I remember the first time I logged in, the first character I created. I remember feeling when I first met an enemy player - in the middle of a dry and crackly pie. It is five, almost six years ago. I did not realize then that I threw myself into what has become one of the world's largest online worlds. To close to twelve million people would gather, play and work together - for over five years! In my world was a game does not live that long to buy wow gold.
Half a decade after my first faltering steps in the "World of Warcraft" developer Blizzard released the third expansion, extension, to the game. The title "Cataclysm" gives you an idea of what to expect.
Unlike previous expansions, as commanded in the new lands are met by a change in Azeroth - the oldest part of our old game world has been turned upside down. Where it used to be rocky and barren is now the water is deep. Dry plains flourishes. The disaster has torn apart the game world, it threw a tsunami of Thousand Needles, ripped through the Barrens and sat Stormwind on fire - this chapter in "World of Warcraft" seems even more desperate than the past and the struggle for survival takes place at home.
"World of Warcraft" has acquired a special place in our popular culture. It is a game that virtually anyone can refer to, it is as mainstream as the Eurovision Song Contest while the gameplay can be as hardcore as a semi-obscure metal gig at Kaf 44 - depending on how one chooses to interpret and use it. Therein lies its greatness. And maybe the answer to the interesting questions that come with "Cataclysm":
How long can a game live? It's about time to say goodbye?
We begin with the latter. No, it's not time yet, so stop back the white handkerchief. With "Cataclysm" Blizzard has done what has long been needed: a complete renovation of the oldest parts - those who have felt so out of fashion since the expansions started to fall in, the years passed and other online games come with better ideas. But also the graphics has been to a game. New max level of 85, two new races to play, new instances, zones and a new profession is also included in "Cataclysm" - so there is to do for a while.
The Blizzard reused and improved its earliest "World of Warcraft" is admirable. They understand that much of the "World of Warcraft" players have not experienced the beginning. To many in fact did not start playing until a few years ago and thus have missed most of the game. They have never laughed at Chuck Norris-jokes in Barrens chat channel, never endured the boredom of ill-composed game zones and thus have not experienced everything. Or, more accurately, they have rushed through life game and not turn over the stones to experience more than gaming autobahn. By giving new life to the old we get players the chance to take milk stool train through Azeroth once again, fixed by a new Azeroth. It rejuvenates the whole game.
How long does it then? Can an online role-playing renew itself indefinitely? Can 'World of Warcraft "keep all their players year in and year out? I wonder if I will sit here for another five years and reflect on the impermanence and constant in our virtual worlds. As long as the book's covers, there you can insert new chapters that tell different parts of the story. For each new ports to the original as we know it a little bit further away, far away, it is not - but we are whisked away from the five-year-old world a new, better adapted to how we now choose to play. Or rather what we now expect to play. Much depends on how games in general have evolved over the years. In order not to seem dusty, not to lose ground as Blizzard has made sure to pick up good ideas from other games. They look to gradually build up and not miss anything, but always offer what players want. And, of course, the eternal superiority: millions of players. For what ultimately matters most for the "World of Warcraft" is that the virtual world is populated. Without players there is no game - simple as it is not. There are so many who are still at the game, so many people who start to play - the "World of Warcraft" may remain as big games as long as Blizzard chooses to develop expansions. Yet it is hard not to wonder whether they "Cataclysm" trying to stop a circle.
Swedish Bob Dylan once sang "it would be easy for me to say that I do not find homes, but I do, I think." A line of text that seldom seemed so, with the virtual reality, consistent now. Here in the new but still old. So homely and yet so new. Death to Azeroth - Long Live Azeroth.