You are not a player. Just a piece in someone else’s game

This post is an expansion of the comment I’ve left on the blog of Azuriel.

The MMO bloggers are pretty upset about the horrible turn of events in Azeroth (except for psychopaths). One could ask why didn’t they do something about it?

The answer is obvious: because they can’t. Even if the whole WoW playerbase would refuse to do the before-expansion questline, the tree would still burn and Lordaeron would still fall. It was decided in the scripwriter department of Blizzard. You have no say in it. You can do the quests or forfeit the rewards but it changes nothing. You aren’t a player, you are just a piece in the play. A replaceable one.

WoW is not a game. You can watch someone else playing and get the same passive story-watching experiment. It’s not an art critic blog, so I won’t get into how stupid the story is on the scale of Agatha Christie – Megalodon movie with Dwayne Johnson. But it’s a story-watching experience, a film of some sort, not a game where you win or lose based on some kind of skill.

While I’m not a fan of reaction-time “skill” games, they are still games giving out rewards or defeat screens based on how good you did. I like strategic games better, but that’s my choice. “Game” is defined by competition between players (directly or by points) in an artificial setting. The setting can have story elements, at least implicitly (you are thrown to an empty island to fight until last man standing in PUBG), but the point is defeating the opponents to win. There is no meaningful win in WoW: everyone can complete the story and everyone can reach any ilvl, some faster, some slower, but at the end of the expansion, it won’t matter anyway.

I’m not sure why game elements are left in WoW, when they are just pointless obstacles. Let just players press “combat” button and the character would use optimal rotation while the “player” just watches the story unfold.

Author: Gevlon

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10 thoughts on “You are not a player. Just a piece in someone else’s game”

  1. You forgot the part where character needs to “dance” to avoid damage or bosses with gimmicks(Yogg-Saron in Ulduar, Professor Putricide in ICC, Alysrazor in Firelands, etc).
    Also, there are Ahead of the Curve and Cutting Edge feats of strength… showing that the player was either skilled enough or able to pay for boost.


  2. The entire plot line is fairly retarded anyway, just a low rent excuse to cash in on PvP. It’s been this way since day one.

    I don’t have a problem with the concept of “Game as interactive entertainment where you really have no say in what happens.” It can be fun… the whole point of games is that you really can’t “win” anyway, all you can do is perform better than another player in a no risk virtual simulation, a temporary thing at best. If you could “win” in any meaningful way, it would be a job and you would have a lot more skin in it.

    However, a “game as interactive entertainment” should at least have a plot that makes coherent sense. There is no rational explanation, for example, why The Taurans are in the Horde. Sure. Nature loving Shamanistic types willfully following either nutcase insane violence junkies (Orcs) or undead horrors (The undead.) That sounds legit.

    They started losing me when they started force mixing the factions in order to increase the “PvP excitement.” For the first few expansions of this, you could largely ignore it, but it just got worse and worse.


  3. Ok… Edited to add: Not since day one. Day one was great, the Horde was on another continent and you never saw them. It wasn’t until you hit max level that you realized there could be an issue, as the Alliance and Horde all used the same high level dungeons, but you could still ignore it… it just made the lore look stupid.

    Then each expansion forced the interaction more and more. “Faction towns” right next to each other, etc.


  4. Your definition of game is pretty unique. It excludes all single player games. What would you even call single player games? Tetris and Pac Man are not games to you?

    You are free of course to hold this opinion, but it doesn’t really align with the definition of “game” in most languages. Feel free to check dictionaries. So this topic is kind of a nonstarter for people who are not you.

    I do agree in that sense that wow has more single player elements than competitive. Its multiplayer is cool rather than competitive.


  5. @Eatenbygrue: players can compare their pacman or Tetris scores. I remember doing that. That’s competition, a game.

    I called Subnautica a game until I realized I was wrong and left it in disgust.


  6. Subnautica is a building sim, you could liken it to Tetris or Pacman in that it has “success” manifesting in “achievements” or discovery progression within the game. Sure, that gameplay loop is not obvious, but that’s what makes Subnautica fun. Just because you don’t understand a game, doesn’t mean it’s not one.


  7. Best definition of game I’ve come up with is “An activity with multiple distinct ways to progress where the selection of the path of progress provides entertainment.” That covers everything from candyland and pachinko to football and starcraft.

    Note that in candyland, pachinko, and probably football, the person being entertained is not making any decisions about the path of progress, they are just semi-passively watching the results, but at the same time it is only entertaining because the results vary from game to game.

    WoW’s story is not a game, as there is only one way to progress. However, the smaller moments of combat could still be considered a game to someone who is entertained by seeing how the combat plays out (even if combat is just hitting the same key over and over, it can still be a game in the same way candyland is a game).


  8. @Kvakerok: except the building part is completely unstructured and goal-less. You build whatever you please. Tell me, is it a game if someone builds the Big Ben from matchsticks?


  9. @Gevlon in Subnautica building serves 2 purposes.

    1st, more important one is to provide a more stable base of operation. As you go deeper underwater, 500m+ those bases become pretty much not optional and usually take form of the moonpool with a bunch of large containers + food farm, water filtration, battery/cell chargers, and energy generator (a large room with a reactor and/or thermal plants).

    2nd purpose is to satisfy the building itch. A friend of mine regularly posts amazing screenshots of massive beautiful underwater cities. It’s not really surprising considering that Sim City is a game of its own.

    To answer your question, it is a game if said matchstick Big Ben provides you with shelter, ability to recharge, repair, and calm down from constant threat outside, in other words heavily integrated into the gameplay loop. It also is a game if you make the most awesome looking Big Ben and show it off against other matchstick Big Ben builders online. There’s clearly a competition happening.


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