The Day Azeroth Stood Still
Posted by Rem on May 18, 2011
As you may or may not have guessed, I am not playing WoW any longer. For a while, I was pondering how to write this post, it felt like it needs to be an impossibly long post, not bashing, but pointing out bit by bit why the game lost its appeal for me, as well as incorporating references and commentary on statements of other bloggers. Indeed, I could probably write a very convincing leaving-WoW post simply by quoting countless posts by Klepsacovic, who analysed everything that he felt was going wrong with WoW for months before (and after) calling it quits; I could quote Melmoth, Syl, Tessy, Larisa and probably many others. It has all been said, really, but I’d equally like to explain my personal view, my personal disconnect with the current state and direction of the game, my personal preferences and objections. And I may well do that still, but in more bite-sized discussions of several aspects, because, as Klepsacovic wrote, it is not one particular change that “ruined the game”, it’s the sum of many small things that accumulated and made us stop caring. But not today.
Today, I am going to tell you about the moment when I realised that my days in Azeroth are counted. It was a Thursday in early March. I logged on and found myself standing in the middle of Stormwind, next to a vendor. Which meant that on the day before, I logged off in the middle of Stormwind, next to a vendor. On that Wednesday, I came home very late and very tired, and just wanted to immerse myself into Azeroth a little, before going to bed. I did my Tol Barad dailies, hit “Exalted”, bought the trinket and started to torture my tired brain with how to reforge. All my items were reforged, the optimal combination (hitting the expertise cap on the point) determined by myself, not by some Mr.Robot script, which likes to suggest you get rid of half your expertise, because who needs expertise after all, and getting an upgrade meant doing all the calculations again. I sighed, tabbed out and started writing a program to calculate it for me. Given the hour and the degree of tiredness, I failed. On the next day, with a fresh mind, I analysed the problem again, figured out an algorithm that would work, implemented it, tested it, let it calculate the perfect reforging (again precisely hitting the cap) and was rather proud of myself.
And then, in the evening, I logged in to find myself standing in the middle of Stormwind, next to a vendor. No, I wasn’t AFK’d while tabbed out and programming. I did, when I realised I’m too tired to achieve anything, tab back in, say goodnight .. and then I logged out where I was standing. That’s the thing. You see, I never before just logged out where I was standing. Never. Not unless I was in some sudden and unexpected hurry. In any game, I was always very “aware” of this being my character, my avatar in the virtual world, of the whole “what would be a reasonable thing to do” aspect. Doesn’t mean I’d log out in a carefully prepared bed after putting on my pyjama, not at all. But regardless of whether it’d be in a player-house, an inn, a city, a village, at a camp or a lake, there was always this bit of awareness present, “this is the spot where I log out, where my character will wait for my return, and logging out here makes some sort of sense“.
Until that Thursday in early March when I logged on to find that I had logged out in a random spot. I didn’t tell anyone, because it rather scared me, because I didn’t want it to be true. But this was the exact point when I realised that it doesn’t matter anymore whether the next patch is going to buff Raging Blow or nerf Mastery, whether T12 raid will be released before we manage to clear T11 or not, even whether people will finally start to reliably show up for raids or not. It didn’t matter anymore, because deep down, I stopped caring about the game, about the world, stopped being able to see it as anything but a set of numbers that grow, shrink and cancel each other out. Games, a wise person once said, are just databases with pretty interfaces. It is, I shall add, all about how well that interface is presented and how skilfully it hides what’s beyond it.
It was The Day Azeroth Stood Still, and if you follow that analogy further, it makes sense that it’s not the day when something specifically went wrong, but the moment when all things accumulated from the past caught up and disassembled the World of Warcraft around me.
What does it mean for this blog? Nothing, really. This blog has always been about my gaming adventures, and those are not likely to come to a stop. I’ll continue writing – about RIFT, about WoW (because it is a fascinating specimen of a game that warrants analysis – that’s analysis, not angry bashing) and about whatever else may be on my mind. Keep coming back, you’re always welcome, but remember: Do Not Try This At Home