26 May, 2013

The Admissions of a Gamer and the Rise and Fall of a World of Warcraft Addict

You can read my article at The Button Mash here

Let me just preface this blog post by saying: I am an adult of 26.
I'm a gamer to the very core and heart: I’ve grown up with games. When I was not even in Kindergarten yet my dad brought home the old brick Gameboy and it was over for me. Hours of Yoshi’s Cookie eventually evolved into hours of Super Mario World, and then subsequently Goldeneye, and through natural progression Zelda and 16 hour runs of Final Fantasy X. This developed into somewhat of a game connoisseurism, where I had collected systems and games (including the tragic Phillips CD-i) into something reminiscent of a cat-hoarding spinster.

I flipped off hanging out with friends/boyfriends/boys/dates/”other” to play games; but interestingly I’ve also used it as a social experience to bond with and make new friends/boyfriends/boys/dates/”other”. In fact, I would say that the majority of the friends I’ve made in the last 5 years are involved in games/the games industry somehow.

In 2007 I was in my 2nd or 3rd year of University. I lived with 5 other girls, I had class full time, I worked part time, I was a social butterfly, I had a boyfriend, friends, and we went out… a lot. I had a typically overstuffed university schedule, full of parties, booze, friends, and general shenanigans one can only equate with the stereotypical lifestyle that comes with mid 20’s independence.
Enter World of Warcraft.

I actually won the original World of Warcraft in a raffle, and had it sitting in my room for a while. I had played Warcraft I on Dos if this gives you an indication of where I’m going with this, I also stockpiled II, III and their subsequent expansion packs. So I was familiar with the lore and rhythmic chaos that stemmed from a fantastical RTS. I thought, “OK I’ll make a trial account and see what happens.” Of course the trial account turned into me ripped open the WoW box like a junkie and ultimately lead to the purchase of the next two expansions (WotLK was set to be released not even 2 months from this day), and a pool of credit card charges from my friends at Blizzard. I was in one of the top 50 guilds in the game, and the top 10 on my server before they disbanded in 2009.
I stopped going to bar with the roommates, I cut classes and pushed back due dates until the last night for research practicum’s, and one time I even forgot to prepare my seminar presentation, which lead to me add-libbing and going off people’s faces with whether or not I was talking about anything relevant. I spiralled into somewhat of an anti-social state, going on 4 hour raids starting at 2am, buying a laptop for the sole purpose of running alts through instances, and dreaming about the Auction House system (this is not a joke).

One time, all I had to eat that day was a bag of Smart Food which happened to be sitting on my desk, because I didn’t want to leave the room to grab anything. As I played with oily, powdery Smart Food-fingers - powdered dust creating an oil slick over my mouse and keyboard – with eyes absorbed on Kara, I realized my priorities were fucked up: Warcraft > food, and when that happens something is not right. I looked at myself and thought what the fuck happened to my life? I was 22 years old and the prime of my life, and here I was with crumbs on my lap, unwashed hair, and the remnants of Smart Food powder making a ring around my mouth like a fat child who ate a Fudgesicle.

I quit WoW cold turkey the summer of 2009 when my account got hacked, and it was an absolute nightmare to get it back (I eventually did, but it required sending my picture and licence to the support team after weeks of escalated threads). I’ve been clean since 2009, but still carrying a 30 day card in my wallet for nostalgia or maybe the far-reaching dream of maybe going back someday.
The moral of the story here is I was a gamer. Now here it is, the point I’ve procrastinated.
I hardly play any games anymore.

As an adult (which I explained to you earlier), I have adult responsibilities. I have bills, a car to maintain, I commute over 3 hours to my job a day not including overtime at a busy marketing department, and I work part time on the weekend. I also squeeze in friends and a dating life when I can, which equals most of my time being eaten.

When people ask me what games I'm playing now, I hitch, because I know I haven’t been. The odd review here or there I complete, but nothing near the playtime I used to put in. The last huge game I played was Skyrim and Skyward Sword (and I haven’t even finished it, and ‘m supposed to be obsessed with Zelda… it’s embarrassing). Some days I feel like a fraud - like a no-game-playing fraud in an Amanda suit (which is a suit made out of really nice hair).

I joke and say I played WoW and that I don’t have to prove my gamer-ness after that (which is partially true I still believe), but the truth is that was a long time ago. And like any relationship or child, you need to spend time with it to nurture it so it doesn’t grow up and rob banks or become a stripper.

I just bought a ticket to Fan Expo in Toronto, and I plan to make the first step in taking back my identity as a gamer. Making an actual effort to try to keep up with what’s happening in the game community and playing some of these games, whether they are terrible or not. I’ll always have the game culture in my blood, and the obsessive nature that true gamers have, but I have to learn to turn off the obsessive switch so I can enjoy games without creating a pee-bucket out of a Bawls bottle, or using the empty bag of Doritos as a hair tie. I will try to do what it takes to experience the cool shit coming out of the games industry, and attempt to pick-axe some time from my schedule to play some new stuff; this is my promise to you.

But I'm not playing Slender.

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