Confession: I have been an avid gamer my whole life. Regardless of social stratification and extended periods of isolation, I have never looked a gift video game in the mouth. From learning to read by playing King’s Quest on my father’s IBM PC Jr. to the release of the first Nintendo Entertainment System, which I received for Christmas of ’87, from playing the ever expanding series of games that belong to the Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior franchise to my current Steam library of over 200 games; gaming has played an integral part of my life as far back as my memory expands. Video games have been a central tool for communication between me and my cousin, and as of recently, video games have allowed me to struggle with, and juggle, different scenarios involving a moral ambiguity, which has afforded me the kind of space and time needed to develop a more cohesive understanding of the gray area of our ever polarizing political climate. Video games have taught me patience, compassion, the necessity of culture and language, and more so that satisfaction cannot rest solely on the achievement of a certain task, but must come from the struggles and the journey preceding the achievement itself. And what may surprise, and even possibly disappoint, some of you is that I have learned a great deal of these lessons by playing World of Warcraft.
Now I get it. World of Warcraft is supposed to be the addictive, relationship ending, life destroying, epicenter of geekdom with which should be avoided like syphilis. And yes, I think it is suffice to say that I have been hardily “addicted” since I first encountered the world of Azeroth. I found WoW while sleeping on a mattress in a storage-closet-sized space in my cousin’s basement while trying to escape my life on the streets and drug addiction. I had played a pretty extensive D&D based RPG prior to WoW called Neverwinter Nights. I had also played the early Elder Scrolls games. So when I spawned into an obscenely expansive world where my character could go anywhere within the assumed video game laws of physics, and granted I didn’t die, there were huge cities and thousands of other players I could interact with and team up with, I was in love right away.
I originally played on my cousins account in the early days, or what gamers call “vanilla” (pre-expansion/original versions of games). The game was hard and demanded that you interact and group up with other players. Making it to a new zone, getting a highly sought after and needed weapon, were achievements unto themselves, because the world is filled with “mobs” (non-player characters that are designed to kill and give experience–or die to), as well as other players on the enemy faction, all of which are trying to stop you. Now my drinking took a turn for the worse and I left my cousins house with no way to ever play my beloved Tauren hunter, Xander, again. But three expansions later, I had my own computer and time to play, and “rolled up” (started a new character) a new toon (character) and played to max level not only a new Tauren hunter Artrimbaud (named after child poetry prodigy Arthur Rimbaud), but an Undead mage named Mageyourface as well. I fell deeper in love with the game. But unfortunately school and my life in the poetry world disallowed me to give much focus to the game or my toons, and got put away like a box of last years photographs.
As of recently, I have resigned to the fact that looking for love is futile during this fluxing stage in life as I rapidly approach graduation, so I have had more time to play video games. It started with the release of the highly anticipated Friday the 13th game that was released some months ago. However, there is really not a lot to the game and the meta-game gets figured out but never played, so playing winds up being nothing more than a source of great frustration. Then Blizzard announced the release of new expansion of World of Warcraft, as well as Legacy servers on the horizon over the next two to three years. So I reupped my subscription to WoW and was reunited with my old friends.