Ah, the hobby that has taken up so much of my time over the last couple years.  I’ve spent anywhere from 30 hours a week down to zero and back again throughout my time in various game worlds.  Some people might call this an unhealthy obsession.  Indeed, there are many who look upon video games in general as huge wastes of time and unworthy of intelligent conversation.  I simply look at it as one hobby among many available.  One could argue that most hobbies are in fact, unproductive wastes of time.  I certainly don’t see how watching 30 hours of TV a week is socially acceptable while gaming is not.  Some people spend many hours a week following and watching professional sports, and participating in fantasy leagues.  Some read. Some create art that others will never see.  Some gamble.  Some spend time alone.  Some spend time socializing with other people.  In the end, it’s everyone’s choice as to how they spend their time on this earth.

For me, I see gaming as something to do when I don’t have anything better to do.  It’s relatively cheap (a movie can cost $12 for just 2 hours), safe (I’ve never broken a bone playing video games), and doesn’t require travel.  I know that there are people who put their gaming towards the top of their priority list, and that is their choice.  As to myself, if a friend asks me to go out to dinner or see a movie, or just hang out, I’m not going to turn them down so that I can go kill internet dragons (although those internet dragons  definitely need killing, and I definitely enjoy killing them).

This leaves me in an interesting situation.  How do I classify myself as a WoW player?  Raider?  Altoholic?  Goblin?

I’ve got two toons at the level cap (80 currently), a priest and a death knight.  The priest is 10/12 in ICC and the death knight 7/12.  Both toons are in the same guild, and there were times when raiding was a priority for me.  But recently I’ve changed my outlook on WoW, and I blame the blogging community, but I mean that in a positive way!  You see, I find this change in my attitude to be a good thing, and am grateful to the community.  In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why I’m starting this blog, as I feel that I would like to express my gratitude to the blogging community.

When I first started raiding, I started researching WoW and stumbled upon some great blogs, like skeletonjack.  I owe my transformation from fail DK to competent tank to SJ.  Then it just kind of expanded from there.  Blogs I visited had links to other blogs, so I added them to my reader, and it just continued from there.

Anyway, back to my attitude.  At some time, I became a bit obsessed with the purple pixels of the phat lewts to be had.  I raided every lock out on two toons.  I got fed up with slow progression of my casual guild and moved on.  Then, just when I was getting closer and closer to an LK kill and hardmodes, and about the time of the whole RealID fiasco (yes I have privacy issues) some wonderful blogger hit me with a metaphorical tazer.  I wish I could remember who it was, ’cause I would find the post and link it.  But the result was profound.  I actually stopped and asked myself, why the hell are you doing this?  Are you actually having fun?  In the end, I had to answer, “no”.  I wasn’t having fun.  Logging in felt like a second job.  And what I spent my time in game doing usually involved something that felt like a strange zombie dance.  On my priest it was whack-a-mole, strafe out of fire, whack-more-moles, strafe out of a different colored fire, whack, run to square, whack, run to circle, boss dies, collect loots, and then do it all again.  Tanking was even simpler.  Position boss, spam rotation/priority, pop CD’s when boss does X.  Swap tanks at Y stacks, swap back when stacks drop, watch omen and yell at Z to dump threat, boss dies, collect loots.

I didn’t really feel like an adventurer or a hero.  Maybe part of this was because I really didn’t ever care for the lore of the video games.  I know who Arthas was, thanks to things like the Culling of Stratholm heroic, before we had that wonderful option to skip it.  I know he’s a bad guy, and THE bad guy of the expansion, so I know we gotta kill him, but I don’t really know why.  Nor do I particularly care.  The hammer doesn’t care why the nail needs a good beating; the hammer just delivers the beating.  Similarly, I don’t know why I’m being asked to murder these murlocs/kobalds/trolls/bears, I just know I’m supposed to kill them, so I do.  For me, gaming has always been that way.  Give me a target, and then let me at ’em.

For a while, raiding felt fulfilling.  Here’s a really badass bad guy that takes 10/25 people to put out of his misery.  So let’s form up and give him the ol’ what-for.  But murder that same badass bad guy over and over and over again every week, and I just start to lose interest.

When I was raiding heavily, I couldn’t bear the thought of leveling another toon, what a boring way to spend time.  There are no phat lewts on level 43 boars, damnit!

So I actually cancelled my subscription and logged out for several weeks.  Eventually though, I thought about things, kept reading WoW blogs, and decided that I wanted to try it again, but with a different focus.

Now that I’ve stepped back from raiding a bit, I’ve discovered that my playtime is much more diverse and I’m actually experiencing, *shudders*, fun again.  If I’m in the mood for raiding, I raid.  If I want to make some money, I do that.  And leveling, oh leveling, my lost love.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that druids are concentrated awesome dipped in pure coolness, but I love leveling my druid.  He’s bear/resto specced, quests in kitty form and prefers tanking in LFD (way more fun than tanking as my DK to be honest).   Don’t ask me why, but I really get a kick out of stealthing around while questing and then pouncing on unsuspecting mobs and beating them halfway to death before they even turn to face me.  LFD is even more fun as a bear tank.  I know some pugs can be horrible, we’ve all heard the stories of fail, but some of them can be hilarious, when you’re actually conquering content at level.

Just a week ago we were in UK with me as my tree, and my buddy on his elemental shammy.  The tank dc’d so we kicked him.  After waiting a few minutes we decided that I would go bear and my buddy would heal in his elemental spec.  So we 4 manned it while waiting for a healer and it was fun as hell.  My friend did an awesome job, as he’s never healed before.  We took pulls slow and steady and just enjoyed the instance.  Eventually a priest joined in and we polished it off, but it was still a ton of fun.

So this is what I’m doing in WoW now.  I’m not going to feel obligated to do anything.  If that means that I’m not progression raiding, so be it.  I’m having fun!