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It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Change is the only constant
comment 5 Written by on March 30, 2011 – 11:16 am

Warning: Pontification and Storytelling

The death of WoW.

(NewGame) is the WoW Killer.

(ThisThing) was better in (ThatOtherVersion).

WoW has been around for a long time. I’ve played since a few months past release. When I started, I was finishing up my sophomore year in college, stressed out because I was taking 18-21 hours a semester plus doing martial arts, and then stressed because of the sudden and extremely heartbreaking death (from cancer) of my Sensei. Followed shortly by the just-as-sudden and heartbreaking death (from a heart attack) of my Tai Chi Sufi. Followed by some other sudden and incredibly damaging events that I won’t discuss here.

I needed an escape, something to do for fun, and WoW provided that for me. It gave me an expansive world, a place to become a Night Elf Hunter instead of myself. To collect pets and meet new people – some of whom (like Lunauviel and Dalbarr) I’d still consider friends today. The game then was immersive, a world all to itself. It wasn’t always new-player friendly, especially to someone who’d never played an MMO before, but I learned and asked questions. I struggled to have enough cash to train, to learn how to be a hunter, and really, to learn how to play in an MMORPG.

And so the first year or so in WoW was fun and silly, puttering around and RPing and slowly getting to 60, taking my first steps into raiding and having a blast.

Once college ended, I got married to SSH… and then couldn’t find a job. For four months I plunged into a hugely deep depression that I found very little release from. I no longer had school OR wedding planning, and I was at home by myself in a new apartment in a new city by myself. A lot.

WoW was my way to find fun and social contacts, my way to get out of that little apartment and into a bigger world. It kept me busy, and Annorah was born. I threw myself into being a shaman, and I loved it. Burning Crusade was when I found TRI and the Wildfire Riders, two groups of people from whom I’ve made real, quality friends (like Bricu and Tarquin and Yva and Beltar – and eventually Arrens too).

The game changed though, and raiding was my new game.

And blogging. Too Many Annas started about a year after Burning Crusade released. Boss Kill strategies were a newish thing, since previous raiding had been a lot less accessible. Class strategies were new, because there were so many new players. I had tons to write about, both from roleplaying and from raiding, and I learned that I loved (and was marginally good at) blogging. I also got a job writing about WoW for an online magazine.

The immersive nature of the game was changing, but I was becoming more immersed.

With the advent of Wrath of the Lich King, I took on a new role – an officer in a raid group – at about the same time as SSH and I bought a new house. Our lives outside the game were changing – no longer transient apartment dwellers, we were truly putting down roots here in Houston. We also put down strong roots with TRI in game, and had a really fantastic run of things. The game really helped me have an outlet when I lost my job again, but I also threw myself into working on the house and gardening and all the various things that come with home ownership.

But people started to notice that things were different in game. Each expansion changed classes, raiding, instancing, armor and gear, leading to higher and higher levels of accessibility. Each expansion added more information into the game, and new websites cropped up as professionally run places to find boss strategies and information. WoWHead took off like wildfire, Bosskillers and TankSpot became regular staples. The game itself became both more sophisticated and more accessible, the classes became more streamlined, talent trees became more focused and made more sense.

For new players, that has been awesome! They can get into things right from the beginning; their game maps give them hints about quests and things are so much more friendly for new players now, especially since Cataclysm released.

But the big change with Cataclysm, at least for me, isn’t related to the game.

Where /I/ am now, and what I need from a game is different. In fact, to some extent, I need to not be gaming. There are Really Big Things going on in my not-game life that I have to square with. I’m older now (in my late 20’s instead of early 20’s) and my personality has gone through some big shifts. I’m no longer using WoW as a way to manage some really big, ugly psychological things – I’m dealing with them for real.

This is not to say that WoW was “bad” as an escape – I couldn’t have done then what I’m doing now. WoW was a necessary way for me to manage and be functional. I’ve grown up enough to be able to get the proper (professional) help I need now, and so my “needs” in game are different.

On top of that, I have a new job that’s both physically and emotionally tiring, especially in the midst of all the other mental stuff I have going on.

Those real life changes have changed me as a writer as well, and I’m no longer really feeling the draw to blog about the game. The new system is linear, and linear systems are more self contained. There are tons of great resources for learning strategies and mechanics, so it makes little sense for me to rehash those. And I’m not playing on the same levels as I was, so RP is a smaller, more spontaneous and less intensive “game” for me as well.

The death of WoW.

(NewGame) is the WoW Killer.

(ThisThing) was better in (ThatOtherVersion).

WoW has been around a long time. With each expansion, the game has always changed. It will continue to change. That change is neither good nor bad – it’s change. I like an immersive rather than a scripted world. That’s me. I’m Anna. I pay $15 a month, and if I don’t like that change, I vote with my credit card.

But we, as gamers and bloggers, have to also realize that WE have changed. We’ve grown older, our lives have changed. Some of us have kids now, or are married (often to other gamers). We have new interests and hobbies, new jobs, new houses in new places. Our reasons for playing have changed.

Both changes are OK. In some cases, the changes to WoW in Cataclysm have made new matches that are like falling in love with the world all over again. In other cases, it’s just not worked out that way. That’s how games work. Old players leave for things that suit them better – many of us might still look for the things that drew us into WoW in the first place (see: Anna likes immersive, only semi-scripted worlds), while others have found that the new, scripted, linear modes are exactly what they wanted and love.

It’s the nature of the better part of a decade to induce change. For those of us to whom WoW was a constant, a release and a way to escape, the changes in game seem really disruptive. But those changes are as much about us as they are about the developer team. In fact, I’d venture to guess that we, as gamers, have changed a lot more over the last six years than the game really has.

WoW does share some of that blame, of course – the developer team has always been interested in new subscribers. This expansion is incredibly focused on newer players and lower levels – which is hard for those of us with 10 level 40+ characters on our preferred server to deal with. But that’s their choice (and I do remember a lot of us saying that some of the old world content really DID need an update…) and I’m sure they’re smart enough to know that with each change they’ll lose as many players as they gain.

I know, though, that what I expect from the game is very different today than it was when I started playing six years ago. I’m still Anna, but I’ve changed quite a bit and am still undergoing a lot of that change.

WoW is still going pretty strong. I expect it will continue to do so as new players continue to fall in love with Azeroth.

If I end up leaving the game, moving on to different things, that’s where I’ll go. And I’m pretty sure it’ll be a huge adventure, just like this one has been.

Video: Time of our Lives


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5 Responses to “Change is the only constant”

  1. Wow. I suppose I too have been putting off the growing up stage of life. I also have been playing since the very beginning. Since then I have also gotten married (here in Houston as well), and moved into a new house.

    Life has been nagging at me for quite some time to just stop with the game. I think it may be time for me as well.

    Good luck to you, and try to enjoy life no matter where it takes you.

    By David on Mar 30, 2011 | Reply
  2. @David – I don’t think wow is incompatible with being an adult. There are lots of adults who play, and right now I’m continuing with my account because I do get enjoyment from aspects of the game. The post is more directed at the idea that the GAME is at fault for all the people losing interest. In some cases it certainly is part of the equation. But if you’re in love with a new game or a new hobby and wow doesn’t hold the same interest, for whatever reason, you’re part of the equation. When I say that I’ve changed, I’m not sure I’d say thats necessarily just growing up (I’m way more spontaneous than I used to be).

    Also I wanted to address the “wow is dying because I don’t like it as much” crowd. The game is definitely in transition, but I highly doubt it’s “dead”. Just entering a new reincarnation. Those of us who liked earlier incarnations better can move on, or not, as we choose. If you feel a nagging need to leave, then you should do as your gut is telling you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi Anna,

    I agree with you, and I should have worded my comment a bit better. I just have other priorities now the older I get ๐Ÿ™‚

    I suppose I just wish I could have it all. Growing up and having to sacrifice is difficult ๐Ÿ˜‰

    By David on Mar 30, 2011 | Reply
  4. Thoughtful post as always Anna, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head ๐Ÿ™‚

    By Jez on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply
  5. Wow. You put to words something that has been in my head for a long time. I started playing WoW, like you, in my early 20’s – my last year of college, actually, and on into grad school. It was a favorite hobby and a creative outlet, particularly since my academic grad school didn’t give me much opportunity to do so.

    It’s almost 6 years later now. I’ve gotten married, I have a full time DEMANDING job. Within the past two years, I’ve bought a house, acquired two small furry pets (kitty and puppy), and took on some side work to build experience/skills needed to work at home when the human children arrive in a few years. I still love many parts of WoW, but I no longer have the same patience for it – or the time.

    While I still find time to level characters (dungeon finder is my best friend) and do raids thanks to a casual guild, it no longer holds the same hold on me that it did 5 years ago. Just the amount of playing I currently do (maybe an hour, if that, a weeknight and longer spans on the weekend as my schedule allows) is pretty much at the threshold of my freetime – and playing in WoW during those hours means that I’m not playing another game, watching a favorite program or doing something with the pets/husband. So, when I choose any of the other things (pets, program, another game), I simply don’t play WoW.

    It’s not a bad thing that instead of doing dailies on a Saturday afternoon I might take the puppy to the dog park so he can run around. I sorta envision my time in a given day as a big pie. Before, I might not have to cut so many slices or spread my time around to so many different people/things, so I was able to cut a bigger chunk for WoW if I wanted. Now, however, WoW gets whatever is leftover. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Luckily, I’m blessed with an awesome group of friends who are happy to have me around in groups, RP and/or raids whenever I have the time, no questions asked. I can only imagine how much more difficult this would be if I had more investments in WoW, such as a blog of this calibre.

    By Rhianon on Apr 13, 2011 | Reply

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