It’s a bit hard to write a blog about a game when you’re more than an hour’s drive away from your computer, but what absence does for me is allow the ability to reflect on what I have when I can’t play. Many will tell you that holidays should be about a change, that you shouldn’t care or worry about the stuff you leave at home. However, Warcraft is not one of those games that stops happening when you’re not at a computer yourself. In fact, it continues merrily onwards regardless of whether I’m playing, or indeed subbed. At all points of the day or night, somebody is in Azeroth, and that’s a testament… But to what?
Why do so many people remain attached to a virtual existence which, depending on who I believe, is tenuous at best?
As has been previously established, my connection to Warcraft is fairly strong after just over a decade, and I continue to willingly and consciously contribute to a community that bears (at least in places) little or no resemblance to the place at which I began. However, I remain in the same Guild I started my life in, with some of those people being a significant part of my real life existence. In fact, one of my best friends was met via my time online, and when he was here on business from Canada earlier in the year I made a point of dropping everything to go and see him. When a game creates those kinds of connections, it becomes more apparent why people choose to keep it in their lives.
Then there are those who ink the game onto their skin, or register their cars with appropriately themed registration numbers, and after that there’s weddings and children named after NPC’s… And the list goes on. I only have to look to my left this morning to see the Warcraft-themed item of luggage I bought with me to understand that, like it or not, this game is now an intrinsic part of what I am. Even when Warcraft no longer exists (yes it’s entirely possible) my relationship to it will remain. However, I’m not playing 24/7 any more and have consciously stopped dedicating evenings and weekends to raiding or obsessing over progression. Many would state that actually, I’d be better off stopping the relationship with writing and thinking about the game altogether.
But that’s the thing. I’m not obsessed any more. I was, but not now.
I’ve done my time with addictive behavior, at least in this place. I know what matters, and how that affects people, and one of the lasting gifts I have Warcraft to thank for is highlighting that kind of behavior in myself. With the benefit of distance it becomes a lot easier to rationalize and consider, for starters. However, without the determination the game gave me to be better than I was virtually, I’d honestly never have possessed the confidence I now own in the Real World. Some may laugh at this, but the truth is remarkable and intractable. My virtual life grated a strength in that reality that seeded belief in this one, that I was capable of being more than I am. Thanks to that I am achieving things I never thought with possible or likely. Of course, I have a lot to do with this change, but trying to pretend that Azeroth wasn’t a factor would be both foolish and inaccurate.
It is, however, not just this that keeps me attached to the game.
This is really fun. There, I said it. Even when it frustrates and annoys and is all about the RNG it remains a brilliant, entertaining and distracting part of my existence. Even when all I have time for is making gold via a login, that’s still enjoyable. Even when the leveling experience is shocking the 12th time around? I still go there and organizing for the next time it happens gives a sense of relaxation and achievement. This game has become my second home, and I’m more than comfortable with that written down so others can read it. I don’t think those who tell me that we need to make Azeroth great again really understand how this whole thing actually works best. However, that’s not the fault of the game but the perception of the individuals involved.
Some people will never be happy, however many times things are changed to try and please them. In fact, those people ultimately end up moving on and looking for their ‘answers’ elsewhere. It takes a particular type of person to be able to find happiness with others imperfections, when all is said and done. Personally, as I have gotten older, it is less about worrying over what I can’t change and more of a focus at what is doable and achieveable myself. Anything is possible in my own personal world but in Azeroth? The intractables become a method of judging myself to a different standard. I know what’s possible, and that’s where I work. I won’t get stressed at not achieving HFC until it is Legacy, because that’s my choice and never Blizzard’s problem.
I come and go to Azeroth now as I please, because I solved my problems with the MMO. I am happy and comfortable talking about these things, and how ultimately the whole has changed my life. You won’t see me doing it on a talk show any time soon, but if people ask what I enjoy? Warcraft is always night on the list. Even when I can’t play, it’s still in my heart and soul. I think, in the end, that means that this game’s done at least one person the power of good.