On my 12th birthday, my good buddy handed me a rectangular package. It was small, poorly wrapped, and it rattled a bit when I shook it.
Unbeknownst to me, I held in my hand a tool of incredible destruction, and one which would ultimately consume the next three years of my life.
It was World of Warcraft.
Trapped Within This World
What's World of Warcraft?
World of Warcraft, or WoW, is an online role-playing game. It is based on a fantasy universe created by Blizzard Entertainment.
Since its release in 2004, it's shot to the forefront of the Massively Multiplayer Online universe and it's held its ground ever since.
At WoW's 2010-2011 peak, there were 12 million subscriptions, giving it Guinness World Record for most popular MMO.
World of Warcraft is more than an MMORPG. It's an alternate life.
Junkies don't start doing drugs because they intend to get hooked. Like drugs, the World of Warcraft is a perfect storm for addictive tendencies. It's why players call it "War-Crack".
Imagine the game like being in the eye of a hurricane. You're cozy, safe within a blissful envelope of pastime serenity:
- There's questing to your heart's content
- There's massive, awe-inspiring dungeons
- There's huge raids on fantastic beasts
- Don't forget the epic loot.
Around you, though, is a vortex of cancelled weekend plans and self-indulgence. The players (poor fools) think they can simply log out and go on with life as usual.
That's when the War-crack hooks them, and the cyclone consumes them.
Quests will take anywhere from minutes to hours, battlegrounds last from hours to entire days (and don't even get me started on dungeons and raids). Day turns to night, night turns to day again, and the real world passes by.
World of Warcraft calls for consistency, it expects adoration, and it demands unquestionable devotion.
Most of my days were the same. Home from school, toss my hastily completed homework packet onto the bed, and plop down in my computer chair. Whether I was wiping my group on Onyxia or farming leather in Stranglethorn Vale, I had the War-crack pumping hard through my veins.
My room. The glow of the computer screen cuts the darkness. Mom calls from downstairs.
Mom: "Ethan, it's dinnertime! Pause and wash up."
Ethan: "I'm running an instance, Mom!"
Mom: "I don't care, pause the game and come down for dinner."
Ethan:"I can't pause it, Mom!"
Mom: "COME DOWN FOR DINNER. NOW."
Ethan: "B-but... Mom..."
It wasn't until I joined my high school's Water Polo team that I broke the habit. I also quickly learned that my level 70 Blood Elf Paladin wasn't really doing much to impress the ladies.
The damage was done though. Years of free time down a virtual toilet with little to show for it other than skeletons of what might have been.
Even today, like an echo coming far across the vast expanses of space and time, I hear the World of Warcraft calling. It serenades me, as a Siren might, begging me to dive in once again.
But that's a storm I intend to avoid.
Well... maybe just a quest or two.