Breathing on the Embers

            I don’t write anymore. I don’t stop to smell the roses. At this point, I don’t really remember why I started writing; what it was about writing that made me want to do it. I can only guess it was because there was empty time that needed filling and despite idling for countless hours around Dalaran at the time, that alone wasn’t enough just watching the lines on the chat window scroll by. Maybe That was when I had time to write and I suddenly got busy. I know there have been times where I’ve spent as much as 16 hours a day in Azeroth. There was that one-time “Great Cataclysm-launch Marathon” of 60 hours that I somehow managed to pull off. Looking back on it now I remember how surreal it felt, going from 80 to 85 in about 22 hours, then immediately grinding dailies, extra quests, and heading into dungeons, cause I was gonna be damned if I wasn’t in full 346 or better and killing at least one raid boss the first week of the expansion just like all those impressive guilds. Little did I know, of course, that those impressive guilds wouldn’t just kill a boss, they’d kill 12 of them, even if Nefarian didn’t die until Monday night, and only on 10man because of some bug in the 25m version.

            I think it really was an issue of time. I had all the time in the world, and I didn’t want to sit around writing about the World of Warcraft when I could just log on. I didn’t feel a need to chronicle things or analyze them when I could just talk to people in-game or on vent. Now, almost a year since my last entry, I still have all the time in the world, I still recognize that I’m not in any position to give advice on the game or about my class, and I was perfectly content, until tonight, to let this place go on gathering dust along with my consecrate button. But, thanks to whatever it was that made me open up the list of blogs I used to read, I’ve seen that The Renaissance Man has continued to update his blog and has sparked something in me to create again. Whether this spark will live to enliven some creativity, or be squashed like the adds on post-nerf Al’Akir, only the future will reveal.

            What caught my eye was his series about 15 Days Through My Interface, an adaptation of a blogging challenge he picked up from Saz over at their blog World of Saz (which is itself an adaptation of Saga’s “20 Days of…” but now I’m just citing sources to appear well-read.) Saga began the challenge by saying;

“I read blogs for the person writing, rather than for the information (though of course information is nice too). But for example, I read several druid blogs despite the fact that I don’t play a druid – I just really enjoy the writing and the person behind the blog.”

            And it was really Renaissance Man’s style in writing his challenges that caught my eye. While claiming he is not big into the role-playing aspect of World of Warcraft, he certainly shows a deft and evocative hand. He described an experience he had while leveling up during the early days of pre-wrath (which I did myself), and some of the consequences of the Zombie invasion to “younger” players (read “low-levels,” but perhaps, like he and myself, also players new to the game). He mentions how some level-capped players guarded the Stormwind Cathedral to be a safe-haven in the city for people looking to hide out from the griefers and the mishaps of that event. Now, a scarred veteran of countless adventures, he returned to that place of unintentional emotional investment where he “holds his turn at the guard, in the event that something tries to violate the sanctity of the city again.”

            But what really hit me right between the eyes (and maybe a little bit in the pit of my stomach) was his post reflecting on the subject of “Screen shot representing who you are.” The Renaissance Man is a raider, and his picture of his group posing triumphantly over the vanquished Lich King was annotated with;

“He has traded blows with a 13 Dragons, half a dozen Eredar Lords (and ladies) of the Burning Legion, four titanic watchers, a trio of liches, and 2 certified gods. He has always done so willingly, but he has never done so alone.”

            If one is in the right frame of mind to appreciate it, that is one heck of an epic send-off line. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for more than 3 years. The time has gone by so quickly somehow despite the hundreds of hours of painful grinding I’ve done. If I had to describe my current feelings about my WoW experience it would be “impatience” and the never-ending truth that I am at once blessed and cursed that it is (for many things I desire from it) a cooperative game. My love of vanity gear has finally been embraced officially by Blizzard and so many are getting into the swing of things, but not enough. There are never enough people who want to run old raids with me, even on one of the most populated realms in the game; and, as powerful as I am, I can’t solo Ulduar 25 or Black Temple or Nax25. I am at the mercy of other people’s cooperation or, in my case, people’s lack-thereof.

            From my earliest beginnings, I have always thought of myself as alone in Azeroth. Almost instantly I was tired of questing with my father who rolled a new character to play with me. Almost all of my heroes and role models in my life could be called loners. The solitary knight on a quest to save the princess; the lone badass ninja of the videogames; the Lone Ranger and Batman had sidekicks, but ultimately they were one-men armies. Han Solo had an awesome sidekick, but no one ever wanted to be Chewbaka, when people had to settle for second place, they picked Luke. Even my heroes who were part of teams like The senior officers of the Enterprise D on Star Trek: TNG, I viewed as powerful individuals who were capable of great things on their own. And, of course, there is Optimus Prime of the Autobots (c’mon, no one will disagree that he was so much better than every other Autobot, do I even need to sing “The Touch” to all of you traumatized as children like me? “One shall stand, one shall fall…” ). Call it classic (and stereotypical) immature adolescant power fantasy, but I’ve never really grown out of the ideal of unrealistic self-reliance and agency.

            Through playing I’ve met people that I’ve become very fond of despite myself… and I have grown apart from them all. There have been people I considered friends… and they’ve moved on with their lives away from the game. My inability to do the same has caused a small amount of unjust resentment against them sadly, but I do know that it is in their best interests that they’ve done what they have, and it is not in my own best interest to stay, but for the moment I’m still a willing prisoner. There are people I’ve seen in-game who make me ashamed of my species, my gender, my nationality, my race, and my proclivities, and I am as much a part of them as I am apart from them. But “who” am I in WoW? I am a raider. I wish I was a one man army, but that’s not what this game is about. I have crushed some past content on my own. I’ve soloed classic Onyxia, the Fel Reaver, Doomwalker, the Storm Giant of Howling Fjord, and reg-difficulty Wrath dungeons at 80, and then heroic Wrath dungeons at 85. I will most certainly continue to try and solo things. But I am a raider. I love raiding; new raids, old raids, challenging raids, nerfed raids, loot or no loot, I want to kill things that feel like bosses, not just super-trash.

            I may consider myself alone, but it is an indisputable fact that my Paladin is not, and has not been for years. She has conquered every raid in the game, every dungeon in the game. At the time of this writing, 330 days have been played on her. She has died 5994 times, as soon as the new raid lockout opens on Tuesday, Heroic Ragnaros will push that number over 6000. Of those, 5055 have been in dungeons or raids. She has over 11,000 achievement points. She has three legendary weapons. She has 130 mounts and 100 pets. She is exalted with 53 factions. She has 45 titles. She has tanked, she has healed, she has done damage. She has been a leader. She has been a cog. She has been a burden. She has been a savior. But she has never been alone.

            When I marathoned to 85 on Cataclysm’s launch day, I had just transferred to a new server with a few of my raiding friends and we were going to start our new WoW-life together there. We were going to forge our own destiny. A few of us were in vent together for that launch-night leveling marathon. I might have been able to make it the 22 hours it took me to level to 85 by myself (and honestly, if we didn’t waste time in those 2 5-mans we did, I could have done it in 16-18), but I know I wouldn’t have been able to stay up for the next 40 without their help. I was energized, invigorated, motivated, and unstoppable… and I was talking to them in vent for every minute of it. Sure some of them nodded off and took their own breaks when they wanted to, but there was always someone there. When one would go to sleep, another would wake up and get back on, and for 3 days I leveled, quested, grinded, farmed, and tanked dungeons as fast and as non-stop as I possibly could. I was absolutely willing, and I was never alone.

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One Response to “Breathing on the Embers”

  1. Wow, it’s awesome to know that there are people actually reading my blog who find it that interesting. Thanks man.

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