WoW as a Social Network

World of Warcraft is still one of the most popular MMO’s on the market. Even approaching twelve years old it seems like it is one of the most relevant games playable. What with all of the updates and patches changing things all the time. It is truly impressive how diverse the game mechanics are. What is equally impressive to me is the ever-rolling chat board.

There are a few different types of chat options in World of Warcraft. There is a general chat for chatting generally of course, and a trade chat for people to buy, sell, and barter goods with others. There is a party chat, and a dungeon/instance party chat. There is a speak out loud chat and even a yelling chat.

So what are people using all of these communication resources to talk about? Well it depends on that type of chat. Trade chat for the most part is the same as general. People use it to trade goods and such, sure, but mostly use it for talking politics, asking questions, or getting some random conversation going with around five people total participating. To me it seems like a live reddit forum. There is internet jargon jam-packed into most conversations, and keeping relevant with the latest trends goes down here as well e.g. hating on Trump and Hillary.

I really like being in General/Trade chats for what they offer: a random conversation that is impersonal and relevant with the times, and also for asking legitimate questions. The community is always really good about answering questions, even if they are newb-like in nature.

Now, when it comes to Party/Dungeon chat groups, it’s a mixture of good and bad. Sometimes there are very active members in a party that are social and there to have fun with one another. They’ll talk about whatever they’re doing alongside the game–such as chasing a toddler around and trying their best to multitask–and it makes it seem like an after-work social gathering. I thoroughly enjoy runs like these. On the other hand, there are runs that are completely silent and you can tell people don’t care about the other players. They’re just running dungeons for the experience points. Which is fine, unless they ignore you completely.

As a tank, I need to know the map and layout of the dungeon so I can be efficient. That means that new dungeons need to be paid attention to and learned. As I get to the end-game content, of which I am very unfamiliar, I need to ask questions so I can learn how to be good at my role. Well, that’s not necessarily true. I could go online and do research on Google, but my preference is to talk to people in-game. It makes a better experience for me. When people ignore my questions and I end up being sloppy, it feels preventable. Notice I’m not mad when people ignore me, but I do think things would be more enjoyable for everyone to keep the communication fields open for such occasions.

The most social area–at least in my own theory–should be the guild chat. When I look at joining a guild, I’m looking to replicate my experience with a guild I had while playing Aion around 2009-10. I knew everyone by name, and they knew me. We played through content together, had in-game get-togethers, and even got into little arguments with each other. It was a tight-knit group of people, and they were all active in guild chat as well as voice chat.

I’ve joined around five guilds in the past couple months trying to find people like this, and I haven’t been able to so far. I blame myself partially, because my schedule is random and I haven’t been consistent about my active time online. But I also think that online games are becoming less and less personal. I used to use MMORPG’s as a means of having convenient and interesting friends online to hang out with, but with each passing year, and each guild joined, I’m seeing a trend that makes this harder to accomplish. People simply aren’t talking in small groups as often anymore. At least on World of Warcraft.

It’s a shame, but for what it is, the chat situation offered by WoW is great. There is always somewhere to talk, just don’t expect too personal of an experience. I am going to re-analyze this situation in a few months following the release of Legion and a rush of new players once again. Perhaps the sedentary months pre-expansion are a bad time to conduct an evaluation of this sort. Guess we’ll see!

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Author: Darkrast

Co-Founder of Dpad Press.

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