The World of Warcraft

WoW: A World of Warcraft Beginners Guide and what the game is all about

There are currently over 12 million people that play World of Warcraft (more commonly known as WoW by its fans). That’s the size of a small country. Wow. A community of that magnitude is worthy of recognition in my books. I have always been hesitant about entering this online realm – concerned that I would have to sign away a portion of my life if I did.

However, I have always been curious to know what the appeal is and how the game ropes in so many players – many of which spend the majority of their waking hours living in this virtual world. I scoured all the websites, forums and wikis dedicated to the game and thought I’d share what I found regarding this thriving fantasy world.

What is World of Warcraft
WoW is known as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) in which thousands of players can interact within the same virtual world. Players assume the roles of Warcraft heroes as they explore, adventure, undertake game quests and interact with one another in the Warcraft universe known as Azeroth.

WoW has a massive visual appeal and since its release in 2004, has received rave reviews and won numerous awards all over the world. These include Best PC Game, Best Multiplayer Game, Best RPG and Most Addictive Game. It was also honoured at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the art form of MMORPG games. Critics have described the WoW environment as a careful blend of cartoon, fantasy art, and realism.

Who lives in WoW
What distinguishes WoW from other virtual online worlds such as Second Life, is that it is pure fantasy. It has more of a Lord of the Rings vibe rather than being a replica of real human living.

Players can choose between ten races, such as dwarves, orcs, humans and elves each of which have unique racial traits. There is something of a racial divide among the races as they are separated into two warring factions: the Alliance and the Horde. A description from the WoW website reads:

“Characters can only talk, group, and create guilds with players from their own faction. Certain zones and cities in the world are also friendly to one faction while hostile to the other. Additionally, certain quests can only be completed by members of one faction and not the other” –

It’s almost like a virtual apartheid.

Making a living in WoW
Players can take on primary and secondary professions in WoW when not adventuring and completing quests. These professions fall into three categories, namely gathering, production, and service. Players can contribute to the World’s thriving economy, or just keep themselves occupied with jobs that range from jewel-crafting and tailoring to cooking and alchemy.

Public transport
The WoW universe is vast – literally continental in size. The game features an advanced flying transportation network and players can make use of public transport to get around. NPCs can buy tickets to ride flying mounts such as mythical Gryphons and Dragon hawks. The flight paths are specifically designed to delight passengers with entertaining sights and glimpses of new regions and unexplored territory.

Heroes of WOW

Players can choose between ten races belonging to the Alliance or the Horde

WoW economy
There is even a virtual banking system that exists in WoW. Players are able to deposit items into banks and each character has access to personal bank storage with the option to purchase additional storage space using in-game gold.

Auction houses are available for players to buy and sell items to others in a similar way to online auction websites such as eBay. There is even a postal system whereby mailboxes can be used to collect items won at auctions or used to send messages, items and even in-game money to other players.

Advertising in WoW
As with other MMORPGs, companies have emerged offering to sell virtual gold and associated services. However, due to spam advertising abuse, several companies have since been banned from using any WoW chat or communication to advertise any business or sell any services relating to WoW. The game has also been known to advertise unrelated products, such as Toyota trucks.

Corrupted blood plague incident
As part of a cruel social experiment, a ‘deadly’ disease known as the “corrupted blood plague” was unleashed into WoW in 2005, which quickly spread between interacting players. The plague so closely resembled the outbreak of real-world epidemics that scientists are currently looking at ways that online games such as WoW can model human behavior during outbreaks by allowing researchers to more accurately predict how diseases spread amongst a population.

Gaming Addiction
WoW is known to be frighteningly addictive. In 2009 an article titled “10 Most Bizarre Gaming Incidents” reported the case of a young Chinese girl who died of exhaustion after playing the game for several days straight. An online funeral followed. Relationships have ended and online feuds have broken out as a result of the game, so a non-addictive personality is certainly recommended if you wish to venture forth into the world of Azeroth…

Interesting WoW facts

  • Development of WoW took roughly 4-5 years including extensive testing
  • Players have the option of selling their user accounts once their character is well equipped and experienced. The highest recorded WoW account trade was for £5000 (roughly R55 000).
  • The game reflects real world events such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Different locations also have variable weather, such as rain, snow, dust storms and many more.
  • When a character dies it becomes a ghost at a nearby graveyard. Characters can be resurrected by other NPCs that have the ability, or can self-resurrect by moving from the graveyard to the place where they died.
  • The Chinese government imposed a modification on Chinese versions of the game which transforms dead character corpses into tidy graves and places flesh on bare-boned skeletons.
  • Quests reward the player with experience points, items, and/or in-game money. It is also through quests that much of the game’s story is told.
  • WoW players are invited to participate in the virtual community in creative ways. Activities include creating fan artwork and comic strip style storytelling.

World of Warcraft requires the player to pay for a subscription, either by buying game cards for a pre-selected amount of playing time, or by using a credit or debit card to pay on a regular basis.

Related post: DotA – A nOOb’s guide

** More Gaming Articles **


Galen (name), meaning: "Curious One". A lover of language, human ingenuity and the forces of the universe. Hugely drawn towards the mysterious and unknown. Regular laughter and escapism essential.

You may also like...

10 Responses

  1. AntonRSA says:

    Been playing for almost 4 years now. If only the gold I make on WOW was real gold. If only…

  2. Galen Schultz says:

    lol. Would you call yourself a WoW addict? The fact that I have an addictive personality is the reason why I’m kak scared of playing the game.

    What speed line does one need to play the game smoothly though..?

  3. Nexorsist says:


    Even people with addictive personalities can attempt this game, assuming you’ve quite a while learning how to control and manage that part of yourself. It took myself quite a while to get the hang of it and since I do not find myself getting overly attached to games.

    I will say this though, if you have not then you will find WoW overly addictive and consuming of your life. But seeing as you’re aware of your addictive personality, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to handle it :)

    WoW is a lot of fun, as long as you do it in moderation

  4. Chris says:

    There is also another store you can buy WoW Game Cards online with instant email delivery, the store is called, you can buy WoW Game Cards from here as well.

  5. Galen Schultz says:

    I must admit that I’m really keen to give it a bash! As you say, everything in moderation though :)

    I’m just concerned that the game might be laggy and frustrating to play with my connection speed. What speed line is required to have to have a smooth playing experience?

  6. Nexorsist says:

    Well I’ve played on a 384kbps line and it was ok, just not good for pvp. I’ve got a 4mbit line at the moment and its quite nice. It hugely depends on what country you’re in. Here in South Africa they really limit our upload speeds and shape our broadband connections. If your upload speeds aren’t limited and your line isn’t shaped then you shouldn’t have to worry at all. But there are many options that you can explore to greatly improve your ping.

    However, if PVP isn’t your main focus in the game (which it definitely doesn’t have to be) then you really don’t have to worry all that much because PVE play is fine, even with a 600-800ms ping.

  7. Galen Schultz says:

    @Nexorsist: Thank you for your input. I currently have an uncapped 384kbps line, but on most days it is painfully slow. Even checking email can make me want to pull my hair out on some days…

    I have quite high standards when it comes to gaming performance – if there is any lag involved in online games it’s not worth playing them in my books

  8. Galen Schultz says:

    Okay, I’m soon to give into temptation! Is this the right version of WoW to get?

  9. Tyrone says:

    Okay, I’m soon to give into temptation! Is this the right version of WoW to get?

    The one above will get you started and you can reach the level 60 cap. After that you will have to get The burning Crusade expansion and then Wrath of The Lich King which will enable you to level your character to 80.

    As for your line speed, you say that you want the best performance with regards to latency etc. In my opinion go for a 4mb/s line so you won’t have the trouble of lagging in game. This is especially important later on when you start raiding etc. As for nexorsist saying that between 600-800ms latency is fine…. DON’T BELIEVE THIS! I used to play with that kind of latency and although you might get used to it, it really is not fun playing when you are lagging. In raids later on you will start feeling this as you will fail badly with some stuff! (trust me, I have been there, done that)

  10. Thanks for your input Tyrone. I haven’t quite given into my temptation just yet – I thought it best to wait until I get an Internet upgrade (currently got a 512kb line).

    I was really wondering what the minimum line speed is with regard to playing the game without lag? But I suppose it depends on how the game is played. As you say, raids could get laggy, which wouldn’t be much fun.

Leave a Reply