Returning to WoW

So as most of you know I originally set this blog up as a WoW blog, as I enjoyed writing and talking about WoW. When I decided to leave, it was down to most of my in-game friends quitting and feeling like I didn’t really have anything left to do in WoW. I started this blog up again because I missed writing weekly posts like I had when I was playing, but I had no real intention of coming back to WoW to raid. It’s funny how things change.

WoW was (and still is) a fairly major time-sink. Even if you only raid two nights a week, the amount of stuff outside of raids means you spend a large amount of time in game. That isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself, assuming it isn’t taking away from time you should be spending on work or whatever. However, there’s a certain social stigma associated with playing MMO’s, and the sort of saving grace for it is if you play casually. Someone who spends 30-40 hours a week playing a game is an anti-social loser. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the last year not playing WoW, it’s that this view couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my first year at university, I didn’t really make any friends. The people I met, lived with and studied with just didn’t have anything in common with me – it seemed like everyone I met in halls and on my course had come to uni to drink themselves into an early grave and do as little work as possible. I tried my best to fit in when I first got to uni, but I just knew I could never be friends with the people around me. I decided I’d rather be friendless than spend time with these sorts of people – and that’s exactly what happened.

Except I wasn’t friendless, because I had my guild. I had about 12 people in game who I spoke to almost every day, hung out with regularly, and made my time at uni bearable. Going out to the Netherlands to meet two of them was some of the most fun I’d had in a long time, and I have so many great memories from spending time with everyone in game.

And yet, at the time I believed all the negative crap about how I wasn’t really being social – I didn’t really have friends in a normal sense and I played the game far too much. I should cut back, I should find another hobby and meet real people – I should stop wasting my time. So, when my guild disbanded, most of my friends left the game and a new year of uni was starting, I took the logical option of quitting the game, and trying hard to get away from it and do what everyone else does and was expected of me – hang out with ‘real’ people.

And you know what happened? I made no friends. I tried harder with uni societies, I put more effort into talking to people that seemed less douchy than the average person on my course, and I played a lot less games, and yet by the end of the year I had nothing to show for it. What’s more, I found myself sinking into a pretty serious depression whenever I had to go more than a week without seeing my family or my girlfriend.

I have social-anxiety disorder, which basically means I can’t converse with people comfortably. You know that feeling of dread when you’re about to go over the edge on a big rollercoaster? I get that when talking to people I don’t know very well. And by very well, I mean people that I haven’t spent years with – I get nervous talking to some of my family members if I don’t see them very often. As I’ve got older, the problem hasn’t gone away at all, I’ve just learnt how to hide it from people better. I can now act like I’m comfortable and in control when really I’m not. As you can imagine, when it comes to making new friends, it’s incredibly difficult. If I spend an extended amount of time around people that I don’t know very well I start feeling so sick that I just need to be by myself. By the end of the year, I was so fed up with this feeling that I just stayed at home by myself, but anyone that has ever gone 2 weeks with almost zero social interaction will tell you how lonely and depressing that is.

And so for the last year thats basically been my cycle – spend a weekend with my girlfriend being happy, and then 2 weeks sinking into a depression until I saw her or my family again. It didn’t matter how much work I had to do or how busy I could make myself with other things, like single player games, books, writing – there was always this horrible sinking feeling that would just get worse and worse, and wouldn’t shake until I was around my family or girlfriend. It’s incredibly hard to describe to anyone who’s never been depressed, but basically you feel mentally tired all the time, and no matter what activity you’re involved in, a voice in your head tells you that its pointless, and you don’t feel like doing it, or anything else, and what’s the point of anything anyway?

A few days ago I was lying in bed thinking about all the good times I’d had in WoW – all the great people I had met and the good times we’d had, and then it suddenly hit me. The only times I had felt miserable and depressed were: when I was trying to force myself into ‘normal’ social interaction, and when I’d stopped trying but wasn’t playing WoW. Even now I can’t believe how long it took me to see it, but because of the nature of WoW and how easy it is to meet people and make friends (and how comfortable it is for me, because I’m in my own room and I know I can walk away from the computer anytime I like), the game wasn’t doing me harm back when I played it. I was never addicted to it, or played it to an extent that it hurt my uni work – I always got my work done on time and to a standard that I was happy with. It’s an odd realization, but WoW actually improved my social life immensely. It cheered me up when I had a bad day, it gave me a cheap way of enjoying myself, it allowed me to make friends with lots of different people and most importantly it gave me the social interaction I needed but couldn’t acquire because I struggle so much with real-life social interaction.

So, realizing all of this, I subbed back to WoW, applied to a casual and friendly guild, and immediately felt better. After one night raiding (with complete strangers, I might add) my depression had vanished and I felt happier than I’d been for months. I could start to build up new friendships with people in a comfortable way. Once I start uni again in september, I might be too busy to raid often, and my depression would likely be gone without WoW anyway because I’ll be living with my girlfriend. But from now on, I’m never going to make myself feel bad for playing WoW. I no longer give a shit what other people think of me for playing it, because WoW doesn’t take away from my social life – it gives me a social life.

/end rant

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9 Responses to “Returning to WoW”

  1. I have stopped giving a shit what people thing swell, it’s even quite jokey at work regarding my wow play. They make a little fun but they know I’m a normal dude who can still go out and have fun like the rest of them (in fact my history of laddish behaviour is testament) so I guess they forgive it as a hobby I have. I have more to say on this subject but I gotta go to work, great post! Thanks

  2. Well I’m glad I will make you happier next year, plus we will be able to play MoP in the same room again so I can rage at you if you loose aggro or get hit by fire or something, unlikely but you never know. Plus we can do co-op games easier! Aaaand I might be able to get you out a bit more to show you that there are some people out there worth meeting πŸ˜‰

    • I’m sure that there are people out there worth meeting, they just seem to be so spread out that WoW is the easiest way to find them πŸ˜›

  3. well Kallix, after the guild dispanded i have nothing to do but drift from one MMO to another, beggin for small change from a plastic cup like a mmorpg junkie. seeing your link on FB brought me here and it dawn on me too my friend that some of the happiest times in my gaming career were spent in the rank and file of “spirits of hellfire” keep in touch m8 as i always cast a glance now and then to see how you and pip are doing. Glad to see you have found love again in WoW. Roydz,Zuse and Darkmist all say hi.

  4. HaHa, Geordie Panda you say, never say never.

    Hawway pet has anyone seen me bamboo stick !! I left it here before i did me Kung Fu n that.

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