Educational Gaming
World of Warcraft Isn’t Just for Fun Anymore

A series of studies by researchers for the American Psychological Association convention last year have shown that World of Warcraft, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, can help with the development of mathematics, scientific analysis, social development, problem solving and basic economics.

World of Warcraft, the world’s most subscribed Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game currently has more than 11.3 million monthly subscribers and more people continue to subscribe.

In the game, the players pick an avatar, a digital representation of the player and customize their appearance, their race and their class. Then the players have to achieve a set of goals that correspond with the growing experience of their characters. When the character reaches a certain level of experience, the player can start working towards group-oriented objectives. These groups can range in sizes from 5 people to 20 people. These groups strategize their actions and work together to successfully defeat obstacles.

The game teaches the importance of setting short-term goals to complete achievements and working together to reach both personal and group goals.

A primary focus of game play is problem-solving. When players need help, they often turn to other players for assistance. Establishing these companions leads to “questing friends” and contacts who the players can speak with if they need help with the game. This can create personal bonds with the other players and eventually lead to topics of conversation about real life occurrences.

In more complicated, higher level areas of game play, scientific and critical thinking becomes more intense and players spend hours researching finite details so they can perfect their strategies. Players can also access forums, like “”, which offer a plethora of information that contributes to the problem-solving aspect. The goals become more difficult as the player keeps gaining more experience. The player’s equipment and resources progress in the same manner.

Players learn basic economics when it comes to the auction house, where they can buy equipment and other lucrative game goods that other players have accumulated and wish to sell. The concept of capitalism and supply and demand can lead to a player making revenue if he understands the market. Players also learn budgeting techniques as they begin their first character, to ensure that they can afford the armor and weapons that they need for quicker kills.

“Some players buy other players’ gear then put it back into the auction house for more money,” said Cole Radford, a UCC student and avid World of Warcraft player. “This in turn shortens the supply in the auction house causing other players to buy the high priced item that they need.”

Studies by the American Psychological Association have shown that the games produce benefits in the professional world. The study demonstrated that surgeons who played online video games, such as World of Warcraft, preformed better. The surgeons were 27 percent more successful at intricate surgeries and were 37 percent less likely to have an error in the surgery. Studies of fighter pilots have shown that the pilots who played video games in their spare time had better hand-eye coordination, which allowed them to perform better.

The game is ever-changing, and thus amusement is infinite. Blizzard, the company that owns World of Warcraft, is constantly updating the online game to expand the experiences. So not only does the game help basic skills, it can help in the professional world as well.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.