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Time to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was someone I knew who used to play Warcraft. I respected them greatly, and thought they were one of the best players I’d ever seen. They were never afraid to speak their mind, or offer advice when asked. On reflection, they never gave it when it wasn’t asked for or wanted, either. They contributed to the Community, and were considered as significant by a large number of people. Yet, deep down, I knew they weren’t happy with the way not only the game was being steered, but the attitude of a certain group of players. Then, one day, they just disappeared.

People made their own pronouncements over why they had left, but I knew the truth. They’d woken up one day and realised that ultimately, this was just a game, and life mattered more. That realisation didn’t suddenly make them a bad person, it simply meant that the hold Azeroth exerted upon them had weakened enough for an ability to walk away to outweigh the desire to stay. However, players made their own pronouncements: don’t worry, you watch, they’ll be back with the next Expansion. Except they never came back.

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This is not just one player I know, it is dozens. Countless people with whom I formed emotional attachments for them to just vanish. After a while, I’d begin to learn the drill: a few weeks before this occurred would come the complaints, ways to try and enjoy the game in different ways, before in the end there’d just be the realisation that it wasn’t Azeroth that had changed, but them. I’ve finally realised that’s what I’d been doing since I gave up writing about this game for a living. I’ve been looking for reasons to stay, when all that is happening is that not Azeroth, but a lack of affinity is driving me away. In my particular case, it has nothing to do with the Expansion, and everything to do with the Community.

I no longer feel I fit in: not simply on Battle.net but Social media. Unless you’re prepared to appease absolutely everybody and never suggest a controversial idea or opinion, you have the potential to be squashed flat, and it’s become too much of an occupational hazard. Of course, this has always been the case, since the early days of YouTube and Facebook. What has changed between there and now however is whether I am prepared to keep pushing or not, when this game is no longer something I consider as a job. For a while, sure, I stupidly held onto the belief that what I did made a difference, and I think on that front there really was a measure of success.

Without that achievement, I would never have had the confidence to start my own career into serious writing.

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The problem now is that a section of the player base have gotten tired of criticism. In all walks of life there are struggles and strife, and gaming has for many become the place to escape from everything where you do not want drama, and will actively seek to eliminate it when it takes place. There’s a problem with this: if someone has always tried to stimulate debate and then individuals decide their entrainment is not up for debate, they’re fucked. What this makes clear (at least in my mind) is that social media is no longer the place to go if you want to let off steam or air a legitimate grievance.

You’re either forced to agree with the majority, or you are the enemy.

Basically, I am fucked: I still want to play, but my objections have gone from irritation to becoming tantamount to rebellion. Once upon a time I would have carried on regardless. Now, I am very determined as to where things go. I spent a week trying to lay out what I think is wrong with the game thus far, and when I get back on Monday I will continue to play. If there are observations to be made, however, they will never take place on Social media, because there is no real means by which I can clearly make the points I want.

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If I have stuff to say, long form is the only realistic means to do so. I make no bones about this, but this is no longer my job. If I want to enjoy this hobby I now have, it will be as far away as possible from those who consider gaming as their life. That used to be my story, and remember how angry I would get when people tried to separate me from it. Gaming, for a while, was all I had; without it there would not have been the strength within to choose the path I now decide to walk. That, I suppose, is the final deciding factor in my decision to take away the fuel from the argument that ‘you’re only doing this to promote yourself anyway.’

In the last three months, that’s happened one too many times. Life is too short to hate anyone over pixels, and yet that is what keeps happening, and if there is a way for me to kill it stone dead, then that’s what I’m going to do. All my objections will be posted long-form here, advertised via Twitter. I will no longer take part in Warcraft-related discussion in 140 characters.

This way, everybody wins.

6 thoughts on “The Last Worthless Evening

  1. May be pedantry (which, admittedly, I’m known for), but there seems to have been change on both sides, social media and you, or the gaming community and you, if there had been a place for controversial opinions in the past and now there is not.

    I guess that ties a bit into this whole change as progress down a road/change as taking a different route thing. Bad habits spread out while your goals and values changed comparably fundamentally.

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  2. Personally, I saw where you were going on Friday. I am not sure I completely agree, because I admit to liking (sometimes) the new raid tier outfits. However, you said, for you, personally, the outfits meant nothing and I liked your alternative option… creating your own something.

    Maybe I am just not as invested in raiding…. maybe my view of the game has changed enough that I didn’t see what you had to say as an attack on what I like and want from the game.

    I appreciate your views, they give me something to think about. Helps me with my own tussle with the game.

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  3. the problem with social media is everyone is right. and noone knows how to or wants to have a discussion – people that want to be critical know they are right, peope who don’t think there is anything to criticise know they are right.I think social media is like alcohol – if you are happy it makes you happier, if you are depressed it makes you more depressed, if you are grumpy it makes you grumpier.

    And it lets you find thousands of people who agree with you – proving you are right. Eventually two sides meet like tectonic plates,

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  4. “… wasn’t Azeroth that changed, but them” – this all day. I have long realized that the game I keep discussing that I wished developers would make I wouldn’t even be able to play it. Because my life and commitment has changed from the old EQ days.

    It’s still cool to say “it’s not you, it’s me”, right? =)

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  5. WoW is much more fun when I stick to playing and limit the time I spend in the lobster-pot community. The nice cubby holes don’t make up for the toxic self-destructive guff that is prevalent. These days I post to an audience of one and try not to grumble at people when they say something about WoW with which I do not agree.

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  6. I always look at Twitter as a form of announcements instead of a place for discussion. I never check replies to any tweets (neither mine, nor to anyone else’s), as there is nothing there but noise. Simply the bar is too low (anyone can create an anon account) to expect anything over the level of WoW general chat: anal [eviscerate] + “Super low gold prices and powerleveling on http://www.totallywontstealyourcreditcard.com

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