It’s a brilliant Friday, almost too brilliant to be working. The morning started rather late for me, as the local public transport is on strike (kinda) and so I spent much longer than usual waiting on buses and trams, enjoying the morning sun. Then, opening our guildforum page which I still keep an eye on, retired or not, a thread put a smile on my face, reminding me of the fun we’ve had together in days past. In fact it had me choking with laughter, so strong and silly was the memory that probably only those can understand who share it with me.
The things we miss
The other night, Stumps mentioned to me that it’s quite a long time now since I left WoW, but then I realized it’s actually roughly 4 months since leaving Syl behind at that lakeside in Elwynn Forest. Four months are not a long time, but I have to agree it feels long, much longer than that. I’ve always asked myself what it really is that keeps people playing a game like World of Warcraft for so long – the state of the game, or the community established, and where the boundaries lie between playing a game for yourself and playing it “for other people”.
I never quite found the ultimate answer for myself or rather, for me it’s always been about balance. I know that many of today’s WoW players hang in there for their guilds more than for the game. And I think to some extent that happens for everyone that has established a place for himself, spent years among the same bunch of people and shared countless adventures together. Community is a big factor and sometimes that’s all you need.
At the same time, we all start a game solo; because we like MMOs, because the game seems appealing, because we’re curious and everyone’s talking about it. At those early stages, it’s all about the game. If it doesn’t convince us, we’ll most likely quit. Later, quitting will never be as easy again as it is during that initial “solo period”. There are ties now and fun generated through and by other people, rather than just a developer’s script.
There are also: shared memories that have the power to carry players through “periods of doubt”. It’s the dynamic MMOs capitalize of. It’s quite the struggle too for those feeling they should leave the game but are torn by conflicting emotions.
In the end it’s about what you’re looking for in these games and that’s never the same for each person. It can also change a great deal over time. For me, the balance needs to be there, I play for myself and feel it should always be like that. On the other hand, a bunch of trusted mates are what make a good game not just enjoyable, but make it a great deal more. Without them, things are just not the same. I told those who asked me that I haven’t looked back once since leaving and it’s true; I’ve never had regrets playing WoW and I haven’t had regrets quitting. I haven’t missed my character nor raiding (backpains) for a single day. That simply tells me one thing: that it was the right time and right decision. And to be fair, I think I’ve played the game for way too long to miss any of these things, I haven’t missed out on anything in WoW.
Yet, there are things I can miss, or rather things that make me feel fuzzy inside and nostalgic; they’re locked in funny screenshots and moments remembered. They’re all about the people that were with me when I was still playing and having fun in WoW. I know that if we all went back right now, we still couldn’t bring back those times – for those times, were those times. But the shared knowledge and memory of them is a very fond one and it shows me why I really played the game for as long as I could and what really set it apart from others.
And that will always be true and never fade, locked in the eternal snowglobe of our memories. Mine has a place in the sun and everytime I go there and shake it, the gold flakes inside will dance and glitter as if no time had passed at all. In a way there is great comfort in knowing that nothing can touch the past and some things are preserved forever.
A good weekend to all of you – especially old friends, guildmates and brothers in arms.