Materials are what Matter

In the game of World of Warcraft one of the most important factors to being an effective character is your equipment. No matter what level you reach if you want to be on par with those at your level the gear you have on you is extremely important. The game takes attributes that would typically be used to describe a person and has the equipment improve them. Things like strength, stamina, intellect, or agility can be affected by the ring on your finger or the pads on your shoulder.

Because the most important aspects of a person can be improved by the items rather than the person using them it goes to show that the people are fairly interchangeable. It does not matter how much skill or reaction time a player has as long as the things that player possesses are good enough. This can be very effective in reinforcing the idea in the real world that the only things that matter is what we possess. This falls in line with Rettberg’s book “Digital Culture, play and identity”. In her book she talks about how World of Warcraft is a model for capitalism, which promotes money as the most important thing in this world.

While there is a degree of skill to be used in World of Warcraft I would argue that with things like macros, a device that has your character automatically do a series of preplanned actions, the skill curve is very low. I believe that Blizzard intentionally made it this way to allow people to feel that they can succeed in doing whatever they wish so long as they keep trying long enough. Becoming incredibly powerful in the game is more about the amount of time put into it rather than the technique of the person playing the game. This is very different than the real world where there are time where a person is simple unable to do some things regardless of how long or consistently they try. Sometimes the reason one person is good at something has more to do with flukes of their genetics or place of birth rather than the merit of the individual. An example of this would be professional sport players. To be an effective line man in football a player needs a large amount of strength and size. These attributes can be affected by diet and exercise however only to a certain degree.

In the World of Warcraft however anyone can be a warrior, a rogue, or a wizard. I use these three classes in particular because they each grow in power based on an attribute that is typically given to people in the real world more by chance than choice such as strength, intellect, and agility. I would say that the draw of World of Warcraft can be how impressive you can become in a certain attribute. In the game a person can with enough money and the right gear make their intellect extremely high. Wouldn’t it be nice if the things we bought could just make us stronger or more intelligent almost without limit?

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2 Responses to Materials are what Matter

  1. narrativeandtech says:

    You make a good point about WoW that I hadn’t noticed until now. WoW differs from a lot of other RPGs in regard to character equipment. In a lot of RPGs the player has to mold the character itself by leveling certain stats such as endurance, magic, faith, etc. In WoW, a character’s performance can be improved instantly just by equipping a better piece of gear. Also, unlike a lot of other RPGs where stats are permanent, in WoW you can reshape and repurpose your character for different tasks simply by changing into different gear.


  2. blueshoes324 says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I will gladly say that I suck at this game. However, due to the armor that I’ve earned in quest and the items in the guild bank my character is better than my own skill set. Also I think you nailed Blizzard’s objective in the process. By keep players happy that they are not always dying but at the same time dying enough to make it challenging they keep players coming back for more.


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