David Sirlin's "World of Warcraft Teaches the Wrong Things" was passed to us on the editorial team by an intrepid reader who thought it merited a look, and wow, was he ever right. The article talks about how WoW - and really most MMOGs - teach bad morals about how advancement works and why it's more detrimental to society than games like GTA, whose themes are more wholesome.
Yeah, give it a read.
Sirlin's a producer at Backbone Entertainment, but rather than talking about his work there, he focuses on contrasting WoW against Street Fighter tournements, which he says do a far better job at making learning life skills fun.
His key gripes with WoW are:
- Investing a lot of time in something is worth more than actual skill.
- Time > skill is so fundamentally bad, that I'm still going to go on about it even though I started a new number.
- Group > Solo.
- Group > Solo.
- The Terms of Service.
Personally, I think he has a lot of good points, and he touches upon a lot of the flaws present in most MMOGs, not just WoW. Don't get me wrong, I love me some massive multiplayer, and I don't plan on stopping, but it's always interesting to read another take on the genre, especially since there are fundamental issues no one's bothered to tackle, just because those very issues are what make so much money.
Case in point, the bad group mentality Sirlin brings up is what keeps so many people playing. You're not worth creating content for until you join a guild; pretty much everything since EQ has supported the sentiment by gearing the majority of high level content toward guilds. And if the devs, as gods of their little universe, look down on you, it's only a matter of time before their worshippers follow suit. It's so bad, high level players who aren't in a guild might as well be carrying a scarlet letter. Why doesn't Doctorgonzo have tags at level 55? He must be a jackass.
So, let's say you break down and join a guild, both to get rid of the stigma and to actually experience that oh-so-worthwhile end game. Now, you're accepted. You have friends who grind instances and raid with you. How could you ever leave the game now? You'd be leaving your friends. You'd go back to being a nobody in an entirely new game, forced into being beneath the gaze of the gods once again. So you stay and keep forking over your monthly fee.
It's not a good mindset to see brewing around a world, but it's not new.