Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of the Road

A few weeks ago, my very first raid leader in Tempest commented he had seen more friends leave the game in the previous few months than in the rest of his time in WoW.  The thought occurred to me that all of us knew we would one day be that person.  We all would one day leave the game, for whatever reason.  In the back of my mind was the fact I had already declared Cataclysm would be my last expansion.

There were a few reasons for this.  One, I don't like the expansion process, in general, as a raiding-focused player.  For those who cannot take a week off and level up as part of the vanguard of the guild, leveling and the subsequent gearing grind seems a long, lonely process.  I've done it three times now.  Two, Cataclysm has not been interesting enough to me to maintain the level of enthusiasm necessary to want to continue onward.  I'm not sure exactly why, but several other bloggers have touched on some elements which seem to resonate to one degree or another.  Something has snapped.

It got to the point where the only reason I was playing was for Tempest: to be with my friends in the guild and to help ensure the progression of the raid.  After a while, with turnover due to one thing or another, things changed.  Some of the people I really enjoyed left the game or left raiding.  Others with whom I did not enjoy associating joined our group and wore on my patience.  It was sometimes difficult for us officers to either field the raid properly or keep a good balance, because of changes in the game and on the server which made it difficult to recruit sufficiently.  And not everyone was understanding about the difficulty or particularly helpful.  While I understand this is the lot of leaders everywhere, it became a struggle to maintain my calm and upbeat attitude at times.

And in the midst of these in-game changes, things were also changing at home. Two of my teenage daughters, one of whom is autistic, came home to homeschool, because of inadequacies in our local rural school district. (Ask me anything about the GED; I've done the research.)  One other teenage daughter just started high school, including extra-curricular volleyball and drama. And I just recently realized my youngest daughter, age 8, is showing unmistakable signs of being somewhere on the autism spectrum, which means, of course, more focused effort for me. (As it can run in families, that wouldn't be entirely out the realm of possibility. At least I know better how to handle it this time.)

It is not easy to manage a family of seven and a twelve-hour raiding schedule, while holding down a full-time job.  There is a certain amount of sacrifice which goes into it--perhaps sacrificing the quality of meals three nights a week, when I have limited time to cook between returning home and starting raid.  Perhaps it's more effort on my part to make sure kids have finished their homework before raid, or, in situations where that is not possible, juggling homework help with healing assignments.  Perhaps it's just living with the fact the bathroom didn't get cleaned that day, but will get cleaned the day after raid.  And then there are the times when one has to repeatedly reassure one's husband that the necessary tasks will be accomplished, despite the time taken for raid.  Life on those days becomes very hurried and sometimes harried.

I finally reached the point the other night when I realized I was done.  This was it.  It was time for Anachan to enter the Emerald Dream.

For the guild, it's a pretty good time for my exit.  We successfully downed Ragnaros before the nerf, and now, after the nerf, Heroics are looking pretty reasonable.  We have sufficient healers with excellent attendance to fill the needs of the raid and enough experience in Firelands by now they can most likely just assign themselves.  Good timing, indeed.

Looking back over the years, I can see there have been a lot of positive things which have happened during my WoW experience.
  • I've learned about economies, as well as taught my daughters, from our experiences with the in-game auction house. (When I tell them about supply and demand, or cornering the market, they understand, because they've seen it in action.)
  • I've been able to "meet" a lot of people from around the world and chat about everything from education to religion to dating advice.
  • I've had people with whom to speak when I had nobody else, living as I do in a very rural area.  In addition to our raiding, we shared casual fun and a lot of laughs over the years.  Some, I gladly count among my friends.
  • I've been a leader in my guild, working with the GM and other officers to create our "vision statement" and codify policies, as well as work with my healing team to organize and accomplish our goals.
  • I've exercised perseverance in achieving goals, both individual and with a team.
  • I've had moments of complete and all-consuming triumph and ecstasy, when the stars aligned and the players did everything just right, to finally see bosses fall or achievements accomplished.
  • I've had great fun with my blog and had the chance to hone my writing skills a little more. (New task:  find a focus on which to create another blog.)
  • I've increased my vocabulary to at least understand words such as "uber", "noob", "pwn", "ima", "leet", and other things I don't encounter in my outside life.  ;)
  • I've run in-game dungeons with my husband and daughters, teaching the girls more about teamwork and what can be accomplished if people communicate.
  • I dressed up as my character for Halloween one year, complete with long ears attached with spirit gum.
  • I was introduced to the world of machinima, WoW songs, and WoW parodies.  (And  of course, my daughters still run around singing various Oxhorn songs.  Lately, they've been singing his medley, or trying to, anyway.)
  • I had inspiration for poetry! (Not always very good, but still fun to write.)
  • And I won a Moonkin Hatchling in a song parody contest.

It's been a good run.

And now what?  Well, I have other hobbies, believe it or not.  I enjoy learning to bake new things, especially breads from around the world.  (My most recent one was a Norwegian cardamom braid.)  I have done various forms of needlework, from bobbin lace to embroidery to sewing (not my favorite) to knitting.  I can still write, although I will have to think of another passion to follow in my writing.  (Maybe this year, I'll finally participate in NaNoWriMo.)

I am unsure how to replace the socialization value.  I'm serious when I say I live in a rural area.  In real life, my only real local "friend" is my husband.  (It is a good thing he is a friend, lol!)  The reason we reactivated my account after moving here was because of my loneliness, to be honest.  My current work puts me in contact with several people, but my social relationship with them is only on the very superficial.  (We have little, really, in common, when you consider background, values, or interests.)  Somehow, I will need to figure out how to overcome this dilemma.  (If you see me talking to myself, you'll know what is going on . . . Oh, wait.  I talk to myself, anyway.  That's why I blog so much.)

I know I will mourn the loss of what used to be, because I always mourn when I have to give up something which means a lot to me.  Tears have been shed, and most likely, more will be shed before I am finished.  (Who am I kidding?  I cried myself to sleep the last three nights.)  But what I am mourning is not necessarily Firelands raiding.  What I really mourn is the loss of the intense passion with which I once enjoyed the game, and I mourn the loss of the almost daily presence of my long-time friends, my second family.  (We still have the forums and e-mail!  And I may pop into Stormwind every so often, if I can stand the pain of knowing I am now peripheral.)  I mourn the passing of the good times we had beforehand . . . Spending long hours in magical Ulduar, making lines of jumping Druid cats or sleeping bears, witnessing the redemption of Arthas after the fall of the Lich King, forming a circle to assign Yogg-Saron portal positions, dancing merrily through the PVP encounter in the Tournament, fulfilling achievements with the "Leet New Mexican Healing Team", standing on the log in the Archimonde encounter to avoid the fire, solo-healing the first wing of Naxx 10 while the other healer mixed up a smoothie, merrily bubbling as much of the raid as possible whenever Val'anyr proc'd, watching another Resto Druid discover all the ways he could kill himself off any ledge in the game, or hearing the silly jokes a certain warrior told which made everyone laugh or groan--but which somehow seemed the magic charm to make the next pull a kill.  Thinking of all these little things warms my heart and brings a smile to my face.

To all my WoW friends, especially those in Tempest, with whom I have played for almost three and a half years, I wish you well.  Show Deathwing who is boss.  Good luck in your leveling/questing/crafting/PVP/raiding, and have fun with your adventures in Azeroth.


  1. You will be dearly missed. Been a pleasure reading your blog & sharing the stories. Real life has to come first, especially when challenges present themselves in raising kids. Stay in touch, email or for your WoW reading fix keep in the reader. Perhaps I can write your character in to the story. We can talk details another time.

  2. Enjoy your rest in the Emerald Dream :)