Preface Before I get into the topic lets get something straight, right off the bat, I am not in any way promoting this topic as a great way to spend your (or your childs) summer. Kids, teens, and young adults, whether 8, 18, or 20, should be spending their summers outdoors doing something, not crammed in front of a computer screen. You have the rest of your life to work in front of a computer, enjoy the time you have off now. However, the vast number of players that join World of Warcraft over the summer is a phenomenon that has been noticed summer after summer and deserves to be discussed.
It happens every year around this time; World of Warcraft sees a population explosion. Lately when you logon there are a vast number more players online than is normal for your server and time of day. It is something that occurs all the time as young players migrate in to Azeroth looking for action during their summer months off. The effect is so pronounced that our very own Xerin coined the term World of Summercraft to describe the phenomenon.
When school is over for the summer, kids look for something either new to do, or something that they enjoy but didnt have time for between school, homework, and sports. During the summer they generally have none of those to keep them busy and have 16 hours a day to fill with something. This is a lot of time to fill and many look at games such as World of Warcraft as ways to fill that vast amount of free time.
You will start to notice the effect sometime in May as University students start finishing their exams and are done for the year. However since these players are essentially adults and have other things to do during summer, not the least of which is work to pay for the following years school, the influx of players is just a hint at further tides of players soon rushing in. When July starts you can really see the numbers increase as that is when primary school, grades 1-12, are out and as mentioned above many of these students have no summer responsibilities.
You can notice this each year as the servers become more congested due to the influx of new and returning players. Some of the players are not really new or returning but simply spend a far greater amount of time online. For example there is one player in my guild who is limited to 2 hours 2 days a week during the school year. Once summer hits he is online nearly 24/7 for 2 months.
You will see many more groups forming for just about anything in the game. There are more players in battlegrounds, arenas, levelling, raiding, and everything else. You also notice swells in guild population over the summer as many returning players look for homes to raid from. This population boom has several effects on the game, as with anything it is not all positive or negative but a combination of both.
There are both good and bad things that come about due to the World of Summercraft.
One of the first things that many players see, and they see it as a definite negative is that General and Trade chat become much busier. Much of this chat traffic is basic questions and pleas for help from new players. When you start seeing questions about how to spend talent points, where to train, what zone is good for which level, every other second, you know that Summercraft has started.
With the high volume of traffic you will also see many more flare ups, hassles, harassment, and shenanigans. Summer generally leads to much larger ignore lists! Some of this is due to the maturity level of the player dropping since so many more young players are online, however a lot has simply to do with the fact that if there are more players online there will be more ignorant players as well (regardless of age).
A very positive effect of the summer influx of players is that it is a great time to create alternate characters. With all the new players filling the starting zones and then working their way through the levels on the way to 80, there is always a group available for everything. Queue times to find groups have already dropped significantly as more players are in the queue. While the skill level of these players will not be as high as what many players are expected to have, they all seem to learn very quickly, and I have never had issues. In fact I look forward to summer to create alts to get through levels fast.
Next up as both a positive and negative effect is the expansion of guilds over the summer. Lets start with the very positive effect that this can have. Many 10 player raiding guilds that would like to raid 25s but simply dont have the numbers to do so, spend all summer raiding 25s simply because they can fill the larger raid size at that time. It also allows guilds that can not raid at all to suddenly have an influx big enough that they can. Lastly, it allows more options to guilds that are struggling on a certain piece of content and feel they need a specific class mix to get by it.
With the positives for guilds due to expansion over the summer, there also comes an issue. The issue is that as a guild has more options many returning raiders that took time off to focus on school or exams all of a sudden expect raid spots even though they have not been around for 8-10 months with any real level of attendance. This can lead to some real tension, as existing raiders obviously have earned their spot because they have been there the whole time. On the other side of the coin though, these players can only raid during the summer and are looking to defeat the content as well. I have seen many guilds self destruct due to poor management of this issue over the past few summers. If handled correctly though, everyone can be made happy for the benefit of the guild as a whole.
What ticks the Messiah off the most
Despite being a crotchety old guy, the number of kids that appear online during the summer doesnt really bother me. There have been several in my guilds that despite being young were great players and could communicate intelligently and rationally. So no, just because a player is young, it doesnt bother me. Nor does the fact that the servers get busier bother me. In fact I like it, as it gives you more options with your alts, either leveling or raiding.
No, the thing that bugs me the most about the World of Summercraft is the pure number of younger players that you see on at all times of the day and night. You know the ones, they are online when you log off, still there when you check your auctions a few hours later, still there when you check them in the morning before work, and still online when you get home to raid the next night. This one really bugs me as kids should be out playing or kept busy during summer holidays, shouldnt they? They have the rest of their life to spend working 18 in front of a computer screen, shouldnt they get out and enjoy the real outdoors for a while, while they can?
The only explanation I can come up with is either parental apathy (not caring what their kids do) or parental intent. By that I mean that after having thought about it long and hard over the years it seems like too many parents look at WoW on the summer as a $15 a month summer camp or daytime babysitter. I can imagine the thought process of some parents:
Hey, my kid is over 12 can stay home legally during the day, and will have his arse glued to his computer chair from the time he wakes until I get home from work and feed him at 5pm, what cheaper version of childcare could I find!
I hope Im wrong with the above statement, as it would be a very sad commentary on society if that really happens. However, with the number of kids I have seen online all hours of the day and night over the past years during summer break, I have pretty good reason to believe that a good number of parents either think that statement, or just dont think of nor care how often their kids are online. Either is sad.
In the end, I am happy to see many more people coming into the game that I love (and love to complain about) to explore. The game is still amazing five years after launch and still worthy of your entertainment dollar. I still want to see new players join in and have some fun. However, please remember that while the grass many be greener in Azeroth thats only because it is colour corrected on your monitor. Get outside and enjoy life in the real world as well. This is especially true if you live someplace like where I do and summer only lasts a few short months and then you are back to 6 months of winter and snow.
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