Five years of WoW, three years of WoW for me

Calli of Pew pew lazers! made a post reminiscing about five years of WoW yesterday, which in turn inspired me to go and remind myself of just how long I've been playing the game myself. As it turns out I completely missed my three-year anniversary a little over a month ago. Three years... that doesn't make me part of the "I've been playing since beta" elite, but it's still a fair chunk of time. Time sure flies when you're having fun!

As I said in my very first post, I made this blog because I didn't want to clog up my personal journal with too much WoW talk, but when I first started playing I did make a few posts about it on my private blog. Looking back at those entries three years later is quite interesting I have to say.

Let's take a look at my thoughts about WoW on the day I installed it, the 20th of October 2006:

[After talking a bit about The Sims 2:] I also got a completely different computer game in the post today: World of Warcraft. I know I said I wouldn't, but those were just the last fragments of denial from someone who was just too curious to resist the temptation any longer. Especially after I talked to mechanichamster [the first ever friend that I made online], who's been playing for a while and assured me that it was all good fun.

Would you believe that the thing that inspired me to buy WoW back then was Warhammer Online, which hadn't even been released yet? Basically my boyfriend at the time was into Warhammer tabletop gaming and while that wasn't exactly my cup of tea, he managed to get me interested in the universe behind it. Reading up on it online I ended up finding Warhammer Online's "under development" site, which then in turn got me really curious about the concept of fantasy MMORPGs. But Warhammer wasn't out yet, so which other games were there like it? The answer I found is obvious.

Unfortunately he wasn't around today to give me any guidance, so I just started by creating a Human Paladin on a German server and ventured out on my own.

I started on a German server because being Austrian I only got access to the German version of the game by default, and it just seemed the natural way to go. I switched to an English server only a few days later though, where a Swedish friend and aforementioned mechanichamster rerolled night elves with me.

My choice of starting out as a female human seems a bit strange to me these days, as I've become a staunch supporter of the idea that I'm already a human in real life, why would I want to play one in a fantasy game too? I think it can be explained though: At the time I didn't really know what to expect from the game, and I assumed that there would be a lot more RP in MMORPG than there actually is. As someone who never played any of the previous Warcraft games I was worried about being utterly clueless about the lore of all the different races and making a fool out of myself, so starting out as a human made the most sense. Anyone knows what to expect from being a human, because they are one! (Apologies to any trolls playing.)

Why did I go for paladin? Because after reading the manual (yes, I'm one of those people who actually sit down and read the manual), I was convinced that I wanted to play a class that could heal itself and paladins sounded nicely sturdy on top of it.

[screenshot of my paladin in the Goldshire inn at level six]

This is Isadora. She's even decently dressed and everything! Though I'm sure I'll end up finding some more revealinguseful armour soon enough.

Now this bit amuses me to no end, looking back at it. We tend to make fun of WoW's chainmail bikinis and roll our eyes at how what looks like perfectly fine armour on males suddenly shrinks and exposes all kinds of body parts when put on a female character, but when I first started playing I was actually surprised by the fact that my character came with a decent shirt to cover herself and full-length trousers. If you think about it, the average piece of fantasy art tends to be a lot less kind than that to its female characters.

Being a newbie was fun, starting from the moment that I entered the realm and was hopelessly confused because I couldn't see myself, having merged with a bunch of other characters that stood in exactly the same spot as me. A lot of exploring, general stupidity and annoying death followed. And I almost laughed myself silly when I found the corpse of "Dumbledore" in the forest. I can kind of see why people find this addictive, because the world is huge, and as you enter it for the first time it seems as if the possibilities must be endless.

I think this is a pretty solid summary of the average newbie experience, though I was a bit surprised to be reminded that I was actually aware of how badly I was doing and that I was feeling vaguely embarrassed by it. Whenever I look back at my newbie days I remember all the things I did wrong and badly, but I forgot that I was also mostly aware of not doing so well. Which in turn makes me wonder if we don't give bad players enough credit sometimes, being way too quick to dismiss them as hopeless causes that just don't know how to play.

Still, I think that all on your own it's bound to become a bit boring after a while, especially with all the running around you end up doing as you level up. I haven't really interacted with any other players yet beyond helping each other out at defeating the occasional monster, and I'm a bit worried about making a fool out of myself due to my noobishness.

Basically I knew from the first day that the game wasn't going to hold my attention if I was to stay an eternal solo-er. I find the addendum "especially with all the running around you end up doing" particularly amusing, because it shows that I realised very, very early on that the reason you need company is that there are long stretches of time when there's nothing too interesting going on and when you'll want to have someone to chat with in the meantime.

I haven't even figured out how to make my character wield anything but that giant hammer thing yet, and I'd really like her to have a different weapon. Not that there's anything wrong with it in terms of functionality, but there's just something very ungraceful about clubbing wolves to death with a giant mallet.

I think it's easy to forget just how daunting even small things can seem to someone who's completely new to the game. The manual said paladins can wield swords, why couldn't mine? It took a friend telling me that I needed to see a weapon master and then some time until I actually managed to find the one in Stormwind.

It's also evidence that I valued my character's looks highly from day one. Can't go around killing things with a mace when a sword would look so much cooler!

If any of you've been secretly playing WoW already, feel free to let me know - or if you've been thinking about giving the game a try but haven't yet, now would be just the perfect time to keep me company!

My Swedish friend replied with "I'll install tomorrow", and so my fate was sealed.

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