Do you ever find yourself drifting away from something you used to be passionate about? For me, it’s a bittersweet feeling, with part of my brain trying desperately to hold on to the passion I used to feel (“you spent so much time doing this–and now you’re just going to throw all that away?”) while another part, logically, admits that interests change and evolve (“you’ve got new things to be passionate about now.”)
I used to be obsessed with World of Warcraft. I discovered the game at the end of 2006, a couple of months before the first expansion (Burning Crusade) was released. I was a complete MMORPG virgin, having never played one or even really seen one before. My sole experience with MMOs was an article I read in a local alternative paper about how Everquest was so addictive that people were losing their jobs because of it, and I vowed I would never be one of those addicts. Then came that “South Park” episode. You know the one: “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” I watched that, and thought Wow. That game looks pretty impressive. I think I want to give it a try.
And so I did. And thus began a rabbithole that took me further and further down for the next four years. I became one of those addicts. No, I didn’t lose my job. I didn’t lose any real-life friends (though I did neglect real-life relationships in favor of online ones). I coped with my addiction quite well, all things considered. But there was only so much time in the day, and two things I loved fell by the wayside: writing, and Shadowrun. I didn’t mind, because I was having fun. I made new friends, including some who have become good real-life friends. I convinced some of my real-life friends to play. Everything was good. I leveled characters, I raided, and submerged my life into this shared fantasy world. This went on for around four years, and several expansions.
Then, at some point, it stopped being as much fun. My beloved guild, the top raiding guild on our backwater server, died. I moved to a different server and joined a new guild, which was great. I made some new friends. But then, inevitably, that guild began to decline as well. Many of the best raiders left and switched factions. The guild is still alive, but it’s much smaller now and only runs a single ten-man raid team. I began to realize that the game is just the same thing over and over again: level characters, get stuff, run dungeons, get better stuff, ad nauseam. Even for the most devoted of fans, it gets old. I staved off the boredom for a while by running old raids with a friend, and that was fun–but we both got the mounts we needed, so the challenge went away again.
I realized today that I’ve barely thought about WoW at all in the past couple of months. I’ve only played a couple of times, and I haven’t missed it when I was away. I started writing again in 2011, and discovered that creating my own worlds was more fun for me than playing in somebody else’s. I got back into Shadowrun again, both playing it and writing for it. I wrote a Shadowrun novel. We restarted our game, and I reconnected with old real-life friends. Every time I thought about going back to WoW again, I realized two things: I didn’t really want to, and there was no way I was going to get sucked back into another online addiction again. I got some good friends and some good memories out of those four years, but…yeah.
Getting back to that bittersweet feeling, though: it’s never easy to let go of something that you cared deeply about, even if you don’t anymore. At least it is for me. I won’t end my WoW subscription. I’ll pop in every now and then to help out a friend or just to see how things are going. But my main, my beloved blood elf death knight, is still level 92 (out of 100) four months after the release of the new expansion. And I can’t make myself care.