I am 54 years old. I’ve played all sorts of video games in my lifetime. Collectible Card Games, Miniature Games that needed to be assembled with their lead and plastic pieces, D&D of course.
Prior to playing WoW I was heavily into playing D&D miniatures. Which was kind of a competitive skirmish game. In the years I played it I attended my first smaller convention for it DDXP, in Washington DC, it was a great time sitting not only in the same room as some of the best players in the US and a few from other countries, but to actually have a chance to play against them. I didn’t have all of the great pieces to play, creatures from sets that were no longer sold, except on EBay for a lot of money. I won a few games, I lost many more. But the best part, was being around the people. The final evening was, oh goodness. I’ve forgotten what the event was called. I want to say the Community Draft, but I think that’s close but not right. Basically you brought two unopened boxes with you of any expansion. You were matched up against someone, opened your boxes and had 10 minutes to make up a war band from what you had. Following all the normal rules, no good and evil, etc. I won my first match against someone that had played for years. It was shear luck of the dice over skill or strategy. I ended the night near the bottom. But an interesting thing happened. Everyone was supposed to bring a prize with them. It could be a button or a pin, some brought booster boxes from out of print sets, some rare miniatures worth a decent amount of money. Someone from Australia brought beer. You had to be legal age to pick it. 😊. But the wonderful part was the people that came in last, the ones that tried, but didn’t make it to the final rounds were the ones who were allowed to pick first. The person that came in last had the first pick of all the prizes. This was a player run event. Not sponsored by Wizards if the Coast this was people playing with other people, just to have fun. I was near the bottom and managed to get a booster from a set that would have cost me $50. I was thrilled. The guy that won, got a pin that someone had brought from a GenCon years before. And wore it the rest of the evening. I kind of knew them from being introduced the day before. I asked what the pin was from. They said it was from a GenCon the person had attended years before. The only time they had been there. They had brought it as a prize, because it had great value to them. He told me it was probably not worth a lot. But to someone, it was worth more than money and he would wear it when ever he was at a Con in the future.
Some times it not getting the biggest most expensive prize for winning, sometimes a small insignificant pin is worth more than anything.
The following year I attended GenCon, and I brought with me a large ceramic Dragon covering the world. It was over a foot and a half tall. I had painted it all by myself over several weeks. I put that up as a prize that night. And a young kid, that had really never played before that day, his dad played a lot, he was in last place, and had first pick. Oh goodness. Who’s cutting onions. He walked up to the prize table. Walked up and down. I saw him at the table my dragon was on, he glanced back to his dad who nodded to go ahead. And he picked up the prize I had brought. I tracked him down after I picked my prize.
I learned something in those few conventions. Spending time with great players, average, young, old, it’s not the winning that is important. It’s playing the game and having fun.
No worries. I am getting to a Warcraft point. 😱
So the next year I was at a convention in North Jersey. It was much smaller and there were a lot more popular games being played. A few of us were in a little corner playing when my wife called me. She had been playing WoW for about 6 months. She had logged in to all of her characters stripped clean, everything gone, kicked from the guild she was an officer in because she had cleaned out the guild bank. Her account had been hacked. We figured it was some site offering WoW tips on playing that you had to register to and back then we didn’t know any better. So I left the Con, drove 2 hours to get home. Looked up how to fix the problem, and figured out what had happened.
When she logged back in later, she was hiding in a corner near the bank steps in Stormwind. She was embarrassed. She was practically naked. She got whispers from people accusing her of stealing everything, how could she, calling her all sorts of names. I was on an older PC trying to figure out what to do to get her stuff restored, back then it took several days. Someone she did not know came up to her and asked what’s the matter. She told him that all of her stuff had been taken. We were emailing Blizzard to get it back. He just told her stay right here I’ll be right back. He came back and opened a trade, gave her a bunch of armor and a sword, and some gold. He told her don’t worry about it. Try to help someone out in the future. I think a few weeks later she sent him money for what he had bought, he sent it back, with a note. It’s all about being able to play the game. Gold means nothing. It’s the people.
A few things had happened around this time. D&D miniatures was no longer being supported by Wizards of the Coast. There was a fan based effort to keep it going. And I got laid off from my job. So after doing things around the house, rather than sit and watch TV, I rolled a character up. It was a Horde Blood Elf. We only had the one computer that you could play on. I used the other to look up quests. When my wife told her in game Alliance friends I had rolled a Horde they wanted to know the name so they could kill me since I was the enemy.
I deleted that character. It was not long after we put WoW on my computer, just original, we did not buy The Burning Crusade for it yet. Oh yeah. Remember those days? You didn’t get everything unless you bought the battle chest. So my wife’s friends told her I should roll a Priest. Because they needed a healer so they could all do dungeons together. And so, Marathal the Nightelf Priest was created. And he has been my main ever since. Through faction and race changes, he has been the one.
So anyway Cinder, Z, any any I hope may read this. Why do I play WoW. What keeps me subbed year after year, through the good and the bad? It’s the people. It has never been about winning, or being the best. It has just been about playing a game to have fun with other people that are there to have fun. Absolutely I may be critical st times. But when I am it’s because of how I may feel like it is pushing people apart, when all I ever wanted was to just play a wonderful game with people who are great and have played for years, to the young kid playing for the first time asking if it’s ok if they could have that piece of gear because it looks cool. The people we play with near everyday. Those we may raid with, those we joke with in guild chat. The tears when there is a personal tragedy, the laughter, the congrats at the Ding!! Level 99. The people that play the games everyday. Young, old, married, single. People are what’s important. Not having the most mounts, the most gold, the flashiest titles or worlds first. The people are what keep me going. And every so often crossing paths with that new player. The one that is seeing this world for the first time. The one that you see stopping every few feet because they do not know which way to go. And occasionally, being that guy so many years ago, helping out someone they didn’t know, helping them get into the game. To just play.
I thought of this. It sums up how I think many of us feel about group labels in the game. When you take away some labels, and look beyond, all we have is us.