Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back To Basics

It feels nice in life to return to your roots. It doesn't matter if it is going home to the house you were raised in or returning from a long trip to be greeted by your friends. In WoW, I have been slowly returning to my roots lately and I am finding it much more enjoyable than anything else I have recently been doing. When I first started playing I found three things that I truly loved to do in WoW. Two of the three things were directly linked and the third was a by-product of not doing the others. Everything else in the game was pretty much just filler for these three things:

1. Playing With Friends

To me WoW is a social game in that I started playing because of friends I worked with and in return I got my own family and friends playing as well. It was originally just about spending a few hours a week running around in a fantasy world with friends that I was not afforded the luxary of being able to run around with all the time in my every day life. In other words, I started playing my very first online game when we first learned that my wife was pregnant. I decided that it would be much cheaper to stay at home versus running around with my buddies. At the cost of going out to sports bars, movies, and the like it made much more economic sense to find something I could do at home and for fifteen dollars a month it seemed like a deal. By being able to play with my friends it was as if I were still able to run around with them getting into trouble.

2. Actively Seeking Out PVP

When I first started to play WoW, my friends from work already had maxed level characters for the then current content. One of my other buddies started playing and together we worked on leveling our characters between getting corpse camped. It was during this time that I learned to love PVP as did my friend. As a whole, most of my friends would prefer to camp an Alli instead of go run an instance or raid. This worked well and provided hours of amusement on a PVP server. Once I finally hit level cap I formed arena teams with countless friends and sometimes we won and other times we lost, but we always had fun with the game.

3. Auction House

If you ask of my friends in WoW they can attest to my love of the auction house. I made my gold by selling what no one else wanted to. I worked the auction house primarily between PVP matches or running the occasional instance. My friends use to have to drag me away from the auction house and often laughed at me for spending hours of time standing there. My auctioneer was known across the server and hated by almost every other auctioneer in the game. I would receive countless whispers and in-game mail regarding my practices for listing. I had such a rush back in those days just toying with people. At one point, people had told me they had started a petition to the GMs for my listing style. I never received anything from the GMs or Blizzard so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statement, but it amused me that people knew who I was and what I did. I could often tease members of the guild who worked certain sections of the auction house about changing prices and they would laugh and ask me to leave them alone. To me, it was never about annoying other auctioneers or hitting gold cap. I just found it fun to see how much could I list each day and did I have a huge profit or loss when I was done?

I have been thinking a lot recently about why I play WoW. The fun had been slowly slipping away for me personally. I have taken pride in seeing the guild grow and become a respected PVE guild. I have taken personal pride in overcoming all the obstacles that we faced over this past year. I have enjoyed providing the guild with as much stability as I have been able to. I loved to log on and see people laughing and teasing in the guild chat because they deserved it, but something was missing for me. I know I have hinted at how the game slowly switched from being something I did for fun and slowly became like a second job. That was beginging to wear me down personally. Instead of logging in and looking forward to joking and teasing, I would try to avoid logging on when other members may be on. I no longer felt a desire to help the guild succeed. I found myself instead dreading the thought of logging in.

At first I assumed it was just the "burn out" that others have talked about. I reasoned in my mind that if I just do not log on as often and maybe even find another game to play that it would lesson the aggrevations I felt when I did log onto WoW. It worked to a lesser degree. I would log in less frequently and was not as annoyed, but it still was not proving to be that same feeling that I was looking for. I actually had debated on perhaps cancelling my subscription. I reasoned that maybe the game had lost the fun and it was just an obligation I felt that kept me playing. A tiny part of me disagreed. Instead, I decided to take some time away from a lot of things with the game (including blogging) and focus on just having fun when I logged on.

It started with me working on leveling alts and messing around doing silly little thing. (Dancing naked with a rocket helm on?) I spent some time working on professions that I had neglected. I started working on some achievements, like Loremaster, that would require a little bit more from me than I had previously been able to afford. I slowly started to enjoy at least logging in, but I still was not feeling that rush of excitement that I longed for. One night I logged into my Shaman, Walani, who I had not played in a few months. I decided I would run some battlegrounds with him just to mess around and level in a different way. Something sparked inside me while running those Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch battlegrounds. I felt that rush that I had been looking for so long for. I decided to switch from my Shaman to Ruhtra and take him into the battlegrounds and see if I still felt the same. I decided to focus on Warsong Gulch because I have a long, long, long way to go on their reputation.

As I was running Warsong Gulch after Warsong Gulch I found myself having a lot of fun. Yeah, I would get aggrevated by the losses or people not really playing the battleground in a smart manner, but overall it was more fun than I have had in a long time. If it was a bad group I could just find a nice spot and heal like a crazed man.

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