Thursday, January 15, 2009

World of Warcraft a College Class? (warning! boring uber-dork topic!)

This is going to be a long post, and it probably won't be as funny as my past posts, but I want to yap about it. I admit it. I play the game. I've spent countless hours leveling up my characters, and it's so involved it's like having a full time second job. It's addicting for gaming types, so if you haven't played it and are thinking about it, be warned... your life as you know it will change forever. But here we have an article about making it a college class, and the concept is actually quite viable. The focus of the class would be on the economics of the game, since a lot of the stuff you pick up along the way can be sold on a public auction house, where people who need the stuff you consider crap can be purchased to make stuff that may be needed by others. Therefore, the real laws of supply and demand apply, and would actually make for a good class in my opinion.

I know as a player of WoW that if I were in college, I'd take it in a heartbeat because it would actually put value on something I'm doing anyway. It would be similar to getting credit for drinking a lot. Good lord, if I could get credit for that, I would've had a PhD (more like multiple PhD's) 10 years ago. I might have earned a masters in sex, but the research is still ongoing. I'm hoping for my PhD in that too, but unfortunate side effects of long term relationships have put a damper on my willingness to tackle the subject material. Too bad relationships aren't more like alcohol. I'm still looking for a good Vodka, 'cause with a couple good mixers, you can change the flavor and you wouldnt' have to drink the same thing over and over... uh... I'd better get back to the subject at hand. I have a feeling I'm not getting any for a while after this paragraph. That, or there'll be a redhead wearing a french maid outfit when I get home. Probably a robe and a frying pan with my luck.

Where was I? Ah, that WoW class thing. Actually, in game there is a very unique economic model, because events can unfold which dramatically change the economic scene. For example, when new patches or upgrades for the entire game come out, items that were worth nothing yesterday all of a sudden become valuable commodities, and everybody is scrambling to harvest, buy and sell these items. There are examples of insider trading too, where people who find out before the latest release comes out what will be needed by others in great demand can hoard said items and make a killing when the new releases come out. Granted, there's no real money involved here, but gold in WoW land is earned, so making a lot of it helps you buy the better gear, and when you max that out, you can repeat the process with the other 4 characters you have.

So what's the problem? The problem is, the last thing a bunch of uber "1337" dweebs (you know who you are) need is MORE reason to play this game that they spend far too much time playing. Also, turning it into an actual class will give a student the idea to corner the market, or oversupply the system with too much stuff just to write a thesis paper. It only takes one person with some time on their hands to cause the existing economic system to crash, and that's a pain in the ass if you're just a casual gamer who isn't writing a paper on "what would happen if there were no healing potions" or something. It's one thing when an overall game change affects the game economy, because the laws of supply and demand apply. But when you make a class out of it, it's only a matter of time until every server has some college kid writing a paper on "WoW, Economic Collapse and YOU!".

I know, I'm being an alarmist. Actually, I think I'm just pissed because somebody is going to get paid (the professors, obviously) for having some knowledge and playing WoW. I mean, how unfair! I play the game to keep me out of the bars, not to get paid for it. Come to think of it, maybe I can get my Master's degree in economics just by paying attention to the market in WoW, hoarding my gold and crashing the market... and to think, I already have a title for my thesis! Then I can get paid for my dorky knowledge of a damn game! And if ANYBODY uses my thesis, all I ask is to send me a copy of your finished paper, and please don't do it on my server!


Anonymous said...

I agree it is a waste of money to PAY some Horde Professional to play WoW and then "teach" economics through this medium, however, not a bad idea actually. Might get the kids attention...why they are at it, they might as well play GTA 4 and teach Criminal Justice...


BTW email me at

Rob said...

I think there's something to be said about using things that people enjoy in terms of education. I've written a term paper about irresponsible television in relation to BSG and 24. I think WoW is an excellent opportunity to study the effects of events like new patches or the sudden value of small eggs in terms of an economy. College doesn't have to be chore. It is, but it doesn't have to be. I feel that when people enjoy learning they usually get more out of it.

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