It’s a big gaming day for many of you out there, as World of Warcraft released its monk/panda/pokemon expansion. It’s the first WoW expansion I’ll not be purchasing, which is both a strange realization and something I’m at peace about. I’m not here to rip on WoW today, however; if you’re all jacked up about Mists of Pandaria and are having a great day, more power to you. Hope you have fun!
The older I get, the more I see how life moves in predictable patterns. There are periods in my life where I get really into something — say, Star Trek, the X-Files, the Simpsons, college, LEGOs, etc. — and after a while, I’ll part ways with that. Usually, but not always, there’s some bitterness following that, as if it helps the breakup to bash it. To look at the bad parts. To bolster up the reason for the departure. But following that comes some time where I don’t think about it at all, and after that, a fond nostalgia for its good aspects. I love arriving at this final stage, because it makes me feel a bit more grown up to let go all of the negative bile and simply appreciate something for the good it brought in my life, even if it didn’t last.
I think I’ve been at this stage with World of Warcraft for a while now. It was such an influential game in my life that helped to blossom my love of MMOs. It was my gaming world entire for a couple years, and a big part of it for a few years after that. But with so much play came burnout, backlash, and bitterness. I’m not saying that all of the criticism I’ve had about WoW and Blizzard is invalid, but I had to struggle against making it into a crusade. I couldn’t even talk about the game for a while after that without trying to cut its feet out from underneath it.
But that disgruntledness served little purpose. It was obscuring the truth that WoW gave me a great time, helped me meet wonderful people, was a fun activity for my wife and I to do together, and encouraged me to get into blogging and check out other MMOs. Plus, I keep having to relearn the lesson that not everyone out there is at the same stage I am in gaming. Some people still very much love WoW (and other MMOs), and they don’t want to hear about how much it sucks by a guy who doesn’t play it. My bitterness attempted — inadvertently — to drain them of some of their current joy. So I needed to live and let live (or in my mother’s words, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, shut yer trap.”).
Now, I’ve bottled up the good memories of WoW and put them in a museum in my mind to visit from time to time. It’s just all positive there, now. It’s all that’s worth keeping. It’s what makes me genuinely happy for those who are excited about the expansion, because they’re still adding on to those memories, and we’re all just gamers anyway doing more or less the same things.
So happy Panda Day to you all. May the Murloc bless you.