The chains of my boots rattled as I step out of the darkness of the spiral staircase out onto the viewing platform of the tower. I stomped up countless steps with a group of armed combatants at a dizzying pace. We are here with a murder order, the gunner Koch threatens the inhabitants of a nearby village and should die. But we are too late. Someone was up here on the top of Northwatch Keep, killing him. We are angry for a moment, but that does not change our mission, because he may be dead now, but will reappear in a few minutes. In an online game like World of Warcraft you can never completely wipe out evil.
Our author played an orc in World of Warcraft. On his 15th birthday, he returns to the world around Azeroth. And is fascinated again.
I fall back on my chair, move the mouse aside and take a long drink of water. Although I did not really run myself, I feel a bit exhausted. My dog lies comfortably under the kitchen table and looks at me a bit confused. I do not usually sit around so much, but today I’m driving a pixel warrior named Booz on the laptop through deserts and castle ruins for four hours (or is it already five?). The last time I played World of Warcraft was about twelve years ago. Now I have returned to the world of elves, warriors and the eternal struggle between good and evil.
The fascination of your own character
World of Warcraft is an online role-playing game by publisher Blizzard. It was launched at the end of 2004 in the US and at the beginning of 2005 in Europe. Since then, the world of martial arts has been drawing millions of people around the world every day.
The game is about two enemy factions, the marauding Horde and the civilized alliance. Players have to choose one side at the beginning. You can only play and communicate together with members of your own faction. Players can each choose from four different races (yes, that’s what they really are called): The Horde offers orcs, trolls, undead and the cow-like tauren, and on the side of the Alliance humans, dwarfs, gnomes and night elves unite. Then you look for a class that is something like a profession or vocation: you can turn your avatar into a fat-coated warrior, a nature-loving hunter, an elegant magician, or a priestess. I used to be Berzerk, an orc warrior.
It may sound banal, but it is this very individual customization of character that makes it so fascinating. The fact that everyone is allowed to choose their own abilities, gender and appearance creates a deeper identification with the character than predestined characters. The player starts his own story with his own character. He has at least some influence on the world and its laws.
For each task a player performs, he gets points: he kills monsters, delivers messages, collects certain items. The more points he gets, the higher he gets in the level. And the higher he gets, the more areas he can explore, the stronger his opponents become and the better his abilities and spells become. It’s like a spiral: The more you can, the more the game opens up – and the more time you want to spend in it. And since World of Warcraft officially has no end, you can completely lose yourself in the game.
During the day I washed the laundry or empty bedpans, in the evening I fought my way through the world of tauren and elves.
I also spent a lot of time with this game. When it came on the market in 2004, I was just in the training for Heilerziehungspfleger and lived somewhat isolated from a southern German town with a few other trainees in a nursing home. At our disposal were a nearby supermarket, a broadband internet connection and a lot of time. The ideal basis for sprawling gambling nights. While we got on with our day-to-day work and quarreled with the new authorities we were subjected to, World of Warcraft offered more variety and excitement than our sometimes lengthy shift services on the station. During the day I washed the underwear or emptied bedpans, in the evening I slipped into the role of Berzerk and fought my self-determined through the fictional world of tauren and elves.
The version I played during my apprenticeship is called World of Warcraft Vanilla or Classic by gamers. You could reach level 1 to 60 there. Due to the success of the game and because the story was not told, new extensions were added regularly. Meanwhile, the developers have arrived at level 120. With each new add-on, to date there are seven, new areas have emerged to explore, new monsters to beat, new mechanics to master. The world grew a little further.