Realm first 80th level achievement title

17th November 2008 – 8.16 am

I recently wrote about the dubious value of the Going Down? 'achievement' in World of Warcraft, where Melmoth left a comment about the fuss of there being an achievement in place for being first in the realm to get to 80th level on release of the new expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. I've been pondering more on some of the achievements and, with a few realm first messages popping up on the servers it got me thinking.

With the release of the previous and first World of Warcraft expansion, The Burning Crusade, there was at least one person who raced his way to 70th level. The first person to reach the level cap received quite some publicity, positive and negative, for having done so. It was thus inevitable that more players would try to achieve the same feat in getting to the new cap at 80th level, with or without an achievement system in place. However, that still does not mean that Blizzard should make the race legitimate and reward players in-game.

On the one hand, the players are speeding through content in a matter of a few days that is meant to last the best part of two years. On the other hand, the content can be enjoyed at a more casual pace a number of more times with different characters, even with the same race and class, so arguably no content is lost. My concern is not so much with those that achieve the realm first of getting to 80th level, it is more with all of those who are racing to get there who are not quite quick enough.

By all accounts, getting to 80th level so quickly requires heavily dedicated playing, unsurprisingly enough. Spending many consecutive hours behind a computer, taking time off from work or school and other commitments and activities, all for a chance of attaining an honour that means nothing outside of the gaming community, and little even to most people who play the game. To be beaten to the realm first by another player denies this minor reward, effectively wasting the player's time even more than it was to start with.

At least Blizzard have achievements in place for each race and class, as well as the first 80th level character overall, so there are opportunities for multiple people on each realm to receive some notoriety. Even so, I wonder how many people will have spent long, tiring hours behind a keyboard only to see the realm first message appear that applies to their race and class when they are half-way through 79th level themselves. I wonder what wave of emotions they suffer through when that happens.

I was thinking if there might have been a way for Blizzard to acknowledge the competition to become the first 80th level character whilst not exactly encouraging it. I came up with the idea of adding a suitable title that could be applied to a character's name for the achievement. Achieving the realm first of an 80th level character could earn that character the title of 'Knobhead'. It would be exclusively reserved for players who get to 80th level first, so it could be shown off as a matter of pride if it mattered enough, but at the same time it might really narrow down the competition to get there first.

The title would be entirely optional, of course. You wouldn't be forced to spend the rest of your time in game being known as 'Knobhead $charactername', but I think that's the genius of it. You can either care enough about the achievement to want people to know you as 'Knobhead', or you realise that perhaps it isn't as much of an achievement as you first thought and decide to remain anonymous. It's something Blizzard can think about for the next expansion.

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