedicated themselves entirely to trade, running shops of their own and spending huge amounts of time harvesting and crafting all around the clock. The most remarkable such example I have ever seen was in Ultima Online on the Atlantic Shard, where a player had set up his own gateway station located in his house where he provided teleports leading to all the different corners of the world for a fee. He had undertaken extensive traveling himself first in order to provide this service and it was widely used and appreciated.

While World of Warcraft is far off from a sandbox game, it still offers space for a variety of “sub-cultures” to develop and play the game to their own ends. By default Blizzard gives players the choice to experience their content from a PVE-, PVP- or RP-centric perspective. While I like PVP in WoW, I have never ever ventured into RP and I admit that it’s a very curious thing to me that I don’t feel comfortable with (whatever floats your boat tho!).

Then there’s the greedy goblins, fully dedicated to the mammon in WoW and it’s quite a fulltime endeavor if you choose to delve into it fully, goldmaking guides and respective mods included.
There’s the crazy collectors of mounts, minipets or whatever other baubles. There’s the achievement hunters that spare no expense for another 10 points. There’s the dedicated arena teams. There’s the daily PuG organizers in public channels (I noticed that one time I looked!). There’s the perfectionist alt players desperately out of character slots. There’s the explorers and the lore masters. And there’s pretty much every flavor of guild.

Indeed, WoW can be many things, also in the way we look at it and what we appreciate most about it – Larísa has written a post on this just the other day.
And I wonder what other groups there might be in WoW playing the game from their unique angle, different from others. Do you know of more niches or sub-cultures in World of Warcraft, remote from the standard PVP or PVE oriented endgame playstyle? Are you one of them?

There’s no reality..

…there’s only perception. Many of us enter a different micro-cosmos when they log into WoW. This gets most noticeable when we discuss features and aspects of the game or share experiences, also very often on our blogs. We forget that the other person we read about or talk to might come from an entirely different WoW than us: with a different lookout, different people sharing the game with him and hence different experiences. And in all these differences things are not so different from the real world.

I’m sure that my way of playing this MMO might seem strange to somebody else. I know that my opinions and attitude toward it are merely a product of my personal experiences. It’s a small and fragile world we call home.


  1. I think this is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about blogging and blog reading. It’s primarily not about taking part of information, about learning the way to do different things. There are other resources for that. No, the main reason why I read all those blogs is because it satisfies my curiousity, giving me the opportunity to take part of all those different ways to approach WoW. I can see the game through the eyes of someone else. And suddenly the game becomes so much bigger than it else would have been. There’s no way I can explore all the alternatives on my own. But I can get samples of it, filtered through the blogs.

  2. And home is where the heart is.

    The truth of the matter is that the true strength of MMOs lies not in the game, but how we as players perceive the game. Our distinct backgrounds, upbringing and experiences all coalesce into a singular kaleidoscopic lens through which we perceive our world, and the world of MMOs. This is essentially why mi Warcraft no es su Warcraft, because mi Warcraft is a wholly distinct worldview than su Warcraft.

  3. @Bronte

    yeah that’s pretty much it. we perceive anything through a filter like that really.


    I’m with you, the main thing about blogs for me is curiosity, reading about other people’s approaches to WoW, their insights and also the huge creativity displayed on many blogs. I don’t actually read any strictly news-centric ones.

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