My journey in the World of Warcraft started much like everyone else -- I picked up the game shortly after release, having heard that it was turning out to be a good MMO. I had bought EverQuest 2 right away after it came out, and while I still have a soft spot for the game, it never lived up to its potential. WoW was much larger and had a much richer story to it. More so, the community was amazing.
It took me all of a month to get hooked, WoW was more fun than boring college classes (although they're much more important, of course). It is, by far, the longest game that I've ever played. Sure, there's been some breaks now and then. Sometimes work takes me away from it for weeks at a time, but my toons are still there waiting for me. Safe and sound in the virtuals of Azeroth. My first character, my warrior, still has his Tier 6 look and is ready to onslaught at a moment's notice.
While I got into the game via looking for something fun to do, I kept with it because of the community. I found that not only were there similar people playing the game, but that the vast majority of them were nice and just wanted to team up to kill some internet dragons. I grew up reading The Hobbit and the adventures of Drizzit Do'urden. Suddenly I was able to stand face-to-face against the mighty dragon, and stealth around my weaker enemies while blade-dancing my foes to death. In life I was but a lowly college student, trying to find his path, but in the game I was a hero, committed to a quest of grand proportions.
Of course, as with all fantasy, reality struck and I was suddenly faced with options in life.
Do I continue to play the game or do I take advantage of an opportunity for a great job? At the time I, correctly, thought that the opportunity in-front of me was going to be a life-changing move, one that would put me on a career path I always wanted. So I took it and became a part of the administration team at a regional classical symphony. Day-in and day-out I'd work to produce concerts, and I'd retire to my home at night to kill the dragons. During this time I fell in love with my future wife, we moved in together, and things progressed. But WoW was still there as a fun hobby, never leaving far.
After departing the orchestra, I was unemployed for a few months before, on a whim, applying to WoW Insider. When Dan O'Halloran emailed me back and told me I got the gig here, I thought he was a scammer just trying to get my social. At that point WoW became a job for me, and I stuck with it even when I didn't want to -- because despite it being fun as a hobby, anytime you make something a job the fun goes away. There was times when I was ready to give up the game, push it away and never log in. There were times when I facepalmed so hard at decisions made by Blizzard I should have, in all honesty, quit and left. But that's not what adults do, and the emotional reactions never help. So I calmly (most of the time), bit my tongue and just didn't log in much. Every time this would happen I'd always fall back into enjoying the game as a hobby, without fail.
I continued playing because of all of you, and I'm grateful that you've given me the outlet.
Today, after taking some vacation, I found myself wondering why I still do it. Frankly I'm a pretty busy person. I've got a couple gigs I juggle, I live in a great city with lots of friends and family, and there's always something going on. A video game as deep and demanding as WoW shouldn't have a place in my life -- I have to think my great-grandmother would look at me and go "You have a beautiful wife, great jobs, and you want to go run around killing dragons in a second life? Well then."
I loved my great-grandmother, she passed away a while ago, but not until she saw the information revolution and saw me make my first paycheck making webpages (with Netscape Navigator 3.0, to date myself). She lived through two wars, a great depression, several recessions, landing a man on the moon, and the vast shrinking of the world. I wonder what she'd think of things today, where we try to escape all of the crazyness we've brought upon ourselves by transferring our essence into virtual people with swords and staves.
It's in this that I realized why I'm still playing. WoW is providing me with a breath of calmness. It helps me find my center, gives me a place that's tranquil and familiar where I don't need to worry about the outside world. Time travel? That's nothing compared to the fractured nature of humanity and the constant failures of people to just be nice. I'd take a time-traveling Orc any day.
I'm generally not a fan of prompts in articles... but I want to know. Why do you still play WoW? What got you here and what's keeping you in your seat?
Filed under: Analysis / Opinion