My night elf priest hit the level cap two weeks ago and since then I've been playing her more than any of my other characters in an effort to gear her up. (She won't really need the gear for anything, but I just liked the idea of getting her a set of tier nine.) Today I even got her into a VoA run and killed Flame Leviathan in Ulduar just for the weekly raid quest. Afterwards I couldn't help feeling vaguely dirty however... generally I avoid VoA like the plague and on my home server I've passed on the weekly raid quest week after week simply because I think it's kind of stupid. Why the sudden change of heart?
After a bit of thinking I realised that I'm approaching the game with a very different attitude on this character. Generally I play WoW as a very social game, making sure that all my alts are in the same guild, chatting with my friends, focusing on group content that we can do together as a guild and so on. I still engage in various solo activities as well, but most of them would feel meaningless if I didn't have the guild to share them with.
However, my night elf is different. Any friends I used to have on my old Alliance server have long stopped playing and I don't know anyone there anymore. I have a guild tag, but the place only serves as somewhere to collect my alts; effectively I play alone. For a long time that put me off coming back to this server at all, because not knowing anyone put a firm barrier in front of the most rewarding and interesting content. However, the changes Blizzard has made this expansion have made it incredibly easy even for a solo player to get into groups and get things done. The next batch of emblems is only a click on the dungeon finder away.
In addition real life is currently presenting me with a couple of issues that make me feel less sociable than usual, and I'm looking for things that can keep me distracted without forcing me to interact with other people. Oddly enough, for as much as I usually enjoy the social aspect of WoW, I'm only now coming to realise that it works as a single player game just as well. Just set yourself a relatively easily achievable goal (like say, full tier nine for your newest level eighty alt) and then keep plodding away at that, ignoring everyone around you as much as you can. Suddenly not knowing anyone to talk to doesn't matter. Suddenly VoA and the weekly raid quest are perfect things to do - simple activities that offer great rewards for what still only requires minimal social interaction.
Though even as I enjoy my virtual escape, I'm already longing for company and more social ways of playing again. Still, this temporary foray into WoW as a single player game has definitely made me wonder just how many people play it that way all the time?