Within my time living in the fandom of World of Warcraft, I've been forced to see the several levels people can fall in when it comes to massive multiplayer online (MMO) gaming. I've also approached this topic with the interest of finding out whether fandom can teach. What can fandom teach, if anything? What do people take away from MMO's that they carry with them for the rest of their lives? Is this something that can be taken further? Could we perhaps use this to rehabilitate people or teach them lessons for things such as patience or trust? Surely fandom isn't just something that's used for an entertainment outlet.

Levels of Gaming Fandom

In the fandom of World of Warcraft and most other immersion video games, I've found that there are several levels of where fans fall within the fandom. The list ranges from the casual all the way to the extremist.

The Casual

This player logs in to play the game on his own time and usually joins a pick up raid with random people. This player does not take the game to any level of seriousness and has better things to do than play a video game all day. This player is either guildless or has found a casual guild to call home. He/she doesn't really care about raid progression, being geared or capping his/her honor or valor points. This player plays for the fun of the game. This player holds no interest for the game's lore or story.

The Social Casual

This player makes sure that he logs on for all the events for his guild. He/She's never late for a raid, or battleground. This player has some level of commitment and is conscience of his progression, gear and point caps. This player holds no interest for the game's lore or story.

The Hardcore

This player is on a lot. He/She makes sure that his character is up-to-date with gear, spells, and glyphs. He/She is on time for raids and attends them all. This player may even have more than one character to worry about while he/she is capping their valor and/or honor. This player holds little interest for the game's lore or story.

The Extremist

This player is on as much as he/she can. Constantly capping honor/valor on the 2-10 characters he/she may have. This player is raiding whenever and however often he/she can. He/She constantly tries to better his/her character by keeping up with "theory crafting", the process where players break down the game into mathematical terms to sharpen their skills to become the best. This player is often an elitist and will belittle other players when he/she thinks that others are not performing at their best. This player often holds little to no interest in the game's lore or story.

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The Loremaster

This player can be one of two people, a native to the game, playing since the game's birth. They've grown with the game and learned it's story and holds it to high esteem. They player also reads the books published by Blizzard Inc. to fully grasp the lore. The other person can be an immigrant to the game and immerse themselves in the story just as deep as the native. They will have to go into the past and relive the story as the native once did, missing some of the true experience, but still holding to lore and story close to his heart. Both of these people will hunt down well known characters and follow up with new ones. They point out when parts of the story are non-canonical. This players interest in the game itself can vary from casual to extremist.

What do these levels have to do with Fandom and teaching?

With each player different skills are being learned. Many skills overlap the various levels of players. Within the casual group, players learn that any MMO is really just a game and one should not be too attached to a game. They also learn that life requires fun and an MMO is a good outlet for those who like video games. The social casual learns time management skills when it comes to learning the fastest way to cap points and when to log on to get the best ques in line for dungeons or raids. They also learn a low level of trust and patience when it comes to raiding. The hardcore players are usually hot or cold on some lessons. From my own experience, hardcore players are generally impatient and demand much from total strangers. Although, their time-management skills are through the roof. They have perfected the path of when to what and how to do it. They often find the path of least resistance. As the loremaster can fall in any of the former classes of players, the loremaster has a different set of tools they learn. They learn the art of criticism. A large majority of these players are well-read players and are familiar to fiction novels. Some have a talent for writing or art as well. Being in an MMO fandom can teach these players about the craft of writing or art. It can be their medium to expand their talent. Already classes in universities are popping up that integrate popular and participatory culture into their curriculum. It helps to spark interest and foster a growth in one's art or writing. Blizzard Entertainment hosts a writing competition each year to find an excellent writer and shower him/her with glory and gifts. This is a great outlet for writers, but it should be taken a step back into the education of that writer and schools should offer more in the field of creative writing and artistic works in popular and participatory culture to help guide and teach students.
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