25
Aug
10

The Perfect Age for WoW

Recently, Larisa at the Pink Pigtail Inn wrote a post about being an older player (which she defined as being in her 40’s).

I am the same age as Larisa, and the majority of the core of my guild is within +/- 10 years of that.  I don’t really consider myself an older player.  In fact, I feel like this game was written for my generation.

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This game has its roots set firmly in the high fantasy genre.  The presence of fantasy in literature goes far back in history.  While there are examples found as long ago as Shakespeare, the sword-and-sorcery archetype traces most directly to works such as the Chronicles of Narnia (published in the 1950’s) and The Lord of the Rings (also published in the 1950’s).  As these works gained in popularity, the generation that followed was the first to be regularly exposed to high fantasy authors.

Those who grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s were the first generation that could easily find Fantasy sections in the bookstore and the local library.

Those folks would be in their 50’s now.  We see a lot more players in WoW in their 40’s than we see players in their 50’s.  I think that is due to a major development that connects the fantasy genre to gaming…

Dungeons and Dragons was released in the mid-70’s but really hit its stride in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Dungeons and Dragons combined the high fantasy genre with interactive elements and created a game, much like WoW, where the players used magic and might to fight dragons and other creatures.

To recap:  anyone who was in their teens in the late 70’s and early 80’s had been raised  among the growing presence of high fantasy literature, and then had Dungeons and Dragons dropped into their lap.  That specific group of people would be in their 30’s -40’s right now.

But that’s not all.  People in that age group have had the chance to live through the rise of the personal computer.  The 1980’s saw the release of the Apple II and Commodore 64.  Before long, games such as Wizardry and The Bard’s Tale became extremely popular.  These games brought visuals to what had been a pen-and-paper activity before.  They had no animation to speak of, but the still images used to illustrate the action added a new aspect to fantasy gaming.

——————————————

To summarize so far:

If you were born in the late 60’s or early 70’s then you

  • grew up with readily available fantasy literature
  • were around for the creation and rise of Dungeons and Dragons
  • lived through the introduction of the personal computer and the creation of fantasy computer games which followed

There’s yet one more factor that I’ll throw into the mix here.  That same generation went away to college in the late 80’s or early 90’s.  At this time the idea of computer networks was young but growing.  There was no internet (as you now know it) at this point, but there were things like IRC chat and BBS forums.  And from that framework came MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons).  These were text-based games that could be played by hundreds of people at once from remote locations.  This was the progenitor of the MMO.  DikuMUD, in fact, can be directly traced as the basis for Everquest, which has obvious links to WoW.

————————————————————-

Now I can connect this to myself.  I lived the timeline detailed above.  In my youth I ate up fantasy novels as fast as my allowance could buy them.  When Dungeons and Dragons came out, my friends and I played a continuous campaign for all of my high school years.

I had a Commodore 64 as a teenager, I cut my teeth on programming with it, learned to love the fantasy games, starting with text-based games like Zork and moving up to still image games like A Bard’s Tale.

I played MUDs in college and was amazed at the added dimension of playing with hundred of other people simultaneously.

When Everquest came out in 1999 it was as if everything I had ever loved were wrapped up in one package and presented to me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or finances to play EQ, with a new job and new family at the time.  However, when WoW came out, I was on it immediately.

——————————————

World of Warcraft was written for ME.

My life experience is not unique, though, so I’d extend it to say that World of Warcraft was written for all the nerdy kids of my generation.  All of us who imagined ourselves as Frodo with the One Ring or Shea Ohmsford wielding the Sword of Shannara or Garion trying to learn his powers from Polgara and Belgarath.  Those of us who guided their fighter/thief through battles with bugbears in D&D, who sat in the tavern in the town of Skara Brae to get a new quest in Bard’s Tale, and who meticulously assembled their party in Pool of Radiance.

The younger kids who play WoW are certainly having fun, and I don’t begrudge them their enjoyment one bit.  But they are Johnny-come-lately to the party.  People in their 30’s-40’s are the ideal audience for this game.

P.S. – The stuff about older players having slower reaction time is nonsense when it comes to WoW.  This isn’t a twitch reaction game or a FPS.  A 40 year old can bang on the numbers 111111111222222222111111333333 on the keyboard just as well as a 13 year old.  Server lag is a much bigger factor than reaction time in this game.

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22 Responses to “The Perfect Age for WoW”


  1. August 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    What a lovely follow- post! I loved it and recognized myself very, very well. Well I missed the computer part of the geek culture, but I’m definitely grown up with a diet that contained a healthy mixture of SF and fantasy, mostly thanks to my parents I think. My geeky home became Fandom, the SF fanzine communty and I used to have a mimeograph of my own…

    And yeah, WoW is definitely MY game, but looking at the marketing, such as that dreadful Mr… what was his name, I don’t even remember? Anyway. I feel very alienated seeing it.

    And I dare say I DO belive I’m above the average age among WoW players, without having any solid evidence though, not having access to their market numbers.

    About reaction times… maybe I’m most of all speaking from my own experiences and perhaps drawing too big conclusions on it? Mind you I didn’t say it had any huge impact on our performance. Because as you say, there are very few fights that really require you to be that quick.

    • August 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      Mr. T? I guess you missed that growing up, too, but that is also TOTALLY aimed at our generation. Mr. T became popular in the show The A-Team, which ran from 1983-1987. That falls right into the period of our age group’s main TV years.

      Yes, the fact is that we are above the average age of most WoW players. That’s simply a matter of kids playing computer games more than adults, and dragging the average age down. Still, your point about older players sticking around more carries a lot of weight. It can’t be measured, but I bet that players of our generation get MORE ENJOYMENT from the game than most of these young whipper-snappers.

      • August 26, 2010 at 12:24 am

        I hardly watched any TV at all when I went to high school. It was definitely not my main TV years. And that Would explain it. I suppose my little brother would recognize the guy.

        However I think the “humour” in that marketing hardly is aimed for a 40+ audience. It’s not funny or interesting at all to me.

  2. August 26, 2010 at 1:47 am

    You discribed me exactly, except I was lucky enough to have an Amiga 500. Did you ever play Nethack? If not, download it, (it’s free), and check it out. Terrible graphics, seemingly easy, but one of the best desgined dungeon-crawl games ever. There is nothing in that game that the dev team didn’t think of. I’ve only ever beaten it once.

  3. 6 Stonedrake
    August 26, 2010 at 2:49 am

    You just summed up my life so well, Dinaer. The journey from The Hobbit to the Tomb of Horrors and the Lost Tomb of Martek and then on to MUDs, MUCKs, MUSHes, with a short stop at EQ and a long vacation in Baldur’s Gate… and then WoW.

    Yeah. You totally nailed it. This *IS* our game. :)

  4. 8 Groendell
    August 26, 2010 at 11:09 am

    TILTOWAIT!!!

    Take that Werdna!

    I fall into this category as well. Introduced to D&D (basic) by my cousin, grew into AD&D, later played (alot of) Wizardry, and then the Bard’s Tale. It was pretty cool having the Apple II rolling the dice and playing the DM for you (with my friends no one really wanted to be the DM.) Also played some of the 007 James Bond RPG- that was pretty fun- mostly because my friend was a great GM.

    Excellent post!

  5. 9 Fubar32
    August 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Holy crap. I think Dinaer and I are the same person. Except, I had a Tandy Color Computer (that I also started programming on). Cassette tape interfaces, anyone? And, I got into WoW in WotLK, instead of from the get-go.

    “It is dark here. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.”

    • 10 Karmakin
      August 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm

      My friends all had CoCo computers. We had a text based RPG that loaded from a tape, but the biggie was…

      DUNGEONS OF DAGARATH.

      Endless days of typing out a r enter a r enter a r enter.

  6. 11 Hamacus
    August 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Yeah I cut my geek teeth on the Atari 400, Radio Shack TRS-80, Commodore 64, and the Timex Sinclair 1000. All of which are on the list for top 10 worst keyboards of all time. :)
    oh of course D&D was a big part of my road to WoW.

    I also had the first home pong video game as well as every gaming platform you could name. I however an a little bit older and would make a case for comics and sci-fi and also laying a lot of the groundwork. If you visit any bookstore sci-fi and fantasy are usually right next to one another.

    Case in point You could say Star Trek (one of my favs as a kid…no original air dates…not syndication)was exactly like a WoW. You had representations of your five man dungeons in the away crew.

    Tank=Kirk

    Healers=Bones … and probably a Priest as he is always complaining as he pulls everyones butt out of the fire. Hey I play one so I know.

    Spock= Come on pointy ears! Night Elf Druid as he could do anything.

    Then two random DPS…of course the red shirt was a Mage as they are always the first to die :P

    Great article Din! Live long and prosper.

  7. 13 Kaldor
    August 28, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Totally clicked into your timeline. This game is made for us. A little farther into the computer gaming early stages was Pool of Radiance in a D&D theme, eventually spawing Baldur’s Gate.
    WOW is just the cream of the crop.

  8. August 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Ah, the memories. Tandy CoCo, Sinclair, TRS-80… I didn’t have those but I knew people who did. My first was a TI99-4A with the cassette interface, and 16k of RAM.

    My first computer RPG was the AD&D game on the Intellivision game system. My first text-based RPG: Zork on the Commodore 64, followed by every other Infocom text-based game.

    I played D&D from the red Basic Set to the blue Advanced Set and then into the original AD&D rulebooks (which I still have).

    I didn’t get to play much of the Commodore 64’s more intricate graphic-based games like The Bard’s Tale, because I went away to college. I had a friend in college with a personal computer (yes, at that time personal computers were uncommon among college students) and I played Pool of Radiance on his system.

    Hi, my name is Dinaer, and I am a lifelong nerd.

  9. 15 Rochmoninoff
    August 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Similar story although I’m a little older that you (born in ’62).
    My first CRPG was Adventure (Zork progenitor) running on a friend’s homebuilt Z88 system.

    Regarding the commercials-
    MrT and Ozzy are definitely aimed at our generation but not necessarily our specific subgroup (nerds!). That marketing was intended to pull in people not already playing by making the game more hip, more cool.

    So am I old? I’m a member of a ‘grown up’ guild. Most are 30+, nearly all are gainfully employed and a sizable number are married with children. That said, I’m the 2nd oldest guy in my guild (the oldest is in his late 50s).

    Regarding the keeping up with the 13-year-olds, comment-
    I can do anything PVEwise that a 13-year-old (or in my guild’s case a 18 year old) can do.
    But I CANNOT PVP at the same level as those guys.
    Its not a matter of lag or rotations.
    PVP is all about situational awareness and action/counter-action. I simply cannot respond to stimuli as fast as I could when I was 21 (when I was at the peak of my game).
    I have fun with PVP but I realize that I have a age handicap.

  10. 16 Shun Tzu
    September 2, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Hello old players,

    I’m only 42 years old and I play WoW since 5 years ago. I started playing and programming on Sinclair Spectrum, on good days for Z80. I succeed to made easy games like poker and snake which looks like similar games machines. I just love computer.

    I started playing RPG on pc with Gothic series ( I, II and III) and The elder scrolls series (The dagger fall, Morowind and Oblivion), then I start in 2005 with Vanilla wow, but no character have reach 60. After that TBC will all raids until Black Temple and finally Wotlk.

    My favorite char is rogue of course, with highest arena rating 1850 on season 8, when I succeed to buy my weapons and small PvE too 11/12 ICC.

    If I feel old? No way, my little son has only 4 years old and keeps me active and ruins my wow wealth, buying craps or BoA flying books, making bids on AH and all time I must spent lot of money for repairs bills. When I see me all red, with a nice 10 min debuff :P and knowing that I have more then 3 armors set on my bags, I think I’m too old for this.

    Of course I don’t have the same reflexes like 16 years old kid but I can compensate that with deep thinking and patience achieved at my age.

    Have fun guys this is the most important thing,

    /cheers

    Shun Tzu

  11. September 24, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I never stop to comment on peoples sites but I felt the need to tell you I love your site. great post. keep up the good work on this site.

  12. 19 mark blissett
    September 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    what realms are you guys in??!! I have been searching for people of my agegroup but to no avail ive had no such luck

  13. 22 mark blissett
    October 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    oh btw…what faction do you guys prefer or does that really matter.


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Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
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