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Do you Feel like a "Noob?" The Phenomenon of World of Warcraft

By — Video Game Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Oct 25, 2010

When it comes to video games in general, it is easy for parents to feel like a "noob." This is a term that video game players use to refer to another gamer who is inexperienced and is a commonplace term in World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft, more commonly known as WoW, is a video game that falls in the genre of massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORpG)

Who's playing and How do they get Started?

In order to play WoW, players must purchase a subscription to the game that lasts one month, three-months, or six-months at a time for varying prices. WoW is the largest MMORpG with over 11.5 million subscribers worldwide playing the game and it was even awarded most popular MMORpG by Guinness World Record. The number of people playing the game continues to grow even higher due to expansion sets as well. These expansion sets allow players to literally expand their WoW gaming experiences. Currently, there are two expansions available for WoW: these are The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, which came out in November 2008. WoW's popularity has seeped even deeper into popular culture since the game has been satirized in well-known shows such as The Simpsons and South park, among others. Especially interesting about WoW are the demographics of the people who play the game. While adolescents and young adults are typically the consumers of this video game, there are also a large number of children who play WoW with their parents, as well as couples who enjoy playing the game together.

The Basics of the Game

Within WoW, players can create a character from different races (e.g., dwarf, human, orc, troll, etc.) and classes (e.g., mage, warrior, paladin, etc.) who has different skill and ability levels. These characters can then interact with the environment and other players in the game, which is why the game is considered a multi-player, role playing game. Once their character is created players must choose between two factions, either "Alliance" or "Horde." The goal of the game is for players to complete quests that make their character advance levels and gain better items, such as weapons and valuables. While there is a maximum level that players can achieve, the current highest level is 80. There is really no end to the game and players can continue to look for items, interact with other characters, and make their character more powerful. 

Online Role playing Games and Addiction

Despite being one of the most popular video games, WoW has received some negative publicity in recent years. WoW has been cited in possible reports of video game addiction where players are engaged in a game an excessive amount. Video game addiction is a controversial topic and is largely associated with MMORpG's since these are typically games in which a great deal of playing time is required in order to progress. Another issue associated with WoW is the use of online sweatshops to purchase items and gold. In many Asian countries, video games are considered a way of life but they are also used for business and online sweatshops are formed. Here, a worker will create a character and play the game for hours at a time with the sole purpose of collecting gold and items for an online company. players in the game can then use their credit card to purchase gold and items for their character from this company either during gameplay or on a website. Finally, there are also issues raised when a player can interact with other people online. The issues include exposure to violent and offensive language, exposure to violent content, and the sharing of personal information. 

Protecting your Kids

The developers of WoW have taken these issues into account and have attempted to address them in the game. In the options menu it is possible to turn off blood, enable a language filter that blocks profanity and vulgar words, and even put a time restraint on gameplay. Also, it is very beneficial to talk to kids about the importance of taking breaks from playing video games and not to share personal information while playing video games. Feeling overwhelmed can be common for parents when it comes to video games but taking steps to become better informed and recognizing possible issues associated with gameplay is important. This way, your kids will no longer be able to accuse you of being a "noob!"

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