What's the broad-based appeal of World of Warcraft, Desktop Tower Defense, Orange Box, Wii Sports, Civilization IV, and other top video games?
This story originally appeared April 12, 2008.
When the day's work hassles are over, many PCs don't shut down, they simply downshift to other deeply engaging worlds. For some people that means volumes of video and music downloads. For others, the soothing balm that makes the day's worries melt away is video gaming.
World Of Warcraft has recruited 10 million PC gamers into its highly addictive gaming arena.
Anyone who thinks video games are for kids, hasn't seen the results of a recent survey from AOL and the Associated Press:
More than half of all adult gamers are under 40 years old.
One third of all adult gamers are married and have children.
The typical adult gamer spends 2 hours each week playing video games. For games where there is shooting, the average is 4 hours, and role-playing gamers devote even longer -- 5 hours.
"It's not about eating dots and shooting pixilated aliens anymore," said Ralph Rivera, Vice President of AOL Games in a statement.
So what is gaming for grown-ups all about? It's about epic historical adventures; futuristic quests; wizards, trolls, and assassins; cinematic military conflicts; dazzling mental jousts, and much, much more.
We've compiled a list of the top video games. Our criteria: No kiddy-fluff topics or characters, an emphasis on deep layers of strategic or tactical thinking, interesting story-telling, and lots of replay value. If you're already an avid gamer, you might find one you haven't yet tried. And if you've never played, there's no better place to start than this list:
Pros: Allows you to exercise your inner Dungeons & Dragons nerd. Extremely easy to play and it is an excellent way to combine socializing and gaming.
Cons: Addictive. Can take over your life to a destructive degree if you’re not careful.
It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I recommend Blizzard’s epic online game because it has single-handedly ensnared more than 10 million PC gamers into its web of highly addicting fun. In the gaming business, that's called that a good problem.
What is it that makes World of Warcraft so special? Three of the biggest reasons are: 1) It feels like you’re playing in an epic Tolkien-esque adventure; 2) It allows you the ability to play with other people; and 3) it allows you to indulge your innate need to collect things.
The way the game works is simple. You start off by creating a character. In classic Dungeons and Dragons style, you can choose between a fighter, magic user and numerous other character types. After naming the character, you join the world and begin playing immediately. What you do and who you do it with is entirely up to you, but it will likely involve slaying monsters of some kind.
One of World of Warcraft’s greatest strengths is that is extremely easy to play, so much so that everyone from children to 70-year old grandmothers have become hooked. It’s worth a try -- particularly if you’re interested in the ins and outs of virtual living.
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