Over this past weekend as I was doing something, I forget what, when I was overcome with a sudden wave of…well…
…because I have an insane urge to play WoW.— Scopique (@Scopique) May 19, 2019
Illness is the only reason that can explain this.
Honestly, I don’t know why, but the feeling I had was really intense. I think some of it might have to do with having watched the Irredeemable @Dusty_Monk on Twitch last week as he was starting up his run through the beta of Classic World of Warcraft because other than that I have had no contact with the game since the last-last expansion was released.
I thought that maybe it was because the idea of a “classic” rules server was interesting enough to warrant a look, but I scratched that off the list because my time in Classic WoW was not all that pleasant. While other folks were meeting new people and forming lasting bonds of friendship, I was being told to fuck off, which I suspect caused my long-standing reticence to join other people’s groups. Basically, Classic WoW holds no nostalgia for me, although I don’t have any axes to grind with “Nu WoW”. After time passed and I eventually returned to the game, I enjoyed it on its mechanical merits and ended up with fond memories of my second attempt. In fact, I’d advise anyone looking to jump on the nostalgia idea to wave off. I’ve tried it a few times with Ultima Online, only to find out that memories are best left as memories. Besides, the culture has progressed and what folks had to suffer through in those early days has been superseded by the iron grip of “guide culture”; nothing will ever be “new” again, not even to those who are experiencing the Classic ruleset for the first time, as the mandate of efficiency over “The Experience” is so ingrained in the community psyche that I doubt anyone will be allowed to participate in this older content “unspoiled”.
So that leads me to another consideration that WoW is to us now like what Solitaire was to PC users during the Windows 95 days: something you could do to relax, to wind down, to not have to really put a lot of thought into — and is damn near ubiquitous. Although WoW was the King of the Hill in terms of subscribers (and still might be here in the West) and even though there was a lot of gnashing of teeth over raiding and gear scores and interpersonal soap-opera level drama (and still might be on all counts), the game as it stands now seems to have settled into what I think of as an “elder statesman” position — respected for its service, but no longer in charge for setting policy for, in this case, the MMO genre.
For me, I think the reason I view it this way is that WoW seems like it’s been around forever. It wasn’t the first MMO, but it was the first MMO truly worthy of the first “M” — Massive — in the genre abbreviation. Everyone (well, some/many/most) has played WoW at some point in some capacity over the years. It has spawned memes and in-jokes and is possibly one of the most understood cultural touchstones in the gaming space. People have tried it and have bounced off it, and some have tried it and stuck with it for the length of each expansion cycle, and some have never, ever let their original release day subscription lapse. Regardless, everyone has an opinion of World of Warcraft. At the point where a game has been experienced by so many people in one way or another, that game ceases to be anything unusual or special. It simply becomes part of the fabric of our hobby and as a result for some, it becomes a comfort that is always there and can always be revisited when the need arises for the familiar.
I think that I haven’t been gaming for a while kind of snapped back on me like a rubber band, and I had an unusually intense desire to play something — and my brain picked up on my last palatable experience, which was watching Dusty play the Classic beta. Starting over in Nu WoW would be very low key for me. I don’t have strong ancestral ties to Classic WoW (and I’m not in the beta anyway) and is something that I know I could do while simultaneously doing anything else. So I don’t think that my sudden desire had anything to do with WoW specifically, as we have a rather unfortunate history together, but came about simply because my brain was responding to a drought and it reached for the last thing it understood.