My first impressions of Wizard101, during the beta, was that I had discovered a whimsical, yet challenging game that was simple enough for kids but deep enough that adults could get into it also.
That hasn't neccesarily changed, and I'm still having fun. However, I've got a concern now that I've played for awhile.
It seems like the game is, in many respects, a gateway game that is training a new generation of gamer to expect the same kind of gameplay that has been the core of EQ and WoW and all of their clones.
Specifically, the "run to the dungeon at the end of the street and kill the same boss over and over and over and over and over... until you get his best/most rare loot" gameplay.
Essentially, it seems to me that while the game mechanics are reasonably original, (See Chocobo Tales:Final Fantasy Fables for a similar kind of game)the game PLAY is in many respects the same old, same old. Worse, as I mentioned above, it's actually going to be acting as a training ground that conditions a whole bunch of young gamers into growing up into teenage and adult gamers who expect that this kind of tired gameplay is how games SHOULD be played.
The biggest example of this is Krokotopia, where I'm ostensibly liberating the Manders from the Kroks, but there's no actual discernable effect on the world. The Manders TELL me what a hero I am, but I never SEE it in the game. I play the story once, and then spend all of my time pulling the handles of the same one-eyed bandit boss battles repeatedly, whispering the mantra "THIS time he'll drop a pet!"
I'm only a fan fiction grade of writer, but one of the first lessons I had hammered into me was "Show, don't tell". The game tells me all kinds of stuff but it never shows me anything but the same static world and ultimately the same Pavlovian style of gameplay. That's a failing of most MMO's. It's not unique to this one, and I suppose the developers can be forgiven for taking the road most traveled when it's a proven money-maker.
I just really dislike the idea that we're molding this kind of expectation into even younger kids now instead of offering them innovative and horizon-broadening gameplay that makes them grow up to the WoW's and EQ's of the world asking "Why aren't you as good as this other game I played when I was ten?"