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My Time Playing World of Warcraft – Part One

I don’t play World of Warcraft anymore. I own every expansion to date and have played for varying lengths of time since late The Burning Crusade. I remember my friends first talking about the game at school. The idea of paying every month to play a game that you had already bought seemed crazy to me at the time! Eventually, I did give it a go and enjoyed my brief stint as an Alliance hunter called Mystee, on the Terrokar server. As WoW directed new players to ‘recommended’ servers, I didn’t realise that this choice would mean that I wouldn’t be able to play with my friends. I also managed to pick the ‘wrong’ faction. My new and only in-game friend was my starting-zone pet cat called Whisper.

I enjoyed adventuring by myself, fulfilling quests to meet the needs of the Dranei people. I collected items, slayed creatures and my reputation increased with the NPCs around me. Eventually I left Azuremyst Isle and came across… people! Lot’s of people! I had found Stormwind, the capital city and stronghold of the Alliance. I was promptly invited to join a guild. This proved very useful when I experienced a bug in the game where, when travelling on a boat from Stormwind, I fell through the sky and died surrounded by giant bugs, all of whom had the ‘danger’ logo instead of a level because they were far too advanced for a ‘noob’ like me. After using my hearthstone, a clever device created to return me  to the inn I had selected earlier, I promptly returned to the ship but ended up dead on the floor surrounded by desert and bugs once more. My hearthstone on cooldown, stranded, I turned to my guildies for advice and help. A nice dwarf came to my rescue and hopping in the side car of his two-person mount I zoomed away to safety. I still don’t like Silithus. 

I eventually called it a day in the Red Ridge mountains when I finally reached level 40. Although I was excited to be able to take off my leathers and exchange them for mail armour, the questing had become a little too much for me. Even now I feel like the grind to level 40 seemed to take forever, although I guess that is an inevitability when you have literally no idea what you are doing.

The cinematic I had seen for The Wrath of the Lich King was very impressive. It’s epic nature reminded me of fantasy films like The Lord of The Rings. Despite loving the new storyline I didn’t pick World of Warcraft up again properly until Cataclysm, the following expansion. I was still friends with the people from school that originally introduced me to the game and I was persuaded it was time to rejoin them in the world of Azeroth. This was prompted when, in my birthday card, I received the money to switch servers and to faction change. Mystee’s horns shrunk and protruded from her mouth as my Dranei became a Troll and took on the more fitting name of Kindara.

It wasn’t until I started playing with my friend’s guild that my WoW experience really began. As I was the real life friend of a guild officer I was immediately granted a social position. The majority of these people had known each other for a long time having played together through multiple expansions and even meeting in real life. Included in the group were real life friends and couples from across Europe. It was daunting at first to be the outsider and newest recruit but already having a connection with someone made it much easier. Plus they were a very friendly group of people. We talked on voice chat as well as in-game and I started to get to know everyone better as time progressed.

Once surrounded by people who knew a lot about the game, including those who took it fairly seriously, I quickly levelled up and became much more knowledgeable myself. When I reached max level the game quickly transformed into something very different. Questing and dungeons were no longer all the game had to offer and instead I turned my attention to end-game content such as raiding. For those who don’t know much about the game, raiding is where a group of people enter a special zone full of challenging bosses to defeat.

Geared and vaguely competent my guild allowed me to step in to raids if one of the main raiders was unavailable. I was so excited, yet terrified, when they asked me to step into the fight against Ultraxion in Heroic (hard) mode. On our third, and what was intended to be final, attempt we defeated the boss. Congratulations were shouted down headsets and little purple ‘whisper’ messaged appeared on my screen full of accolades and things that meant a lot to me at the time. It might see silly to a non-gamer but raiding in a semi-hardcore guild is very much like being a player on a sports team. We had dedicated raid time, three evenings a week for three hours, and boss take-downs required us all to communicate, learn tactics and be prepared to make split-second decisions. I loved it. Due to my health problems I have never been able to play sports or experience that sort of team spirit. Yet, there it was. In ‘just a game’. It sounds very cheesy but I truly felt like I belonged to something.

 

Part 2 coming soon…

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