Your big beautiful beefy bulwark of badass.

Just a game? Not exactly

Without going into too much detail, things here at the Panzercow Bunker are not exactly sunshine and peacebloom all the time.  Money is tight, cars break down, children are recalcitrant, family disputes happen.  Real Life can, as Real Life often does, suck like an EF5 tornado and do about as much damage.  Oh, all the truly important stuff is still there.  We’ve still got a roof over our heads, I’ve still got a job (for now, you never know with this economy), we’ve got our health, we’ve got each other, we’ve got a shaken, but intact, faith in a God that loves us.  But like that storm-hit house, we’re missing a ton of shingles right now, a few windows are broken, there’s water damage here and there.

So every now and then, after we take care of the important things, it’s fun to sit down in front of the computer and fire up World of Warcraft, and disappear into Azeroth for a few hours.  It’s fun, it’s colorful, it’s entertaining, it’s a nice diversion, right?  But it’s just a game, isn’t it?  It’s just a game.

Not hardly.

If it was “just a game,” I seriously doubt I’d still be playing almost every night after four years.  I wouldn’t have two level 80s, a 78, two 70s, and a 67.  My wife wouldn’t have four 80s, a 72, and a 60-something (she’s leveling so fast I can’t keep track).

If it was “just a game,” I wouldn’t have a very long list of people that I’ve met in WoW that I call “friend” and really want to meet face-to-face someday, just to hang out and talk and maybe have some adult beverages with.  They live in Boston, and Austin, and Portland, and Seattle, and Chicago, and St. Louis, and Atlanta, and Australia, and New Zealand, and tons of other places.  And I wouldn’t have met a single one of them had I not bought World of Warcraft in February 2005 and stuck with it since.

If it was “just a game,” I wouldn’t have characters in a bunch of kick-ass guilds and a fantastic raid.

If it was “just a game,” we wouldn’t have gotten cards and letters and care packages when my wife’s mom died.  We wouldn’t have had friends send us little presents to help us through the tough times.  We wouldn’t have had two members of our raid offer my wife a place to stay to visit her dying mother–sight unseen, no strings–when her own family hardly helped her out.  I wouldn’t have friends that I chat with online almost every day not just about game stuff, but about real problems, big and little.

If it was “just a game,” I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Just a game?  Yeah.  And Everest is “just a mountain.”

So here’s my advice to you, unsolicited, and worth exactly what you’ve paid to read it.  Keep WoW in perspective in your life.  It is entertainment, after all, and not a substitute for any of the important things in your life like family, work, religion, outside time, children–whatever’s in that category for you.  Always, always, be careful and use suitable discretion when online.

But remember that while there is a game there, where you kill monsters and take their lunch money and gather eight [Bear Asses] and turn them in to gain the [Gigantic Hammer of E-Peenage]…there’s also a community there, of real people.  Good people, bad people, shy people, loud people, young people, old people, in-between people.  Never forget that.

And it’s the people that make WoW more than “just a game.”


14 responses

  1. Excellent post. As someone who counts among her best friends people she’s never actually met … I couldn’t agree more.

    March 5, 2009 at 19:23

  2. Great post. Seriously, it is of epic nature, sir, and I bow to your blogginess.

    March 5, 2009 at 19:28

  3. I totally agree.

    I always hate trying to explain to people who haven’t played why I play this game, why I spent a weekend in Vegas with my guild, why it’s not the same as my friend who plays Couterstrike every day. And this is the answer. 🙂

    March 5, 2009 at 19:35

  4. Three cheers! Awesome post and right on target with why so many of us still play. It’s the people, not the loot. 😀

    March 5, 2009 at 19:39

  5. Bre

    Awesome post and I completely agree. Some of my closest friends, who know more about me than my mother, I have yet met face to face.

    I wonder, if in ten years we will even be having a conversation about whether or not relationships forged over the internet are as valid as face-to-face relationships. I suspect it will be a moot point by then.

    March 5, 2009 at 19:53

  6. @Bre

    One can only hope that will be the case. Sometimes people make me wonder though.

    March 5, 2009 at 19:55

  7. Nice post. I counted it up the other day, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a large number of my guildies in real life over the years, and I am proud to say that some of them are now amongst my best friends. The people are what counts. 🙂

    March 5, 2009 at 19:56

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  9. Wow. Thank you all very much for the wonderful comments, I, uh, wasn’t expecting so much so fast. o.O

    The various online communities that my wife and I are part of–our WoW friends most centrally right now–have been a huge part of our support system the past couple of years as some not-so-good stuff has happened. Neither of us are very good at making friends, we’re both very introverted (hush, Itanya), and two years ago we found ourselves in a new town, away from both our extended families, with virtually no friends, just each other, a high-energy one-year-old, and two big furry cats.

    Through medical issues and financial problems and the deaths and sicknesses of relatives and the troubles of dealing with the “terrible twos and threes,” both of us have been able to fall back at least to some extent on the friends we’ve made in WoW. As I said in the post, we’ve gotten help from folks we’ve only ever spoken to in Vent that we couldn’t even get blood relatives to give us, and I hope we’ve been able to give it back to our friends in need as well.

    The game, basically, is the vector that gets you involved with the people. The people then turn back around and make the game more enjoyable.

    March 5, 2009 at 20:30

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  11. Celb

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now sir, starting with the “What makes a great tank” post. I also went back and had a look at some of the older posts, and I have to say, thank you for your insights, it’s been a great read so far, looking forward to more.

    March 6, 2009 at 02:46

  12. Anea

    Hear, hear.

    It is hard to put into words how this isn’t “just a game” and how it can mean so much more to us, through the people we meet and reach out to us.

    March 6, 2009 at 06:15

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  14. Bristal

    Nicely put. I’m an older gamer (I’m jealous that you have a wife who gets it), and I’m wrestling a bit with the social aspects of the game. I finally joined a guild, and have done a few raids (had played strictly solo through lvl 80). But I still don’t QUITE know how to form a “relationship” with anyone online. And I’m OF COURSE just talking about conversing about non-WoW things. I feel strange asking someone about their RL. I try to take cues from guild chat and raid voice-chat and I really don’t see/hear people talking about themselves or asking anything other than maybe where they are. Are they having these kinds of discussions in private whispers?

    I kind of wish I could find a blog/forum about this topic…

    March 6, 2009 at 23:19

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