I didn't participate in it, mostly since I don't have any particular home. Sure, there are some places that I like more than others. As a matter of fact there are quite a few, such as the twilight zones of Zangar and Duskwood, the happy greenery in Elwynn or the hill just behind the inn in Westfall, which happens to be a wonderful hideout for nightly meditations under the starry sky. But I couldn't point out one certain spot, claiming it to be my home, and as a matter of fact it doesn't bother me. My home is in Azeroth and that's enough to me.
I'm not playing WoW to furniture a house. If I did, I could as well play Sims or build myself a real life doll house. I play WoW to kill dragons, explore strange new worlds and hang around with other geeks. Besides, if I ever feel that I need a steady point in the WoW universe, I beleave that I already have it. It's called The Pink Pigtail Inn.
Wolfshead takes a different position in a recent post, where he once again argues strongly for player housing. He talks at length about the importance of player ownership, putting up Farmville and similar social network based games as an example to follow for the MMO industry if they want to remain successful.
He points at the benefits of allowing player ownership, claiming that it helps the players to bond with the virtual world, which will give a deeper more meaningful game experience for the players and more loyal subscribers for the game company. He also claims that it will contribute to create a better community, since players who don't own anything are mere guests and tourists and behave as such.
This isn't exactly news: Wolfshead has talked about player on many occasions before, like in the spring 2009. My conclusion after pondering upon this issue for a while and asking other players with experience from games with player housing, was that it certainly sounded like something that could be "nice to have" but not necessary, which I wrote in a reply post.
Now that Wolfshead brings up the topic once again, I looked back at my post to see if I had changed my mind, and I found that I really hadn't. So with the risk for repeating myself, I'll follow Wolfshead's example and talk about it one more time.
What to do
My major objection with the house idea is that I don't see what you would do in there. I'm afraid it would grow old fairly quickly, unless you put features into it, such as storage services, vendors, mail and AH. But on the other hand: if you did this, you would risk draining the cities from the players who make them come alive.
Is it really all that fun to be a house owner that you want to do it when you're gaming as well? You know what? I don't even own the real life house I'm living in - I rent it. Yes, I know it might sounds shocking - at my age you're expected to have paid your mortgages for years. But our family has decided to live a fairly modest life style, free from such things as a second car, fancy furniture or a summer house. We haven't invested in property. At all. We eat simple; we live simple, but we invest in experiences. My daughters may not have big and beautiful rooms like their friends have, but on the other hand, they've been on safari in Tanzania, they've done an unforgettble road trip in California and soon they're about to make a journey to India. And actually they don't complain. Not a bit.
I probably should blame Thoreau for this. I read Walden as I was young and even if I can't sign on all of his ideas today, he has had an infuence on my perspective on life.
Among other things, he made me realize that you won't automatically become happy just because you own a big property. All the work that comes with it, all the obligations and the need to maintain it, can become such a burden that it enslaves you.
It's not about you owning the house anymore. It's the house that owns you. I've seen it happening in real life a number of times, to friends at the same age as I who have prioritized the creation of their home to other activities in life. Even if they're not even remotely interested in crafting and building, they end up spending all their leisure time on different sorts of house renovation projects. There isn't any end to it.
Let the players decide
My thoughts are wandering too far away from the topic, as they tend to do on Friday nights. Let's go back to the issue on player houses. I don't look for them for my own part, because I think I'll have more fun exploring the world. However, I'm not the only player in WoW, and if Blizzard decided to go through with this idea I wouldn't rage against it.
If Wolfshead speaks the truth and there's a big enough interest for this among the players, I can't see any reason not to go ahead with it. It's definitely more interesting to me than projects such as remote AH access or Battle Net communications over game boundaries.
All I ask for is that they find a way to deal with the logistical issues, making sure that neither the houses, nor the public space areas in the cities, will end up as deserted ghost towns.
For my own part I'm not sure if I'll ever bother to settle in one of those virtual houses. I'll end this post, quoting a couple of lines from poem "In motion" by the Swedish poet Karin Boye.
The best goal is a night-long rest,
fire lit, and bread broken in haste.
In places where one sleeps but once,
sleep is secure, dreams full of songs.
Friday night toast
My Friday night toast this week goes to all of you wanderers stopping by at this inn on your journey through life. Please make yourself comfortable by the fire. There's room for everyone. May your sleep be secure and your dreams full of songs!