Friday, May 27, 2011

And The Bell Tolls...

OK, now this blog is dead. :)

Some folks will probably wonder why...

I did not come to WoW on my own.  I was recruited by a "real life" friend* that played and wanted another person to play with so he did not have to recruit strangers.  And that's not a criticism, just a fact.  It's perfectly human and understandable to want to play with your friends, especially in a game that demands groups for much of the content (this was back in "vanilla" WoW, so even questing required frequent help).

* - someone that I knew face-to-face in the real world.

Before that, my only MMORPG was City of Heroes (COH).  Again, I did not come to play that game on my own.  The same friend recruited me to play that, for the same reasons.

You see, prior to that, I was pretty dead set against playing Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), so much so that I refused to even try them.  My main concern was hearing how much time and attention they consumed.  I was stunned that anyone would dedicate themselves so fully to a computer game, an activity that, to me, was a completely disposable recreation that you could pick up or drop whenever it was convenient.

Then our circle of friends started raiding.  I dragged my heels and generally was not a fan of raiding, mainly because of the huge time sink (and the frequent waiting around for things to happen kinda sucked too; I had enough of "hurry up and wait" on the parade grounds in the Army).

Then we joined a raiding guild that kinda sucked.  I kicked into "solve the problem" mode for the next 4 years and then one day it occurred to me that I was pouring incredible amounts of time into the game, something I had explicitly wanted to avoid.

And just to be clear, I am talking about 4-7 days a week, 10-20 hours a week, every week of the year.  Hell, I probably put in 30-40 hours some weeks, maybe more.

The real devil in that is that when you have that big of a chunk of time and mental/emotional commitment, the importance of other things can be severely clouded and you can easily find yourself avoiding other commitments, even ones as simple as going on a social outing with others, because of this crushing sense that you can't possibly spare the time/energy.

It was incredibly insidious, too.  It's not like I woke up each day and consciously thought, "I have work, then WoW, let me check my calendar".  Rather, I just had this vague unconscious, overbearing sense that I did not have time for anything.

So, I would find myself not taking up people on offers to do stuff because I was worried that there would be a time conflict.  And it became reflexive.  Worse, this was true for me and my significant other, so there was no "WoW widow" to snap either us out of our stupor.

Well, anyway, back to the topic at hand.  In that lucid moment, I realized that I had prioritized WoW too greatly...even if not intentionally.  So, I pulled back.  I stepped down from co-leading the guild, then stepped out of the officer ranks entirely.  Finally, I stepped down from raiding status.

Then I rediscovered many things in life.  Chores were done in a timely fashion.  Little things I had been meaning to do, got done.  I started looking for activities.  I rediscovered computer gaming as a true recreation.

You might be thinking, "but WoW is a recreational activity".  Perhaps it is for you.  But for me, it was essentially a charity (my guild) that I supported for 4 years with incredible of amounts time, money, and energy...amounts I had never spent on real charities.  In fact, outside of work and college/university, I had never spent anywhere near the time I spent on WoW on anything, especially when you factor in the relentless year-round commitment.

So I went casual and took my blog to a casual place as well.

And the trend continued.  I found more to do outside of WoW.  I started and finished multiple excellent computer games that I just never seemed to get around to playing.  I started up another blog that better matched my complete set of interests.  I even gorged myself on a computer game and played a bunch...but even then it was less than the minimum time of 10 hours per week required to support a raiding schedule (in our guild).  And I was able to accommodate spikes in work responsibilities or travel at the drop of a hat with a lot less stress; this is important, as I have a full-time job that demands great flexibility in my schedule and availability.

Which brings me to now.  What little I play WoW will be purely for curiosity.  I will never again let my guard down and myself slip into such a time-consuming rut like I did.  It's just not worth it.

WoW is not a bad game, but playing WoW "seriously" is just not for me (unless WoW changes dramatically so that "serious" requires a much lesser commitment).

This blog has often catalyzed an academic pondering that turns into playing the game to learn something or figure out a mechanic.  That just feeds the insatiable time-eating beast that is WoW.  So, the blog has to die.

Thank you for following my rambling. :)

UPDATE: And it appears that I completely missed out on BlizzCon tickets because I was not paying attention.  I'll take that as reinforcement that my time as a serious WoW player is at an end.  Of course, it would have been more funny/tragic if I managed to finally get tickets this year...

/cancelreservation Hilton Anaheim