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The Post-WoW Haze

Something happens to me when I play WoW, and I’d bet it happens to a lot of players. When I play, I do it to the exclusion of most other games. I recall looking at my PS3 through this last bit and thinking that it looked a bit sad, gathering dust on its stand. My Guardian on LotRO sits on the character select page, the same level and gear he’s worn for months. Sure, I try other games but I find myself unable to invest or losing interest before the first month.

I don’t think I’m alone with this because WoW is such a wide spanning game. It breaks beyond the limits of traditional gaming and welcomes you into a new social world; a place that expands well beyond the game itself, such that one could easily spend hours a day just ingesting everything that is WoW. There is always something to look forward to, something to speculate upon, and something to lose should you be gone for long.

Like a bad relationship, when you finally step away it can leave you in haze — but a unique haze. I’m sure we all carry on just fine in our personal lives. But, losing the game creates a little gap that’s hard to miss. We try to fill that gap with new games, probably free-to-play, and might even like it. It’s like a honeymoon phase with freedom, you discover what you’ve been missing. After a while, though, you find yourself dissatisfied. A little something will be missing, something you can’t quite put your finger on. From there, it’s easy to become cynical, especially if the game left you hurt in some way. This is, I think, the root of much hate the game receives.

Those are sure-fire examples of the haze WoW can leave you in and a good example of where I find myself now.

It’s not all negative, though, I don’t want you to think that. I’ve been down this road at least twice before, so it’s not quite as… boring… as is was the first time. Boring is the word for it, because it suddenly feels like you’re not getting as much from a favorite hobby. Again, a gap and all that. Those two times show me that, indeed, the haze does pass and sooner rather than later if you just “let go.”

The answer to escaping the post-WoW haze is threefold: don’t burn your bridges, accept that you and the game can peacefully co-exist; accept all the fun you had, appreciate it, and that it’s OK to come back down the line; and, last, invest yourself into something new. And let that something be what YOU think is interesting. Don’t worry about what other people have said, this is for you.

For me, I’ve spent the last week playing through Red Dead Redemption and God of War 3, because sometimes it’s good to just take a break from MMOs all together. I’ve never been one for long breaks, so I’m back to them now, but I’ve found keeping at it when it’s just not working isn’t a very good idea.

But, MMOs: I’ve decided to go back to LotRO. The changeover to F2P has a lot to do with that, but, honestly, I really enjoy that game and appreciate the studio behind it. I’m only level 44 and my plan is to finish off as much of the epic story as I can. We’re shooting to be as “kill ten rats”-less as possible before making it to Moria. I hear there’s a squid there that needs a can opened. Then, of course, is FFXIV.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve come to the point where I find it hard to be bitter against games. I mean, good games that I’ve spent time enjoying. Lots of folks feel the need to vent after they leave WoW, and that’s fine, but I’m just not feeling that animosity. WoW is a great MMO. I have more hours in that game than ANY game and its because there’s something to love there. Blizzard has done great – even if you disagree with some of their recent choices, you have to admit that they’ve made an awesome product for millions of people. WoW, simply, is what it is.

It doesn’t last forever for most of us, but once you’re out of the funk and have explored the possibilities and excitements that other games offer, the return is all the better: you know why you play and what keeps you coming back, and you know what it is to appreciate.

2 comments

  1. Syl

    I think we need to let go of the notion of ‘quitting an MMO’ and all the dramatic good-bye posts that usually go with this and tend to be an embarrassment to you when you return later on. MMOs aren’t just games, they’re projects that develop over long periods of time – sometimes to our liking sometimes not. I’d prefer not to talk of quitting but simply ‘am taking a break, maybe i’ll rejoin at some point’. makes it sound a lot healthier to me too, whenever I read cringe-worthy goodbye topics it makes me feel like they’re confirming what the media have tried to make of MMOs all along: an addicition you should free yourself of.
    we’d never talk of other games this way and we wouldnt apologize once we bought their sequels.

  2. Andarien

    My problem with distancing myself from WoW is that it isn’t just a game anymore, for me at least. It’s a combination of the game, all the fansites and blogs and the people I met in the game. I find that when I’ve deleted the game from my system and set my mind to pursuing other tasks, I still read mmo-champion and I still read all the other blogs that are related to MMOs. The friends I made through the game also inadvertently fuel my nostalgia and longing for the game I played so loyally. I’ve taken a break from the game as Syl says, but I haven’t erased its influence from my day-to-day life. This, unfortunately, leads to a relapse in a big way, and a debilitating decrease in productivity in the meantime.

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