So it’s happened again. I cancelled my World of Warcraft (WoW) account…again. About three years ago, I wrote this article for AssociatedContent.com about how MMO’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) had all but derailed my real-life. I was addicted. And like most addicts, there was a short break from the vice, and then I was back into WoW again. And sometimes, I came dangerously close to that debilitating addiction once more, but each time, I was able to distance myself enough so that it did not become as crushing as it once was.
Well, three years have passed since I wrote that article, and four and a half have passed since I started playing WoW in the first place (and well over 10 years have passed since my first MMO, Ultima Online). And now I’ve cancelled my account once more with no real intention of really picking it back up, though, given the past few years and times I’ve cancelled it, the possibility is always there.
What caused me to cancel this time was simple: I’ve grown up. I can no longer justify that much time to a video game, much less that much time to a video game on a schedule. I have always been the kind of gamer who was in it to win it, so to speak. I’ve never been a casual player, so when I played WoW, I played to raid. And throughout my time playing, I’ve played in guilds that could kill most of the available raid bosses (my most current one could kill Sartharion + 3 drakes in 25 man, netting my Death Knight the title of “Twilight Vanquisher” before 3.1 and Ulduar came out). Now, setting myself up as a teacher and managing my free time between my girlfriend and my family, I simply don’t have time to play the way I like to. And there’s no reason to play a game, really, unless I enjoy it.
That said, I am going to miss it. Well, let me rephrase to clarify that: I am going to miss the people I play World of Warcraft with. I’ve met a lot of people over the four and a half years I’ve played, and I’ve met the best of them in real life (heck, they’ve crashed on my couch and on my living room floor). We’ve partied, we’ve drank, we’ve killed dragons and elemental lords together. And now I’m not going to have the primary communication mechanism I’ve always had to keep up with them. And that worries me because I consider these folks legitimate friends. Maybe Facebook will be enough. I hope so. There is talk of some of them coming to visit TN this summer, so I hope it happens.
And on top of the people I’ve met in game over the past few years, I’m going to have to figure out new ways to keep close tabs with my friends I grew up with/went to college with that doesn’t involve Warcraft. When I graduated from college three years ago, my friend base scattered. Some of us moved back to our hometown, some of us moved away for grad school/law school, and some of us stayed around the college town. Needless to say, for a group who had spent almost all of our free time together, this was kind of a big deal. And how did we solve this? We adventured on WoW together. No, we couldn’t sit in Suite 2A’s living room and watch bad movies or Bob play through Silent Hill 3 on Extreme 10 for hours on end, but we could go run Stratholme or raid Molten Core. We had voice chat through Ventrilo, and we had our own guild in WoW (Honeysuckle Hombres). That’s how we stayed in touch. Over the years, some of us have stopped playing, but most of us are still there, and a lot of us still play together regularly. And that’s what I am going to miss the most. I am going to miss logging on and playing with my friends because it was one of the ways to really feel “close” to those people who were hundreds of miles away.
And then there’s the game itself. I was terribly burned out on World of Warcraft before Wrath of the Lich King came out in November to expand the content of the game. I had raided (as a healer) for years, I had PvP’d (again, as a healer), and I was simply tired of the content of the game. And when WLK came out, I hoped to rekindle my love for the game by trying out the new class the game had to offer (Death Knight) and raiding with a completely new class in a new role (as a damage dealer rather than healing). Unfortunately, by the time I was able to get to level 80, my friends were way ahead of me, and I had to play catch-up. And when I caught up, I found that I did not enjoy the game as much as I remembered in the past. Raiding was stressful and boring now instead of fun and exciting. Playing a DPS class was not the new experience I hoped for; I wished I was healing because it was more fun for me, personally. And on top of it all, my new work schedule along with finishing graduate school, and balancing my girlfriend/family time did not allow me to make any of the scheduled raids once things got hectic.
So now the semester has ended, and I’m on break from work (I don’t have to teach until June). I graduate on Saturday with my Master’s degree, and I still cancelled my WoW account. I’ve got a month, sure, but after that? It will be back to the same old song-and-dance that’s kept me moderately involved for over four years. And I don’t want that. I want to get back to finishing books I’ve bought over time, and I want to finally finish some TV seasons that taunt me everytime I check my Netflix queue. I even used what money I’d made from AssociatedContent.com lately to reactivate my WoW account last week to see if a different playstyle could rekindle my desire, and it couldn’t. I just kept thinking of what a waste of time it was. And when I start thinking of the hobby I am supposed to love and enjoy as a waste of time, then I think it is time to move on.
Will I miss it? Yes. Will new content patches bring me back? Maybe. But it will never be like the old days. Nothing ever is. I will remember fondly the time I spent playing the game. But I like where I am now. My life is really starting to take shape professionally, and I do not want anything to get in the way of that. I am having more fun lately without WoW than I am with. And as for keeping up with friends, well, that’s what this iPhone is for, right? I can call/text AND Facebook on it. It will take more effort to keep up with my friends, but in the end, it’s a better situation. I will not have to deal with losing myself in a false reality, nor do I have to worry about scheduling out my hobby so that it does not interfere with life. And that’s a good feeling.