Why Do You Play WoW? A Difficult Question.

Why do you play WoW?

I got asked this question last night on Steam, as I sat at Stables in Arathi Basin (a point capture PvP battleground) doing essentially nothing but going “LALALALALALA.”  What surprised me was how I didn’t have an easy answer.  “Habit, Nostalgia, and Comfort” was finally my answer.  Then I was asked to explain, because those were pretty vague, as I searched for the answer it really occured to me what a unique ‘game’ World of Warcraft really is.

To those that don’t know my history inside WoW, I’m now on my 3rd account with the game (not simultaneously, but brand new account, abandoning my old ones.)  And each represents my growth as a gamer, and WoW’s development policies change.  I started in the beta test, I remember talking to every NPC in every zone because !’s don’t appear, the song “Lament of Captain Placeholder” holds a special place in my heart, and I remember Taurens running through their natural habitat at ‘ludicrous’ speed ala planestriding (which later became the running in Vash’jir.)  I created two characters, when it went live, I rolled a night elf priest and tauren druid on Feathermoon. (I miss star shards!)  I hardcore raided, and was in the 3rd guild to down the original Onyxia ever.

My second account came mid BC, after I quit very early BC, I met up with a friend who was practically family, they talked me into coming back, and I rolled 3 toons, a hunter to play with them, a blood elf priest, and a night elf druid.  I progressively raided, but not hardcore, I was in an RP guild, I had the largest pet collection on our realm (literally able to get the skunk 5 minutes from achievement launch because I had that many pets in my bag/bank.)  I was still a very consumed player, but I wasn’t pushing myself as much, and actually stopping to smell the roses to say.

My latest account I made at the same time as my friend Calvin, and it’s been very casual, we’ve done two whole LFR’s together, we’ve done PVP guilds, roleplaying guilds, and currently take our adventure to trying no guild for while.  I’ve been on roughly 6 realms on this account, with 85’s on nearly all of them, only recently returning to my roost on Feathermoon.  It’s been a very casual and relaxed go, and we only pick it up every now and then (though when we do it’s usually for many many hours.)

World of Warcraft is a game I play, mostly to just play it honestly.  I’m not attached to any characters, it’s habitual, the mechanics are comforting.  The fact I know the science of the game is comforting, where most people are daunted by them, once you do really start to understand them, where to catch back up again, if you’re gone for a week, or 6 months, after just a little reading, learning the changes to the 5 or so buttons you hit most regularly, it’s easy to pick back up.  The surroundings and characters fill me with nostalgia, even after they were all ‘redone.’    ‘My you’re a tall one,’ ‘zug zug,’ and ‘Bala’dash malanore’ are phrases that stick clearly in my head.

The last thing is people, not friends, no your average random, but WoW has spawned some of the most memorable and enjoyable people in gaming I know, I’ve made some good friends in WoW over the years (though many now reside in friend lists elsewhere.)  Yet it spawned Alamo ,a character who gave me hope that the game could grow and change; Totalbiscuit, who has taught me more about the gaming industry and entertained me for years;  Myndflame, whose parodies have made me smile and giggle a lot;  Oxhorn, who taught me what Machinima was, and made me laugh; Leroy Jenkins, who taught us that being stupid could be popular and never forgotten; Kungen, mighty owner of Thunderfury, blessed blade of the windseeker;  John Patricelli, the mightiest of the Bear Butt Tanks; Larisa, runner of the Pink Pigtail Inn, my first experience at blogging for media’s sake, and now runner of the Velvet Cafe for movies; and Gutrot the naked  troll warrior.

I’ve never believed in a real ‘WoW community’ unless we’re really going to lump people by the products we buy, but then I think I’d rather be known as part of the Samsung Air Conditioner community honestly.  Yet what WoW does have is players, and sometimes some exceptional players in personality, in gaming skill, in personality, in giggles.  ALAMO TEECHED ME HOW TO DURID.

I don’t consider these players famous, some aren’t even well known in WoW anymore.  Few people remember Alamo, which is a terrible shame, he kept me playing my druid, reminding me how to really enjoy the important aspects of the class and remain true to myself, as cheesy as that sounds.  To know the line between being as optimal as I should be with -my- character (well informed, know my class, it’s stats, etc. . .) and playing a character entirely for someone else.  Alamo’s initial message on how the Druid class worked, trying to give us strength, with silly internet meme like pictures, isn’t necessary any longer, Blizzard has made Druid a truly viable choice, and no longer takes their stance that hybrids shouldn’t be as good as pure classes.  Yet the emotions, and happy silly ‘be nice to everybody’ message he conveyed could certainly be used by the majority of WoW players.

What I can say is these players have touched me and made me want to grow as a Player, to let who I am connect with my characters, to stick to my ideals and ethics and play -my- way, while still making sure to try to maximize enjoyment for everybody.  Other people’s enjoyment -is- as important as my own, and both are necessary to have balance in game.  I have hardcore raided WoW, and I have casual dailied WoW,  I play WoW because it introduced me to lifechanging people, and reminds me how to be a player of many games.  To be a player I can respect.  To remember to go sit in Menethil, raise some dwarven ale, and remember everybody who’s touched my life.  The vistas, quests, and mobs that helped shape my online personality, the ability to research and analyze mechanics to have a well informed opinion.

I don’t play WoW because I enjoy the game, it’s quite old now and shows it.  I don’t play it for friends.  I don’t play it due to loyalty of a character, a company, an account.  I play it because it’s comfy, because it helped shape my core gamer identity, because it introduced me to so many people who touched my life, because it can still make me smile, it’s where I started to see and learn and love gaming media, and because it always feels like I’m returning home after a long journey to new, exciting adventures in other games.

That, is my complicated relationship with World of Warcraft, and why I play.

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