I got a Facebook message today from I woman I had been friends with in World of Warcraft until some guild drama ended our friendship. It really got me thinking about that period in my life.
God has it really only been two months? It feels like my life fell apart ages ago and I have been scrambling to put it back together while being emo and moody for far longer than that. I might not being too bad for two months out.
Anyway, I stopped playing WoW and there is not a part of me that misses it. I miss some of the people. I miss the feeling of community I had since I haven’t really formed bonds in Rift. I do not miss the overwhelming spot I let WoW have in my life.
I am not one of those reformed WoWheads that believe it is evil and will destroy your life if you play it. I believe it is addictive and that it is very easy to lose perspective when you play, but I feel like that is true for many many things. I think it is also true that if you lose balance and let WoW take over your life then it is most likely because something was wrong in your life.
My biggest issue with the game was that I always invested far too much emotionally into it. I allowed myself to get wrapped up in the drama that is inherent with 12 million emo gamers doing anything. My very nature is to be social and to care about people. I forgot to draw the line between caring about my other gamers who are real and do matter and the game which means nothing. I also became very comfortable allowing World of Warcraft to fill some very important roles in my life.
I need social interaction. I need friends. When I moved back here, I felt my lack of friends painfully and distinctly. I could get that big group social dynamic from the game really easily. This is the thing non-gamers don’t understand and it is very important to try to wrap your brain around, the relationships you form with other players are real. We do form relationships with genuine emotion in them. “Normal” people have a hard time understanding that since people have a tendency to put such emphasis on face to face interaction. MMOs are a bonding experience for gamers. We have a big community of people like us. We are a subculture that crosses most socio-economic barriers and most of us delight in this world of people like us.
I don’t apologize for using WoW to make friends and get a social group. I don’t even actually regret it. Now, though, with two months out of it, I miss my “real life” friends more than ever. My regret is that I lost some motivation to hang out with friends I have had for years because I had a readily accessible social core just by turning on my computer. I write blog entries and get responses from Renee, Jill, Lynsie, and Amanda and I realize just how much I miss these women. I may be the fifth wheel when I hang out with the Kreigers and the Hagans but I miss it. It is my own fault too. When I was WoWing all the time, I started to feel awkward around groups of friends and I thought it was the WoW, now I realize that it is me. I have always been awkward and I need to not let that worry stop me.
I also let WoW fulfill my need for a sense of accomplishment. I have a strange sense of self-worth. In order to be happy I have to feel like I am doing something with my life. When my WoW was at it’s most insane, I was not in school and if I did have a job, it was a half time job with no chances of advancement. My self esteem was low because I felt like I was wasting my life away. That wasn’t World of Warcraft’s fault, it was mine.
I don’t know that I have any conclusions yet. I don’t feel like I wasted years of my life. I don’t have regrets because I feel like there are lessons in there, I just have to be willing to look for them. Every small thing in my life has led me to this point. World of Warcraft was one of those things. Things may hurt, things may be hard, and I still have moments of intense melancholy but feel like I am where I need to be in my life. I feel like once I get through this there will be something wonderful, even if it is just a lot more knowledge. I need to think some more.