What's worse, according to the in-game history of WoW, the Alliance are invaders and persecutors. The gameplay reflects this: Alliance players are cliquish and rarely form groups that last longer than a specific quest or raid. Horde players, in a show of solidarity in the face of opposition, tend to form social bonds that are tighter, more widespread and longer-lasting.

Maybe I wasn't simply a bloodthirsty killer. Sure, I played the way I felt like playing - but perhaps it was the way I was lead to play? Your initial faction choice certainly dictates how you experience the game, but does your personality determine your faction? And if not, can your faction change your personality?

I recall a time when I was waiting for a haircut and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. Somehow World of Warcraft came up, and I felt a brief moment of excitement at finding a fellow player. But I quickly became suspicious.

"What do you play?" I asked

"Alliance. I've got a 70 paladin."

There was an immediate rush of relief, followed by a curious sense of guilt. What would have happened if he'd said Horde - or worse, Undead Rogue? We wouldn't have started fist-fighting or cussing each other out, but would we have kept talking? Would I have become self-righteous? Would he have become petty and malicious?

An experienced gamer and WoW veteran I know named Livret once met a Horde player on a ride home from the airport with his mother in law, her friend and her friend's 20-year-old son, the latter of which Livret soon found out was the leader of a prominent Horde guild. Almost immediately, they began comparing stats, gear and raid accomplishments. The young man ranted about the Alliance and raved about how the Horde, his gear and his guild were superior. Then he made the mistake of bashing Livret's guild.


"If I can't beat him in WoW," Livret must have thought, "I'll beat him in real life." It soon became known to everyone in the car that Livret was an accomplished professional with a beautiful wife, while the 20-year-old was a college dropout and single. "I ganked him in real life," Livret exclaimed. "It was great!"

An Alliance friend of mine named Moonstears started playing WoW in college. One day she discovered that a friend of hers played too, but for the opposing faction. It didn't bother her at all; she was a newbie at the time and happy just to know more players. But when he introduced her to some of his Horde friends that gathered each day between classes, they gave her a frosty reception. She tried to stay positive and asked for advice, but only got insults in return.

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