I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the WoW Boom De Yada video based on Discovery Channel’s The World is Just Awesome campaign. If you haven’t, go ahead and take a look. The Discovery Channel commercial makes me smile every time (they have a couple versions) and almost never fails to cheer me up considerably. The WoW version, interestingly, sort of does the same thing, but instead of the real world, it deals with the Virtual World we all spend so much time in.

It’s one of those things that comes along every so often and makes me pause in the midst of questing or farming or chatting to just look around and blink and realize what an incredible game this is.

The world of Azeroth is impressively large. I remember that being one of the first things I noticed and the impression has stuck with me. When I was but a fledgling newbie I felt like the world went on forever and never ended. I never thought I’d be able to see all of it, to cross from one end to the other. And each map was new and unique, and I remember thinking it was one of the prettiest games I’d ever seen, and that was long before I had a machine that could actually display it in all its splendour. I still have some of my baby-screen shots of my old alts long forgotten and my main when she was level 3 and wearing a bunch of greys – they’re all pixilated and terrible compared to the grand sweeping panoramic screenshots I take now with my brand new machine (woot for cranking every option in the video list to MAX).

The Eversong woods, when I first saw them, blew me away. Mulgore. Howling Fjord. Feralas. Ironforge. Black Rock Depths. Black Fathom Deeps. Even the Deadmines. These places are gorgeous, if you just stop a moment and look around. I have a massive collection of screenshots that are just landscapes. I can’t help it. There are places in this game that, for me, are art.

I’ve been playing Warcraft for five years, now – since just after its release – and if I occasionally burn out, I’ve never quite gotten bored. Every class is unique. Every role is different. Every race has a different flavour. There are enough quest options at low levels that I don’t have to repeat the same ones every time (though after five years and more alts deleted even than I can remember, it sort of blurs…). This game has replay value like no game I’ve ever played. Even when I go through a petulant period where I hate it, inevitably I return.

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the community. Warcraft has evolved into more than just a game. It’s become some kind of freaking staple in my life. I’ve got two game accounts, a comic subscription (which I don’t remember renewing, but the comics keep coming…), a magazine subscription, and now a blog. All – and I do mean ALL – of my friends play Warcraft. It’s the single most common topic of conversation when we get together. No matter where I go I will find someone who plays it. When the game gets boring, the community keeps me playing.

And when the community gets problematic (a bad guild, too many bad PuGs, too long in Barrens chat), sometimes the game keeps me playing until I can get a new guild, stop pugging, or GTFO of the Barrens.

Blizzard has created a remarkable playground for us. I’m glad I let a friend talk me into trying this game out. I’m glad I stuck with it this long.

“Just Awesome” just about covers it.

Completely and totally aside – for those members of SAN (either US or EU) who aren’t yet aware, the guild now has forums. Head on over and register!