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Blizzard's World Of Warcraft More Than Just A Game
Since the late 90s, when EverQuest took online gaming into a new light, massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) have been steadily gaining popularity. World of Warcraft became an instant success when it was launched in November 2004 and currently has more than half the market of the MMORPG genre with over 7.5 million players worldwide. The way you play World of Warcraft or WoW, is you create a character either on the Alliance or Horde faction, which are enemies. You choose your race and class in typical RPG style, such as a gnomish magician or undead warlock. Some classes can only be played on one faction but that is changing when The Burning Crusade expansion is released this January.
Once your character is introduced into the world of Azeroth (the name of the game world) you gain experience and levels by killing mobs (non-player character enemies) and completing quests. Quests can be aquired from various sources, such as NPCs or by finding certain items. Quests usually give a nice amount of experience and often useful items so leveling is faster if you do quests as much as you can. Items and armor are major parts of playing WoW. Along with a character's level, the gear he or she is wearing and using is a sort of status symbol.
Lower level players stare in awe at a maximum level character decked out in dazzling suits of armor. Armor and other items are found on mobs, given out in quests or obtained in a group or raid instance. Grouping is a major part of playing World of Warcraft. Soloing all the way to the maximum level of 60 (70 with The Burning Crusade) is entirely possible but grouping has many advantages. A good group can accomplish a lot more than a single player can. Killing mobs over and over for experience, or grinding as it is referred to, can be easier and faster with a group of people. Questing can also be faster when the whole group finishes a quest in a single step, whereas the solo player had to do that step by him or herself. Instances, for example, which are places where players enter their own private dungeon, often require a group or even a raid. Raiding is where things get really exciting. Some instances require many players to crawl through and clear out and have boss mobs that are impossible to kill by one player.
Up to 40 players, usually all in the same guild, have to strategize to find a way to defeat a particular high-end boss mob. World of Warcraft even has its own economy where items are bought and sold in Auction Houses. These items are valuable to players, so some people pay a lot of in-game money or gold for them. Players have taken this economy into the real world by selling gold to other players for real currency and some people even sell whole WoW accounts. Blizzard isn't too fond of this whole idea but they don't try to crack down on it much. Some players spend their time on WoW by farming (killing mobs solely for the purpose of making money) and end up making a decent amount of real money.
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