Opinion, WoW

6 years

Curse you.

I think too much.

This post is by Razzmatazz.I’ve figured this out by thinking a lot about it. It’s a personal characteristic which might be more commendable than thinking too little, but my inclusion of the word “too” already implies I don’t always consider it a positive thing. There’s something to be said about ignorance being bliss. I often envy the more impulsive, the people who don’t reflect on every aspect of their life a million times, the ones who can make a decision without constantly changing their minds. It seems so much easier. But I think too much, and I can’t help it. It’s just who I am, I suppose. I go over the most miniscule problems in my head a hundred times and I’d rather think something through over and over than actually take action or discuss it. It’s exhausting sometimes. Feeling this need to obsessively contemplate everything.

In other news, World of Warcraft is 6 years old now! How about that. I logged in yesterday and got the related Feat of Strength without even knowing about it, much less paying a lot of attention to it. I went about on my regular post-Shattering questing, not giving it much thought. A couple of hours later I checked out MMO-Champion’s front page which had a news update on the 6th birthday, featuring a picture of the Feat of Strength. I glanced at it and innocently asked myself the question “where was I, six years ago?”

I shouldn’t have done that.

Soon I found myself overwhelmed by an avalanche of thoughts and questions. “Where was I, six years ago?” was followed by “what’s changed since then?”, “where will I be six years from now?” and many other existential conundrums.

Of course, we all ponder about how quickly life seems to be going by from time to time. But this was much more than a casual sigh, I found myself evaluating what I’d accomplished in the past six years, and what I hoped to accomplish in the next six. Much more than a simple “holy shit, six years ago I was 16 years old!!?!?” I realised that core aspects of my life had changed in the past six years, important factors of my personality completely shifted or gradually grown into something entirely different than what they once were. For better? For worse? I don’t know. My entire thinking and world view has changed in the past six years. My view on games. On music. On culture in general. On people. Religion. Society. And crucially, myself.

This is old me. Note the poor screenshotting skills, blurry textures and unimpressive mount.

I’m not trying to say here that the sight of a single achievement suddenly made me re-evaluate my entire perception of the nature of humanity or something equally overblown, because frankly that just sounds too silly to be true. What’s my point here then? I’m actually trying to figure that out while writing. It’s certainly interesting that I, a person who I consider to think far too much for his own good, has seemingly never really reflected on long-term changes like this. Or maybe reflected too little on those changes, or in the wrong way. Because if I did reflect enough, why would I be so genuinely SHOCKED at the amount of changes in my life over the past six years? It’s not that I didn’t KNOW about these changes though, I just never actively took the time to think about them in this way.

Then there’s that other question I mentioned: where will I be six years from now? Which is perhaps an even more interesting question. As I’m fully aware that I’m going to have to take some drastic, life-changing (determining?) decisions in the next six years, which will shape me as a human being. I’m at THAT point in my life. Frankly it freaks me the hell out. The future has always scared me. In fact, CHANGE as such has always scared me. I’m a creature of routine. As long as things are going their steady, slightly boring way, I’m happy. This is related to what I said above, naturally: whenever something changes, I’m given more reason to think. And an unstable, entirely unclear future, where I’m going to have to make some crucial decisions on pretty much every aspect of my life soon, is thusly my idea of.. well, hell is too strong a word.

I’ve written far too many paragraphs now without a clear point, so let me try and move towards one. Gently, step by step. First of all, I’d like you, dear reader, to point your gaze sky/ceiling-wards for a moment and think. Perhaps you’re like me and you believe you generally think too much, maybe you’ve even thought about this very thing not too long ago. But it’s an interesting exercise nonetheless: what’s changed in your life over the past six years? And where would you like to be, or where do you think you’ll be, six years from now? Maybe it won’t be nearly as enlightening or shocking an experience as it was for me, but that’s fine.

The sky, to which I recommend you point your gaze when lacking a ceiling.

Furthermore, I’d like to avoid this post becoming a pseudo-philosophical, and to be fair pretty egocentric (I’ve talked far too much about myself in this post) mess unrelated to this blog’s usual subject matter, so let’s talk about WoW.

What I noticed when having a bit of a think (which, perhaps, is a misnomer), is that WoW has (ironically? frighteningly?) been one of the sole constants in my life over the past six years. To be fair it’s more like five and a half years for me, as I started playing in the summer after the European release, but yeah. I’ve taken small, month-long breaks for studying and the like, and have occasionally limited my in-game activity to logging on once a week for a month or two, but have never actively “quit”. And during my breaks I always followed the latest WoW news, lurked on some guild forums, or tinkered with potential alt specs or model viewers. The fact that WoW’s always “been there” in the past six years and has indeed been one of the constants in my life is all the more remarkable because EVERYTHING ELSE seems to have changed. Maybe I’m just attributing that characteristic of continuity to it because this suits me pretty well for the current blog-writing purposes, but I genuinely think it’s true.

Aside from the slightly worrying fact that I’ve been playing a single game for this vast period of time, it’s also really interesting to think about. Perhaps WoW has served a specific function for me in that respect. A sort of lifebuoy (to phrase it rather strongly), something I can always come back to and cling onto when all else fails and I’m left drowning in a SEA of change. I’m not saying that it’s more important than everything else in my life in that sense of course, that’d be ridiculous. But it IS valuable. It’s more than escapism, too, because it’s not always about escaping. It’s about some things remaining constant and predictable in a world and a life which occasionally moves too fast for us (me) to handle. Like a pair of old slippers which will warm your feet at night no matter how your day at work/school/miscellaneous location went. Never judging, always offering a comfortable, lazy familiarity which you sometimes feel the need to get lost in.

They're not really slippers, but they haven't lost their ability to keep my feet warm, even in the snows of Northrend.

Of course, there’s an added factor here which complicates things. WoW isn’t like a singleplayer game from the 1990s. It’s not static by any means, on the contrary. It’s an actively changing entity, in both game mechanics, structure and the people you interact with. Old friends leave, and worn-out slippers of game mechanics are thrown out, replaced by shiny new ones which smell of shoe stores and unfamiliarity. No wonder people protest.

In an effort to render this post as exhausting as one of my own thinkvalanches, I’d like you to think for a moment about what role WoW has played in your lives. Perhaps it’s been an entirely different one than the one I’ve described here. Maybe it’s been a factor of change as opposed to continuity as your “relationship” with it has always been unstable, one of quitting and returning and then quitting again. Maybe you only started playing a year ago but you’re already noticing it doing “something” more than just entertaining you. It’s quite possible this all sounds entirely ridiculous to you, and I’m attributing far too much importance and (yes) thinking far too much about this. That’s quite okay! All I want is for you to reflect on what WoW has meant to you in the larger context of your life over the past *insert period of time here*, and perhaps share it with me if you’re comfortable!

This is new me. Note the increase in shininess, improved screenshotting skills and fairly impressive mount.

As a final note, this is why achievements are bad.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “6 years

  1. Looking up at the ceiling drew my attention to a rather worrying crack, and also made my head hurt a bit.

    Six years ago I was driving a little red F-reg Fiesta that would only heat up by the time you arrived at your destination, and working at City Housing, while contemplating studying Computer Science or Law and moving back to South Africa. My digital vice of choice was Counterstrike, and it would be another six months before I even *heard* of WoW. But it is fascinating that it has been a fairly constant factor since then, especially when I consider how many of the folk I knew from back then are still around.

    WoW has been a way to keep in touch with friends, then a way to make new friends, then a refuge from an increasingly crazy life, then something from which I had to take refuge. Academically it’s been an opportunity to explore questions of identity, contextualisation and the essentials of community. It’s also sometimes been a heavy responsibility or an unwelcome distraction when I’d rather have been focusing on other things (or nothing at all).

    I guess the only thing it’s ever always been is a pretty Other place that I can access instantly and Do Stuff in, which may not be profound or surprising but is at least consistent. And because it’s consistent, that does afford it a somewhat incongruous, importance-by-association as a benchmark – like the shelf holding all your notes from previous years at Uni or the filing cabinet full of old bank statements. Except, y’know, fun.

    Posted by Charles | November 30, 2010, 11:22 pm
  2. I started playing WoW around the same time period. At the 6-yr point, though, I wasn’t married. I was a college student living with my fiancee (gasp) playing around in City of Heroes while trying to figure out what great role I would take in saving the environment as a scientist when I graduated.

    Then I got a job with a consulting agency and worked with a bunch of clients who thought wetlands should be farmed over and to hell with watersheds and groundwater pollution, and HEY LET’S DUMP DEAD COWS AND REFRIGERATORS IN THE SINKHOLE! and I said “eff this” and moved over to educating the next generation about why these things are bad. I became an aunt. I became a wife. I became a druid. I became a co-director of a volunteer scout camp. I became a blogger and met many wonderful people, and found a plethora of thought-provoking writers.

    I can handle change, and even expect it. Change is probably the one constant in life that I can rely on. I hold on to things knowing they won’t last; I love and care for others knowing they won’t always be around; I grieve for those I’ve lost, and tribute their memory. I play WoW without regrets, enjoying my time with it as an experience I can’t get sitting around in my house, using it as a way to interact with people and let my imagination run wild.

    In 6 years, will we have foot pedals as extra modifier toggles, and VR headsets, and be raiding some new level 120 version of Onyxia saying “You know, kiddies, back in the day…” ?

    Or will we still even be playing?

    Dunno. Time will tell :)

    Posted by Kae | December 1, 2010, 9:47 pm
  3. This is an entirely frivolous point (which I apologise for, given the thoughtful post) but (helpful icon aside) I can *usually* tell from the opening line who is Charles and who is Razz, and this makes me /flex internally because obviously blogger-voices are quite important.

    But then you began this post with “I think too much” and I was doomed.

    I genuinely loled.

    Fantastic post – I have *no idea* what I was doing 6 years ago.

    Posted by Tam | December 3, 2010, 2:39 pm

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