Business Lessons in World of Warcraft

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Massive multiplayer online role playing games is one of the largest online collaboration environments that exists in the world today. Popular games like, World of Warcraft, see thousands of people around the world interact with one another. With this interaction the creation of virtual economies becomes apparent. This paper argues that players of World of Warcraft are taught basic business concepts and ideas which can translate into real life business lessons. The paper will firstly define the nature of World of Warcraft as a massive online game. It will then examine and explain a series of in-game business concepts and how they relate to the real world. World of Warcraft (released in November 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment) is a fantasy based online game played over the internet and is known as a massive multiplayer online playing game (MMORPG). Within the 3D Warcraft universe (server), thousands of people around the world interact and collaborate in an online virtual environment. Castronova (2003, para. 2) states these synthetic worlds allow people to undertake various tasks like hunting, socializing, exploring, producing and consuming goods and generally leading a more or less full, rich and detailed life. Players begin their journey by taking the role of a fictional character (avatar). They can customize the race (skills are linked to particular races ie; a Dwarf Priest specialty is in healing, where as a Night Elf Hunter is an expert in marksmanship) and physical appearance. Once the avatar has be named the player is then is let loose in a massive fantasy world filled with cities, oceans, forests, dungeons and monsters (Seth Schiesel 2006, Technology). Character development is a player’s primary objective. As part of this character progression an experience points system is used. Players earn experience points to reach a higher level, traditionally through combat with monsters and completion of quests (a task with objectives and goals) which are handed in to NPC’s ( Non-Playable Characters) for rewards such as amour or weapons, as well as experience points (Tom McNamara 2004, Reviews). Players have the option of doing this alone or teaming up with other players to face the more difficult of foes or imposing challenges. As players progress further into the game, the dependence on gold (major currency used within World of Warcraft) increases and players start to look at ways of making more gold. Along their adventures, players will find items and put them up for sale on the auction house. Skill developments through specialist trade/crafting skills (also known as professions) becomes a necessity for acquiring wealth. For example a player might choose to learn the art of mining, which grants them the ability to mine and collect copper, silver and gold ores. Blacksmithing is considered a crafting skill, which requires the materials collected by miners, enabling the creation of amour and weapons to either be used by the maker or sold to others. Players become exposed to the buying and selling of goods, and trading of items with other players. This is where virtual in-game economies exist and as players interact, they learn efficient and productive methods of earning more in-game currency, teaching them basic real life business lessons while they play. Early on in the adventures through the lands of warcraft, players are introduced to the concept of Price versus Value. Mounts in the game are a form of transportation, in the shape of a horse or bird, and reduce traveling times between destinations in half or more. They are extremely expensive but over time are great investments. High capacity bags, although expensive, are good value as it provides much more storage space. Rare amour pieces, which are required to defeat some of the most challenging foes, can only be purchased from Blacksmiths at very high prices. Players learn to invest on items which make the biggest difference in their effectiveness even if they...
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