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Customization in World of Warcraft: Still Ahead of its Time.

User Interfaces are as unique as each individual playing the game and can take hours to get "just right"


By now, most computer-literate people have heard of the game World of Warcraft. There are currently over 10 million people actively playing World of Warcraft and, as of 2011, the total in-game time gamers have spent playing WoW has nearly exceeded 6 million years.

The game has also been subject of numerous print and online articles, the cartoon South Park, and there is still a live action movie in the works. In short, World of Warcraft is a cultural phenomenon.

One of the groundbreaking aspects of World of Warcraft is the ability to modify the game experience through the addition of "add-ons" with small third party code collections that provide support for features and activities not supported by the base game. The ability to collect and use specific add-ons in WoW provided a completely modifiable user experience to the game; you could rearrange the location of actions bars, you could add additional functionality to group frames that allowed for easier management, and you could automate basic functionality.

Some of the most used add-ons provided such a rewarding experience to the World of Warcraft players that the game developer, Blizzard, ultimately included the same specific functionality into the native game client.

"Time is Money, Friend"

Ultimately, this amazing functionality began to show a major drawback. Gamers became increasingly dependent upon the add-ons to play World of Warcraft. Many players would spend hours upon hours reconfiguring their user interfaces and the game functionality through their add-on collections only to have to repeat this process after major patches and client updates.

The true horror stories for heavy add-on users came after a hard disk failure or system crashes. These players would have to either recover their data from backups or spend many hours downloading, installing, and re-configuring the entire game interface and then add-ons before being able to return to the game. It could often take hours to get a single interface setup, and then need to be repeated for each additional character and server. It was a lot of lost time, effort and energy.

"You are not Prepared"

Unfortunately, most new games are published without support for extensive add-ons or modding capability. This lone fact may speak to the longevity of World of Warcraft more so than others may. Players then and today prefer the flexibility and control provided by the add-on community and would rather play a quickly aging game over a newer offering with no add-on support.

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