I get a lot of ribbing from some of my friends about how much I play Warcraft, even to the point where some say that I’m addicted. I’m not sure where the line is between “something fun that I like to do, and do often” to “something that I feel compelled to do or cannot keep myself from doing.” I certainly don’t feel compelled to play, though I have in the past. I think that over time I’ve found a place in the game where I can play whenever I want and have a good time doing it, which wasn’t always the case.
I’ve been playing WoW since March 2005, just a few months after the game was released. In that time, I’ve created over a dozen characters on various servers.
Server #1 (Horde) was the server that my friend was on when he encouraged me to get into the game. After a few false starts with classes I didn’t much enjoy, I settled on Shaman (I liked being able to kill monsters and heal myself). We created a guild with a few random strangers and people we knew in real life. At some point we were approached to join a raiding guild. At this point raiding seemed like some distant impossible idea. People like me didn’t go to Molten Core. It just didn’t happen. And as it turns out, it really didn’t happen. This guild got through the first 4 bosses of ZG, but that’s as far as we got. We probably could have made a bit of progress in Molten Core if we had had the people, but we just weren’t big enough to field 40 man raids, and the pool of available players was relatively small. We made the decision to reroll on a different server (this was before paid character transfers).
Server #2 (Horde) I once again rolled a shaman (Orc this time, since I could never remember to use War Stomp on my Tauren). The server had opened up only about a month before, so we were able to recruit lots of people, and the guild was fairly successful, eventually clearing Molten Core and making attempts on the first boss of the next 40-man zone, Blackwing Lair. However, the first boss in that place was really rough, and we spent a lot of time making very little progress. The real life friends I still played with (together with some of the friends from the first server) had a chat channel where we hung out, but also bitched about people we didn’t like. I ended up being an officer in this guild, which was a lot more stress than it was worth. The guild leader liked to micromanage and obsess over stuff that was really unimportant. I became really disaffected in the guild, frustrated with our lack of progress and bad leadership. So I decided to quit that guild and apply to a guild that was far more advanced in content. Unfortunately, I didn’t really think this decision out. The new guild had much more strict attendance and loot policies, and was overall just a lot less fun. I was seeing new content, but the price was that I didn’t get to play the game with my friends. It wasn’t a good trade-off. Eventually I rejoined the original guild, but I had burned a lot of bridges, and it didn’t last. Some of the friends from the angry chat channel decided that with the expansion coming out soon, we would reroll again (and why not, roll Alliance this time).
Server #3 (Alliance) So we reroll Alliance. I still wanted to play shaman, but took a mage to 60 while we waited for the expansion to come out (before Alliance gained the ability to play shamans). The server we were on was lightly populated, with a pretty stagnant economy, but we were able to recruit some good people. I was the guild leader this time, and if I thought being an officer was stressful, being the GL was horrible. Eventually I came to the realization that I just wasn’t having fun anymore and quit the game. The toughest part of quitting the game was finding something to do with my time (this was Summer 2007). I spent a lot of money on PC games and an Xbox 360, but nothing really replaced the instant gratification of killing monsters and getting loot in WoW. After talking with the two real-life friends who had been playing since the beginning, I decided to start playing again. Sadly, they had since transferred to another server, so I ponied up the $25 and transferred my shaman.
Server #4 (Alliance) At this point, these two guys were in a similar kind of raiding guild to the one I had been in on Server #2. I really wasn’t interested in that, and I struggled with the frustration of not getting to play with them when they had scheduled raids. I was surprised by the high quality of the pick-up groups I was getting into, however. This server had a much more active economy and larger population than any server I had been on previously. I got lots of requests for guild invites, since Alliance shamans were still somewhat of a novelty. In a random pick-up group, I got asked to join a guild, and on a whim I accepted. This guild was clearing almost all of Karazhan, which was exciting, and seemed pretty casual. Eventually my friends’ guild fell apart, and I invited them to join my new guild, and we’ve been here ever since. The guild is still pretty casual, though we still have our chat channel where we bitch and moan. The guild is making very good progression, and I’m having fun. At the same time, I’m making sure to put real-life fun before online fun, so D&D games or Rock Band sessions take precedence over raids.