Let’s MAP OUT!

When I was playing World of Warcraft (WoW) I found that besides doing quests and dungeons, the mapping of the game is interesting. What I mean by mapping is to create a route for gryphon’s stations, which allow me to travel from one place to another faster. However, the stops are only created if you have walked there and talked to the gryphon master, who has a green exclamatory mark. As you set up the new station, whenever you need a ride from one place to another, all of the previously opened locations would appear on the map.

I first found this action to be a narrative (diegetic), when I discovered a new stop by doing a quest that required me to talk to a gryphon master. I received a flight to King Village, which opened a new location on my map. However, looking deeper to the setting of all the stops, these actions are procedural and nondiegetic machinery acts rather than diegetic (narrative). These activities show how WoW works, not simply from the narrative words or visuals, but through actually completing the processes WoW embodied and the models it contained.

This led to an understanding of “Procedural rhetoric” that Bogost claimed. It also leads to an agreement with Alexander Galloway’s claims that “Since the nondiegetic is so important in video games, it is impossible not to employ the concept, even in a negative issuance” (Galloway, 8). In WoW, the mapping provides convenience for a player to finish quests. In addition, when a player is traveling by a gryphon and opens the map, he/she can see the direction they are traveling to and potential quests on the map once they finish with the current quest. This helps to illustrate the importance of mapping and more specifically the critical function of nondiegetic acts in the gaming world.

However, it also contains some diegetic function. It makes you feel as if you are actually traveling through time and in proportion to the distance you travel. The farther you travel the longer the player has to wait in front of the computer. This forces the player to stop and watch what is happening on the screen, although he/she still has some control, like pressing the stop bottom. This moment has created an interesting combination of diegetic and nondiegetic machinery acts. In addition, when the player is sitting on the gryphon, the ambience act takes place: “The ambience act is the machine’s act” (Galloway, 8). When the player is traveling the user is on hold, but the machine is still on in an ambience act. Although this machinery act is not composing a story, it clarifies both the macro and micro environment of World of Warcraft and gives the player a better sense of the game.

Galloway says “gamic elements that are inside the total gamic apparatus yet outside the portion of the apparatus that constitutes a pretend world of character and story” (8), is exactly what the mapping act doing in WoW. When you are creating a new route you are not actually participating in the event, but it is necessary to upgrade and develop the player’s character.

Work Cited:

  • Gaming; Essays on Algorithmic Culture. 21 Vol. Portland: Ringgold Inc, 2006.
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2 Responses to Let’s MAP OUT!

  1. djs125 says:

    I too find the way you get around on the gryphons very interesting. Once I found out about having to talk to the the gryphon masters to set a new flight location, I actually started searching for them every time I went into a new place because before I got a horse, travel was crazy and flying made it much easier. I like how you say that you don’t actually participate in creating the new route but rather unlocking it, which helps develop your character allowing him/her to travel to many more places in the game. I never thought too much about how the gryphon system worked, but it is actually really interesting and you gave great insight to how it works.


  2. KeepCalm22 says:

    I think it’s a tricky subject when you’re determining whether the gryphon system is diegetic or non-diegetic. In a way, I definitely agree that there is a non-diegetic quality to the mapping system, as the map image in itself is not a part of the world of the game, rather a visual effect that only players can see. I do find the system to be a bit inefficient. Even if passing through a city may not be the quickest route, the gryphon still flies out of its way to pass through certain checkpoints (an act that players frustratingly have no control over). However, maps, gryphons, and the locations in which they fly are still part of the narrative, which makes me question how non-diabetic maps actually are.


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