Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

As you may have noticed, my blogging has been a bit light these days. This is partially due to the rigor in which I have taken on my research into the World of Warcraft (WoW). I'm still level 36 (out of a maximum of 60) so I am still a "newbie" but I thought I might share some of my observations.

First of all, it is no wonder over four million people play WoW. It is by far the most interesting game I have ever played. I started online multi-user games with the original MUD (Multi-User Dungeons) back in 1984 on the first server at Essex University. It was all text based and as far as I know, open source. After you became a Wizard, you could add to the world. In the original MUD, when you died, you were dead. I quit after my character died just a few levels before reaching Wizard.

Later, when graphical games came out, I sort of dismissed them, believing that a 3D world would never be as rich as text or as easily customizable and interesting. I did play my share of graphical games, but none of them had the same community feeling and the levels of social complexity that I had encountered on MUDs.

WoW has changed my opinion completely. With a customizable user-interface, WoW allows you to tweak and tune your interface to suit the race/class and type of play that you are interested in. Plugins allow you to automate and augment activities that you engage in most frequently. The interface for advanced users is as impossible to understand to other people as an airplane cockpit.

I started out poking around killing monsters and completing quests on my own. The early levels were a bit lonely, tolerable only because your level increases so quickly at lower levels. There is a lot to learn about how to play the game and use your controls (there are very customizable key-bindings). I think these early levels are really like a boot camp. Sort of like learning to type.

Later, I ran into "Way" in a ogre mound. Way was "farming" (killing) ogres because they "drop" (carry around and allow you to loot) silk. Way is a tailor (among other things) so she (actually a he) was picking up silk to make objects and to sell silk at the auction house. Way and I hunted together for awhile while chatting about philosophy and decided to start our own guild (we were in another guild together at the time) to focus on our own twisted sense of humor with our own friends.

I blogged about this and our guild was quickly populated by people we met online as well as people I know from blogging and IRC who had seen the post. At the moment, we have 36 people in the guild if you include people's alts (alternate characters). Being the guildmaster and feeling somewhat responsible for trying to build a foundation for new members, I decided to focus a bit on making some money. Way suggested the auction house as a good way to make money, so I downloaded the auctioneer plugin and got to work. Auctioneer scans the auction house and keeps a historical record of prices of things for sale. It is not immediately clear what each item is for, but the various online forums can tell you. The prices of objects fluctuate as quests are added that require items or rules change. It is also very dependent on supply which fluctuates as the volume of players in various areas change. Various professions allow players to gain experience and build exceedingly complex things.

For instance, I recently acquired the blueprint to make Aquadynamic Fish Attractors. These things increase your ability in fishing. (Some people don't seem to appreciate fishing, but it's a great way to pass time when you have low bandwidth and want to just relax.) To make one, you need 2 bars of bronze (which require a bar of tin and a bar of copper which require tin and copper ore which needs to be mined), nightcrawlers and corse blasting powder (which is made from corse stone, which is mined). You then use these fish attractors to increase your fishing ability so that you can catch, for instance, the Deviate Fish. These fish can be found in the lakes to the east of Ratchet in the Barrens. Add spice and cook these fish (if you have the proper cooking skill and recipe which is very hard to get) and you can create Savory Deviate Delights. So what? Well, if you eat a Savory Deviate Delight, you randomly turn into a ninja or a pirate.

So what? Well, it's cool. There are only a few people who are able to create these things so you rarely see ninjas or pirates running around. When I board the boat to sail to another continent or am in a group raiding a dungeon, I often transform into a ninja. To many people, I am the first ninja they have ever seen in the game. I then give everyone who wants one, their own fish. Soon we have a funny party of ninja and pirates. Why do I do this? Marketing. I sell Savory Deviate Delights at the auction house and I have a feeling this marketing increases demand. You can buy a stack of 20 of these for your next party in the Darkmines for a mere five gold or so. (The market price of the recipe is about 50 gold and about 0.1% of beasts in the Barrens carry it.)

One of the problems with WoW is that it is very difficult for characters at different levels to collaborate effectively in quests. If you have a high level character in your group, most of the ways to gain experience points are severely limited. Slashar (Don Park) yesterday, had a good idea and we all created new Horde (there are two "sides" Alliance and Horde) characters. The five of us all decided to choose orcs. We had heard rumors that developers at Blizzard play Horde characters themselves and that it was actually more fun to be Horde. We had a blast. You can type /dance and your character will start dancing. Each race has their own dance. Orc dancing was the coolest thing I had seen in a long time. Clearly the developers loved orcs. So now, in addition to our more formal Alliance Guild, "We Know" we have started a merry group of orcs which, so far is great fun because we are able to all play at the same level and collaborate more.

Anyway, I could ramble on and on, but I think I'll stop for now. I wonder if I should start another blog to talk about WoW in case people here aren't interested. Or better yet, maybe you should all start playing and we can talk there.

UPDATE: We're going to do an organized Orc run. We'll be setting up guild called "We Orc". Horde Guild on Khadgar. We'll run as a pack at 6PM Eastern Time on Saturday night every week or so. We'll hit a target level and people who miss that run should try to catch up by the next week. We're level 5 or so now. See you there!


Boy, you've got it tough, Joi. Playing games all day long.

I feel for ya, brah.

...This is partially due to the rigor in which I have taken on my research into the World of Warcraft...

I think you mean "vigor" -- unless you're undead in RL. OMG, you might be!

I guess you had to be there.

damn, I guess this means I'll have to play my horde character more. are yours on Khadgar too?

Thumpah: You could use vigor, but when "rigor" is often used when talking about academic research. "A rigorous ethnography of guilds and other communities on World of Warcraft." For instance...

Gregory: We're on Khadgar. We're still level 5 or something. If you're going to join us, play Orc. ;-)

Too bad I just killed my account. I had been playing since beta. Would have been fun to hook up.

Dan: Yeah, I realize I'm a bit late starting. I had resisted for a long time, but recently I decided I "needed" to try it. ;-)

Your orc shaman, Tasmanian, looked great. Hmm. How about a reclusive tribe of albino shamans called Shama Lama Ding Dong? LOL. Shaman only guild makes sense because shaman is a hybrid class, a bit of warrior, mage, and priest thrown together. Woot!

Re research and last night's group restart experiment, it was interesting to see how it feels to be part of a pack by birth. Also, I felt there was a negative effect from Way's new char not being an orc. I wonder if Way felt the other side of the same effect. Anyway, it was very interesting.

Joi, I remember the muds in the late 80"s too. It become complusive gaming disorder for many of us. How does WoW shape up to this syndrome ? Its likw woot woot in a totally different galaxy now !

Question in play is online gaming just as bad as online gambling ?? What does it actually do for the community at large ??

Drop me a line when you folks will be on, I've got an orc created and already up to level 6. Playing in groups from early on (i like to start at level 6 myself, the newbie area is really designed for soloing IMHO) is a really fun way to play. Though in some ways i do think I like RP servers better. In general, I find that there's a little bit less BS once you get out of newbie areas (It's still there, though on a good server people stick to the rules pretty well).

Hi gregory, the 'orc pack' members should all be in the similar range which means playing the 'pack char' only at some schedule time (weekends are best). If anyone can't make it, they just have to make up the level to match others before the next 'pack run'. Think of it like a poker game.

Good idea. Lets do the orc pack runs Saturday evenings in the US, Sunday mornings my time in Japan.

/pd: It is as much or more addictive and this is a bit risky. One difference is that more of my real world friends play and I can talk about it public more. (Compared to when I used to MUD.)

shame we can't hook up with you from european servers too :(

/pd: It is as much or more addictive and this is a bit risky. One difference is that more of my real world friends play and I can talk about it public more. (Compared to when I used to MUD.)

Yeah, when you MUD you have to make sure the lights are dim and always wash your hands afterwards. And never ever tell anyone.

Ohh...that's how you get savory deviate delight!

I've been playing for several months now and still admit to being addicted. I play with my husband and his siblings (all of us realize we're too old to get THIS much enjoyment out of a video game) and we often catch ourselves dissolving a normal conversation into WoW talk. For instance, I tell my husband not to "aggro" me when I'm trying to take a nap and that he's a level 24 orc with low "intelligence"...yeah, it gets pretty bad. That's when you realize you might need an intervention.

Addiction, or just a new way of life?

An outsider just sees a person using a computer.

But the person in the computer sees it very differently.

Think of all the things people used to do, but that can now be done inside a computer: Reading a book? (check.) Talking with friends? (check.) Doing a cross-word puzzle? (check.) Playing a game? (check.) Making clothes, trying out designs? (check.) Going out together? (check.)

Cooking: You still have to cook food for your body.

Let's play a game: Take everything in the world, and make it only accessible by computer. Would we then be shocked if everyone were using the computer?

It's not "addicted," it's simply that the world has moved.

Where did it go? It went into the Internet.

This post gave me a neat idea of what it must be like to actively play WoW. Just the right amount of information - and I like your dips into Economics and Marketing. Thanks for a pleasant read.

Research into WoW or research into your addiction with WoW? ;)

Female elves dance is kinda hot actually, looks like some sort of strip club dance. Female human is the macarena, worth the laugh. I like the male troll dance since it's capoera, very nice !

Fun emotes are /fart, /spit, /chicken, /moo, /idiot, there are so many I sometimes discover one by trying out random words. Iirc /butt should work too.

Yes! The Orc run we did was a lot of fun.

WoW is an incredibly compelling gaming experience. As addictive as Tetris, as deep as Chess.

Can't wait to Orc around again. The funnest part for me was the "Orc talk" we were using -- "Me find apple" and so forth.

Sounds exciting but oh-how-horribly-addictive...

WoW's a great game, I'm just never at the same level as my friends, which takes some of the fun out of it even though I can still chat with them. I'd try in vain to catch up, but many of them are college age and I don't stand a chance.

Gnome dancing... priceless. For the longest time I had this strange compulsion to climb into every fire I saw and start dancing... or behind afk characters. Back that up!

lol...I only take offsite contracts now that I play WoW as well. Immersion in this game is so easy to attain that hours just slip by. Wait until you guys get to endgame, that is where all the crazy fun is at.

Oddly enough Ive been playing since closed beta and still dont have a single Horde character - I might give it a try if it's supposed to be more fun. Im so hooked on gnomes tho...

My main character is a level 47 Tauren Warrior. Been playing since beta as well. Sometimes I just get tired of the quests and even bored with the character so I stop playing him for a while and start a new character. This has slowed the leveling of that character, but I find that my playing needs more diversity - hence I start new characters. My main complaint is doing quests that take me all over the freakin' world. I prefer to solo, but at this level it's wise to party with others who need to quest as well.

The Auctioneer AddOn is great! It's actually allowed me to price my items better and actually make some money on the AH.

Would join your guild if I was on that server. Oh heck, maybe I'll just start a new Orce character on that server just to be in your guild.

Saturday evening (PST or EST?) it is. Be there or your are an orc. Since the porks are too low level to have a guild yet, yell "We Know" to hookup with other porkies. BTW, the center of operation will be Razorhill and Ogrimmar for a while but Crossroads is where our 'home' will be eventually.

Crossroads as 'home'? On the Stormrage server, Crossroads gets raided by the Aliance every few hours. Which can be fun, but if you're at the level where you need to do quests there and all the NPCs are dead, it kinda sucks.

"Gnome dancing... priceless. For the longest time I had this strange compulsion to climb into every fire I saw and start dancing... or behind afk characters. Back that up!"

Gnome dancing is the best. I'm convinced that gnomes are the candy ravers of the WoW world. And I was just asking if there was any usable movie screen capture software for OS X so I could do a WoW stealth Disco Movie (hmm, maybe I could just hook my camcorder up to the mac's svideo out.)

Hey, if you are starting a Horde, I want to join! :-)

How do I find you on Horde?

ps: I just started my Horde on Khadgar realm called "Thoma"

Just started my new character last night on Khadgar. Orc Hunter it is for me since Orc has some initial bonuses that will favor that class. My hunters name is "Boogoo" and I think I'm up to level 6. I'll be looking for the "We Know" guildies.

So we'll probably do a run over the weekend. We don't have a guild yet, so go around yelling "We Know" and we'll find you. ;-)

Personally, I hope that you will move on to more interesting and useful activities in the near future.


Vodon/bbum here.

A friend of mine and I started Orcs on Twisting Nether. It is a PvP RP server. Much, much more interesting than the non-PvP servers, especially with a large group.

So, I humbly request that you and the crew join us on Twisting Nether. If not, I'm sure I'll see you on Khadgar/Alliance.

I have had a lvl 60 druid on an european server, but i gave my account to a friends son after i realized that my playing time was 28 days and i did nothing more than playing and sleep sometimes during the weeks of playing. wow is a great game, and it is very addictive ;-)

happy hunting!

Ya you guys are making me nostalgic i quit playing 5 days ago and i disagree with the earlier comment... at my age WoW isn't another place to live it crushes any hope i have of doing anything exciting/useful whatever in later life. when i'm all set up with money and the like i'll probably start up agin... that's if WoW is still running then ;)

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