James Wallis levels with you

Richard & n00by

Richard and Judy, king and queen of the late-afternoon chat-show and freelancer bunk-off hour, did a segment on World of Warcraft today. Richard was enthused, Judy predictably befuddled. I missed it. Fret not: it’ll be on Youtube soon.

The spur for the piece was Caitlin Moran, the tabloid journalist who writes for the Times, who had been lent a copy of WoW by someone at work (with the editor who persuaded her to do a piece on it standing right behind him, and the marketing guy who’d arranged the paper’s free WoW demo disc give-away this Saturday behind the two of them, fiddling with his Blackberry).

Moran’s piece is exactly what you’d expect: she’s amazed by the experience and dismissive of those who enjoyed it before she did. Phrases like “people who are into goblins and wizards are people within the autistic spectrum of behaviour” and “the entire fantasy genre is the domain of the sweaty, white, nonintellectual Herbert, and has very little to offer me” are thrown around with customary glee in the opening paragraphs, and then she finds herself staying up till 2am and flirting with a female gnome—see, she’s chosen a male character and is surprised when a girl comes onto her. Well done for not freaking out, Caitlin, and welcome to the online world of 1993.

In short, it’s exactly the same nonsense that one expects from the Times: the tone is split between “this is brilliant” and “this is strictly for dysfunctional nerds”. In fact the biggest loser she meets online turns out to be her brother, who says “Pwnz” a lot and doesn’t known what it means.

Oh sod it, just read the bloody piece for yourself. You’ll see what I’m saying. Then if you’re a WoW player and you see a ginger dwarf called Scottbaio, please pwn him/her immediately.

But all this, plus the Times‘s offer and the Richard and Judy thing seems to herald WoW‘s assault on the mainstream, or vice versa, and the coming of eternal September to that particular world (the Times sells 650,000 copies: even if only 10% of those demo CDs get used, that’s a lot of n00bs). I sympathise with the inhabitants, though if there was ever a MMORPG game that worked for people with no foreknowledge of computer games, WoW is it. I give it weeks before the first high-profile brand realises that their Second Life island may make for great press releases but isn’t getting traffic, and announces a partnership with Blizzard and a presence in every major community in Azeroth.

Meanwhile I wondered out loud (that is, I mentioned it on Twitter, that being this season’s ‘out loud’ among the e-elite) when Richard and Judy were going to do Second Life and the omniscient or possibly more-freelance-than-me Ian Betteridge informed me that they had, back in January, and that Richard had looked ‘baffled’. A shame: I would have thought that Richard could have been relied upon to stray accidentally into the seamier side of town and get propositioned by a furry.

Categorised as: mmorpg

One Comment

  1. COPE: James Wallis levels with you » Richard …

    Our good friend James Wallis has written a brilliant piece on the state of journalism (and, well, most mainstream media coverage) when writing about games – and in particular, WoW. Link: COPE: James Wallis levels with you » Richard …

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