Leaving World of Warcraft

May 25, 2011

I enjoy obsession. It heightens the experience, unlocks edge abilities and provides clarity of purpose. Like any state, it can be taken too far but with understanding it can be transformed from affliction to strength.

I started World of Warcraft in the beta, many years ago. Before that the strategy games and in one particular modem game even told my future wife I loved her for the first time. Warcraft as you see is very much a part of my history.

The game totally catered to my personality. Obsession with game mechanics, leveling, gearing up and endless side goals took their toll. With increasing focus came new levels of things to tweak, endless rewards for a brain that liked certain buttons pushed.

Even worse that the addiction to the game was the reliance on the game in order to socialize with my friends. It didn't matter if I got bored of the game, how could I leave my friends? So I would stay a bit longer... maybe it would get better.

But it didn't. My level of obsession meant overplaying and burning out. It happened many times. Enough that people would joke, "oh, when are you coming back" and "oh, when are you leaving again".

The problem with "quitting" WoW was that I wasn't. I was postponing, delaying and pausing. Like a reformed drunk who still keeps his liquor cabinet stocked, secured with the flimsiest of locks. Always there... waiting for that tiny moment of failure.

So after a time, I would feel good again. I could try World of Warcraft again but this time I'd be reasonable. Maybe only an hour a day.

A month later and I'd be raiding, grinding, dying in real life while my avatars gained everything. Seven to eight hours a day and more on the weekends. A horrible cycle I was deathly aware of yet powerless to break out of.

I'd improved so many aspect of my life. A tireless optimizer born from a dysfunctional past. Why couldn't I break free of WoW? I had made such wonderful gains during my frequent excursions. I wanted to do more, so much more.

The revelation that followed was completely devastating.

After recovering from the initial concept everything became clear. A proper conclusion to WoW. The ending I never had before. Such a simple gesture would set me free.

Getting my virtual affairs in order was a calming. A wonderful time to reflect on all I had done. Soon after, I made sure everyone knew my plans. I would be deleting all my characters. I would not be coming back to World of Warcraft. Reactions were, as you might expect, mixed.

Some people were supportive, others baffled and a few were oddly quiet. I recognize the last state as a valid tactic for dealing with pain so no hard feelings.

It became an event. Come raid with Poof one last time. Come PvP with Foof to celebrate our time together. Come take a screenshot and say goodbye. It was a lovely time of talking, merriment and a celebration of adventures together.

Each one of my characters received their own special ending. Each one a part of my personality and deserving of their own finale. Screenshots of these moments bring me great joy when I reminisce.

Looking back no longer evokes a time wasted, it conjures pleasant memories, shared experiences and pride for all the people I met. So many things we did and so many good times we had.

Looking forward, my gaming experiences do not weaken like I had feared. In fact, they strengthen me.

When you see me coming, I could be Poof the Druid, Foof the Warrior, Old Snake, Commander Shepard or any number of personas that are part of me.

I am a hero, I always was and now that I know, I always will be.

Sincerely,

Poof · Foof · Soof · Daniel · Odn · Shepard · Spock · ForestMist · Neptuna · Old Snake