In an instance where the student becomes the mentor, Ben Kendrick, a former student of mine and an editor for the site, offered me an opportunity to write a weekly column for Game Rant.
He heard that I had a secret obsession, which really is no secret, with World of Warcraft. More importantly, he knew of my love of writing, thinking, and all around not giving a hoot about the real world. Also, I shared with him an essay I had written about why I play the game, which blew the secret obsession out of the water. Thus, when the idea for a weekly column about World of Warcraft popped up, he thought of me.
So, here I am, 42 years old, an avid player, though not too serious, pursuing one of my great loves in life: writing. On top of that, I am able to write about a game, one I use to escape the realities of life.
I should note, by way of introduction, my World of Warcraft philosophy – and gaming in general.
I am not a serious gamer. I don’t spend hours a night on raids (my wife wouldn’t have it, nor could I spend that much time pressing the same buttons over and over again), so this wont be a place for strategies and hints, though some will appear here and there. I mostly roll healers and tanks, while I do have some, DPS just bores me to tears, as there is no real room for thought, though Cataclysm has made it a bit tougher on DPS (and very hard on healers).
What I expect you will find here is a bit of philosophy, cultural criticism, examination of morality and ethics, some economics, a spattering of hints and thoughts on the game – but, no matter what comes up, it will all revolve around the game.
With that said, I do think that gaming plays an essential roll in our culture. We lead very busy and hectic lives, so much that we need to take a break from it all. My wife spends her escapism watching movies and videos. More often than not, these fall into one of three categories, she prefers when all three are combined: death, destruction, and/or mayhem. Right now, she is on a serial killer streak (which falls under the death category). While she piddles away her time on Netflix, I can be found in Azeroth.
I play to escape and have some fun. Like many of you, I have found several people I would call my friends. On Ysondre, you can find me about with my guild mates and other friends running heroics, leveling toons, annoying the wandering Alliance, and other odds and ends. The guild to which I am a member is composed of players 30 and over. The Guild Master got sick of the drama you find in many guilds, thus Old School Hooligans was created.
The purpose was, and still is, for older players, who, while they enjoy the game, may not be able to play as hard core due to various constraints; though there is a core raiding, very well geared group in the guild. There is also an element of maturity in guild chat and maturity is expected in discourse, especially on Ventrilo, as kiddos might be listening in. Several times in a dungeon we have had to take a 20 or 30 minute pause so that a diaper could be changed, kids put to bed, you know, old people stuff.
I play mostly Horde toons. While I do have an Alliance priest, I prefer the Horde side. In real life I am a good guy. I teach high school English, I have a wonderful wife, I seek compassion and empathy. Rolling a Horde allows me not to be these things. Most of my characters are Blood Elves, but hey, looking hot in the game has its bonuses (I have made over 100g dancing in my female characters’ skivvies). Not all are Blood Elves, I do have a Goblin warrior and a Tauren druid. Not to mention, I do have some DPS only characters: a death knight, mage, and warlock, neither of whom I play too much. I still have never rolled a hunter, seems just too easy.
It really is funny. When many of my students find out I play on the Horde side, the immediate reaction is: Why? I both teach and live in suburban Denver. A quiet area, somewhat well-to do, conservative politically and morally. My neighbors and by extension students, often attend Sunday services, speak well, and have traditional middle class values. The Horde, they think, are more likely kitten killers in real life. In turn, they contend that the Alliance are doing the good work of Azeroth. So, why Horde? Because, the Horde has the image completely opposite of who I am.
Playing the Horde allows the image of that monster that lurks within us to develop. So, when in the mood, I can gank some errant Alliance and it will be no shock whatsoever, “Sheesh, stupid Horde, what do you expect.” Of course, when the Alliance gank (which is often, simply visit the Hyjal Quartermaster as a Horde alone and see how close you can get to her before you find your life quickly draining away), it turns into a question of arrogance. On the Horde, we often assume that the Alliance think of themselves as better than us, running around with their “traditional human” values.
I guess in so many ways, that is why we play. We have so many impulses outside of the game that we have to subdue in order to live in a civilized environment. In the game, we can let loose a part of us that does not belie who we are. Whether you roll an Alliance or Horde, you do create a bit of yourself that lies just underneath the skin. You get to maneuver, communicate, and act in any manner you like (of course, there are still rules to which we all agree, just like in real life, but that is another topic altogether) and still be accepted by the world around you.
So, here’s to my newest endeavor. I look forward to writing this column and to your comments and thoughts. Happy hunting.