This post’s title might lead you to believe that I think cancelling my video game pre-order is newsworthy. I assure you, it’s not, and I’m not here to proclaim my victory over consumerism or anything to that effect.
But the Shadowlands delay got me thinking: It’s probably for the best if I don’t submit to this devious temptress of a game. After all, World of Warcraft is deliberately designed to get under my skin and feast on my brain.
As a 16-year-old title, World of Warcraft is akin to the undead creatures found in its world. It should be dead, but it isn’t. Instead, it’s a well-preserved zombie sustained by practicers of unknowable and unprecedented black magic at Blizzard. (Okay, maybe they’re just good game designers).
But, keeping with the necromancy theme, the perpetual reanimation of a shambling video game isn’t an impressive feat. Plenty of other game studios have ageing, stinking titles on life support.
The key difference is that Blizzard continually reinvigorates their decade-plus-old game, transforming its peeling flesh once more into a tantalizing, hot-bodied attraction. And next week, World of Warcraft will get its latest “glow-up” in the form of a new expansion, Shadowlands.
Like the in-game character of Sylvanas, World of Warcraft is a hot zombie
The problem with hot zombies is that they’re alluring. Like most, I can spot a stinker from a mile away. But MMOs like WoW are designed to hook players for months. And when a formidable game like WoW gets reinvigorated with new worlds and systems, it’s especially hard to resist its spell.
I heard and subsequently felt WoW’s dark lullaby earlier last week. Blizzard announced that the pre-expansion event was live, wherein you could collect time-limited rewards and become an in-game zombie (how appropriate).
I didn’t necessarily want to check out the pre-patch event, but I felt that I probably should. After all, it’s a time-limited affair, with associated achievements and rewards that will eventually become unobtainable. In other words, it’s now or never.
Other non-MMO games aren’t designed this way. They don’t force this sense of urgency on you or play with your feelings in devious ways. For instance, I’ve been playing The Outer Worlds, a single-player game, but recently decided to take a break. I know I can comfortably come back at any time without missing anything. And in the meantime, the game isn’t infiltrating my subconscious with the promise of time-limited loot or achievements. It isn’t informing how I spend my time, and by extension, my life. WoW does because WoW is designed to be a zombie temptress.
Obviously, you can argue that WoW isn’t the only external influence in our lives. There are many other outside forces that push and pull us in various directions. There’s also an argument to be made for free will: that you can — and should — choose what influences your brain with prudence. I’ve certainly introduced many pernicious influences into my life, including drugs like caffeine and nicotine.
But caffeine and nicotine don’t eat up time like WoW does, and I’m trying to write more. The last thing I need is a time-temptress in the form of a new WoW expansion pulling at the strings of my subconscious, no matter how gently and deftly her reanimated fingers move. For now, my ears are closed to her dark whispers.
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