Case Study: My Wife Tries WoW

My wife recently started playing WoW as her very first MMO (she’s already a gamer, just not an MMO gamer). To be honest, I’m rather envious of the pure wonder that she feels as she explores a brand new world for the first time. What’s especially interesting though, is what she did when the trial account capped her at level 20.

All the way up to level 20, she followed the quest hubs and did the standard progression. I was surprised at how she ascribed much more magic to the game then there actually was. For example, when she realized that hunters could tame animals, she immediately tried to tame a Moongraze Stag to be her mount. She was rather put out when she discovered that she couldn’t tame animals as mounts, and the Moongraze Stag wasn’t even tamable as a pet.

But then something happened I didn’t expect when she hit the trial cap at level 20.

I expected her to finish up a few quests until she’d done all the level 20 ones, get bored, and be done with the game. But such was not the case. She went exploring. For DAYS. She visited all the areas that she could safely travel to, and all the major capital cities. And when those ran out, she started peeking at higher-level areas, sneaking around enemies. Eventually she stumbled on the Borean Tundra (68-72) on accident, and loved the colors and theme of the zone so much that she had to try exploring it.

After a while, I asked her which experience she preferred. The “1-20”¬†experience, or the “stuck at 20” experience.

No contest. She liked the latter.



3 thoughts on “Case Study: My Wife Tries WoW

    • On-rails is not fun. But I’m betting there’s a way to compromise rather than revolutionize.

      For example, I’d like to write my next post on simply removing the combat levels. Everything else could stay the same (you still get gear and money as rewards, still quest hubs and chains…). But you get the advantage of being able to go anywhere, explore anything, and start any quest chain that you so desire in the world.

      You’d have to find a substitue for the feeling of “progress”, but I think that freedom would be a worthwhile incremental improvement.

      • Then again, with no restrictions and without having to go “against the system” and on your own, the feeling of exploration would diminish a little.

        I get what you’re saying though. As always, EVE is a good example of such a compromise I think.
        Its time-based, no restrictions skill system allows you to focus on the game itself, rather than playing in the most efficient way when it comes to exp gathering and you can also “sprint” towards a certain specialization, by ignoring others, and thus opening advanced parts of the game for you faster than you’d think.

        EVE’s quests are also pretty spread out around the galaxy, so you can find something to do in almost much every sector.

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