I wanted to spend a few hours a week with my wife playing together in an MMO; I wanted to experience the game together, encountering and overcoming challenges together. We were talking about trying several different games including WoW.
Then I realized something; I can not casually play World of Warcraft, at least not on my most recent server of choice. As soon as I log in I see friends with higher level or better geared characters doing new content and I am drawn to it. Next thing I know I am either leveling up as fast as I can or I am swapping to a higher level character and begin the work to do what my friends are doing or where the new content is.
I suspect if my friends and I started on a brand new server together I would not be able to hold back. I would want to always make sure my character was optimized for our grouping and as high of a level I could be to continue grouping with them. If it was a locked group playing once a week, I would have at least two other alts on that server, leveling and earning money to help support the group.
I simply can not play the game in a slow and relaxed, “smell the roses” sort of way. Today I started to wonder if the mechanics and design of the game lend to my issue. I mean Blizzard has actively worked to accelerating the journey up to the higher levels, and most content updates have focused on the higher levels of the game. Up until the forthcoming expansion they have done little to expand, alter, or build upon the existing content.
Also there is little unknown or feared about the world as a whole. Part of this is due to the internet world we live in where players can share knowledge instantly, but the static nature of the world makes that knowledge long lasting. There is something exciting about not know what you will encounter just over the next ridge, or around the next bend. That “unknown” is what draws me to trying new MMOs and the lack of that element is one of the factors that drives me away.
Which leads me to thinking that maybe I can not play any MMO casually, and that makes me sort of sad.