The ability to chat in World of Warcraft seems like a basic necessity. Without the ability to communicate with other players, the game world would be a lonely, dysfunctional place. But since there is a multi-level chat system, players can trade, team up, and socialize with the other 6 million players giving the world a deeper sense of community.
The anonymity of the internet gives users the ability to freely chat and interact without fear of being dismissed and judged on things like gender, race, social status, etc. In this sense, users are equal. This transfers over into the World of Warcraft’s chat system. The only thing that would potentially separate users is level and experience, which the user has control over unlike their real gender or ethnicity. After getting over the initial “noob” stage, players will feel more equal since they have gained experience and knowledge of the game. However, even if considered a “noob”, the player can still feel equal and enjoy the game because everyone started somewhere with little knowledge of World of Warcraft or any MMORPG experience. Thus, World of Warcraft can be a welcoming community made up of millions of diverse players.
With guilds, smaller communities can be established up to 1000 players. Guild chat gives users the ability to socialize with and get to know the other members of the guild in a group setting. Every member who is online can see and respond, creating a mutual conversation, one that everyone can be an equal part of. Besides just regular chatting, members can collaborate, offer advice, and assist each other over guild chat which builds a friendly, supportive guild community. Also, any achievements a player earns is displayed in the guild chat for other members to see and then congratulate them on. This makes for a positive reinforcement of the player and their skill/work ethic since their fellow guild members can recognize and applaud their accomplishments.
Whispering one on one with other players then allows for personal relationships to be built. The chatting could be small talk, joking around, discussing the game, or completely serious and about personal things but it all allows players to be more connected on a one to one basis rather than in a group setting. These personal connections then enhance the guild community by adding more depth to the group’s camaraderie.
Personally, I’m more of a quiet person so I don’t use the chat system a lot. However, I feel a part of the guild community just by being a part of the mutual conversation going on in the guild chat and having the capability to freely speak without fear of any judgments. This is increased when I do add my input and further the discussion or when I agree to join a dungeon group. As for whispering, I don’t usually initiate it, but when others do, I gladly communicate and perhaps join in their level grinding or quest. Otherwise, I probably would have never talked to and interacted with some people in class.
Overall, this sense of community that the chat system produces in turn immerses the player more into the virtual world since they are able to be an equal part of the community. Further, it allows for players to connect in a unrestricted way unlike in today’s society. This adds to the immersion of the game since the player can feel and be a part of the world on a bigger scale than just through their character.
Disclaimer: I definitely realize that sexism is prevalent in WoW, however, I focused on the positives that the chat system offers and the idea that the anonymity allows for a sense of equality.