a blog of experiences of places and faces I've been, past and present

21 October 2014

Memory Lane

Looking back I can see how I have struggled all along with what I wanted and what I am getting from the game that I play.

GUILD: An association of men or women belonging to the same class or engaged in the same industry, profession, interested in the same leisure, literary or other pursuit etc... see also FRATERNITY


I am a social player. Period. This is not to limit me to a single little box in which I must live to feel comfortable. I'm also an optimist and an extrovert, I still like my quiet time. I got really lucky when I started playing WoW. I found a social guild that understood extrovert and optimist and social and learning by asking and exploring and learning curves. I also found a guild where I didn't know it at the time and I was sort of an odd ray of light in the otherwise somewhat sedate and closed group of friends.


See, when I started playing WoW it was the first REAL video gaming experience I'd ever had in any honestly submersed experience in my life after being the queen of Simon and Frogger as a kid. I was recently shown an article that I wish I'd read before I started playing WoW. The article, in the briefest format, explains that through extensive research scientists can prove that the human brain does not comprehend the difference between playing a game and living a situation. More precisely this is "remembering a situation" and, the point is the same. When you are stressed in a situation in a game the exact same part of your brain is active as if you are physically doing it. Walking, running, climbing, problem solving, feeling fear.


I started a character in a new game that my son recommended. I picked her features and I selected her race and her class with some thought and then I started up the game and everything was bigger, grander, scarrier and more alien than I could have imagined. It took me a week to find out that I could equip new gear. I died in Fargodeep mine and experienced actual fear because I felt lost and outnumbered and overwhelmed.


I was told over and over that I had no idea how hard this game really could be. I had never "done it on a PvP server where everything is tremendously harder."


Ok... so I started a second warrior less than 2 weeks after I started the first one, and I found a PvP server to do it on.


I joined Circle of Swords and I leveled PvP - and I leapfrogged my warriors up by groups of levels depending on who was online and what degree of social I could get. I did it cushioned and protected in one family and I did it side by side and brave in another.


I sat on the hill in Westfall on a PvP server with mixed groups of horde and alliance (I used to mistype Hoard all the time, too, much to the chagrin of my guildies) and I used the /me emote trick to communicate in English with other players from the other faction and I watched good natured jesting and duals and learned why some of my skills were more effective in one situation and others in another.


My first face to face experience with a member from the other faction was a nerve-wracked "Now just don't target him and leave him alone and he wont screw with us because I'm a little higher level than he is..." sort of moment on the boat from Booty Bay to Ratchet so that a friend could take me out to the Barrens... the scary place where the Horde played and leveled... so that I could fish up the fish that I had learned could be cooked and make me into a pirate! or a ninja! And would make me money when sold on the auction house. I circled the Tauren warrior and admired how the gear that was moderately revealing and not quite so massive on my own character looked so awesome on a bigger frame... and I emoted a whistle. And we danced and had some fun until someone's warlock got offended and bad stuff happened and my guide managed to blink off of the ship and the rest of us died in the overlapping area of effect damage around us. When he left the Tauren targeted me and waved.


I was left wide-eyed and spellbound by the time and attention paid to every detail of the game, from the nails in the boards on the boat that I died on to the flowers and the trees and the animals all around me. Sunsets that were spellbinding and situations that were bigger than me and each one was explored, savored and conquered.


Sometimes I intentionally chose which warrior would have an experience first just so that I could explore it in a different way.


I never did really experience that life is harder in PvP - or PvE... really, life was impossible in RP. As girly and irrationally interested in my character's back stories and lives as I am, I am not cut out for RP as it is presented and practiced in World of Warcraft. I have no interest in pretending my pixels are doing something to someone else's pixels that is always best left in the real world because it feels so much better out here than it ever will in a game. And I did my share of "falling in love" and having serious WoW crushes, to the extent that I brought a GM from Arizona to Denver in the hope that the connection we felt when we played together was real outside of the game. It wasn't, and actually led to ruining the gaming experience AND my affiliation with the guild. Because I'm a girl, and I do RP really well in the real world, I guess. I'll always have Myrrdin, though, even if Grug is someone else's honey and even if Jimmy has his own wholly fulfilling life outside of WoW now.


I had marauding Tauren and Blood Elves stop what they were doing and give me tips and pointers, or just spend time hanging out with me even though we weren't supposed to be friendly. I've had opposite faction players mow down my obstacles so that I could get to what I wanted to do and I've had them play tug of war with my pixels all over Hellfire on the day that Death Knights were released into the game with what would become my all-time favorite expansion in the game. And I still didn't discover the all important difference between PvP and PvE that everyone told me about.


In pick up groups in Trade I met as many schmucks as I met really awesome players who would hang around for hours teaching and leading and just killing for the sake of having someone else around who was fun and into the moment in the same way (or a compatible one) they were.


ALL of this... not just a little bit of it... ALL of this is because my first guild in World of Warcraft was filled with people who valued me as a player for who I was and what I brought to their experience of the game they were also playing.


Walking through the tram on an in-game date just to see Nessy swimming in the "fish tank" that is in the middle of the Deeprun Tram. Meta-gaming and min-maxing my first Darkmoon experience and introduced to different places in the game by different higher level friends who were honestly and truly sharing things they loved while simultaneously competing with other friends on other servers who were doing the same and wanting to be first because my every reaction was real, in the moment and unadulterated amazement and excitement. I went wide-eyed and wonderous into every experience, no matter how dangerous, for the moment it brought.


I have looked for those moments over and over... in two expansions I have sought that same wide-eyed wonder where the game I love to pay is filled with other wide-eyed and adventurous players. Sadly, I'm on my own. What I want from the game isn't something I can have anymore, and so I'm in the process of finding new ways to experience the heart pounding first-time watching what happens in Shattrath City when you're allied to the "wrong" faction and make your way onto a tier you shouldn't be on. For those moments when hours of playtime FINALLY meant that I had all of the flight points on the Eastern Kingdoms continent, some of them 20 levels over me and all of them an adventure of searching and asking for in-game landmarks. For those rises and sunsets and stunned silent moments staring at a glade nestled into an area where nothing much of anything except a couple of houses and an explorable place exists, and only because someone might find it.


With every expansion Blizzard has taken a little more of what I loved most away from me in stages. Content too flat to keep the players who loved the raw engagement of Lich King, /me no longer translating across an imaginary language barrier to keep the PvP players feeling somewhat more elite and less challenged by the ability to communicate, flying on Azeroth so that the running between places and actually being IN the game has been replaced with a soaring experience well up and out of it all... so many distractions and too many players whose idea of perfection is to stand around in their quickly earned gear and chatter like morons in a channel created to sell and... gasp TRADE things for other things. Guilds and game screens and chat channels filled with players who are more interested in what they're getting from their hour of play than in what has been said, offered or is even going on in the game for anyone else.

And still I play.

Because there are places I've known that have changed and become something different and every once in awhile I find them and I am spellbound in wonder at the changes... and the things that stayed the same. Broken chat, broken specs and whining babies all over the game and here... a rediculously 80's glowing swamp full of lighted animals and a surreal rainbow of flying and striding creatures, all still there to be found in Zangarmarsh. Untouched by time for 6 years. And here a broken dam and pieces flowing down into a zone where my favorite NPC now has his own whole area complete with a garrison and an inn... Rethiel, my Greenwarden.

The park is missing and I still remember walking proudly with my heart pounding through the rebuilt retextured Stormwind on my way up the hill and into the massive castle for a first face-to-face with the human WARRIOR King. I play a human warrior first and foremost, and here was my payback for my determination.

SO many experiences, places and people... with every expansion there is something less, and something more and the very real experience of exploration and at the same time avoidance because the race begins towards the top one more time. And every time there are complaints and I want to slap people, I really do. "Try losing the soul of your experience and trying every time you turn on the game to find it again in some small way," I want to say to them angrily. "Try doing this my way just once and tell me it's not absolutely more damned fun to EXPERIENCE it. The mastery comes naturally as a result."

I only play for the experiences I can get with the guild I'm in. That's why I stay in social guilds. And even that has changed just a bit... and so I'm searching again on the eve of a new expansion into my most favorite "other world" in the game. Searching for the things and places that make that place in me just that little bit excited... for the things we can do and share and explore... and for the experiences that the whiners and complainers say don't exist, can't be had or have never found because their eyes are on the keys and not on the screen.

My boyfriend says often that everyone is playing their own game. Mine is one where tons of other people are loving the same things that I am loving because I like to find people where I am with similar interests. Every time I log in to WoW I have that experience. Sometimes I have to look for it. I am standing on the precipice of a whole new expansion and I am not bemoaning my lost skills or all the grinding I will eventually have to do... I am gathering myself at the starting line and digging starting blocks with the toe of my shoe because it's almost time to GOGOGO again... and when I'm done there will be familiar old faces and names and places in the game to go back to and remember, and some will be comfortably unchanged and all of the rest will be just a little new and different to remind me to look back more often.

It is just who and what I am that I can bring to any experience... and it is only who and what you are that you can bring... are you ready to really play this World of Warcraft?

Because sometimes it has been said before in another way on another day and still holds abundantly true.

and pics... because I'd forgotten how much I love the faces of my girls...








I feel like I'm doing my sentiment no justice... and that's ok. :D

I know what I meant.

peace... and if it can't be peaceful then mount up on a land mount and choose a random direction to ride for 15 minutes. this is world of warcraft.