Last Tuesday, it was impossible to walk around campus without hearing whisperings of warlocks and talent trees and level caps. For those of you who don’t play World of Warcraft, patch 4.0 went live Tuesday evening, meaning the rest of my nights are all booked up for the foreseeable future.
For me (and many of my classmates, I noticed), school was difficult to concentrate on – we had to get home and start preparing for Cataclysm! Nearly every form of communication I possess was flooded with messages of WoW – Gmail chat messages, text messages, and even real-life conversations with people I had barely spoken to before. All week these messages and interactions have been either praising the patch’s changes or criticizing them – like the fact that everyone had to redo their talent trees. The horror!
These are the same things I experience every time a highly-anticipated game is released. And to an outsider listening in on one such conversation, the participants in the exchange might appear nerdy and lonely for being that into a game – but really, WoW fanatics are quit similar to football fans.
Football and other sports have the ability to bring together tens of thousands of people at a time to rally around a single activity. Fans will gather at a stadium for a few hours to cheer on their home team, will discuss strategies with other fans that they’ve never met before, and can identify other fans on game day by their apparel and strike up a conversation about it.
These same activities can be translated to fans of World of Warcraft. We gather at places like conventions and midnight launches, we eagerly converse with other fans to whom we’ve never spoken, and we purchase and wear clothing from places like J!nx.
So really, the only difference between video games and sports is that they appeal to different subcultures of people. Sports are mainstream and video games are more of a niche activity; but what it all comes down to is they’re both pastimes – it’s foolish to judge someone based on how they choose to spend their leisure time.