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Does WoW need more minigames?

When I started playing WoW in 2006, I knew next to nothing about it. I had bought a copy to play with my boyfriend but did so while he was out of the country; it was my intent to surprise him with it when he got back. The unfortunate result of this was that I didn't really know what to do on my own and spent most of the time being eaten by murlocs.

Back then, the multiplayer aspect of WoW wasn't apparent to me. I had only ever joined groups to complete a few quests and didn't know what dungeons, raids, or Battlegrounds were. Because of this, I often remember thinking WoW wasn't a very good game because it was missing all sorts of basic elements that other games had. For example, I remember jumping in a river and thinking "Awesome, this will be a quick way to get to the southern side of the zone," only to realize a moment later there was no water current in WoW like there is in Legend of Zelda. "This is so lame," I thought.

The next step

Things changed when my boyfriend got back. With his guidance, I learned about the games multiplayer offerings and fell in love with the dungeons and raiding. Still, my background in console RPGs and platform games always kept me thinking about what WoW was missing. "Do you know what this game needs?" I'd always say, then follow it up with some elaborate idea about how Blizzard should add puzzles, platforming, or minigames to WoW.

I remember one evening we were questing in the Western Plaguelands on Dalson's Farm when I asked my boyfriend once again, "Do you know what this game needs?"

"What?" he replied dryly, preoccupied with three Scourge ghouls he was fighting while I looted quest items.

"Farming," I said. "Like in Harvest Moon. What if you could play the farmer who lived here and instead of doing quests, your world revolved around tending to your farm? Hell, you could be the one giving out quests to other players. You could ask people to fight off ghouls so you could harvest your grain, or have them escort you to a local grain silo."

I kept going, explaining how you'd entice players into helping out by incorporating a game economy that was affected positively or negatively by the success of the server's farmers. (I was oblivious ot how grandiose or difficult to program this would have been at the time.) If not enough wheat was harvested, the price of food in Stormwind could go up and NPCs would begin to starve. Players would stop being able to use resources in the town, like the bank, which would close when NPCs started withdrawing their valuables to trade for what little food there was. Certain shops would close, and the price of repairing gear would skyrocket.

"That would be the perfect game for me," I said wistfully. Sadly, my boyfriend responded critically. "No one is going to want to play a farming game."

Farming up alternative content

Lo and behold, years later, the phenomenon of FarmVille proved him wrong. People did want to play a farming game, as well as lots of other simple or mundane browser and mobile games. It made me wonder if those games could ever extend into WoW to flesh out the content and give users something more to do when they needed a break from slaying dragons or leveling. I mean, we've already got a mini Plants vs. Zombies, the Darkmoon Faire, and soon we're getting Pokémon. Why not just embrace the whole thing and make World of Warcraft one big super-game? Raiding and endgame would always be the focus, but you could almost treat WoW like a game portal -- like Yahoo! Games with a playerbase of like-minded people.

What do you think? Would it be awesome? OK? Would it destroy the game or make it way more addictive? I could see it going either way, for good and for worse, but I can't help but lust after the idea of being able to play that mini shooter arcade game from the credits of Super Smash Brothers when I'm flying over contested or enemy territory on a gryphon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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