So it’s happening again. An expansion. Since I first launched this blog, there’s been another expansion–Cataclysm–and since I started my research, there’s been one more–Wrath of the Lich King. We like our expansions–it keeps us coming back; even those players who seem to cynically ‘quit’ WoW to play other games seem to come back to check out the expansions. Maybe it’s because despite things getting stale or frustrating once we’ve played a while, the allure of something new just keeps us returning back. These expansions, to some extent, re-create WoW anew.
So we’ve been on alien lands, frozen, fiery hot… and now we’re about to be bamboo loving, chi-channeling, fur-wearing pandas. Well at least I am. I love pandas. What can I say? I’m not sure how I’ll feel dressed as a panda, but I’m certainly going to give it a go. I’ll also be levelling up my main characters, which is going to be a peculiar experience to say the least. I’ve spent almost 4 years researching this game and its players, which has meant the ‘playing’ part has often had to take a backseat or a shared-role at least with my researcher side. Now as a player foremost (and researcher secondmost) I am eager to see how it will feel the play a game without having to necessarily document it. I honestly can’t wait.
But let’s talk about raiding and MoP. It’s hard to dispute the Asian feel of the new area. And it’s hard to ignore the fact that with Chinese players getting access to the new expansion only a week after other parts of the world, this may be the game and raiding expansion that belongs to Asia. What I mean by this is that with the growing interest in WoW from Asia, the earlier access to the expansion for Asian guilds and the increased success of Asian guilds during the Tier 13, we may be seeing a shift in raiding dominance. At least when it comes to the 25-man raiding. As far as the 10-man scene, Korean guilds typically dominate these rankings, but with guilds like Paragon deciding to downsize to 10-man, it could prove to be an extremely exciting race there, with a wider number of guilds and geographical regions represented.
As a researcher interested in how we engage with competition while gaming, I’m particularly interested to see how, if at all, these new ‘Challenge’ dungeons and the ‘pet battles’ might infuse the formalised competitive spirit into other parts of the game. Will they expand the competition among guilds and players or just be self-contained parts of competing against the game?
But either which way I’ve got over a day to get myself sorted and ready to check out the expansion late tomorrow night… I’m really looking forward to it and considering all of the changes to the game in the 18 months or so since I was regularly playing it feels a bit like a whole new game to me. Hopefully I’ll get to see some of you around the game. Tally-ho!