Nostalgia Syndrome: A Playerbase Stuck in the Past
World of Warcraft has changed for sure, but why are we seeing so many players begging for a return to the past? It seems history has a way of repeating itself, even in MMOGs.
The nostalgia syndrome, a word that I just googled and realized I didn’t necessarily make up, is overtaking World of Warcraft by storm. This morning with my delicious Diet Dr. Pepper in hand I browsed over some of my favorite WoW forums to see threads that endlessly discuss the decline of WoW, how Wrath of the Lich King was a most excellent expansion, and how everything before today was awesome and everything now sucks. Although this is common discussion, it seems to have trended upward a bit to where most of the threads where talking about this. So let me put my soda down for a second and let’s talk about nostalgia and the current state of WoW.
Yesterday was Better than Today
I’m pretty big into the entire gaming genre. There isn’t much that I’m not into honestly and even less I’m probably following. I play, watch, and participate in all kinds of gaming activities from sports all the way to crazy pen and paper games and I’m very familiar with the trend that change is the absolute worst thing to ever come to anything. Change up a roster and you’ll hear sports fans scream that the previous one was the “best.” If you ever walk into a gaming store you’ll hear endless discussion about how various editions of Dungeons & Dragons are better or worse. Video game stores are a never ending discussion about how a sequel was nowhere near as good as the original.
Humans are static creatures and are very anti-change. Change is bad, it’s different, and it’s hard for many to accept that something new or different is a good thing. The same can apply to World of Warcraft. Let’s face it, Cataclysm is different. You can’t spam your highest mana cost heal and keep the entire raid alive, raids share lockouts, heroics are not AoE-fests, and so much more. Yet, most of these changes are positive or, at the very least, make the game different and more varied.
Yet, there remains a vocal minority that scream that WotLK was the best expansion ever, that everything before Cataclysm was amazing, that Blizzard is on the decline, and that the game is now over and everyone needs to pack up their bags and get ready to move out to THE NEXT BIG THING ®. I wonder where we’ve heard this before?
History Repeats Itself
I remember when WotLK came out and everyone began complaining that the game was ruined and it’s the end of WoW all because of about a million different things. It was too easy, Dalaran lagged, Naxxramas is reused content, it isn’t fun anymore, there is no challenge, the game looks too different, Death Knights are overpowered and are ruining the game, etc. etc.
If I sit here and think long and hard enough into it, it would seem to me that the same happened during The Burning Crusade. Ah yes, I remember the complaints about how the dungeons were difficult to get to, the reputation grinds were insane, and raiding was impossible. Having only 25 players in a raid was stupid and you need a full 40 to have fun and every guild was going to collapse and fall apart without 40 man raids.
Yet, WoW still stands and it grew throughout the years just fine without the naysayers and those stuck in the past. Everyone changed their story as soon as the next expansion was released and once again they have changed it.
The Perceived Decline of WoW
Of course, with these statements of the game ruining itself come the inevitable “death knell” of WoW. That Blizzard has done it again and the game is heading fast into the recycle bin. That some players, their friends, and their family have revoked their subscription and soon, soon, WoW will begin server mergers. There are even rumors that someone talked to a Blizzard dev and they’re in a full scale panic because there are almost no subscribers left.
Yet, of course, this is all not true. Everyone who has started the game with Cataclysm has found the game to be exciting and fun, having no basis on the past to misguide their judgment. Those who are actually having fun in the game are the ones logged in right now instead of on a forum screaming bloody murder about how horrible the game is.
Now, that isn’t to say that Cataclysm may or may not be better than previous expansions, but it is to say that it isn’t a complete and total train wreck that is leading to the quick and inevitable downfall of WoW (like I’ve previous talked about). Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but things are nowhere near as bad as they seem.
Should we fear that this recent spike in naysayers is heralding in the doom of WoW? No, we shouldn’t. Unless, of course, you don’t like WoW. In which case I say grab a sword, raise your banner, and scream all you want. I know for a fact that tonight when I log into the game I’m going to smile, have fun, and enjoy myself.
Let us remember the past for what it is the past. There is no point in harping on it or wishing for its triumphant return. Remember, the reason that most of us liked the previous expansions where not so much the game mechanics but the positive memories we had. So relax, enjoy yourself, and you’ll find that those memories will build themselves up in this new age of WoW just like they did before.
What about you? Do you feel that Cataclysm is different and that it is ruining the game or do you agree with me that the vocal minority is bored, upset, and looking for something to rabble on about? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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