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Image credit: writer looks into the future for Warcraft


Tipster Felwrathe forwarded an article to us the other day by writer Michael Noer entitled "The Future of Video Games." He puts Warcraft in this category as well - despite the fact that some would still call it a Computer game rather than a video game (or the more elegant term, vidcon). And while he does manage not to take potshots at the game as others have, he still makes a few somewhat surprising predictions about what the future holds.

First, he predicts that various MMO worlds will somehow seamlessly connect through things such as Facebook into a type of world where, as he puts it, "your dragon-slaying, 67th-level Paladin from 'World of Warcraft' will be able to seamlessly cross an electronic bridge and end up in a suburban kitchen worrying about the dirty dishes in 'The Sims Online.'"

His first mistake there was the fact that the Sims Online is (mostly) gone, and his second might be that he was already beaten to the punch on this prediction. By a few years. As an April Fool's Joke. That said, It is true that "casual gaming" has hit Facebook in a big way. There's applications for Facebook to share your WoW character information. You can also use services such as Xfire to keep track of your statistics and friends beyond multiple games. However, as far as "seamlessly bridging" the gap between games, I wonder why that would be any better than closing down World of Warcraft and logging onto EA Land instead. Why would I need to, anyhow? Would my Paladin's Cooking skill transfer over to being able to cook gourmet meals in the land of The Sims? Would my brand new shiny Retribution build qualify me to take a virtual job as a security officer to earn money to upgrade my house? It'd be nice if there was more information sharing by various games for Facebook applications and other various widgets, but I'm not so sure I need an official bridge to allow me to segue from slaying Magtheridon to keeping house.

His next "prediction" is that Warcraft Guilds will form successful and Lucrative business conglomerates and political organizations. Again, his problem is that this prediction is already happening to some extent, and to another extent, he's hyperbolizing everything. Of course, We already know that it's a good idea to put that guild officer title on your resume for some jobs, and we've seen some pretty convincing breakdowns of how your office is like a raiding guild.

However, I'm not sure how one would translate a whole guild into a business. Uber guilds often have popular message boards or blogging sites, yes. Some of them even make a little virtual money on the side by selling items made from recipes that drop only in raid zones, or by just selling the raid slots themselves. But his idea of the "young people who play these games" setting up corporations based on their guilds? First of all, he seems to ignore all of the people who are already grown and already have careers of their own. As for making social and business connections? Certainly that's a both a possibility and a reality, but that's more what's called networking rather than any special ability of MMORPGs. The Idea that someone believes that building healthy social and business relations via MMORPGs is pretty exciting, if only because it means that someone is listening when we say that video games aren't just corruptors of society as some claim, but calling it an innovation unique to MMORPGs alone probably sells it short. It should really be enough that this isn't a bold prediction, but simply the way things are. MMORPGers are people too, and we form social and business relations just like anyone else.

He also says that he sees guilds becoming political entities as well. He says that a guild is run similar to a political scene, and that roles such as healing would transfer into organizational skills in the political arena.
It's true that we've had some politics sneak in through the Internet. The issue of Net Neutrality has lead to it's share of organized internet movements. There's also the Pirate Party. Even on some Internet communities I've joined, there's been politics threads that have turned into group donations to various presidential candidates.

However, the idea of whole guilds organizing as political entities seems to be taking it a bit too hard. I don't want to understate the ability of guilds to transcend gaming. I've been a part of multiple guilds who have held real life get togethers and share both in-game and real life triumphs and sorrows alike. But really, politics? Even many families know well enough not to discuss politics at the dinner table. At the least, there has to be a uniting issue. I'm not sure that the right way to ask for more loot drops off Sargeras will be to petition the government. And While I am sure there will eventually be people who've played WoW in various government positions at some point, I am also sure they will run primarily under their real names, and not on the strength of having levelled an Orcish Death Knight in "War of Warcraft," as Mr. Noer calls our game.

The one thing I will complement him on is that, while his predictions for the World of Warcraft seem highly flawed, he does not fall into the same rut as many others, declaring Warcraft his worst enemy or otherwise disparaging it, or the possibility of it being a legitimate hobby of a normal person. Sure, he does seem to assume that most of us playing the game are 15 years old (Not that there's anything wrong with that), but his acceptance of the game as legitimate is at least a step in the right direction.

So what do you think? Can you see your guild leader running for public office or starting up a company and hiring you on the spot? Or do you see another angle to these predictions?

Thanks again for the forward, Felwrathe!

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