WoW Tales: Sharing is Magic
By Tara Roth on July 31st, 2012 (14 comments)
When I graduated from school 3 years ago I thought I had my life together. I had done well in my program and there was always work for a biology major. Boldly I stepped from the podium, diploma in hand, ready to face a bright new world of opportunity. But it was not to be. While I was getting my degree, the U.S. economy had tanked and climbing out of that academic cocoon was like opening the door of a fallout shelter to see the wreckage left by the bombs. What was once confidence on the faces of my cohorts became the haggard pinch of desperation. Work was beyond scarce, it was virtually nonexistent, and experienced technicians that used to be invaluable to their companies scrambled like rats for any job that hit the market, shutting out any possibility of employment for new blood. Being a new graduate was a complete dead end - I was screwed.
Stuck at home, I tried to make the most of the situation but it was hard. I can’t stand being idle and with San Francisco weather being what it is, I started threatening that I would paint the walls of our rented apartment with pink polka dots just so they would stop matching the dreary white fog outside. Concerned about my mental health, Bob did what any World of Warcraft player would do to help a friend in need.
He got me into WoW: Wrath of the Lich King.
It was slow going at first. Bob had played religiously during the Vanilla days so after a period of mindless questing we started to run into people he knew. Suddenly I, the recent failure, trapped at home out of fear of spending money, could socially interact with people. Soon we had a guild built up entirely of friends. Our mission? “Hopefully kill the Lich King before the Cataclysm expansion drops.” Our motto? “Drink to make it hard.”
There was Maltheus - A sadistic rogue with a pregnant wife. Atsah - A hunter with a retarded pet bear named Harold that would always get us killed. Drusus - A mage with a busy work schedule. Natsuma - A healing druid with a veritable zoo squawking and barking away in the background. Holtberg - A healing paladin (played by Bob’s brother) that would get completely wasted during raids but still somehow manage to keep Vigo, our tank warrior, alive. Finally, there was Praznaga, our guild leader who spent most of his time trying to herd us together like a pack of cats. If you picture the inhabitants of a primitive, rowdy bar from a Conan: The Barbarian movie, that was us. Surprisingly, the combination worked well and we kicked ass.
I started logging on more often, just to shoot the shit or work on some minor task. It happened gradually, but this rather casual gamer learned how to actually play. You see, Bob is an MMO power player. He reads blogs, looks up patches before they launch, and researches websites for builds in order to have the most powerful character possible. Elitistjerks became my source for inspiration, the rest was up to skill, and given that I was unemployed, I had plenty of time to practice THAT.
So Usagaijin (You’s-a-gaijin), a troll hunter who’s companion was a Durotar pig because it annoyed all the other hunters, became the highest DPS in our guild. I was asked advice on my build, my rotations, my gemming and my pet. I would get in chest-beating competitions with other DPS classes during dungeons and even in massive raids with multiple guilds, I would still end up near the top of the charts. When we finally got a Ventrilo server, I will never forget the shock in their unified voices when they found out I was a female.
Then things changed. We lost our previous guild leader and with the new one came a massive overhaul. Our new mission? “Become the greatest guild on the server.” Our new motto? “Guys, this is serious.” Drinking during raids was discouraged (which our tank aggressively defied) and unnecessary talking amongst ourselves or arguing with the raid leader was not allowed. Raiding had become a job where I was expected to perform my best every time Usa walked into a dungeon. As a veteran guild member, I was expected to raise a second character to star status, raid now 2 or 3 times a week and log on every night to help gear out the newbies.
Within a few short months the core guild had collapsed and with the loss of our friends came disinterest in the game. A few months later, Bob and I canceled our subscriptions. We tried a few other MMO’s - Rift, Guild Wars, and Everquest to name a few - but nothing stuck, and we realized that the only part of the experience that had been fun was the social aspect.
These days, MMO’s are losing popularity. Even Blizzard’s Goliath WoW has been hemorrhaging players and as there hasn’t been any significant rise in the number of subscribers to other titles, it’s difficult to tell where these players are going. So I would like to pose to you, dear reader, what are your stories? If you played an MMO, why did you quit or why do you still play? What interested you in playing in the first place?
Tara is a part time writer and full time scientist living and working in San Francisco, CA.
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