Integrally Fun: World of Warcraft’s Design, and How it’s Become so Popular


Tom Min
Luke Sapir



World of Warcraft is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and widely-played MMORPGS of all time, ever since its release in 2004. Many debate the primary factor to its success, often times attributing it to the community or the sheer lifespan and permanency of the game. However, after recording and organizing interview responses from both players and non-players of the game, we believe that the most important factor to the longevity and popularity of the game is the entertaining gameplay and world that Blizzard has created.

In order to support this claim, we randomly selected fourteen responses from interviews conducted by the class (asking individuals questions along the lines of why they played WoW, or why WoW is as popular as it is) and organized them into several groups based on popular responses. The three groups were as follows:

“I play WoW because it helps me escape from real-life problems and stresses.”


“I play WoW because I am invested in its community, and/or I like feeling included in social activities in the game.”


“I play WoW because I enjoy the gameplay, or the lore, or the tone of the game.”


We also organized the responses into equally-sized groups of players and non-players. Interestingly, the third category had an overwhelming majority, with many players and non-players alike attributing their incentives to play WoW, or in the case of non-players, their opinions on why people like WoW, to the vibrant world and entertaining gameplay mechanics, even touching on how its integral parts encourage communal enjoyment. For example, one interviewee, who played WoW, shared that they “really enjoyed” the “main storyline,” and that “working together to kill a major boss is fun.” Further, a non-player replied that they felt WoW might popular for individuals who “enjoy fantasy and fictionalized worlds”.

To conclude, these findings show us that World of Warcraft, while well known for being a social game that can swallow up all of someone’s time, is likely that way not just because of the social integration of the sense of escape it allows, but rather because it allows for those two things, while having an incredibly engaging gameplay system and rich world. Indeed, Blizzard’s design of World of Warcraft is expressly made to immerse the players in a way that is as real as possible, and none of that could happen without its rich gameplay, story, and expansive world.

Why We Play World of Warcraft

Through the analyzation of the data received, we were able to inductively code four general groupings to answer the question: why do people play World of Warcraft? The first of these classifications was to gain in game items or to level up. This was perfectly described by on player saying, “You don’t just beat the game and then move on” (Dovahslay, Human, Warrior, Level 110) – describing the constant ability to earn more within the game. The second classification we found was those that enjoy the entertainment or adventure aspects of the game. The classification was also grouped with those that pursued a “break from life” as they were pursuing this “break” through the entertainment of the game.  One long time player even said, “I play to have an adventure, it has been remarkably rejuvenating now that legion has launched. Every time I log in I have an adventure.” (Berahalna, level 110 Tauren paladin), displaying the long term entertainment this game can provide. The last, and most common reason this game is played is the social aspect it provides for players. It was found that many players started playing the game because of their real life friends and then just continued to play. Beyond this, the game itself is directed to working with other players and most players enjoy that “I guess just being able to play with other people, and like do quests and be able to run around with friends.” (Saberwynd the Explorer, Draenei, Priest). However, there are still many that do not play WoW. We found there are no specific reasons grouping why any of the interviewees do not play WoW together. The one generalization that can be made for most of the interviewees in discussion is that they were never enticed by the social aspect of the game through their friends – whether the subjects where informed about this aspect of the game by their friends or not.

Why do people play WoW? Qualitative Research (Brandon, Nate)

For our research we used inductive coding to compare responses from players vs. non players. We created three sub-categories (Interesting/Entertaining, Social Interaction, Escape) for each category (Players, Non-Players) and came to a conclusion that non-players ideas of why people play WoW was accurate based on the data that was collected by the class. Non players assumed that people who play WoW play for reasons like social interaction, to escape reality, or like the aspect of playing an MMORPG game. This assumption is in fact true based on the data that was collect from players in the game.

Why Do You WoW?

Ryan Tseng & Alexis Supangan

Prof. Colby

WRIT 1133

10 April 2017


Why do People WoW?


After collecting interviews from each member of the class, trends have been developed on why people play World of Warcraft. An analysis of the data gathered by the class shows distinct areas of overlap between those interviewed within the game.  Of the data collected the areas of content emphasis are, escapism, entertainment, social dynamics, and affinity for amassing digital capitol by means of investment of one’s time and energy.



Although the data varied between demographics, when discussing the topic of escapism many individuals reported a veneration for the accessibility of a digital repose. A 16-year-old male reported he used the game, “to escape the real world and become a new person that they have created in their imagination,” as a direct influence to their engagement with the game (WoW, M, 16).



Escapism is a major factor as to why individuals play WoW however, many people play the game for the sole pleasure of the game mechanics. “I play the game because it is fun. I really enjoy the game and really get into it once I start playing and doing quests” (WoW, F, 17). Players are often drawn to the solicitation of adventure and quests in a graphically appealing world.  The attractiveness of the game also stems from a player’s agency.  Being able to dictate a character’s action helps to “envelop” the player into a fantasy realm where nonrealistic actions are possible.



When analyzing the data, players also reported the allure of the social aspect of the game. Player Bearlytape stated, “I play because of the people or relationships I get involved with. I haven’t been able to do single player games because the social aspect of wow is the addicting part to me. I can find anything in this game to be fun as long as I’m doing it with someone else.”  The trend of investment in online relationships is prevalent throughout the data as many players reported a liking to social connection.  Players who belonged to guilds or actively worked to play with others reported a sense of inclusiveness and a positive gameplay experience.


Investment (Time, Energy, Digital Capitol):

Apart from the social aspects of the game, players also reported a connection to the game after amassing an amount of digital capitol through their efforts and time.  Dovahslay reports “I play WoW because this is a game where I sorta of keep what I play. For instance, the tittles, the mounts, the pets, the transmog, the achievements.” The attachment to the game is similar to the investment one would place in a tangible item.  The same affinity one may have for their favorite shirt, could be equated to mounts and armor in the game.  However, players also care for the amount of time they invest. Dovaslay also includes, “I somehow see single player games like a “waste of time” because once you beat them, you are done and move on.” The longevity outside of the personal engagement with the game that exists when the screen turns off, acts as a subtle influence on the players.  The mindset associated with being able to join a large entity that is not fixed to a time period provides an incentive to continue gameplay.




Rachel Lalomia Sam Allen

World of Warcraft- There are many reasons people play Wow. These reasons include playing with other people, and meeting new people online. Quests and the adventure aspect of the game has played a big part. You never truly beat the game, you keep going. You can play against other people (pwn noobs), level up, and escape real life problems.

There are many reasons people who don’t play, yet carry opinions on why people do play. Many people say it’s a distraction from life. Players can compete while on quests and level up. The last reason is people who have been playing for years just keep playing.

Similarities between players and non-players, thoughts about why people play WoW. Including questing escaping from problems, and socializing.

Produced and edited by- Rachel and Sam



Why do People Play WoW?

There are many different reasons why people begin playing World of Warcraft. The root of the reasons people play WoW is the communal aspect that the fictionalized world provides. Many people began playing at an early age because their friends or family played the game first. One player stated, “I started playing as a kid because it was fun and all the kids at my middle school had the game so we played together.” Another group of players reported starting because of their general interest in MMORPGs and the people they play with in other games. This shows the appeal of people playing with their friends in the game. Other people enjoy the aspect of meeting new people through the game. Saberwynd, a priest on Dalaran, said he “likes the freedom of being able to wander from place to place and meet new people.” The active community on WoW is a big part of what gets new players involved and what keeps them playing. Many players related the community and world and WoW as an escape from some real life stressors. Daralyyia, a level 103 demon hunter, reported that, “For me I have depression and everytime I play this game, it ceases for a while. I get to be a person without thinking about real world problems for 4 hours …Especially with such an awesome community.” Overall, the community provides a variety of benefits for different players, but forms a strong bond over WoW that keeps people playing the game.


Joe Theisen, Kerek Spinney, William Gibson

location observation

I observed WoW players at two place Stormwind city which is a popular starting place and Elwynn forest which is a small area nearby stormwind city. Stormwind city is a big and busy city. Their are a lot of NPCs and players who want to get quest form NPCs. The player’s level are very various because the city is a herb that can go to other cities, and it is a starting city at the same time. Also, many quests at the city are delivery quest, so a lot of players go around busily. Some people just come to log off because they can get some benefit when they log off at big city.

On the contrary, at the Elwynn forest, there are a few people, and most of them are like to be low level player. Some player are looks like a high level, but they do not seem to take quest at there because the area is nearby low-level hunting ground. Also most of quest at there is hunting quest which is like “kill 5 wolves”. people do PvP at there, and some find party, also some people showing off their pet. Most people just stay there for short time. They just get a few quest or pass the area.

Solo play: How WoW Caters to Varying Audiences

Question: How does someone solo-play at mid-lower levels/What are the priorities of a solo-player at these levels?

I gathered data to answer this question by observing the play patterns and briefly interviewing George, who currently is running a level 36 Gnome Rogue.

Before the play session, George shared that he “Likes to level up as fast as [he] can and get as much gold as fast as [he] can.” At the beginning of the play session, starting in Stormwind, he queued up for a dungeon finder. He then immediately traveled to the flightmaster of the city, and then checked the gryphon mount prices. He decided to take a long gryphon ride, taking him to the next questing area while he waited for his dungeon queue. He then traveled around the questing area, and then looked around for quests to do while his queue was running.
The play session ended before the queue was finished, so I interviewed him on several topics regarding his play patterns. I first asked him whether or not he felt it was a productive play session, and what he feels an ideally productive play session consists of. He answered that he didn’t find it particularly productive, since he didn’t finish any quests nor did he join any dungeons. He then shared that he believes an ideally productive session consists of quickly completing quests, gaining lots of experience, while constantly queued up for dungeons to maximize his opportunity for loot and experience. I then asked him whether or not he was a member of a guild, and why or why not. He responded that he was a member of a guild, and shared that while he isn’t particularly involved with the guild, as it is a large, high-level guild, he felt that it would be helpful at later levels of experience. On discussing whether or not he liked the dungeon queue, despite that it was slightly less socially involved, he shared that he did, as while it does encourage slightly less social play, it provides convenience to players who wish to run instances quickly, and doesn’t remove the option of playing them with friends.
These findings have led me to the conclusion that World of Warcraft, during the bulk of the player progression, has been made to convenience slightly less social playstyles early on. I believe that this does in many ways encourage game health, as this less social playstyle is much more efficient in catching up to the much higher level community, and doesn’t eliminate the opportunity to play with friends. Indeed, I believe that this is a reflection on how World of Warcraft does encourage varying styles of play depending on the situation of the player. Essentially, the game invites its players to play the game in their own way, and is better catered towards varying audiences, be it solo players or groups, which may also help explain the game’s impressive lifespan and healthy community.

Playing Cooperatively In Wow

George Andrews-



            Does playing cooperatively with real life friends in Wow differ than playing with in-game friends cooperatively?


            Based on my observations, I noted that Luke is very social player when playing Wow. He will often speak aloud and is not afraid to talk. I asked, “What is the best play experience you would like to have?” He replied with “Having a close group of friends raiding, PvPing and doing several dungeons together. Just having fun.” It may be interesting to examine when playing Wow with close friends that the player knows in real life to playing with friends that are met in game. Different play styles may occur. This is interesting to note, because although Luke is a level 7 Human Paladin he has played Wow in the past with a high-level account. Luke is now trying to level up as quick as possible with completing many different quests so he can get where he wants to be in the game. Further questions to consider is does low level cooperative players interact differently than high level cooperative players?


Why did you enroll in this World of Warcraft WRIT class?

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