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Why WoW quests suck, and are awesome

Eliah Hecht

Any poster that leads off talking about how Feralas is her favorite zone is a friend of mine. Cuppycake (great name there as well) has an excellent post up about questing in WoW (warning: some NSFW language). On the one hand, WoW quests are repetitive -- most of them are either "kill 10 rats" or "be my FedEx guy" -- and they don't tend to tie in to or have lasting effects on the broader story of the game (the current Shattered Sun story excepted).

But on the other hand, it's very fun (Cuppycake uses a different word than "very"). It's a bit hard to put my finger on it, but WoW quests (most of them, anyway) have that little extra something that makes for a very satisfying gaming experience. It's like getting a star in Super Mario Galaxy. A small fragment of lasting achievement is enough to make it feel worth doing to me -- as the post says, an objective is what I need. Give me something to work for and I'll do it, as long as it feels like I'm making progress, and it isn't too slow (I'm not the best at rep grinds).

I know people that are the opposite. I tried to set my girlfriend up with WoW one day (I've tried a few times, but this was the first). She picked human, figured out the controls relatively quickly, and soon grabbed Wolves Across the Border. And stopped. "Why do I want to kill the wolves?" she asked. "They didn't do anything to me. And they're clearly not dangerous -- look, there's one standing there. It's friendly." I tried to explain that the reason to kill the wolves is because that's what the quest is for, and you want to do the quests, but she wasn't having any of it. We ended up playing hide-and-seek around the abbey for a while before she got tired of my nagging her and logged off. Maybe she would like Second Life better. She wasn't motivated by the goal of the quest, because it had nothing to do with her and her character's story.

The interesting thing is, I've had this experience in other games. LotRO, Puzzle Pirates, Super Smash Brothers Brawl. They didn't grab me, at least not in terms of trying to reach goals. And as I said earlier, I can't quite put my finger on why. The quests are the right level of easy but not boringly so, big enough to feel like an accomplishment, but small enough to be done in a discrete block of time. And that's certainly part of it. The rewards, small as they may be, are a big part of it to; ever since the beginning of my WoW playing days, I've loved nothing more than coming back to town and seeing gold dots light up the mini-map (gold question marks now). Anyway, whatever it is, I'm glad WoW has it.

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