this post on the ALT : ernative blog, which encourages both current and former players of World of Warcraft to answer ten questions about the game, both as a kind of community sharing experience in celebration of the game's upcoming tenth birthday, as well as to serve as a sort of survey of things that have mattered to WoW players over the years. Since it was explicitly stated that the thoughts of ex-players were welcome too, I thought I might as well put my answers up as a blog post here.
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I remember the concept of MMOs coming to my attention when I discovered the website of the back then upcoming but still unreleased (and now shut down) Warhammer Online. The idea of a virtual world in a fantasy setting sounded amazing, however the game wasn't supposed to launch for another two years or so. World of Warcraft however offered a similar idea and was readily available to play. I also had at least one friend who was already playing it and recommended it to me as being a decent amount of fun. I believe that the South Park episode had also just come out around that time, so I got a sort of humorous preview of what the game was going to be like. All these factors combined got me intrigued enough to want to give the game a try, even as I worried a little about the supposed addictiveness of MMOs.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
A female human paladin. As someone who had never played a Blizzard game before, the variety of races seemed kind of confusing. What makes night elves different from regular elves? Orcs are not evil then? I was under the highly misguided impression that since the genre was called "MMORPG", everyone would be expected to have some sort of roleplaying background, and I was terrified of being caught unaware of what it meant to be a member of one of the (in my eyes) more eclectic races. Human seemed like the safest choice simply because it was the only species I could actually relate to.
I had also read the little manual that came with the game (I know, right?) and paladin sounded both like a class that I thought I'd feel comfortable with in terms of its character as well as extremely powerful. I had no concept yet of how combat and health bars were going to work and assumed that the only way to heal injuries would be to see a healer. The idea of rolling anything but a class that was able to heal itself seemed foolish.
I described the train of thought that led to me rolling a human paladin, but I already rerolled the next day to start levelling with two friends. We were Alliance because the most experienced of them had recommended it to us as "the more newbie-friendly faction" or something like that. About a year later I switched to playing mainly on Horde side, also after having been coaxed into it by the same two friends.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
There are too many to count, but most of them are undoubtedly from my early days of levelling and exploring the in-game world. Being overcome with wonder every step of the way in Elwynn Forest. Falling off Teldrassil. Flying across the ocean for the first time to get to Darkshore. Getting myself PvP flagged by accident and getting ganked by a high level player. Exploring the seemingly endless forests of Ashenvale. Grouping up with people to tackle difficult content together and having a blast. Travelling back and forth across both continents and constantly discovering new things. Getting invited to tag along to a raid, even as I had no clue what I was doing. Rolling on an RP server and getting engaged in random roleplay out in the world.
Experiencing the release of Burning Crusade and levelling a group of Draenei with three friends. (Looking back at that, I have no idea how we managed to stay relatively in sync, seeing how we had no real life connection to each other.) Joining a guild and getting to raid properly. Experiencing many exciting boss kills.
This one is a bit hard for me to answer as an ex-player, since I don't have any particularly strong feelings about any aspect of the game as it exists right now. I know I used to love exploring and tackling challenges with other people, but as those things became harder to come by, I also found a lot of enjoyment in activities like levelling alts and engaging in PvP.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
The cities in which I spent most of my time always have a certain feeling of "coming home" to them. That would be Stormwind and Darnassus on Alliance side, Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff on Horde side, as well as Shattrath in Outland, as Burning Crusade was undoubtedly the time when I genuinely enjoyed myself for the longest stretch of time.
As far as open world zones go, my fondest memories are probably of Outland, and Nagrand in particular. When I first unsubscribed, I parked my main in Nagrand before I logged out for the last time.
I obviously can't check this without being subscribed, but I was continuously subscribed for over five years. I dropped my sub a few months after the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic and haven't really got back into the game since then, even though my pet tank gifted me some play time at the end of last year and we spent a couple of months levelling a pair of alts together.
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Yes, and I don't think I'll ever really understand why so many people don't, not even the first time.
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
I think there was definitely a time when I was more focused on the game than was healthy, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I wish it hadn't happened, it did have a negative impact on my real life at the time. I also kind of regret not being more open-minded about other MMOs earlier. While I got several years of genuine enjoyment out of WoW, I think that before I finally unsubscribed, I also spent a fair amount of time playing - and not actually being happy with the game - simply because it was all I knew. I think it would have done me good to become a more informed and selective customer earlier.
What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
Quite the effect. I made more than a few friends inside the game whom I visited in real life as well, and I met a special someone for whom I moved to a different country. While we're not together anymore, I don't regret where WoW and our relationship has got me.
WoW also helped me secure my first job in the UK, as it came up during the job interview and it turned out that the interviewer (who was also my manager-to-be) played as well. I pretty much knew that I had got that job the moment that came up.