Starting a new account or even in a new starting area in World of Warcraft the screen scrolls in movement as you take in the atmosphere and scenery of this new place, a narrative being spoken as you tour the scene as well as the orchestral music playing in the background. All of this serves to grab the new or old user’s attention from the very beginning. Past this there are the vivid colors, music specific to each zone, some very beautiful and scenic areas and some very harsh and ugly zones, all serving to draw the player into this WORLD of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft is very crafty with the use of icons. Making each things use very clear. Remember the names of spells, remembering the name of what armor or trinket to equip, where to repair an item, etc etc. Spells are organized by boxes and pictures at the bottom of the screen. These boxes can even correspond to the numbers on your keyboard so activate a spell can be as easy as typing a 1, 2 ,3 etc. Looking for a specific item you can open the icon with a little bag or satchel picture and find the picture of the trinket or shirt that you would like to eqip. Similarly new additions whch have added to WOW’s usability is the looking glass icon on the mini map which allows you to select by text and picture what you are searching for. The characters health is put at the upper left of the screen with the health and ‘energy’ used in different colored bars. This gives a very clean organized and easy to follow interface, presenting a good perception to the gamer.
After playing several different characters and different areas the quests and enemies hold familiarity. The player can begin to recognize certain strategies that work on a certain type of enemy, which run away, which heal themselves. Using this useful recollection later on. Also the quests begin to regeister to the gamer as “Oh this is a collection quest”, “This is a grinding quest”, “This is a group quest”, causing the user to recognize what strategy to employ or typ eof play to expect. Particularly hard quests, instances, bosses, etc tend to stick in the mind of the users, causing discussions, group-brainstormed strategies, whole websites dedicated to discussing them, and more.
I would actually argue that without someone or something guiding you through the initial learning process of this game, it is very hard learning curve. Admittedly the game was very hard and confusing for me as I played my first character for several reasons. Thankfully since it is a social game, new users learn through shared experience from other players. For those players who don’t play with friends or haven’t oops’ed there way into a guild that can help them, there are even step by step online guides that can describe what to do and where to go so that the new player isn’t left lost and wandering the starting area aimlessly. However, beginning players may not even know that the guides exist. And other players may not be very good at or very forthcoming with explanations and help, particularly if the questions are constant as the new player learns the game.
There are built in ‘helpers’ for the players to on the fly figure out aspects of the game. There are channels for the general area, finding groups, guilds, etc which allow players to discuss aspects of the game as they play it. Mentioned earlier the magnifying glass icon allows players to find where certain things are sold, where to repair items, where class trainers are, things a player may not initially know the first time they visit a new area. For technical issues, there is a icon on the bottom bar with a question mark that allows the player to scroll through a list of common issues and easily find a quick fix to the common problem or contact a GM for uncommon problems.