Monday, April 13, 2015

If World of Warcraft Were Like an Engineering Career

One thing I often find in large corporations is career planning and yearly goals and reviews. The more I thought about it, the more video games seemed far more enlightening. Scary, I know. It got me to thinking, what if we had to do these things in video games? How ridiculous would it be? In fact, what if video games were exactly like careers? So I thought I would write out what it would be like to be a new-hire into the World of Warcraft.

Imagine yourself, a new player, entering the World of Warcraft. Rather than beginning next to a being with a giant exclamation point above his head and a prompt to talk to him with clear direction for your first simple task, you find yourself plopped in the middle of a Capture the Flag PvP game. An Orc approaches. "Welcome, to World of Warcraft! We are the biggest, the baddest, and the best MMORPG in the world. In 2013, we held 36% of the market share in MMORPGs with the next highest at a measly 9%. We've been around since November 2004 and we currently have over 10 million subscribers! We have many benefits such as everlasting life, and false hope and feelings of achievement. We hope you enjoy your time in the World of Warcraft. Please speak with your mentor, Rub'tak Guk'Thor somewhere on the battlefield killing enemies that could smite you with the spittle from their mouth. 

You rush around looking for your mentor and you see a friendly Tauren Shaman. He tells you to speak with this other Tauren Mage who guides you to an Undead Warlock. The Warlock tells you that Paladins can tank or DPS even though that is not what you asked. You see a Paladin killing things in the distance and decide to ask her if she has seen Rub'tak. You stand beside her waiting until she can respond and you find yourself ganked by an enemy player and now have to start back at the beginning of the battlefield. With a stroke of luck, your mentor happens to have spawned at the same graveyard and presents himself with a friendly hello.

You ask Rub'tak what you should be doing and he informs you, "You run to the enemy camp, steal their flag, and run back here. Don't die!" Then he runs off with a dash, yelling "Leroy Jenkins!" You roll your eyes in frustration and decide to sneak over to the enemy lines. You die about fifty times before you finally rest your eyes on the precious flag. You see people talking in the chat window and using many letters and acronyms that likely mean something to a seasoned player but have absolutely no meaning to you whatsoever. You grab the flag and make a run for it using the Aspect of the Cheetah which you recently found makes you run faster. You are immediately shot and stunned while all your teammates berate you for not listening to their advice and for using this aspect at this time. The people mock you for being a n00b, many people shout RTFM, and others threaten to join the opposing faction since everyone on this faction is retarded. Actually, that part is pretty much the real game. You are then ported out to Orgrimmar where your mentor greets you and hands you a 500-page book explaining how to play Capture the Flag.

You thumb through the book and learn that you ought to use buffs though you're not sure where to get them. You read a section explaining how crucial it is to pick just the right spec for your character and play-style then offers fifty to choose from with no further guide and which is actually going to help you. After exhaustively reading the manual and trying to make heads or tails of it, you are assigned some quests to kill wolves and spiders, and to bring back Kobold candles. You wonder why you just read a 500-page manual on Capture the Flag when your objective now has nothing to do with it, but you head out in search of completing your task. 

You see some sheep, a frog, and some cows which all appear to be level 1 critters. Nothing you really need. You see the landscape change as you continue looking for the particular enemies you are in need of. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dragon runs up, kills you with one hit, and runs away while you stare blankly at your screen wondering what just happened. You tell your story to a nearby abomination after you resurrect yourself who scoffs at your ignorance and shows where you should have been questing. You manage to complete your task and head back to tell your quest-giver thinking you actually managed to accomplish something. He then asks you to fill out a sheet highlighting your accomplishments and setting goals for the next quarter.

You look at the sheet in disbelief. Your accomplishments? Hmm... Well... let's see... you took on 3 wolves simultaneously and barely escaped death. Well, let's just say you did it with ease. You simply managed your health perfectly to be able to do that. Nevermind that you used a potion and a scroll, ran away, ate something, re-engaged, and then finished the job all with your bare hands because you hadn't yet learned how to equip a weapon. Brilliant. Let's see... what else... You took initiative to explore much of the surrounding area as a learning exercise to better familiarize yourself with the territory even at the expense of your life. He doesn't need to know that you simply had no clue where to go... You fill in a few more of these so-called achievements then move on to the next question: Where would you like to be in 5+ years?

You've only heard of Orgrimmar at this point and you know that Garrosh Hellscream is the leader. There are some auctioneers, bankers, and merchants, but that doesn't sound very fun and seems a bit outside the scope of heroes. There are some fancy people with awesome gear though you're not quite sure where it came from... Where do you see yourself... hmm... Five years... Is five years enough to actually know anything? Can you lead in five years or would this seem overly ambitious? Without having much to go on, you simply write, "I see myself integrating further into the game and better learning the mechanisms and nuances of game-play." The next question, "What steps will you take to get there?"

Ugh. Well... Hmm... "I will take on quests of ever-increasing difficulty to stretch my understanding and to teach me new skills." You finish filling out your questionnaire and return it to your quest-giver. He then tells you what quests you will do and you will do them up until the next time you fill out this exact same questionnaire yet again. After a few of these, you wonder what the point is seeing as you have no control over what the quests are. You continue playing in hopes to have a better idea of where you want to be in the future, but you only ever have any idea about where you've already been. Well, at least it's better than Final Fantasy XI...