Every quarter Blizzard publishes their current subscriber numbers, and every quarter (with the exception of just after new expansions) it seems that number is shrinking. Last week, I added myself to that statistic.
First let me start by explaining what kind of player I was.
I’d been playing the game since midway through the Burning Crusade expansion. For those not well versed in the game, The Burning Crusade was released in January of 2007 and was followed by Wrath of the Lich King in November 2008. This puts me as starting the game somewhere around spring of 2008, although the actual date eludes me. I had played other games in the past but it’d be an exaggeration to call me a gamer at that point. World of Warcraft, however, changed my life.
I played a priest, a class I chose because I thought it would be nice to be able to heal people, to help them. At that point, I had no concept of organized game play. I was envisioning running past other nameless players and casting a heal on them in their time of need. It seemed to suit my personality; I like to help. Clueless about all game mechanics and completely non-fluent in gaming jargon, I ran around Elwynn Forest casting heals about and smiting tiny creatures. Eventually, when I ventured into Westfall, a higher level area (but still very early in the game), I was asked to heal a dungeon, a place called “The Deadmines.” I agreed and off we went.
It was somewhat of a disaster, truth be told, but it was the first baby step in my evolution as a healer. I went on to learn what I was doing and learn it well. In fact, I abandoned all other activities in the game. I ONLY healed dungeons. My purpose was to keep my party alive, at all costs. I joined a few lackluster guilds but eventually I realized I wanted to try my hand at this thing called ‘raiding,’ which was supposedly like dungeons on steroids with way more players and difficulty.
That was the beginning for me.
It was a door that opened to a community into which I lost myself. I healed my heart out for my guild and when I felt I couldn’t go any further with them I joined a top raiding guild on my server. Tier after tier we tackled every boss Blizzard threw at us and eventually, when given the opportunity, we tackled them on hard mode and then heroic mode. In the process we formed our own community. A solid group of really fun, educated, adults. We became more than just game buddies, we became friends.
When in need, the guild called on me to help out as an officer; a position that eventually led to me becoming Guild Manager, a job I kept until I canceled my subscription, just a few days ago. I call being the Guild Manager a job because that’s what it is. I ran an organization that required us to find quality players with good attitudes that were willing to put in 20-25 hours a week of work for zero pay. For those that have never participated in endgame raiding, that number might seem unrealistic, but we raided 3-5 nights a week for 3.5 hours a night. Add in the superfluous tasks that go along with raiding, like dailies, farming, and encounter research and you’ve reached second-job status. It was a lot of work for the players and even more work for the officers, but we did it for the love the of challenge and the friendships that we had forged along the way.
But running a raiding guild is stressful.
It’s easy to get behind in the rankings and when you do it’s hard to catch back up and that makes recruiting even more difficult. In a game that is hemorrhaging long-time players, keeping a group of twenty five (and then eventually just ten) knowledgeable and skilled players on the roster became harder and harder. Adding the unfortunate fact that I was one of just a handful of healers and the chief cheerleader for the guild meant I never got to take a break.
I guess the long and short of it is that I got burnt out. It happens. Suddenly the game I had spent all my time and energy on for so many years stopped feeling fun. I moonlighted playing other, newer, games only to come back and realize how outdated my game felt. Eventually I realized that I had had enough. With a heavy heart I informed my guild of my plans and I transferred guild leadership to a trusted officer. Luckily for me, a good portion of the people I love to play with have also branched out to other games so I’ll be able to continue on with them. Those who wanted to continue to raid moved, as a group, to another server and guild. I certainly wish them the very best.
And so life goes on. I’ve started playing other MMOs, far more casually of course; I’ve started writing more about my experiences in games, and I’m even revisiting some games I may have missed while so intently focused on just one. We’ve even got a real-life guild meet up planned despite not all being in the same guild… or game anymore.
One more thing… thanks Blizzard for creating this world for us, for me. I’ll always be a fan.