World of Warcraft - An Escape or Good Stress Reliever?Credit:
When you think of the MMORPG, World of Warcraft, you probably think of some sweaty, pimply teenage or college-aged boys hunkered down at their computer screens.  Or maybe the image of an overweight middle-aged guy hiding in his home office, playing to the wee hours of the time, pops into your head.  Well, I'm sorry to tell you that you're WRONG!

World of Warcraft (also known as WoW) attracts players of all ages and a wide array of backgrounds.  I know a few elderly individuals that were introduced to the game by their grandkids and are now avid players.  There are even a few celebrities that have caught on to the WoW crazy, hacking orcs and turning in quests right along side the rest of us "regular people". 

As a single mother of two young ones, I can attest to the power of the World of Warcraft.  I started playing three and a half years ago for a stress relief.  I was going through a nasty divorce at the time and needed a way to let off some steam before I went after my ex-husband with a cast iron frying pan.  WoW gave me that relief, allowing me to vent my tension and stress by completing quests, chasing down bad guys, and cleaning out dungeons.  (I just wish I could claim my WoW subscription fee as a "mental health" deduction on my taxes!)

The World of Warcraft is HUGE!Credit: time went by, I found myself getting lost in the storyline.  World of Warcraft has a lore (a.k.a. background story) that is extremely deep and detailed.  There is always intrigue - the backstabbing friend, the crazy leader who's out to take over (or at least poison) the world, outsiders with plans to invade and enslave the world of Azeroth…it goes on and on and on.  If you like a good story, this is the game for you! 

I also enjoy that WoW has something for everyone.  I'm a casual player – some days I log on to do a few dailies and other days I run a dungeon or two or fly around and collect herbs and ore to sell of the auction house.  For those more avid players, there are elite creatures to chase down and kill and advance dungeons to run.  And of course, there are the 10-player or 25-player raids that the more elite player can run, battling the biggest and baddest creatures for the best gear and trinkets in the game.

The other thing I enjoy about Warcraft is the achievement system.  These are self-contained goals or challenges that cover all areas of the game, from the number of quests you've completed to different creatures you've killed or even hugged.  (Yes, I said hugged!)  Some of these achievements come with a reward – a title that you can attach to your name or a new non-combat pet for your collection - while others only come with the feeling of accomplishment you get when you see that little window flash up on your screen.  This achievement system has added a new layer of fun to the game, giving players of all level new goals to reach and making the more casual players try out the more challenging areas of the game.

World of Warcraft has a large online and offline comminutyCredit: social aspect is another part of the game that I enjoy.  I've reconnected with old friends, met new ones, and learned about new places and people through my interactions with other players.  Best of all, I know that if I need help with anything, there is always someone, a friend, a friend-of-a-friend, or a guildmate, who will be willing to give me a hand.

Another part of the social side of WoW is the guild system.  It started as a way to make running dungeons and raids easier but it has become something more these days.  Family members and friends create their own guild so they can stay in contact and share items in game more easily.  Group of the more hardcore players will gather under the banner of one guild to get access to the highest guild achievements and perks.  Even if you're a casual player, joining a guild provides not only instant help when you need it but also opportunities to do more in the game and learn about the other players around you.

For those that are money conscious, thereWorld of Warcraft - A Beautiful WorldCredit: is always the gold-making side of the game to keep you interested.  WoW has a complex economical system that is completely based on supply and demand.  As items become scarce, their price goes up.  As people see the price climb, they begin to seek out that item to resell.  As more items become available, the price will naturally fall. 

There is a huge online community that revolves around gold-making opportunities in World of Warcraft.  There are even classes, ebooks, and tutorials on making the most gold ever.  Most of these revolve around two things – the auction house and professions.

The game-provided auction house allows players to trade and sell items without having to be online.  Just list something and then run off to do a dungeon or two – if the item sells, the gold is dropped into your mailbox for you to pick up at your leisure. 

Player Characters in WoWCredit: can make a lot of gold by taking up one of the many professions in the game.  Your character can collect herbs or ore and sell it to other players.  Or you can be a tailor, leatherworker, blacksmith, enchanter, inscriptionist, or engineer and turn those raw materials into gear or trinkets and sell them on the auction house for lots of gold. 

As you can see, the World of Warcraft is a multi-faceted game with something for everyone, whether you be a casual or hard-core gamer.  As I found out, it's not only a good stress reliever but also a great way to meet new friends and push boundaries in a safe manner.  I mean, where else could you and a pack of friends attack a huge fire elemental and live to talk about it?