My Time Playing World of Warcraft – Part Two
One thing that every gamer knows is that at the end of an expansion there is always a lull. My fellow raiders had quickly become friends and when they grew tired of the end of expansion content we all played different games together. As I’m sure happens with a lot of guilds who are burnt out with World of Warcraft, there were frequent discussions about whether or not guild members wanted to return to the game for the next expansion. Still excited about what the game had to offer, I hadn’t stopped playing WoW and when Mists of Pandaria hit the servers guildies immediately returned for the next part of the adventure. The difference for me was that I was, for the first time, on an equal footing with everyone else. My application was accepted for full ‘raider’ status and when the first raid instance Mogu’shan Vaults opened I was raring to go. Unfortunately, we had more than ten raiders online and so we had to roll the in-game dice to see who would have to sit out for the evening. It was me. Over the following months my unlucky rolls became an in-joke and are still laughed about to this day. I LOVED those early raiding days and have many fond memories.
The guild was going strong although by the final raid tier of the expansion, Siege of Orgrimmar, we were struggling to recruit enough people to comfortably fill our roster. It is not fun to feel like you are letting people down by taking a night off raiding nor is it fun to be excited about raid time and sit for 30 minutes hoping that someone will log in so that you can start. Despite having a semi-hardcore attitude to raids, we were a friends & family guild first and accepted that real-life came before gaming. That might sound like an odd thing to say but it is very easy when you are spending so much time playing to forget how important it is to maintain relationships outside of the gaming bubble. To spend time with friends outside of the game. After all, when you are using voice-chat to play with friends it is a very social experience in itself. I was promoted to guild officer for all of my efforts to recruit people and was extremely excited to help organise my second ever guild meet up!
My guild met up twice whilst I was a member. Although my first guild meet was great, the second one was even more enjoyable as I knew everyone much better. It is very strange to meet guildies for the first time. After hearing them speak for hours every week you become very familiar with their voices yet have no idea what some of them really look like! Luckily, as everyone else had met before at some point, I didn’t have to turn up with a giant ‘For the Horde’ sign. You also have to navigate the minefield of whether to call people by their real names, including worrying about how to actually pronounce their real names, or whether to stick to the name of their character. I found it very strange to be called by my real name after hearing these voices call me Kindee so many times. Like with the first meet up, people flew in from Norway, Sweden, Finland and travelled around the UK, congregating in a small hotel outside of Derby to go to Alton Towers the next day.
Our first evening was hilarious and it is one of the best evenings I have ever had. As we were a large group. the pub next door to the hotel seated us in a nice separate area downstairs. The food was great, we grabbed some more drinks and played a game of Cards Against Humanity. For anyone who doesn’t know the game, from the cards that you are dealt you have to create the most inappropriate answer/phrase that you can imagine in order to win that round. Our paladin was very good at the game. Unfortunately, every time he loudly pronounced his answer the poor young pub waitress seemed to be walking down the stairs. Red-faced, she quickly turned on her heel and went back up again on more than one occasion.
Alton Towers was fun for those who accepted the quest to ride the brand new Smiler rollercoaster. My disability scooter battery died half way up the hill next to the Smiler so a few guildies took part in a real-life rescue mission and then had a nice, much more gentle ride, down the river rapids with me instead. We were all still deep in conversation when we congregated later as it was a great opportunity to talk more in-depth about our personal lives. After a wonderful couple of days we stood in the Derby shopping centre hugging each other goodbye. I defy anyone who says that friends who meet over the internet are not real friends. These were my friends and I was very sad to watch them leave.
Blizzard made big changes to raiding in the expansions that followed with both raid size and difficulty levels. They added flexibility for more casual players and made balance issues much simpler for competitive players but they also heavily impacted small, tight-knit guilds like ours. There were disagreements as to what difficulty we should be focusing on as the new hard-mode, Mythic, was only for 25 man raid groups. It had been hard enough to maintain a 10 man roster and the only solution on our under-populated server would be to merge with another guild, which would then change the wonderful dynamic that we had. Due to a mix of personal issues and boredom from the lower ‘flex’ difficulty level raiding, after our usual raid bread over Christmas, I did not return. I tried to play again on a busier server at the start of Legion but raiding just wasn’t the same.
I look back now at screenshots of my old guild from our raiding days as if they are photographs, with memories attached, like any other. You see a troll, goblin, a panda… I see my friends, stood together, celebrating an achievement. The feelings of nostalgia are the same as when I look back at my time at school or University. Friendship groups change. People move on. My best friend lives in Sweden. She was our resto-druid and will be my friend always. I see her more than I see some of my friends in the UK! Our raid leader moved from the South coast to Yorkshire. We have been together for four years.
When I started writing this blog post I didn’t think that I would play World of Warcraft again. The new expansion Battle for Azeroth is on the horizon with it’s September release. Already content is being added to the game and I admit that I am excited. I have even resubscribed again! When I start playing in the new expansion I won’t make the mistake I did last time by trying to re-live the glory days I had with my old guild. My play-style will be very different but that is the great thing about WoW, you play it how you want to play it. It is such a huge game, with literally millions of players and there will always be people out there who want to play the same way as you. If you are lucky in your WoW adventures, you may even make some great friends along the way. Have you ever played World of Warcraft? I’d love to know your story!