So my husband bought Cataclysm and resubscribed. He succumbed to peer pressure. By all accounts, when word spread that he was coming back to WoW there were over 100 people included on the mailing list. Apparently he was so fun to game with that a mailing list was created to announce his return. You can imagine my surprise.
The thing with us is, we don’t game together. This is by design. We’ve tried and we invariably end the evening on opposite ends of the house sulking and angry. Maybe it’s a product of differing playstyles, or maybe it’s a personality conflict. I suspect it’s both. When we were both playing WoW we both played as tanks (in separate guilds), he as a warrior and me as a druid. Tanks in WoW are expected to posses a certain amount of leadership. Draw whatever conclusions you wish.
So he now has Cataclysm.
At this point I must admit to a certain amount of jealousy. Jealousy over his computer (the fact that it works and isn’t over 8 years old) and jealousy that he has something fun and exciting to do while I wait for Guild Wars 2. There’s a million other reasons and counter-arguments that chase each other around my mind but it all boils down to that little kernel of unhappiness.
So out of compassion (for he’s not a bad man, and I love him dearly), he encouraged me to check out Cataclysm on his account. He even made room on his already over-full roster so that I could have two characters on the server he frequents.
I made a goblin hunter, and then I made a worgen rogue. I spent the next few hours playing the worgen. I worked my way through the beginning story, found myself confused and lost only once when I had trouble finding a cellar door (wth happened to Wowhead?), and then erupted into the world at large (I think). The phasing technology that was premiered in Wrath of the Lich King was kinda neat there, and it was cool to be able to turn around and see part of Gilneas descending into the sea, but I’ll be damned if I could tell if I was in The World or some crazy half-persistent limbo. I don’t like being in limbo.
I wanted to play until I reached a major city (every race has one) but eventually I became frustrated and gave up. I don’t know if it was a result of the download (nice job on being able to play and download, but Guild Wars beat you to it by 5 years) or something that’s intended, but my map won’t fill in. This sounds like something inconsequential, but it Bugs The Hell Out Of Me.
So I happily walked away from the worgen (who is now sporting a top-hat and looking sillier after every new armor piece) and did something else for the rest of my Saturday.
Sunday evening my husband encouraged me to give it another go and I fired up my goblin hunter. I didn’t play the goblin for as long (long enough to find myself shipwrecked), but I found the goblins, simply, /fun/. In a game that has been compared to a drunken frat party, goblins are the tightly spinning dynamo of ludicrous at the heart of everything that makes you want to /facepalm.
But in a good way.
My feelings towards WoW are obviously mixed. I think it’s over-priced and definitely over-lauded, but I also spent a solid year as a hardcore raider. During that time I met some wonderful people with whom I still talk on occasion. I learned what it is to lead, and I learned my own limits. Such lessons are invaluable and will follow and aid me even into Real Life. I started a gaming blog and through that, have met even more new and wonderful people. In truth, if it wasn’t for WoW I would not have eventually switched my focus to Guild Wars. I would not have joined Ryan on the Relics of Orr. There are hundreds of “would not have”s, so I’ll cut the list there.
Like any profound learning experience (I’m not unaware of the irony and geekiness of calling any experience obtained in virtual space a ‘profound learning experience’, but nevertheless it was), the lessons are invaluable, and should be treasured, but I begrudge the pain of having to learn them. There’s a pull there for me that I don’t want to succumb to. Raiding hard-core and on a schedule (as any hard-core raiding must be done) put stress on my personal life. My husband and I both have been on either end as well.
Gaming for us must be casual, it must be spontaneous. I was worried that giving Cataclysm a try would draw me back and lash me down. Thankfully, that has not been the case.
After playing 12 levels of worgen, and 6 levels of goblin I’ve come to realize (in my heart of hearts, for I already knew this in my head) that it wasn’t the gameplay that kept me tied to WoW, it was the people. In the vacuum that I was, playing a new race, in a new area, in a game that has become so different from the one I used to play, I found my interest wavering. While the game is different enough to be interesting for a time, it’s still terribly the same. Almost all quests are fetch and carry, kill x of these, go here, do that.
There are some notable exceptions. As a worgen I had to defend a wounded man from incoming unsavories, as a goblin I got to run down looters with my car and provide entertainment for a company party. But those glimmering moments weren’t enough to keep me interested through the pages of quest text. I wanted to know the story, but I do my reading on the couch or in bed, not sitting upright in my husband’s uncomfortable computer chair.
My tolerance for quest text is all but exhausted. My patience for being led by the hand from point A to point B has come to an end. I find more enjoyment from the simple act of planning a public rail system in Minecraft than I do from slogging through the Same Old Quests in WoW. And they really are the same. By reading the quest text (I do every now and again) I see they have more relevance, but the actions are the same.
There’s nothing there to keep me. My husband’s online friends are not mine. My old account has been through no less than three hacks since I deactivated it. My druid is a night elf now through no action on my part, and it’s altogether too much trouble to try to sort out and pick up the pieces. That might all sound like specious excuses until I load up my worgen or goblin, play for a little bit, and remember that yeah, it’s not really worth it.