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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Gamers explain Warcraft's appeal
It may be hard to understand why people regularly commit hours of their lives online role-playing game such as World of Warcraft. Keen Warcraft player Jason Justice explains the allure of a game played by four million people worldwide.

What guild are you a member of?

Ragnaros in his element, Low Red Moon
Low Red Moon take on boss elemental Ragnaros
Our guild, Low Red Moon, is devoted to studies of the moon, we worship the "moon father", and are susceptible to lunar changes. The guild currently has 86 unique accounts (players) in it, we consider ourselves full.

The founding members, Vapula (guild master) and Zorax (second in command) played together from the beginning of the beta.

Other members also played in the beta, but Low Red Moon did not exist until the first week of the public game.

Looking at the current membership, roughly a quarter were playing since beta, and about half since the public release. Some members are new to the World of Warcraft entirely, but we welcome them with open arms and try to show them the ropes.

Though there are a few groups of friends who knew each other in real life prior to playing the game, the majority of the guild came together online with complete strangers that have all grown to be a part of what we consider a big family.

We are at the stage now where we try to plan real life meet-ups to truly get to know the faces behind the characters.

Are all the guild members very powerful characters?

Undead warrior, Blizzard
Warcraft gives you the chance to play as an undead character
The majority of our members have level 60 characters (the highest level), those who do not are quickly levelling up to reach that point.

We do not exclude players based on their level, but we encourage players to reach 60 because that is where most of the guild activities take place. When we are not in a raid though, it's not at all uncommon to create alternate characters. Our alternates range across all levels; some of us even have multiple level 60 characters.

What makes World of Warcraft so popular?

Its popularity can be primarily attributed to its accessibility. The game is easy, plain and simple.

It's more forgiving than most other online role-playing games on the market, and does not take as much dedicated playing or "grinding" to reach the top level. It appeals to a casual market and a broader spectrum of ages.

Of course, these traits are easier for Blizzard to leverage due to the earlier Warcraft games that they can use as a comparison.

Overall, most players are enamoured by the game because Blizzard focused on making a good game first, and let the graphics and sound come after.

There are plenty of pretty games on the market, but World of Warcraft started as a game that people would care more about actually playing, and that level of fun gameplay allowed players to overlook the more simplistic graphics and looped musical tracks.

How does the game change at the higher levels?

Tauren chieftain, Blizzard
Or you could be a cow-like creature called Tauren
It is absolutely true that the game before level 60 is only the beginning of your journey into Azeroth.

First, there are three main "endgames" at level 60: Player versus Environment, Player versus Player, and Raid versus Environment.

The "instance" dungeons that players grew up with as they climb to 60 exist at the top level, albeit in a more difficult form. Stratholme, Scholomance, Dire Maul, Blackrock Spire, these are all names of top-level dungeons that may require a little more time than the hour you put into places such as the Blackfathom Deeps.

Player versus Player content exists throughout the game in the form of the Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin Battlegrounds, or out in the wild on PvP-format servers. However, at level 60, your character is allowed to progress further in the "PvP Honor System" for fabulous rewards, and experience the epic conflict in the Alterac Valley Battleground.

Then there is the raid content, the massive dungeons and bosses within that require as many as 40 players to defeat.

Do all of these endgames require more strategy? Absolutely. They are no less of a grind though, you still have to go through this content constantly to "gear up" for the next level that Blizzard releases in their frequent (usually monthly) patches. The difference is that many players consider these endgame grinds more enjoyable since the content is more difficult and requires considerable thought.

What do you find annoying about the game?

Mounted Undead warrior, Blizzard
At high levels you get the chance to use a mount
It seems that like snowflakes, no two players will have the same gripes about the game, but there is one commonality from nearly every member in our guild: the Alliance.

World of Warcraft is staged as a game of epic conflict between the two factions of Horde and Alliance, and we chose to play Horde. Though obviously biased, the most annoying part of the game for most of us is the level of development of the "other side".

We don't have paladins, there are less quests on our side of the fence, but most importantly, our cities don't have chairs. After a long, hard day of adventuring in the Molten Core, is it so much to ask for a bloody chair to sit back on?

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