Guild Wars 2 | The Game That Defines gamergal.exe

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Audio

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Welcome to the very last piece of The Games That Define Us
or so you think.
I’ll be saving all of my long-windedness for tomorrow because I don’t want to take away from this amazing piece!

Speaking of which, today we’re joined once more by an incredible blogger. You might not have heard of her, and if not you really need to follow her awesome blog. It’s Skylar-Mei from gamergal.exe (which is just an incredibly well-done pun)! A brief look at her blog shows that she is all about some Guild Wars 2, and so it’s logical she will be going into detail about her affection for the game in today’s piece.

After you finish here, be sure to check out her Guild Wars 2-themed 30-day challenge, as well as her wonderful answers to my Super Specific Questions!

Is this the final chapter of The Games That Define Us? It’s a secret to everybody.

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Dj76fCJUYAMeUIm

Skylar-Mei @ gamergal.exe

Twitter: @gamergalexe

For grand finales!

Game: Guild Wars 2
System: PC
Release Date: August 28, 2012

1P Start

Guild Wars 2 has gotten me to delve into many other games since that I never even thought I’d be interested in and for that alone I will always be grateful. It was also there for me at the time I needed an escape the most and provided well needed comfort when I was at my lowest.

After spending the last 5 years and almost 3,000 hours in the world of Tyria, Guild Wars 2 is probably the ‘Game That Defines Me’ the most. As well as the game impacting my real life self, it has also encouraged me to branch out and explore other titles in the gaming world. I would like to thank Matt at Normal Happenings for allowing me to join the project alongside all these incredible writers, and also to all the contributors for making me feel so welcome!

Backstory

Video games were never really a part of my life growing up. My parents weren’t interested in them, I was a lot younger than all my close family (with a younger brother myself) and no one in my friends group was that bothered either. In fact, I’d probably experienced the most out of anyone… and that was barely anything.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through college that I really got a feel for gaming. Here I met my boyfriend which was the turning point for my gaming experiences. He’s always had video games as part of his life growing up so his interest in the topic sparked my curiosity. A year later we left for Uni together and this is where Guild Wars 2 entered my life.

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Getting into the Game

I was first introduced to Guild Wars 2 in 2013. Although I’d dabbled a bit in the past year with my boyfriend’s guidance, gaming was still fairly new to me. I’d heard this game mentioned a few times over the past year, but I had no idea what to expect. My boyfriend ended up purchasing a copy of GW2 to play with his brother and after recommending the game to me, I was able to try out his Ranger. I instantly felt a connection within the first half an hour of playing which spurred me on to buying my own copy of the game.

At this point, I only had a laptop. Even though it had decent specs with a GeForce GTX720 graphics card, it didn’t run the game brilliantly. This didn’t stop me though. Looking back at the screenshots now makes the visuals seem pretty poor, but at the time I thought it was incredible.

The Journey Begins

The first character I created was Tani Sassafras, a Sylvari Mesmer, accompanying Lichen Deathcap (my boyfriend’s Necromancer) on adventures throughout Tyria. We started in The Grove and began exploring the neighbouring lands at a steady pace. Even though I was running the game on my laptop, I was amazed at how pretty the world looked (you’ll be able to tell the difference with my screenshots) and I was taken aback to how large Tyria actually was. I’d never seen a game this big before.

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Over the next few months, I made a few other characters but settled with my Human Necromancer, Alessa Demon, as my favourite alongside my boyfriend’s Guardian, Geralt Thunderwrath. As we explored more of Tyria, I was constantly surprised by the game as we experienced new features and mechanics.

I particularly remember the first time we stumbled upon Shadow Behemoth. Seeing a huge group of people fighting a gigantic, monstrous creature in the middle of an otherwise deserted swamp was definitely a memorable experience; I remember thinking “Oh wow, that’s a lot people!”

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Venturing further into the higher-leveled areas, we stumbled upon larger events such as Triple Trouble and Tequatl. If Shadow Behemoth blew my mind, then these events surely caused my brain to splatter all over the nearby walls… (How on earth did I manage to put up with that ugly zoomed in HUD for so long?)

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I was really amazed to see so many people in the same place at once as I was so used to playing single player games with local co op at the most. I tried to participate in these events as much as I could to earn all the achievements. Triple Trouble was especially difficult to complete unless you managed to find an organised world and even those wouldn’t even go to plan sometimes. However, it gave such a great sense of achievement when it all went successfully, and of course there was the loot!

My boyfriend and his two brothers also played frequently so we decided to set up our own Guild and began to do Dungeons together. Every weekend was spent playing each Dungeon in turn for months on end until we realised that some of the paths needed a 5th player to progress. This was incredibly disappointing as we just needed an extra body to stand on the 5th button to open a door, so for this reason we never actually managed to complete them all. It was unbelievably frustrating to be defeated by something as simple as standing on buttons.

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Over the next year, my party members became less interested so we delved into PvP for a while to freshen things up. Maybe this is where my love of Smite developed from, but I felt like I actually got pretty decent at playing a tanky, life-stealing Necromancer. We also gave Fractals a go, but only ever got to stage 20 after the changes due to infusions… ugh.

Then, along came Heart of Thorns, the first expansion for GW2. I feel like this expansion had the most impact on my gaming life and was where I spent the majority of my time. Unfortunately, as my Guild mates had lost interest, we didn’t purchase the expansion until a few months after release. This is something I will regret for the rest of my GW2 days as I missed out on a lot including the beginning of Raids, a part of the game I never managed to get involved in due to my late arrival.

On the other hand, this is when I acquired my true gaming partner… my PC. Due to how much I played GW2, I’d pretty much melted my laptop. I had to take breaks every half hour due to my laptop overheating which left me feeling irritated. That’s when I decided to invest in a high spec gaming PC, and it has by far been the best purchase of my life. There’s no stopping me now, gaming just got serious!

The Tougher Times

As time progressed, I spent more and more time by myself on the game. For an MMO, it was shame to play alone but I’ve never been one for making friends. After completing the HoT story and map completion, my boyfriend also abandoned the game, leaving me alone in our Guild. I didn’t stop there though and this led me to create another character, a Human Thief named Ivanna Karasu (my main character).

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During our third year at Uni, we had a majorly tough time and I handled it pretty badly, resulting in losing my confidence along the way. I found it hard to remain interested as the Uni had let us down on so many occasions, but it was especially difficult at the start of the third year. I ended up being ridiculously stressed out with the constant conflicting information from our tutors so I had very little motivation left.

Guild Wars 2 was my escape during this time. As I wasn’t leaving the house much, roaming across Tyria made me feel like I was going out to explore the world. There would be occasional instances where I would interact with others and by completing events/achievements, I grasped a sense of purpose. Playing the game gave me something to focus on, even if it was for the wrong reasons.

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After I left Uni and moved back home a year later, I hit an ultimate low and my confidence was still yet to return. GW2 helped me to escape the real world but also provided normality whilst everything else around me was changing. I’d spent the previous two and a half years in Tyria, a world I was familiar with and the place I was most comfortable. I was tremendously thankful for the stability the game provided when everything else in my life felt like it had been flipped upside down.

With Uni finished, I was unemployed for a couple months before starting my job so most of this time was put into GW2. I did the majority of the original Living World achievements, map completion across multiple characters and Cursed Shore Champ Runs. These runs were my favourite. Every Friday and Saturday night, ‘The Professror’ led a huge squad on this popular Champ Train in search of the best loot and extremely rare precursor weapon drops. I participated in this event every week and I got to recognise some familiar faces. The group was so welcoming, making me feel at ease and I regularly stayed up into the middle of the night because I felt like I was finally involved in something.

Inspired by this Champ Train, I later decided to buy my own Commander Tag and started off doing Mad King’s Labyrinth runs during Hallowe’en, which then led on to Leather Farm runs in Lake Doric. I found that I really loved leading a group of people in such a positive community. I did these runs regularly for a few months which helped to build back my confidence by sharing tips and knowledge about a topic I was so invested in, something I was very grateful for.

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Impact on Gaming

Path of Fire (GW2’s second expansion) was released just over a year ago now. I was so happy GW2 was getting a further update, the main deal this time being the mounts. I played an awful lot again during the first few weeks of release to complete the story and explore the vast map areas. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as I got. Personally, I found nothing especially exciting about these new areas and the content they provided. HoT gave me such a buzz and I just didn’t have the same connection this time around which was rather disappointing.

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I completed the PoF story but I’m still yet to finish everything in the Crystal Dessert. For now, I feel like I’ve seen and experienced everything I want to but I’m sure I’ll go back to revisit the areas at a later stage. I’m also still currently without the Griffon Mount but at least this is giving me something to work towards when I do log in every now and then. As materials have decreased in value over time, it’s become much harder to farm for the gold you need to purchase items. It’s a shame, but things are always changing in MMOs.

The Present

I still regularly follow Guild Wars 2’s updates, events and story progression, but I rarely have anything else to do with the game anymore. I find it difficult to enjoy the general content I used to play daily, maybe because earning ‘in game’ money takes so much more effort than it used to, and most of the player base are invested in the PoF maps these days. I guess I’m just stuck in the HoT’s era.

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Guild Wars 2 has gotten me to delve into many other games since that I never even thought I’d be interested in and for that alone I will always be grateful. It was also there for me at the time I needed an escape the most and provided well needed comfort when I was at my lowest.

I originally started gamergal.exe to create Guild Wars 2 guides with the view to help others out with their adventures. Without this game’s influence, I probably would’ve never even started this blog in the first place and I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, that’s a scary thought.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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World of Warcraft | The Game That Defines Just Geeking By

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Audio

Going into this, I had two World of Warcraft mixes that were so good I couldn’t choose between them. Luckily, I also has two posts on the game — experience the incredible atmosphere of Azeroth.

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

It’s time for the grand finale of Warcraft Weekend, even if it’s technically a Monday! Our writer today referred to it as a Warcraft Bank Holiday, and I like that metaphor. Speaking of which, taking us to the finish line is the wonderful Heather from Just Geeking By! One of the most charismatic bloggers of the group, she is part of an incredible amount of blogging communities and is a genuine force for doing good. She’s an incredibly creative individual, so you should be sure to experience Just Geeking By for yourself after reading this piece. It’s hard to know where to start, but I would use her recent Geeking By in October post as a good launching point!

We couldn’t ask for a better final piece to Warcraft Weekend. We know you’ll enjoy the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Heather @ Just Geeking By

Twitter: @JustGeekingBy

For the button-smashers…

Game: World of Warcraft
System: PC
Release Date: November 23, 2004

1P Start

World of Warcraft has seen me from a nervous early 20-something student through to my mid-30’s, and I would definitely attribute it to some of my personal growth. There were tears shed, arguments had, and there were also skills learned and confidence gained along the way.

There was once a little girl that fell in love with the Sonic the Hedgehog animated TV show. At the same time, video games were just beginning to become a household item, with every little boy (and some girls) begging their parents for a Sega Mega Drive. Her cousin would get one first, and surrounded by a bunch of boys, she would try so so hard to keep up — to learn all the key combinations for the fighter games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat that they loved so much. Occasionally she would get to pick her choice, Bomberman, and she would get a chance to feel that incredible delight mixed with frustration as she chased things around on screen trying to win a level.

Inevitably she could never keep up with the boys. She was a button-smasher, she was told. She was not a gamer. She asked her parents for her own Mega Drive and spent a few hours trying to beat the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog. But her confidence was already crippled by then. She wasn’t a gamer. It just wasn’t her thing.

That little girl was me. I spent many years after that convinced that games weren’t for me. I would dabble in a few casual games; we had a fish game that came free with one PC, I could ace the quiz in Encarta and frequently did so, and any little games in DK encyclopaedia CDs I lapped up. When the internet came along and Neopets was created I was a fast fan, becoming a daily player that loved the little games. Those I could play, but I wasn’t a gamer. Not a real one.

I was always acutely aware of this, especially when I started dating a gamer. He tried to get me into games and like many things, he did that wrong. He started me off with his favourite game, Natural Selection. A first person shooter in teams, and while that was something I worked up to in my own time many years later, it was the worst thing to start me on. Deflated, I was ready to give up, and then something happened.

 

 

 

 

 

I still get a chill watching that cinematic. Everyone was talking about it. This new game coming out, and little me the non-gamer had no idea at the time how huge this game was or what it would mean for me personally. That game was World of Warcraft, and it is the game that would define me.

The Start of Something Life-Changing

At first, I had hardly any interest in it. What did I care? It was just another game. I’d watch my then boyfriend play a few games like Half Life 2 and, okay, they were interesting, but since I couldn’t play them they weren’t really anything important. He needed to use my PC to play it at first, so I caught glimpses of him playing it and bit-by-bit I was watching more. The first thing that caught my attention was how beautiful it was; the world was incredible, the creatures were fantastic and the characters looked amazing. I fell in love with the elves and the druids instantly. And then I watched him fighting a random mob, just doing an ordinary quest like you do. As I said, my introduction into video games had been somewhat lacking, and at this point I had no idea that there were so many varieties of fighting styles out there. The idea of turn-based combat, for example, was an entirely foreign concept to me. Here I was watching a fight where you could push buttons and there were cooldowns on abilities! You didn’t need to be fast and know all those fancy pants key combinations because the cooldowns physically stopped you from doing that! I still remember that moment so clearly. It was a moment of clarity, a realisation that I could actually play games. All those amazing beautiful worlds and moving stories that I’d seen and heard about – I could be a part of at last.

I had a character on his account for less than a week before I bought my own account and, as they say, the rest is history. That was one week after the game initially launched, and it is coming up to it’s 14-year anniversary of the U.S. launch, and in February it will be the EU launch, marking 14 years of play for me as a World of Warcraft player and a gamer. But the story doesn’t end there….

A Love Story

Fast forward to the summer of 2007. Newly single, I find myself sitting at a table at my cousin’s wedding when I hear a few words which to a casual observer wouldn’t mean a thing; city, auction house, bank, and talking about dancing on the bridge between them. This sounded familiar to me…

I listened for a few minutes to make sure I was on the right track before I politely interrupted; “Excuse me? Are you talking about World of Warcraft?!”

It turned out that they had just started playing. By then I was a several year veteran that had stopped playing and wasn’t planning on going back. It held some bad memories and of course, was tied closely to my ex. In the next ten minutes talking to this brother and sister something magical happened. Their excitement at just discovering Azeroth for the first time rekindled my love for the game. It pushed away all my doubts about whether I could be a gamer, whether the game was too toxic and whether I should go back. There was no one to stop me now — no little voice telling me it was a bad idea, that I couldn’t do it.

Still, I wasn’t certain. It took me a while to convince myself, and once I had I logged on to a welcome back from a friend with an invite to go to an old raid. By this point the second expansion, The Burning Crusade, had been released in January 2007, allowing players to level up to level 70. That meant that players could return to older content and run it with less people, usually for fun and for loot. It is something that we still do now to collect transmog items, pets and mounts. I’d never done one and so I decided to go along. I had no other plans after all, so why not?

When I’d last left the game I’d also left my guild, and in that new members had come along. Several of them were in the group that night when we headed into Molten Core. I hit it off with them straight away and we had a great time. I didn’t really think anything of it, but I do remember the next morning vividly. It was a Sunday morning and I was sitting in Stormwind, in the Trade District by the auction house trying to work out what I was going to do that day. And I suddenly get a whisper from one of the guys in the group last night, a druid called Gerry. He said that I seemed interesting and he wanted to get to know me more. So, we started chatting.

The rest, as they say, is history. Chris and I have been together 11 years as of October 2018. It was difficult to begin with as there was a long-distance aspect to our relationship with me living in London, England and him being in Glasgow, Scotland. Initially he moved down to London for a few years before we both moved to Glasgow and we’ve settled there. We became engaged in 2010, and while we don’t have a set date for our wedding we both know it’s a done deal. We’re practically married already. We hope to one day start a family of our own, and Chris already has plans to turn the kids into little farming minions. For now, it’s just us and our two cats, Milo and George.

Last year we celebrated our ten-year anniversary, and we both decided to do something special to celebrate it. For years I had an idea for a piece of art in my head for this exact occasional, so I sought out the perfect artist to commission for the job. That was Lady Rosse and I worked with her to bring my idea to life. Unbeknownst to me Chris had the same idea. He went to our mutual friend, and my best friend, Haley, and asked her to help him create a gift from both of them for my Christmas present. I had also confided in Haley what I was working on for Chris, and so she knew exactly what we had both done. As you can see; great minds think alike!

My present to Chris:
Our two main World of Warcraft characters with our three cats; Milo, George and Az (the ghost cat sleeping as he sadly passed away).

Chris and Haley’s present to me:
Our two main World of Warcraft characters alongside my favourite alts (alternate) characters which Chris sneakily asked me one day.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

You would think that giving me the love of my life and the person who has helped me through so much would be enough. However, this game has given me so much more and continues to define me every day. Through World of Warcraft I have met so many amazing people, including my guild Excited State on Aerie Peak EU which is probably the only guild that holds the record for the highest number of PhD’s. The guild name comes from physics because it is literally filled to gills with physicists – listing CERN as your current/former employee on your resume is a norm in our guild. I seriously feel the odd one out at times and I have two degrees and I’m working on a Masters. I actually got congratulated when I started my Masters because I was finally joining the science club 😛 Anyway, if you’ve never spent time with a group of physicists I will let you in on a little secret; they’re completely bonkers! Which leads to some really awesome guild meet ups.

There has been a total of four guild meet ups and we’ve attended three of them. Not only has this game given me the opportunity to visit some beautiful European cities, it’s also given me some great friendships that I treasure. These aren’t just limited to my guild and I count friends among the wider World of Warcraft community too.

As I’ve been a part of this community for so long, World of Warcraft has seen me from a nervous early 20-something student through to my mid-30’s, and I would definitely attribute it to some of my personal growth. There were tears shed, arguments had, and there were also skills learned and confidence gained along the way. My blog, Just Geeking By, for instance started life as a World of Warcraft blog before transforming into a personal blog when I returned to University and then eventually becoming its current incarnation.

The biggest surge in confidence though has to be to my gaming. Gone is that little girl who thought she couldn’t be a gamer. In the past 14 years I have played multiple different games including some that I never thought I could possibly play. The monumental moment for me was when I decided to try Half Life 2, a game I had been told I could never ever play. The day I finished that I was able to let go of a lot of baggage I had been carrying, and since then I can say with confidence:

I am a gamer.
And the game that defined me
is World of Warcraft.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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World of Warcraft | The Game That Defines Life of Jan

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Audio

This is one of the most relaxing mixes I’ve ever heard. Despite having never played the title, I throughly enjoyed this melodic journey.

 

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Warcraft Weekend continues, and this time we’ve been graced by one of my faovrite bloggers on the face of the internet! From The Life of Jan, it’s, well, Jan! This blogger wrote not one, not two, but three lengthy posts for Hyrule: See the Sights, Hear the Sounds. Now she’s back with another doozy, and I’ve been so excited to publish it for the world to read. After you’re done here, be sure to head over to her blog and get to know her with her recent Q&A piece!

The middle part of Warcraft Weekend and the next chapter of The Games That Define Us begins now!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Jan @ The Life of Jan

Twitter: @SuperJanGames

For pieces of the heart…

Game: World of Warcraft
System: PC
Release Date: November 23, 2004

1P Start

It was a crazy, expensive, 10-year long rollercoaster of a time that I had with this game, and while I may have ventured away from Azeroth, a piece of my heart will always remain there.

I was just a naive, impressionable 14 year old girl when World of Warcraft was released in the US, in late 2004. At the time, I was a quiet, nerdy band geek, with few friends, and far too many active game files on The Sims 2. Although I owned a handful of GameBoys, as well as my trusty, well-worn N64, and played a handful of various games on a regular basis (The Sims, Zelda, Banjo-Kazooie, Pokemon, and DDR mostly), I hardly considered myself a “gamer” at the time. Most of the friends that I did have were pretty hardcore when it came to both console and PC gaming, and I just didn’t get it. Maybe it had something to do with how they enjoyed torturing me whenever we played together, usually by killing me over and over in Halo 2, or some other shooter game, and it definitely wasn’t fun for me. Aside from a few, select franchises, not many other games had really been able to interest me, or hold my attention, and I couldn’t understand how people could get so consumed by them, and act so competitively.

At the time of World of Warcraft‘s release, I was dating a boy who was definitely what the world would consider a “gamer“. Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible, because he was a great guy, but he definitely fit a lot of those all-too-familiar stereotypes that come to mind when you say the word “gamer”. In early 2005, when World of Warcraft had been out for a couple of months, my then boyfriend convinced me to make a character on his account (yes, we were ignorant 15 year olds, and hadn’t really paid much attention to the rules in the ToS). I was hesitant at first, because I was the type of person who absolutely abhorred being embarrassed in video games by my friends, and didn’t want this to be a more fantastical version of us playing Halo together. However, my anxiety was eased slightly once I saw all of the customization options, which was always (and still is) something that I loved in the games that I played.

The first character that I ever made was a Night Elf druid, simply because of how beautiful they were. I named her “Deuxfois”. I had no idea what the name meant, just that it was French, and sounded cool, which was all that really mattered to my 15 year old self. I’m pretty sure I used Google translate, or Babelfish, to come up with it. My boyfriend was an Undead Mage, and you better believe that he gave me a hard time about choosing an Alliance character, especially since I had to be on a different server than him, since this was back in the Vanilla WoW days, when you could only play one faction per realm. My first experience in the game was cowering in fear over the idea of killing a very small, very non confrontational boar. I just stood there, totally frozen, and freaking out, while my boyfriend cheered me on to just go up to it and give it a good whack. It took awhile, but that’s exactly what I did. I felt like a total badass. While I would later abandon my little Night Elf, and reroll as a Troll shaman on my boyfriend’s realm, I made many, many other druids later down the road. Little did I know at the time, my small victory over that innocent, passive boar would be the start of an incredible, 10-year long adventure in Azeroth.

High school was hard for me. I struggled with anxiety and depression, had a rough home life, and didn’t have many friends. I experienced trauma, breakups, teenage drama, and all sorts of hardships that would normally have been very difficult for me to get through alone. Only, I wasn’t completely alone. You see, during those four years of high school that I struggled through, I kept playing World of Warcraft. I not only played the game, but I loved it, and I was good at it. I had managed to come out of my shell, and express myself in ways that I hadn’t been able to do before, and it changed me in some pretty obvious ways. My confidence and self-esteem had increased, and I began making friends from all across the country, and beyond. Every night, I was surrounded by these amazing, supportive, like minded people, who I could talk to about anything and everything, while we explored this beautiful, exciting, online world together. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel completely alone.

When I was a junior in high school, I met a boy on World of Warcraft. We were in the same guild together, and people often confused us for one another, because our names were so similar. One night, we got to talking about how funny it was that people were always confusing us, which turned into talking about other games we like to play, and then into more personal subject matter. He changed my life entirely. We spent hours and hours a day talking about life, our families, school, the trials and tribulations of being teenagers, bad relationships, trauma, and everything else in our lives. After a short while, we started texting, then talking on the phone for hours on end. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly, I found myself completely in love with this boy who I had never even met. He encouraged me to embrace life, and be the best version of myself. He made me feel like I was worthy of love, and friendship, and compassion. By the end of my senior year, we were applying for colleges together, which was something that I never saw myself doing. After graduation, I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to my old life, hopped on a plane, and flew to Missouri to stay with him and his family for an entire week, before driving up to Newfoundland, Canada to start school. We had it all planned out, and looked forward to taking on the world together.

Unfortunately, our life together was not all sunshine and rainbows, and I have no one to blame for that by myself. While at college, I continued to play World of Warcraft, while he chose to stop, so he could focus on school. While our relationship was okay for the most part, I spent many days, and many very late nights, playing online. I skipped classes, slept through alarms because I had fallen asleep at 3:00 a.m., and spent a lot of time in my room, instead of going to social functions, getting a job, or making friends. He excelled at all of the things that I found myself failing horribly at. I distanced myself from real life, and I totally immersed myself in this online world, despite the negative impact that it was having on my real life, and how neglectful I was becoming. By the end of the school year, despite being a straight A student in high school, I was nearly failing all of my classes, and my GPA was horrifyingly low. But I kept playing. Because of my grades, and the fact that I was now completely broke, I ended up dropping out of college, moving back to the US, and moving in with a friend, who I had also met online. My boyfriend and I eventually broke up, and I found myself starting over again.

The years kind of blurred together for a while after that. Although I kept playing World of Warcraft after I left school, there were long periods of time where I struggled financially to pay my rent and my bills, which of course meant I couldn’t afford to play the game either. I had to stop logging in for stretches of several months at a time. My real life was an absolute trainwreck, and everything was fall apart around me, and that bled into my escape. Even when I was fortunate enough to be able to afford my monthly subscription, I often felt that logging in had become more of a chore, rather than a way to escape from the struggles of my reality, which was becoming harder and harder to escape from. By this time, so many of my original friends from the game had moved on with their lives, either quitting the game entirely, or moving to different realms to pursuit new ventures. I had a hard time finding a new place that I fit in, and new friends that I could talk to. I bounced around from realm to realm, from guild to guild, switching back and forth between factions, and leveling up character after character. I had a certain pride, as well as a kind of shame, in how many characters I had managed to level up, but it all felt overwhelmingly pointless with no one to enjoy the game with. I raided, I collected, and I farmed, but it was a very lonely way to spend my life. I felt myself growing more and more isolated, both in the online community, and in real life. I dealt with depression, as well as intrusive thoughts, and felt like there was no place I could turn to to escape my demons anymore.

I struggled with this for several years.

Then, in early 2012, I decided that if I couldn’t find somewhere that I belonged, then I would create a place instead. On February 2, 2012, I published my very first episode of the Something Suggestive podcast. Armed with only a borrowed headset, a hand-me-down computer, some free recording and editing software, and a few other World of Warcraft podcasts as inspiration, I began dedicating all of my free time, and most of my energy, to producing podcast content that was informative, entertaining, and witty. Within a few episodes, I was receiving emails, tweets, and whispers from people in the community who appreciated my show, and wanted to talk to me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt a warmth growing inside of me that I thought I had lost for good.

I hosted the Something Suggestive podcast for a little over a year. During that time, I made friends and connections with people who are still in my life today, with whom I can’t imagine my life without. I interviewed prominent people in the World of Warcraft community, guest hosted on several other, popular podcasts, and created a name, and a following, for myself. I was even approached by two, wonderful people, who offered to be segment creators on my podcast, one for mounts and one for achievements, and even still today, they are two of my closest, most trusted friends, who I can’t even imagine my life without.

Unfortunately, the bigger my podcast became, the more attention I got, and it certainly was not always positive. I received a lot of anonymous, harassing emails and messages, as well some pretty nasty reviews on iTunes, and encountered a handful of people whose intentions were not always kind, including a few instances of stalking, and long-term harassment. At the time, I was one of very few female, World of Warcraft podcasters, and the only solo female host that I knew of, in a time where female gamers still weren’t as widely accepted and listened to as they are now. It was hard. At one point, I was invited to join a new, growing guild by someone who I considered to be a friend. Unfortunately, I came to realise after some time that this fellow podcast creator only wanted to use me for publicity and recruitment. Whatever “friendship” we had ended pretty suddenly, publicly, and very messily, and I ended up leaving the guild, if only for the sake of my own wellbeing and sanity. I lost a lot of so-called friends after that, and my name was dragged through the mud for months.

Shortly after the fallout, I was approached by several other people in the podcast community, who told me about a large community of content creators, listeners, and friendly folks that resided together on one realm. I had heard about this community of people, and their founder, and how they used addons to communicate between the numerous sister guilds. It was definitely cool. Without giving it a second thought, I moved all of my characters to the now well-known Earthen Ring realm, and joined one of the many AIE guilds there. It was a fresh start for me, and it was one of the highlights in all of my 10 years playing World of Warcraft. I had all of my friends beside me, an incredible raid team where I was able to really hone my skills, and a support system of people who wanted to help me succeed, both online and off. I fell in love with the game all over again, and even found new things to fall in love with, like putting together awesome transmog sets, and collecting rare vanity pets. I finally felt like myself again.

Unfortunately, like so many other times in my life, all good things had to come to an end. On April 1, 2013, the final episode of Something Suggestive was posted, hosted by a close friend, and fellow content creator, instead of myself. Just days prior, I was forced to step away from my beloved podcast, and the World of Warcraft community once more, when my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, after four years together. I was given no choice, and had to leave most of my belongings behind, including my computer, one of my cats. I lost my home, and four years of my life. With the loss of my relationship, came the loss of what few real life friends I had made over the previous four years, and I once again was finding myself feeling completely isolated and alone. I had moved so far away from everything familiar and comfortable to be with this man, and now it was all gone. For nearly two years, I lived without a phone or internet. I felt cut off from my online friends, my new fans, my community, and everything that I knew and loved, while living in an unfamiliar town, filled with painful memories. I felt lower than I had felt in a long time, and it was a very scary time for me. I had a lot of dark thoughts, and felt like I had very little to live for. A few weeks after moving into my own apartment, when I was just starting to feel like I could actually get a grip on my life, and try to move forward, I lost my job. And that nearly killed me.

But then, things got better, and my story was given a happy ending. After my breakup, and the loss of my job, I met a wonderful man, who treated me better than I ever thought that I deserved. Even his family welcomed me with open arms. I found a new job, that I absolutely loved, and made new friends. During my two years away from the internet and gaming, I got engaged, got pregnant, moved to a new town with the love of my life, and had a beautiful, little boy. After my son’s birth, I returned to World of Warcraft, where I received an exuberant welcome from my friends and AIE guildmates on Earthen Ring. I played casually, usually while my son napped, or late at night, and spent a lot of time farming for my guild, helping to supply the amazing raid team that I was no longer geared enough to raid with. I’ll admit, that stung a bit, but I wanted to support them. However, despite my warm reception, and the support of my friends, I never could quite get back into the game. I tried to reignite my love for pet collecting, and transmog sets, but it just didn’t click. Too much time had passed, and too much had changed in my life. So, I stepped away from World of Warcraft, one last time, on my own terms.

It has now been three years since I last logged into World of Warcraft, but I often find myself reading up on the new expansions, and all the drama and craziness that comes with them. I watch my friends tweet and post about new mounts, storylines, gear sets, and everything else. I roll my eyes at the politics of the game, and cringe at how much a video game can divide so many people, who are all just trying to escape reality, and have a little fun. I get wrapped up in the hype of BlizzCon every year, and gush over all the photos my friends post, even though I know I will never get to go myself. I retweet all the new podcast episodes, YouTube videos, and blog posts, trying to show love and support to my friends and their endeavors, the way they supported me in mine. It was a crazy, expensive, 10-year long rollercoaster of a time that I had with this game, and while I may have ventured away from Azeroth, a piece of my heart will always remain there.

adventure map


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Warcraft III | The Game That Defines The Purple Prose Mage

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Audio

Warcraft III has a pretty chill and ambient soundtrack to begin with, so let’s take it from the top. 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Welcome to Warcraft Weekend: a collection of three posts all related to this defining franchise.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Upcoming, we have both Jan from Life of Jan and Heather from Just Geeking By recounting their life-long adventures with World of Warcraft. But today, we have the amazing and wonderfully supportive Alex, aka The Purple Prose Mage. This blogger puts out some great stuff, both on his own blog and for The Well-Red Mage! He’s also incredibly supportive of Normal Happenings both on Twitter and his own blog — we are very thankful for this mage’s constant encouragement. Here are a small collection of posts you should check out after reading:

Let’s start Warcraft Weekend, and this next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

DndkPSVVYAAsn5g

Alex @ The Purple Prose Mage

Twitter: @AlexSigsworth

For the humans!

Game: Warcraft III
System: PC
Release Date: July 3, 2002

1P Start

I wrote this entry with the theme of nostalgia, to be forever reaching out to that idealised time long ago of things which seem better because they’re gone; Like Gatsby, wanting to repeat his heroic past but without the complicated problems that made it very unheroic.

The problem with the real world is things often suck. It’s our friends that make it bearable. No one comes into the world predetermined. We’re all blank sheets of paper. The people that we meet, everyone, contributes something to that tract. Most of us aren’t self-defined. How could we be without context? It’s the other people, and what they write on our page that creates our identity. Therefore, our most important responsibility in life is to maximise the people who have only good things to write, and to minimise everyone else. If playing video games with someone is a part of that process, then it’s a fundamentally good thing. That’s why Warcraft III is such an important game to me – because it brought me closer to another person.

wc3-e1542467137627.jpg

Sure, we had already been friends for years but – just as doctors engage in a lifelong education about their field – that kind of relationship requires constant sustenance in order to mean anything. Warcraft III is a game that I’d play with Christopher Lee of short.Parse every Friday. It wasn’t a school night, and we were already together. It was just the easiest way to do it. He has no siblings, so I was always something of the brother he never had. That had been very clear to me as we became friends in nursery. Which meant Friday was our day.

When you meet up in the same form room for five days consecutively, it eventually becomes a bit of a debriefing about what’s on that day’s agenda in the kind of self-serious way that only children could do. On Fridays, whenever there was nothing else of note, what was guaranteed was that both of us would be meeting up at the school gates and then proceeding to walk through the neighbourhood to his house. I can still remember the route as well as I can remember the route back to my own house, as I’m sure most of us can. At that age, our overworld map is like a triangle: my house, school, friend’s house.

Back then, things were simpler. Before we went our separate ways to only be able to travel to each other by train whenever we get the time, which isn’t that often. When we arrived, there was the usual order of business: getting drinks, often a cherry cola or a special brew of his devising, which was basically a cup of tea with some chocolate in it. Then, after gossiping about whatever had happened that day, we’d get to it. Our LAN party. I was in the study, he was in his bedroom. Without headsets, communication between us consisted of talking loudly with the doors open, our voices carried across the landing. Yet we made it work, as you do when you’re committed to something with no convenient alternative.

He’d play as the undead, and I as Human, because that’s what I am – logic which I know sounds rather silly now, because everyone playing it is Human. I was never very good at playing the game, so I’d find ways of compensating. If this were a fighting game, his strategy would’ve been to apply the best moves whereas mine would’ve been to press any buttons and see what happens. That’s why I’d spend most of the time emptying my gold mine as quickly as possible. Any buildings I constructed were selected on a cycle system. I figured that, rather than building whatever was necessary at the time, if I built an equal number of each, I’d never run out. This strategy doesn’t work, and my application of it demonstrates my fundamental misunderstanding of real time strategy games.

Instead of learning to value victory as the positive result of a game well-played, I was more interested in victory as its own result that would indicate a well-played game by its own nature. Therefore, rather than focus on a particular principle of play – like, oh, say, military strength? – I preferred to make as much as I could of everything. Because surely that would make me superior in every way, right? Wrong, because every decision to invest in something was also a decision not to invest in anything else, which meant that, despite having a balanced abundance of all buildings and units, I didn’t have an abundance of the right buildings and units. By giving everything the same value, I’d overestimated my economic plan, making defeat inevitable. Beating me at this game isn’t an achievement, because most gamers could. The fact that my opponent was a skilled strategist was irrelevant, because my own choice to super-inflate my economy had brought defeat upon myself anyway.

WC1

Every now and again, I like to rewatch a gaming video we made. It was Halloween 2012, and I was playing as the Orcish Horde for the occasion. Due to our inability to play in the same room, we recorded a commentary post-match style, each with our variation of events. Most of it consists of him explaining where I went wrong, which was even more accurate for that night because I had no idea how the Orcish Horde operated or what their buildings did or what their units were for. That video is not only extremely cringey – because I was 16 years old at the time – but also features outdated cultural references (this was back when the UK No. 1 single was Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Weltch, a song that I can’t even remember). That’s why that video is for just me and him, although I showed it to Geekritique, and he thinks that it’s a good video if only for the posterity of seeing how I’ve changed.

I suppose that’s true. As much as we still stay in touch online, we’ll never be able to get back that part of our lives when all that mattered was whether I could get my homework done. There was more time back then. Even if we were able to reunite someday and have another Warcraft III LAN party, it wouldn’t be the same. It’s not just a game, it’s what it represents. We know that. Games aren’t really code and physics engines. That’s just the development stage but it isn’t what makes them. No. Games are made of our memories of playing them. It’s all very well knowing the controls and lore, but that’s all primitive recollection and hand-eye coordination. When we play them and they enter our brain, they’re filed into memory.

Memories create the consistency that gives everything context: what something is and what it means. That’s why Warcraft III isn’t just a game, it signifies the end of the school week. It’s payoff to getting to the end of Friday. It’s the part of my life back then that was actually worth living. We both share the same experience of the same game, which thus has the same unique meaning to each of us. The more unique the experiences you share with someone, the closer you become to them. Azeroth is a virtual place we went together because it was better than reality, and it’s where I left my heart.



But as it turns out, the story isn’t over after all.

Some time after finishing what I thought was the final draft of this piece, Blizzcon revealed Warcraft III Reforged, a remastered rerelease. It is essentially the same game, visually updated for modern video gaming standards, as it should be – adapted to the present without losing a sense of what it fundamentally is. It could not have come at a better time.

WC2

I wrote this entry with the theme of nostalgia, to be forever reaching out to that idealised time long ago of things which seem better because they’re gone; Like Gatsby, wanting to repeat his heroic past but without the complicated problems that made it very unheroic. Of course I reflect upon my time playing Warcraft III with a sense of wonder but I wouldn’t actually want to return to that time in my life; the whole point of what Wacraft III means to me is that it was something of a diamond in the rough.

One may tolerate a world of humans for the sake of some Orcs. Of course, none of this occurred to me until I started actively thinking about it. This series has unlocked a lot of complex memories from within, and connecting with them has been like connecting with that past for the first time since I sealed it away. In doing so, did I create Warcraft III Reforged? Did I manifest it into reality with the power of desire? If spelling is to cast a spell, then are my words truly magic? Am I more of a mage than I believed? There is no doubt in my mind that this was meant to be. I thought that I was writing about the end of something. Perhaps it’s actually the beginning; a call to action or lighthouse in the fog, showing me the light, the way back to where I used to be, in the hope that, if I just stretch out my arms further, if I just run faster, and if I, too, can remain adapted to the present while remaining true to who I fundamentally am, then one fine morning, a time and a life that I once lost could be found again.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
become_a_patron_button

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