Monday 19 May 2008

Becoming Gamer; or "My last ever log out."

I hearthed to Shattrath, at the request of a very good friend of mine. She had something to show me, she said, and I had a good idea of what exactly that was. I had, after all, 'twinked' her with 1,000 gold a few weeks prior and, as it turned out, it was her snowy gryphon mount that she had purchased with my parting gift, that she wanted to share with me. I felt like a big brother to a little sister - I had never met her in the 'real 'world. She hugged me, made a *sniff emote and said with lots of exclamation marks that she'd miss me. I was going to miss her too.

Recently, after a particularly bad experience with an overly controlling and somewhat arrogant guild leader, I was left without a World of Warcraft guild that I called home. I wanted to 'progress' and to see (and beat) new content but finding a new raiding guild to start building relationships within was just not something I was prepared to do again. University was also starting to heat up, with an increasing amount of work having to go into assessment tasks and my major thesis, when my job, which that suited me and my study timetable perfectly, sadly dried up. Without a steady income, and having to still pay the bills (not many, but a few) I decided that, well, after a good run of a year and 6 months with the World of Warcaft, maybe it had become time to hang up the gauntlets and retire gracefully.

So I did. And it's probably one of the best things I could have done. Now, I'm not saying that wow is the devil or anything knee-jerkingly reactionist like that (although I *do* have some serious issues with some elements of it: the grind, only having one somewhat flawed model of guild leadership, etc, etc). But instead, much like Mr Brainy Gamer himself, Michael Abbott, said - it means that I can play other games again. I mean, in all honesty, how many people who play wow seriously do you think also play other games seriously and critically on a regular basis? I'd wager not many.

I make no secret of the fact that I want to work in the games industry. I am working towards that with my degree and with my thesis, and also, now, so with this. I can't just play WoW all the time and call myself a gamer. I honestly have no desire to work in any other field. I recognise that I probably will, but I hope that eventually I will be able to work for a living on what I am so most passionate about. My passion is for gaming, and that's really what this experience has been all about. I've left WoW and all of the amazing wonderful (and some horrible) people that I met on the Alliance side of the Dath'Remmar Oceanic Realm, and yeah, I'll miss them too. But I'm not a really a WoW-er. Not anymore. I'm a GAME-er.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your decision to leave Azeroth. I'm starting in the game industry next week, myself, and the breadth of my videogame experience was a major point in my appeal as a candidate for a producer position. Your thinking about the whole "wower vs gamer" aspect is spot on. At one point I was actually asked whether I played WOW, which I was happy to answer in the negative.

Keeping up to date with even the worthwhile, interesting games, is a major time-sink, though. An evening or two with each is the most you can afford, when there's at least 1-2 new titles every week to check out.

Best of luck with your career. Your thesis sounds interesting, I hope to catch it once it's done.

Ben Abraham said...

Hey Joonas,

Thanks for the interest, and also for the comments - I really appreciate when someone cares enough to just say hi in the comments.

May I also wish YOU best of luck in your new role. I'd ask what/where you are starting work, but you might not be able to tell me anything anyway. ;-)

Check back in October for the final text of my Thesis - I've got a few more months to actually nail it out - by which time maybe I'll even have spent enough time out of WoW to resist the release of the Lich King!

Michael Abbott said...

I quit WOW about a year ago having reached level 40 without enough money to buy a mount. At that point, it had begun to feel like a grind, and I didn't want to join a guild and then feel guilty about not being a reliable contributor. I can't say I've missed the game at all...but Lich King has piqued my curiosity.

I mention this because recently a colleage I'm working with on a project invited me to join him and another colleague in Lord of the Rings Online. I was hesitant, but he was very persuasive and suggested it would be fun to use the voice-chat option and basically use the game as a place to hold a meeting.

And to my surprise, it worked. I remember reading recently a post called "Is WOW the new golf?" and thinking "Huh?" But now I get it. My recent experience in LOTRO was sort of role-play gaming, but mostly it was a virtual framework for three people scattered thousands of miles apart to have a meeting.

10 years ago, I would have laughed at the very idea.

Maybe I should turn this into a post! ;-)

Ben Abraham said...

One of the more FANTASTIC aspects of WoW and, by extenstion, all virtual worlds is the fact that you can have a representation of yourself in a place. Have you ever noticed how, in WoW, people (generally) observe other people's personal space? Have a look at any Guild photo and almost no-one is standing 'on top' of anyone else, despite the fact that they can.

This is maybe not the best example, because the idea is to be able to see everyone, but even in less formal settings - using the bank, or the auction house - people gravitate to the open spaces!

There's a FANTASTIC machinima / interview series called 'This Spartan Life' in which the host talks to many famous personalities within a multilayer game of Halo 2. Some of it is scripted, but some isn't - but the coupling of interviewing and navigation of 3D space to me is quite extraordinary!

So yeah, make a post and I think I'll try and organise some thoughts aswell.

Gosh, this topic has given me some great ideas for the research paper I am writing on the First Person Shooter as Virtual Reality... Thanks Michael! Inspirational, as always.