Should I play World of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft (WoW)

Game description
In this online role-playing game, which can only be played via the Internet, the player controls a character in the virtual fantasy game world of "Azeroth". He chooses one of the two warring factions, Alliance or Horde, and selects the race, class and gender of his character. You can choose from different races, such as humans, elves and dwarves on the side of the noble alliance or orcs, tauren and undead on the side of the rebellious horde. The peoples, just like the different classes, have individual strengths and weaknesses. Elves are particularly agile, tauren above average, and humans are more intelligent than other races. The player also sets the first accents that influence the game by choosing the class. Hunters can tame animals that stand by their side in battle, warriors are true hand-to-hand combat masters and villains can sneak up on them without being recognized.

By completing tasks (so-called quests), the player receives experience points and sometimes new equipment that he can use to improve the character's talents. The player receives additional experience points by killing computer-controlled monsters and figures. Fighting takes place in real time. The character automatically strikes again and again with the weapon selected once, until the opponent is defeated. Additional damage can be inflicted on the opponent by skillfully activating special attacks in the ongoing battle. The player has to keep an eye on his own health and energy display at all times. Attacks cost energy and the player hits his opponent too wildly, runs out of energy and can only watch as he is defeated. If this is the case, the character will be brought back to life in the nearest graveyard, but may have lost valuable equipment. If he can defeat his opponent, he can acquire his objects or win teeth, bone or skin parts from animal corpses, which can be silver-plated at the dealer or in the action house or exchanged with other players. Regular visits to the arms dealer are necessary in order to keep your own combat equipment in good condition and, if possible, to improve it. New special attacks can also be learned for a fee. The game character can learn two trades and earn money with them. So he can z. B. Learn leatherworking and, with increasing skills, make more and more durable clothing and armor for yourself and others.

Further quests can often no longer be mastered alone and so the player comes into contact with human comrades-in-arms. The communication system with various chat channels can be used to ask questions, find trading partners and put together a group for the next adventure. In these groups, the skills of the different characters complement each other and each brings their strengths to the team. Additional stimulus is offered by the opportunity to measure one's abilities in combat with human opponents with increasing experience.

The virtual world is huge and there is always something new to discover. Day and night rhythms and numerous loving details breathe life into the game and let the players immerse themselves in a kind of magical parallel world full of adventure, which is subject to constant changes and thus ensures long-term motivation.

Pedagogical assessment
The game is aimed at young people from the age of 12 who enjoy playing together with numerous other players on the Internet. Although short, individual excursions into the imaginative adventure world of Azeroth are also possible, long-term success can only be enjoyed by those who play regularly, take tactical action, continuously improve their characters and skillfully use the skills they have learned. Successes come with time and require a significantly longer playing time than in comparable offline games. Again and again there are rewards for smaller tasks and the constant improvements of the character seem to make them better equipped for the next fight. What the player only learns in the further course of the game, however, is that the opponents are also continuously increasing in strength and skills, so that the supposed game advantages are often lower than previously assumed.

At first glance, it seems unusual for the motivation of the game that there is no clearly defined goal or end of the game in "World of Warcraft". The actual game becomes the goal, i.e. solving many small tasks, continuously improving the character and working together in teams. This fact has the consequence that the player sees no need to end the game at a certain point in time, which is reflected in a longer game duration and long-term motivation compared to conventional role-playing games. Even if the player is not actively playing, the game world continues to develop. When the player returns to the game, there are numerous events in the game world that force the player to adapt his actions to the changed conditions. This brings with it a high degree of variety, which repeatedly demands current decisions from the player and motivates him to play more often or to "see to what is right".

Boys and girls have different interests in the game. While boys want to assert themselves in the combative argument and also choose their character accordingly, communication with others is in the foreground with the girls and they often play more passive characters, such as B. healers or magicians who have little chance in close combat situations. The fact that many quests can only be passed in a team, however, drastically upgrades the supposedly weaker characters. So healers and wizards act from the background, supply weakened units or weaken the opponent with spells. In the long term, only a balanced team can survive in the game. Young people find their place in the group by playing with other players, can use their strengths and benefit from the support of others. That was exactly what fascinated the young players in our test group most, because teamwork can be practiced here in a positive sense and the results are convincing: "If we play together and can really rely on each other, we will defeat every opponent" (Markus, 13 years). On the other hand, the team must also be able to rely on the individual player, since a task can often only be won with all of the game pieces. This can create peer pressure to be online at certain times.

The rules in the game are clearly and understandably defined, there are no uncertainties or nasty surprises. Actions bring about the desired reactions. Young people will find clear rules and structures here that they often miss in real life. They feel safe in the clear rules of a computer game. Rules cannot be broken and if they are, they are rigorously punished by the game or the game masters. This fact can be used as an opportunity to talk to young people about limits and rules.

Despite all the fascination for the online gaming world, it should not be forgotten that the costs are quite high, which at least in the eyes of the young people who pay them with their pocket money must also be worthwhile, i.e. also result in frequent gaming. The game costs around € 40 once and there are also around € 13 monthly gaming fees and the online costs for Internet access.

The game content and the fantastic world of "World of Warcraft" are undoubtedly fascinating for young people aged 12 and over. However, the reasons for motivation and fascination described make it a game that young people may spend too much time with and that even adult players sometimes run into problems. It therefore seems all the more important not to leave young people with a passion for gaming alone, to be interested in the game as parents and educators and, above all, to agree on clear rules and playing times.

The media education / youth media protection department of the Office for Children, Youth and Family of the City of Cologne and the ComputerProjekt Köln association have tested a media education project with WoW players in order to evaluate and counteract the negative side effects of online games on the gaming behavior of young people. You can read a summary of the project experiences here on the online game guide in the Pedagogy / Projects section.

HERE you can read the article "Educational Project on 'World of Warcraft'"