With a new World of Warcraft expansion in the news cycle, it’s only inevitable that the Flying discussion cycles around again.
So, when there’s a view that says “flying is bad“, I can’t help but think that they have a different perspective on what this World of Warcraft is.
(Caveat: As I noted on Twitter in a comment to Big Bear Butt when he mentioned his article and that WoWInsider piece, I don’t mind waiting until the end of an expansion to be able to fly through it. I think it’s a sledgehammer solution to the perceived problem, but I can live with it.)
One of the most repeated rationales for this worldview is that “flying makes the world smaller“.
To me, this is a completely alien way of looking at it, and completely backwards.
Yes, flying makes it possible to travel around quicker. It makes it easier to plow through content. It makes it easier for players to ignore enemies stuck on the ground and forces players to jump through the developer hoops and pacing.
(Aside: When a game monetizes time, I consider it a cardinal sin for devs to waste my time, trying to find ways to slow me down.)
Also, from a technical standpoint, it does make something look smaller if you increase your distance from it, so flying up in the air will make something on the ground look smaller.
And yet, from my perspective, the ability to fly makes the World of WoW much, much bigger. This is true for one simple reason:
I can explore more of it.
Flying opens up new camera angles, new places to go and see, and new ways for me to see how places relate to each other. It’s a new perspective on what’s already there, a way to see things that I simply can’t get when I’m stuck to the ground.
It’s similar, in a way, to how I see the real world. Yes, digital photography has allowed for more of the world to be captured and shared than ever before, and the internet makes it possible to “see” places around the world from the comfort of home. In a way, it “made the world smaller” inasmuch as you don’t have to walk or ride out to see the sights yourself.
And yet, from where I sit, if I could never see those places, they may as well not exist. (At least as far as my own personal experience, anyway; I’m not arguing any sort of absurd anthropic “China doesn’t exist because I didn’t hear a tree falling there” or any such nonsense.) Being able to see, even just a glimpse, of what’s out there doesn’t make our world smaller, it makes it much, much bigger. There’s all this stuff out there. The more I see, the more I want to see, and the more aware I am of just how much there is that is there to see.
This is the beauty and fascination of the National Geographic magazine, or the Cosmos series. They help us open our eyes, just a little, to what’s out there.
And when I see that, the only thing that feels smaller is me.