Can 2009 be considered a long time ago?
Well lets just say in the grand scheme of things it is.
A long time ago, back yonder in January of 2009, Blizzard entertainment did something magical. Something they have not done since. They created 4 new servers. One of which, Borean Tundra, that I call my home. I did not start there in those first days, or even weeks, but my wife did. It was a new experience for many, it was locked to server transfers, it was a New Player designated realm, and new players many were. But also there were many veterans to WoW.
I forget the exact month it happened, but it was a Saturday, I was at a Con for a D&D miniatures game I played, when I got the frantic phone call. “I just logged in and I have nothing. All of my stuff is gone. What do I do.” I had no idea, I did not have a phone with Internet access, I did not even play WoW at the time. So I left the Con, and drove home. In the mean time she had also found out that the guild she had been in, and had been placed in an officer position, had kicked her out, and she was getting whispers from people wanting to know why did she steal from the guild bank.
Needless to say, it was a very stressful day for her. I finally got home, looked up what to do on WoW’s site, filled a ticket that her account had been hacked, and got back a notice it would be a few days to look in to the matter. That was when too, I found out about authenticators. And if you do not have one, get one, today, right now, go on, I will wait. But through all this happening, something good did happen. Someone she did not even know, asked her what happened to her stuff, why was she naked standing in a corner. She explained what had happened, and they said wait here, I will be right back. They went to some vendors, and the AH and bought her some gear to use and gave her some gold. No questions asked.
That, was the kind of person we had in those early days of Borean Tundra. Those that had played for years that would take time to explain how to play a class, those that would take a few minutes to ride out to help a level 30 on their 70+ to kill a tough creature, those that made an effort to help others do well. And then many left. And those that helped, were replaced with those looking out for themselves.
I started in August of 2009 when I was laid off from work. I leveled fairly quickly, well compared to now it was a grind, but it seemed to go fast, because I had been the one that looked up the quests for her and her friends. We were all in a guild together, it was a good guild, we had adults, kids, teens, mom’s, dad’s. We all were new to WoW, this was our starting experience. I took it upon myself to try to help the kids in guild, so that those that had made it to 80 and were trying to figure out this raiding thing could focus on that. It was fun at times to fly over and help with quests I had done weeks or months prior, it was my way of paying back the help that had been given to my wife, and I enjoyed helping people, if I could.
When a few of us left the guild to move to another, the GM disbanded the entire guild in a huff. Over the next few weeks, I had messages and whispers from kids as young as 10 asking me why did I kick them out of the guild, did they do something wrong? They were sorry, could I invite them back again please? It was heart breaking. I had to explain over and over to so many that it was not them, that the GM disbanded the guild, that Adults can sometimes be very immature. I helped some find new guilds, many others just quit wow all together. Here were dozens of kids that could have gone on to be great players, and I felt I let them down.
Over the years I had opportunities to run a few guilds and passed on taking the lead. It was not something I thought I could do. I had found a Horde guild on our server that had very social members that posted in the forums daily. They were a great bunch of people, they played WoW to have fun, real life before WoW, these were the people I wanted to play with. Slowly these great people left WoW, they had families, kids growing up, lost interest in playing the game, and it came to a tipping point, where my wife and I, and maybe 1 other person were the only ones on at night. Initially, I asked the GM if it was ok for me to recruit people, after a time when she had stopped logging in, I messaged her if I could run the guild. It was not a job I wanted, it was a job that I took, because I did not want this special gem to fade away. This was the last original guild to be formed on the first day of the server. The core values were still upheld, it had the potential to be a wonderful place to be.
Over a year, I talked about the guild on social media, talked about it on the forums, invited all those that were looking for a place to call home, it did not matter if you raided, leveled armies of alt’s, PvP’d. What ever you felt like doing, we were a home for you. And it grew. To a point now where I am capped routinely. Occasionally we lose people that find it to be not a great fit, or people will leave alt’s and take their mains to more progressed raiding guilds. I do not kick them out for leaving, I cherrish the fact that they want to still be a part, and that they sometimes jump in on raids to help out.
You see, while I may grumble from time to time about my personal issues with WoW, at the heart of it all, I just want to make the entire game, every server world wide, a great place for people of all walks of life, to meet others, to make friends, to have fun, playing one of the most diverse games I have ever played. I am not demanding that everyone have the same content to do, but that people not be excluded from interacting with others because they play it differently. I just want to try to make a difference. To be a quiet voice that people strain to overhear, but when they stop to listen, they really think about things from a different perspective. We all have different values, find things to have different difficulties to us. A top 100 raider may look at the task of growing a guild to 1000 members as being near impossible, just as I look at what they are able to do as impossible to me. It does not mean we cannot be friends, cannot be a part of the same guild, or server, or battle group. It just means we play the game differently.
Take a moment today, think back to the first day you picked up WoW and started playing. Take a side trip to a starting area, you will see yourself there every day. Phasing in for the first time, spinning in circles, jumping, standing in place as you try to figure out how to take that first quest. Maybe take a second to say Hi. Are you new? Well welcome to the World of Warcraft, where anything is possible, the only barrier you have to conquer is yourself. Maybe read trade chat, and answer a question someone has, maybe give a random stranger you see offering help to someone a salute as you are riding by. THis is our world, the world we play in daily, it does not have to be the toxic place we say it is, if we do not want it to be. All we have to do is but ourselves aside, not completely, but be willing to take a few minutes every day to congratulate someone, to offer some advice or help. And slowly we can change it all.
We have a year before a potential massive influx of players, would you rather them become like the vocal minority we see every day making life miserable for as many as possible, or would we rather see millions join and stay, and become the gamers of the future.
The choice is our to make. I have made mine, it is not an easy path to follow, I have made mistakes in the past, I will make them in the future, but I am trying.