The idea of embarking on a quest is deeply rooted in narratives. A common form of narrative, it embodies the character’s struggles to overcome his journey. This is further extended into the world of gaming where a player must achieve a certain task. In the form of World of Warcraft, WoW, a player must fulfill the objective of the quest in order to receive a reward. The quest is one of the very first game mechanics that the player encounters when beginning the game and is deeply connected to the playing experience. This blog post will be dealing only with solo quests obtained through an NPC.
The quest begins through the image of an exclamation mark above an NPC and by right-clicking on him or her, a separate screen pops up. A brief intro gives the purpose of the quest as well as some background info, a list of rewards are shown, and the user can either accept or cancel the quest. The quest usually breaks down into a few types of activities but mostly revolve around traveling to a specific area and performing an action. The reward gives the player a reason for performing or accepting the quest, usually a way for the player to advance to additional parts of the game.
According to Bogost’s How to Do Things with Video Games, he defines the experience of proceduralist games as “aris[ing] primarily from the player’s interaction with the game’s mechanics and dynamics, and less so…in their visual, aural, and textual aspects” (13). The quest is one of the primary mechanics a player engages with at the lower levels. The quest embodies most, if not all, actions that can be performed in the game. The message arising out of a quest is to encourage the player to take action within the game world. Interacting with various environments, enemies, creatures, or items slowly acclimates the player to the game world. Having quests linked to various NPCs in different geographical regions allows one to become acquainted with that environment.
Accepting a quest occurs in what could be considered a non-diegetic space. Residing in that non-diegetic space is a map marker to the location of the quest in the diegetic realm of the game. The interplay between these two spaces facilitates the exploration of the game world in an efficient way. Once a player arrives at the location of the quest, an action or many actions must be performed in order to complete it. Some of the most common actions involve killing a certain type of enemy. This diegetic act pits the operator against the machine. The conflict has two outcomes, either the operator completes the quest and obtains their reward, or a non-diegetic machinic act occurs and the player dies. The games’ mechanics are geared to allow the player to complete a quest eventually in order to obtain their reward. Not only that, but the quest gives a player multiple chances to become acquainted with various other mechanics of the game. Namely how to engage in combat with various enemies.
The idea of the rewards is to give an incentive for the player to participate in a quest. The promise of better equipment or additional experience to obtain the next level and in turn gain additional abilities is enough of a reason for many to perform the repetitive tasks. The reward is a way for more parts of the game to be opened up to the player which will provide a richer experience. Perform a set amount of tasks or quests and more options will become available for the player to engage in during future quests. Ultimately, the quest mechanic is a form of giving reason to interact with the environment by promising a richer playing experience, to acquaint a user with the various other mechanics of WoW, and to encourage a player to interact with the game world.
Bogost, Ian. How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2011. Print.