In 1994, Blizzard Entertainment came out with a real-time strategy computer game called “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans”. It was well received in the gaming community, but I paid it very little notice personally.
One year later, a sequel was released, coming out just as I entered a six month period of unemployment. I ended up spending a lot of time playing Warcraft II, which was an awesome game.
By the time World of Warcraft in 2005, an MMO based on the same world as the RTS game, I was already deeply engaged with a game called City of Heroes. Some of my friends left CoH to play WoW, but I was still having a great time where I was, so I didn’t pay it much mind. In fact, I kinda resented it for stealing away my friends from the game I was playing. My dismissing it didn’t seem to cause it any lasting harm, though, and it grew like gangbusters.
Around the time that the first expansion for World of Warcraft came out, I was growing bored with City of Heroes/Villains. You can only go beat up the same bad guys in the same warehouse so many times before it starts to acquire a sense of sameness. So I asked eloren what server she and her hubby were playing on, bought the trial CD, and rolled a character.
I had no idea that this would change my life.
I played the game mostly solo, sometimes asking eloren to help me with difficult things or quests that required groups. I didn’t really know anyone who was playing; well, that’s not strictly true – I knew lots of people who were playing, and not one of them played on the same server as me or each other. I joined Jon and Aileen’s guild, and got to know a few of the people there vaguely, but I was mostly just enjoying the game as a solo player. Then drama happened, as it so often does in guilds, and they broke up. A small group of friends went looking for a new guild to join, and ended up with a group called The Grim Covenant. They seemed nice enough, and I was invited to join them as well, even though I was still far below max-level.
This was a transformative experience. As I reached level 70 (the cap at the time) and started participating in group activities, I starting getting to know people. I began to feel like I belonged in the group. I began to form real and solid friendships with people.
And then I fell in love with one of them.
It wasn’t on purpose; I certainly wasn’t looking for a new relationship. We had just gotten to talking, which led to more talking which led to exchanging emails…at some point she found out I was polyamorous, and started to ask me questions about it. As time went on, we were spending more and more time talking to each other, and it was obvious to me that there was something between us growing deeper.
Honestly, the details at this point are irrelevant. We met in person when kitanzi and I went up to visit a group of guildies for a trip to King Richard’s Fair, a trip that had been organised well in advance of these developments. During that trip, we began officially dating, although only the people who needed to know this were aware of it.
A couple of years go by. Following the failure of her marriage, she decided that, in the end, poly wasn’t something she felt she could handle, and we broke up. This is probably the hardest breakup I’ve ever been through; neither of us really wanted to and we both still loved one another deeply, but she was in a place where she needed to figure out who she was and what she was doing with her life, and this just wasn’t part of it. Her finding out that polyamory wasn’t for her after all was certainly a risk I’d been aware of when I started the relationship.
(I wrote and removed a lot of detail in the last three paragraphs, deciding it was largely beside the point. If you want to know more about what this was all about, email me, and we can talk.)
That was nearly a year ago, just before Valentine’s Day. I spent the next few months being pretty broken as a result, withdrawing from a lot of people in the process. Part of my withdrawing was to quietly withdraw from the WoW guild we were both part of. I was an officer and raid leader, but those were roles I’d been increasingly frustrated with, and this gave me the excuse and the permission to just let go of them. I went to another server, where I’d established a character and made some casual friends, and set back to playing the game semi-casually. Eventually, I joined up with a small group of friends to begin raiding again, though never as hardcore as before, and that’s been my focus for the last 12 months.
Now there’s a new expansion out, and as the new year begins I’m reflecting again on my life and how i spend my time. The truth is, I still enjoy the game quite a lot. The new expansion is full of really interesting new things to explore. catalana and I still play together every week or so, working our way now through our second pair of characters since we began to play every Friday a couple of years ago. And I still have many people that are dear to me in the game, both in my old guild and in my new one, and others besides. Azeroth has become a comforting place to wile away my time.
But the thing is….time is the one thing in my life I never have enough of. And there’s a lot of things that I want to do that want to compete with that time. I want to spend more time writing, both creative writing and blogging. I want to spend more time working on my musical interests. I want to catch up on some of the TV/movie watching that’s been piling up. I want to just sit and read. Sometimes, I want to just sit.
Given that I’m not currently able to give up either work or sleep, I have to make some decisions about how to spend my time, and the decision I’m making right now is to take a vacation from World of Warcraft. I’m not saying I won’t play it at all; I’m not giving up my nights with Erica, and it is a good way to kill an hour when you’re in the mood for it. But aside from that regular session and the odd jaunt here and there, I’m going to spend a few weeks in pursuit of other hobbies, until I figure out the best way to create a balance that lets me do everything as I’d like to.
It feels very strange to step away from something that’s dominated my leisure time for over four years. But ultimately, I think that right now it’s best for me.