World of Warcraft is a game with two conflicting areas of play. One aspect of the game places a heavy emphasis on the vastness of the landscape. The world in which it takes place is massive; far too large to be fully explored by one person. Many of the game’s mechanics play into this picture, by encouraging you to walk far distances to a quest, and forcing you to wait for a boat to arrive instead of instantly traveling to your next location. On the contrary, Warcraft also has mechanics that allow you to surpass the limitations imposed by such a large world. These include methods of chat that can be used over any distance, and the use of the dungeon finder to instantly join with others in a battle. What I find most interesting is the balance, or imbalance, between these two ways to play. World of Warcraft sends a message that the social aspects of the game, like dungeons, are more important than the narrative itself. If you work together with other players, you will be rewarded.
During the early levels of the game, Warcraft directed me from quest to quest. I explored a large area on foot, unable to use other means of travel like mounts. I went through the world on my own mission, not needing help from other players. After unlocking dungeons at level 15, I rose to level 20 faster than any previous levels. In addition to the levels, dungeons offer great item rewards. After a few rounds I had weapons far superior to the ones I was able to earn through quests and local shops. Warcraft seems to be presenting two ways to play the game, but one clearly dominates. Any player that cares about increasing their level is encouraged to do group events like dungeons, as they give greater rewards.
The dungeon mechanic of World of Warcraft sends the message that collaborating with other people is the most important aspect of this game. The game could have been made in a way that equally rewards individual questing and group dungeon events, but it doesn’t. You have the option to explore the world, and follow the narrative of the game through quests, but you will have to play longer to earn the same rewards as those doing dungeons. The dungeon finder works very deliberately in a way that encourages players to come together as easily as possible. You can join with a party, or all random people by using the queue. You are teleported to the dungeon, and returned back to where you were afterwards. The dungeons do have a backstory, but they are rarely read in the rush to complete the mission, and can be repeated as many times as you want. The game even rewards you for joining a random dungeon, with no need to know the story behind what you will be doing. All of this sharply contrasts the emphasis on travel and narrative in the game. The dungeon mechanic in Warcraft is almost purely social.
The procedural rhetoric of World of Warcraft, shown through its dungeon mechanic, is that working together with others is the most important and rewarding activity you can do. The narrative of the game comes second to the ability of players to get together and work towards a common goal. It does not matter why you are fighting creatures in a dungeon, or how they got there. What matters is how efficiently you can join a group of people, and successfully work together to kill the enemies presented. This is the aspect of Warcraft that is most greatly rewarded, not the play of an individual.