World of Warcraft = Rhetoric

I was rather intrigued by an article by Christopher Paul stating that World of Warcraft, the computer game, is infused with rhetoric.  I have to admit to a rather limited knowledge of the game and so this could be why I was so surprised when reading the article.  However, his thesis made sense and led me to want to know more.  Therefore, I continued with the article and realized that yes, indeed, World of Warcraft is almost like a separate world, with its own set of rules and even utilizes rhetoric.

Paul’s article is titled, “World of Rhetcraft: Rhetorical Production and Raiding in World of Warcraft.”  He begins the article by discussing “raiding” which is part of playing the actual game.  This is a process of defeating an enemy by collaborating with one’s “guild” and coming up with strategies.  This uses rhetoric because it incorporates management and interaction with everyone in one’s “guild,” including people one might not have ever met face-to-face.  This requires a lot of multi-tasking and skill as well as leadership and understanding.  According to Paul,

“MMOGs [computer games like World of Warcraft] stand as excellent examples of the dependence of such games on rhetorical productions and consumption.  No longer simply limited to what ‘comes out of the box,’ these games are regularly updated, persistent worlds inhabited by millions of people who are encouraged to interact with each other.  Raiding is one way in which players have chosen to play MMOGs and raiding, as practice, is fundamentally rooted in reading and writing” (Urbanski pp. 159-160).

In fact, to aid people during “raids,” several websites have been started to give advice, strategies, ask questions, etc.  According to Paul, “the relationship between rhetoric and raiding is likely clearest in the out of game texts.  These public websites offer those who do not play WoW a glimpse of the mountains of rhetorical texts that aid raiders in successfully completing some of WoW’s most difficult tasks” (Urbanski 156).

Another interesting aspect about World of Warcraft in regards to rhetoric is that the game is constantly going.  Even when one is not playing the game, it is still going.  The only time it wouldn’t be played is if the servers went down or crashed.  Some people make their livings by playing the game and offering advice or by getting avatars to certain levels and then selling them.

A point that Paul makes that I thought correlated to digital rhetoric is that “online games are just one more of the many ways in which social interaction is becoming increasingly digitally mediated” (Urbanski 159).  Digital rhetoric has to take into account games, like WoW, which incorporate reading and writing in a non-traditional way.  People educated in these games also need to be looking at these games, like Paul did, and figure out how the game and rhetoric intersect.  Because digital media are becoming more and more the norm, it is important that we look at these things and analyze how they affect the traditional ways of looking at problems, situations, or just daily life.

I have attached a link to a short video at the bottom of this post that previews WoW back in 2004.  It is a visual representation of the game itself and an introduction to the background behind the idea.

Reference: Urbanski, Heather.  Writing and the Digital Generation.  2010.  Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.,          Publishers.  Pp. 152-161.  Print.

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYK_Gqyf48Y

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