World of Warcraft
This year sees the 15th anniversary of the Warcraft universe. But before we go into just how gargantuan World of Warcraft has become, here's a little intro for those not so familiar with the MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing games).
Often referred to as WoW, World of Warcraft was created by Blizzard Entertainment and is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe. Much like the rest of the MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third person view (with the option of playing in first person), exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with NPCs or other players.
WoW gives players from across the globe a chance to leave the real world behind (for a bit) and undertake grand quests and heroic exploits in a land of fantastic adventure.
11 million players
Blizzard, formed in 1991, is an American video-game developer that could never have imagined the fame and riches that World of Warcraft has given them. So let's break out the numbers:
$1.2 billion a year in revenue; 16GB of your hard disk; billions of hours played; acres of news-print; a Sam Raimi-directed (Evil Dead 2, The Spider-man trilogy) movie in the works; a billion-dollar grey market in gold and items; an episode of South Park; therapists creating in-game characters for addiction counselling and an astonishing... 11 million players!
WoW is just a game
Thanks to Eurogamer.net for that breakdown, I had to read it a couple of times myself, but this other world, which remains simply baffling to non-players, has truly taken over the internet. However, due to its mammoth size and ginormous global reach the game really does polarise opinion.
And that's what it is. A game. When you strip down all the numbers, media coverage and debate between the players and non-players, WoW is just a game. I understand I run the risk of offending many people by my use of the word "just", but that's really a testament to its creators.
This game has become a monster. Ever since it first came into public view in September 2004, WoW has become an institution unto itself and has brought untold riches to Blizzard, and untold joy (and pain) to its many, many followers.
The best way to leave this is in the words of Blizzard's CEO, the father of the Warcraft universe if you will - Mike Morhaime:
"Sometimes this clumsy craft of making video-games can sing beyond the game itself."
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