World of Warcraft: Looking for Group

2014, Technology  -  62 min Leave a Comment
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Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft: Looking for Group is a ten-year anniversary celebration of the company's monumentally successful launch of the World of Warcraft online gaming platform. Stemming from a line of real-time strategy games in the 90's, WoW is the world's premiere online gaming arena and was home to over twelve million players at its peak in 2010.

In a mini-history lesson, the filmmakers take us through the groundwork for WoW's rise to prominence through interviews with key Blizzard and media personnel that are authorities on the matter. Ultima Online, and later Everquest, blazed the trail that Blizzard developers swooped in on, doing what they always have done - taking a product that was only being consumed by a very niche audience and turning it into something that was wildly appealing to the masses.

So that's what they did. Starting off as a failed project the interviewees deemed "crap," the designers decided to steer it towards something that they loved playing - something like Everquest. Sales projections were optimistically set to hit one million copies inside twelve months, and service support on the back end was scheduled accordingly. They blew past those projections inside three months, and immediately they were working at breakneck speeds to keep up with demand.

The company as a whole ballooned from around 500 employees to 5000, solely attributed to the success of WoW. The popularity of the game pushed it into the public eye to such a degree that pop culture began referencing it as a household name - Jeopardy and South Park usages are shown as examples of this awareness in the film. Inter-game vernacular became so popular that it crawled out of the digital space and into real-world usage; phrases like "Leeroy Jenkins" (to rush headlong into perilous situations with no regard for your own safety) became memes and the like.

The film's focus then shifts to the people behind the characters that make up the WoW universe, cascading through interviews with players explaining why it is they chose the type of character that they play with, what it says about them and how the game is a stage for them to indulge in the thrill-seeking fantasies their actual lives do not offer - and that is what makes WoW and all good video games successful, a fantastic escape from all that is not fantastic.