Why I left WoW, and Why I Keep Coming Back

Well, Blizzard made quite a splash at BlizzCon 2011 … again.  They’ve opened up the flood gates of the QQ by going back on saying they would never have the Pandarens be in game–they were just a fun Easter Egg.  A spoof.  But, looks like it’s here, and if my guesses are worth anything, I’m going to utterly postulate a Q2 2012 release.  There’s a lot of rage on the interwebs about WoW, which I mean seriously NEVER happens.  With all the people threatening to leave the game, or leaving the game, or claiming that Blizzard is desperate for subscribers (which, it’s not … ), I started to wonder why exactly I left the game, and what it is that keeps me coming back – because I do.  Every few weeks, I resub, or log back in and try the game again.

I started playing WoW right before the release of Burning Crusade.  I floundered around in game as my lowly rogue, and solo’d content all the way up to mid-40s before failing to be engaged in the game, I wandered off elsewhere.  Fast Forward 6months of basically not playing and I restarted (for reasons beyond me) found a great guild that hooked me for the next several years.  Here was my hook – the people made the game.  In fact, the game actually served as my social life for quite a while, and I was OK with that — I was a pretty transitional period in my life, and that was what I needed.

But then, as all good things must, towards the end of Wrath, my guild started to flounder, and eventually die.  While the guild itself exists, it’s pretty much non-existent in terms of people in it.  The people that drew me to the game wandered away, separated … I still keep in touch with a lot of them outside of WoW, but the game itself lots it’s appeal when the group dispersed.

I’ve found it particularly challenging to re-integrate myself into the game.  I find it pretty inaccessible to me to find a new guild, a new group of people to play the game with.  WoW for me, was never about the mechanics or winning or downing the boss, it was about doing things with friends.  Things that often involved math and pretty pixels. But regardless, it worked – who cares?  I wasn’t the best, we weren’t the best, we didn’t care to be the best.

Despite trying other games, WoW is something special to me.  I started my MMO life in Anarchy Online and loved it–one of my best gaming friends I met in AO, and we still talk at least once a week.  But when I left Anarchy Online, it felt like time to leave.  I didn’t have that with WoW.  Maybe I’m missing closure, or something … I dunno.  Every few weeks I log back in and see if it’s different.  Thus far, it hasn’t been.

I’ve tried to come back to WoW.  I really want to find the “magic” in the game that I had before, but I haven’t been able to.  To be fair, as much as I love MMOs, no MMO has been able to give that to me.  It’s not that I’m trying to find the “perfect fit” like I did the first time, but rather, I don’t find a fit at all.  I’ve joined guilds and would for a while and log in and lurk.  But I never found the drive, I never build any relationships that kept me coming back.

It comes as some what of shock to me to realize that I want a game to have meaningful relationships in it–and that having meaningful relationships over games (or using games as the medium to enable those relationships) is important to me.  Somehow, I feel like I’ve been conditioned that these relationships shouldn’t be important to me — that I shouldn’t strive for them.  But I do.  The relationships I built with people during my time in WoW are important to me.  It’s with some irony that I realize that the lack of relationships is why I left (leave?) WoW, and it’s the relationships that I found that I keep coming back, hoping to find that place again.

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