The Allure of Persistent Worlds in Quarantine

Two gas-mask wearing characters in World of Warcraft

I’ve been struggling to understand my affinity for World of Warcraft lately. Historically, I’ve never held a sustained interest in the game beyond a month or two. Don’t get me wrong: the online world of Azeroth is charming, mesmerizing, and unforgettable. But WoW’s core gameplay pales in comparison to the richness of other titles. Where other games offer exhilarating, focused experiences, WoW throws you into a digital fantasy world and asks you how many boxes you want to check.

But then again, amid a global pandemic, perhaps WoW’s persistent progression simulator is exactly what the doctor ordered. While the real world remains steeped in economic uncertainty, WoW’s world is reliable and explicable. While real-world possessions can be suddenly washed away or destroyed by natural disasters, you can come back to WoW and find everything your character has earned right where you left it — including those Murloc eyeballs you looted on an eve long, long ago.

Okay, so maybe these comparisons are a bit dramatic: I’m far from being a neurotic real-world doomsayer who can only find salvation in digital worlds. Instead, I think I just have a renewed appreciation for the persistent nature of WoW’s MMO framework.

No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I can always depend on WoW to bring me a little extra joy, excitement, or adventure. When I feel like I’m burning out on my real-world goals, WoW’s in-game progression is a welcome change of pace. And, once in a blue moon, when I have the strange desire to cleave down slimy aquatic creatures and collect their eyeballs under a dark night sky… well, WoW delivers.

Image sourced from nocturn8 on WoWhead

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