Riffing on a quick back and forth I had on Twitter, I thought I’d wax nostalgic a little bit about my WoW phase.
When I played WoW, I lived alone. I was unemployed and in-between job interviews and freelance gigs I’d spend 20, 30 or even more hours playing each week. These days if I spend 10 hours gaming in a week, it’s a big gaming week.
Because I spent so much time playing, I was in an active guild and knew everyone else in it. We’d be on Vent with open mikes, laughing, talking, cursing, and laughing some more. I knew my guildie’s spouses and kids (tho as often as not, said spouses and kids were in the guild anyway). I knew when person X walked the dog at night, and what time person Y got home from work. These people were my social circle at the time. We weren’t big enough to be a raiding guild but back then doing 5 & 10 man instances had enough of an end-game feel that they felt very satisfying.
When I wasn’t doing something with the guild, I’d hang out in Stormwind. There was a strong role-play community at the time and I spent hours just sitting around in the taverns in Stormwind, chatting with people while drinking real beer in the real world. Not having a job to go to, I didn’t have to go to bed at a reasonable hour and so got to enjoy “late night WoW” which, at the time, was a period starting at 1 or 2 am and stretching until dawn when a lot of the ‘noise’ of the server went away and the people left felt like a real community. We’d chat until all hours. Azeroth became, effectively, my local bar to hang out in. With so much time to play, I never felt pressured to hurry through anything.
Then life changed. I got a job, got a girl, we all were sort of feeling like we’d done everything we could in-game and people started trying other titles. I didn’t have time to keep up. The guild kind of drifted apart and I left the game.
I’ve tried to go back a few times since, but it’s like going back to the places you spent your evenings-out at as a young person. There’re still people there, but you don’t know who they are, and the music they’re playing is different, and the decor is different, and the guy behind the bar sure doesn’t know you…he was probably in diapers that last time you hung out there. You just don’t fit in any longer and it just feels kind of depressing.
And yet today I bought Wrath of the Lich King and now I really don’t know why. I know I’ll log in, feel incredibly lonely because my old friends are no longer there, and log out again. Maybe Cataclysm will change things up enough that WoW will feel like a new place to me.