Warcraft: Orcs & Humans was a 1994 real-time strategy game by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC. Almost my entire PC gaming hobby started with this one game. We got a new Macintosh for Christmas 1996. It came with a few fun games I enjoyed, but it wasn’t until I played Warcraft that I saw how good a game could really be. It was groundbreaking to me in so many ways.
I never planned to get this game. It just kind of dropped into my lap. Well, not exactly. In my childhood neighborhood, we always had a neighborhood garage sale. The association would take care of the advertising and signage. All the homeowners would take care to have all their old things displayed on the sale weekend. It was a great time. This was the booming ’90s. Everyone had money to spend.
One year during this sale, I went riding around on my bike with my mother checking out what was for sale. My mom wouldn’t let me get a Super Nintendo, so I was stuck looking for the old regular Nintendo games. There were quite a few. In that one year, I must have gotten ten new games to play. Finally, we got to the end of the neighborhood lane. There was just one garage left to look through. I was already out of money, so I had no expectations. Then I saw this Warcraft box.
I wondered what it was. I had never bought a computer game before. The only computer games I had were the ones that came with the computer. The pictures on the box looked neat, so I pleaded with my mom to buy it for me and let me pay her back when I got my allowance. Luckily, she bought it or I may never have gotten into computer games.
When we got home, I focused on the Nintendo games. I knew to expect great fun from them. I wasn’t so sure about this idea of a computer game. After a couple weeks, I did finally install Warcraft and launched it for the first time. It blew me away. It wasn’t just that the gameplay was different from every other Nintendo game I had played, it was also the focus of the game. The story, characters, and themes were probably the biggest focus of the game. I had never played a game like this.
The manual for the game was near 100 pages, far more than the manuals for any Nintendo games I had. In addition to explaining how to play, it went deeply into the lore of the game. I liked to read, so this book of a manual was right up my alley. I remember that first night staying up on Friday until 1 am playing the game. My dad made me go to bed, but I took the manual with me. I secretly stayed up all night reading all the stories in the manual by crouching next to my nightlight.
When I got back to the game, I played and played and played. Now, the game was too tough for me halfway through. I ended up finding cheat codes to get through the harder missions, but I absolutely loved exploring everything in this game. The game had a campaign for the humans, the good guys, and the orcs, the bad guys. The campaigns were alternate realities. In each one the player personally ensured victory for that faction, but it was open-ended which campaign had the true ending. Many times I played this game again just to see the cool movies between the levels.
Warcraft immediately turned me into a fan of Blizzard Entertainment. Over the next decade, they could pretty much do no wrong. Every game they made was a hit, not just upgrading the graphics but also adding many new mechanics to keep gameplay fun. Their games were so good they could be played like a hobby in themselves. I could still be playing Warcraft: Orcs & Humans today learning new things and getting better at the game. I only stopped playing Blizzard games recently. I chose to pull back from video games to give myself more time to study my faith. I will always remember Warcraft though and all the years of fun I had with Blizzard Entertainment.