Last night, I made a decision that will significantly affect my life as a gamer. Had I been asked a few weeks ago how I would react to such a decision, I would have recoiled in horror at the merest suggestion of the action that I’ve taken. However, conversely, I feel free – like an alcoholic experiencing the clarity of sobriety, or a drug user finally kicking the junk (perhaps the more fitting analogy), I’m already confident that giving up World of Warcraft is shaping up to be one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made.
Needless to say, my wife is secretly thrilled. Not because she doesn’t want me to play games – good luck with that – but because of the damage that heavy WoW use did to our relationship, and also how it affected me as a player. She’s not a gamer herself, but can understand my passion for all things game and commented on the differences she saw in me whilst watching me play different titles.
So, what was it that spurred me on to such extreme action? Ironically, it’s the same reason many people quit MMO’s – or continue playing, sans the sense of fun; dissatisfaction with their guild, and with the concept of guilds in general.
Whilst it’s possible to play World of Warcraft without affiliating yourself with a guild, they remain a necessary evil if you wish to experience all the game has to offer, and it’s because of this fact that I doubt very much whether I will be contributing any more funds to Blizzard’s considerable market share of the MMO space. Perhaps my rogue will dwell in the Blade’s Edge Mountains forever like a solitary survivor of some horrific accident, alone and contemplative, seeking solace from the gold spammers and foul-mouthed children that populate the game – one of which told a now-former guildie that, because he didn’t give him some free silver, he deserved to be killed by Adolf Hitler. Or maybe he’ll end up on eBay.
As I’m sure many former players could testify, World of Warcraft can seem more like a job than a game, given the time investment required to advance to the better areas and equipment, and this remains a fact even if you’re not in a position of authority in the guild, or even if you’re not in a guild at all. Add to this the typical power struggles and ego-stroking you’ll find anywhere people are placed in charge of anything, and you’ve got some pretty unpleasant elements to negotiate in order to enjoy the game – kind of like soft-centered chocolates, but replace the chocolate with rampant e-peen posturing and ego tripping, and substitute the soft center with an enjoyable social gaming experience.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to be in a good guild with people you like (or even better, people you actually know in real life), then these problems will seem as distant to you as the Shadowmoon Valley is from Elwynn Forest. In which case, you probably won’t be reading this anyway, as you’ll be too busy preparing for tonight’s raid. The funniest part of all this? The fact that I gave the matter of quitting my guild such considerable thought that it actually continued to grate on my nerves long after I had finished ‘playing’ – if you can call several hours of pointless, frustrating guild-chat playing. What can I say? I care too much sometimes.
I can’t help but feel a sense of loss – the loss of all the time that World of Warcraft has stolen from me; time that could have been better-spent playing games that are more rewarding, are less demanding on my time and games whose sense of achievement isn’t restricted by the necessitation of involving large numbers of people to achieving all the game has to offer.
I guess I’m just not an MMO kind of guy.