Monday, 23 September 2013

Turkey Talk

Sometimes I think I should retitle this blog "Life During WoW" because let's face it, I'm doing a bloody awful job of staying cold turkey. Stephen King (my idol) described one of his heroin-addicted characters as doing "cool turkey" because he was still doing heroin, just not quite as much as he used to. Well, I guess I'm doing cool turkey then. Or slightly heated up in the microwave, luke warm, likely to breed e-coli turkey. In a nutshell, I'm playing again. Quite a lot.

Blizzard have made it easier than ever to get good gear without raiding now, and it's just too tempting. It's so easy to get home from work, tired, and slump on the sofa with my laptop, tap-tapping away. I still maintain I'm not as bad as I used to be. My login sessions are pretty short these days (1 hour at a time max) and I break it up with a bit of housework, TV - I even manage to go to the occasional yoga class.

Still, I feel guilty that it's the first thing I feel like doing when I get home. The trouble is, I have a bit of an "all or nothing" personality. When I quit, I have to quit 100% otherwise I just can't feel truly free of the WoW demons.

Anybody watch "Everybody Loves Raymond"? I'm obsessed with it, I've probably seen every episode about 10 times. There's one episode where Marie, the interfering Mother, offers up some wisdom as to why one of the twin boys is refusing to go to school: "You want me to tell you what the problem is? You give them all these computer video-tronic games, and after that, school is just boring to them. It's just an old lady talking". Well, maybe she's right. If you spend your spare time destroying demons and flying above incredible landscapes on giant dragons, real life is bound to feel a little empty.

So that's where I am at the moment. Scared to completely uninstall WoW as I'm not feeling all that fulfilled by real life currently. Do you think I'm ok carrying on like this or do I need to get that luke warm turkey and drop it in the deep freeze again?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Keeping Your Chin Up

Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is being diagnosed with depression at the moment? Understandable with the current economic climate I suppose. I've been lucky enough to escape being stricken by the depression bug, but it does make me curious about the link between WoW and this dehabilitating illness. Are people depressed because they play WoW, or do they play WoW because they are depressed? It's an age-old chicken v. egg condundrum.

Researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois found that 21% of gamers who played Everquest II infrequently were depressed, but with those who admitted to playing "all the time" the depressed total went up to 30% (source LA Times 2009). Not a massive difference, but I think you'll agree it's significant.

My personal view is that the depression came before the gaming, and that MMORPGs provide a sense of escapism for those suffering from depression, a sense of power, of control and of achievement that may be lacking in their real life. But I'm really interested to hear other people's thoughts on this! Do you know WoW addicts (former or current) who suffer from clinical depression? Do you think the game is to blame?

When you finally come full circle with that whole "sense of achievement" thing and stop feeling rewarded by the next ding or the next piece of gear, that's when real life rewards start to regain their meaning. It's taken me a while to feel that again, but I'm really pleased with how my little fledgling homemade jewellery business is going. This is the kind of stuff I make:

If you could stop by Facebook and share a like on my page it would mean so much to get your support: 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Pandas? Why'd It Have To Be Pandas?

Trivia question for ex-WoW addicts reading: what dungeon achievement is my post title a pun on?

Anyway, a lot has happened since I last blogged. Pandaria, more so than anything else! Did anyone feel compelled to go back and level up to 90? I certainly did, and then some. Almost 5 fricking alts at level 90! What a monumental waste of time! If you're still going cold turkey (and good for you) then you might not know that the experience needed to get from 85 to 90 is like the entire Vanilla experience from 0-max level in terms of time. It's as slow as a grandaddy turtle on an escort quest.

Worse still, the quests are completely linear (I thought they were stopping that after Cata?) so you just repeat the same quests with every alt. Yet for some reason this didn't put me off. I must be deeply psychologically disturbed. Or perhaps a glutton for punishment.

Anyway, after levelling my 2 mains, 3 alts and yet another hunter from scratch, I got incredibly bored with my hunter by the time I got to Northrend. I also achieved the Loremaster title and just suddenly thought: "Loremaster! What else is there left to do?"

This time around quitting was strangely anti-climatic. I haven't even cancelled my subscription yet, I just don't feel the *need* to play any more, it's the strangest thing. I really am completely, utterly at saturation point with WoW now. Who knows, maybe in a few months when the memories have faded, I might feel like going back again. Until then, I'm trying to keep busy with making and selling jewellery (Time for a shameless plug? Not the place? Aww, ok then, maybe next time), watching films, reading, that type of thing.

Things I have discovered outside of WoW in the last year:

Seriously, how good is The Walking Dead?
Married life is pretty sweet (real life ding for me, June 2nd last year)
It's a lot more satisfying eating a real life cake that you have made than doing those damn cooking dailies hoping for the "delicious chocolate cake" recipe to drop

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Returning with my tail between my legs

"Well, well, well, look who it is" I hear you cry. *Hangs head sheepishly*

Yes folks, I'm back. Please let me explain - I hope a few of you have been through something similar and so can retain a little smidgen of sympathy for me.

I gave in, I started playing WoW again. How could I possibly continue to update a blog entitled "Life After WoW" when behind closed doors I was glued to my laptop three or four hours a night? I would have felt like such a fraud. I should have been honest with you all, please forgive me.

I decided if I started playing again and didn't raid, or do dungeons, join a guild, or have any kind of in-game social interaction of any kind, that I wouldn't get too sucked in, or feel that horrible sense of obligation to check in every day. I was wrong. Possibly I was even worse off this time because instead of socialising and making friends online, I was entering a trance-like state for hours at a time, whizzing through quests and power levelling about a hundred alts. I had this crazy idea that I could build a kind of "one woman guild", covering every profession with a level 85 alt of every class. How awesome and uber-powerful would I feel then? Not so much, it turned out.

I was investing all my spare time into playing WoW and I won't lie to you, I was really enjoying it. I actually played Alliance for the first time and even though I swore not to interact with anybody, I would occasionally buff or throw a heal at someone on the way past, and was pleasantly surprised to find people thanking me or returning the favour.

This interaction became a slippery slope however. For example, if I saw someone waiting to kill a named mob, I'd whisper "need some help?" little things like that. I hadn't had anyone throwing abuse at me and it made the game a rather jolly, pleasant place to be, like a little fantasy home from home.

That was until tonight. My NPC Scan went off in Mount Hyjal (this is an addon that automatically scans for rare mobs and a really exciting horn sound goes off when you find one!) I found some big elite rock elemental dude but someone had already tagged him and was already half downing him. But they seemed to be having trouble, so even though he was tagged, even though I would get NO LOOT, NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER FROM KILLING HIM! I thought I would help the poor soul to get him down. So I jumped in with my kitty cat and starting slicing away at him. The other player yelled at me for stealing his kill and started hurling abuse at me. I explained that the mob was already tagged as his and I was just trying to help, but the abuse became worse and worse.

It may sound like a typical case of nerd rage and you may tell me to grow up and get over it (might I remind you all that I'm a 32 year old woman). But in my 6 months of solo play I have forgotten what all the rude WoW players are capable of. This isn't how people behave in normal society! I was shaking, I was really upset and logged out, paced around the room for a bit and decided this is not how anyone deserves to be treated as part of a stupid video game. So call me impulsive, but I unsubscribed and uninstalled the game again.

Until next time.

Please don't let there be a next time.

Friday, 10 June 2011

WoW as a meditation tool?

I recently read with mounting horror an article about a 15 year old Vietnamese lad who murdered a 7 year old girl for her earrings, so he could sell them to buy more game time on a popular Vietnamese MMORPG. It wasn't World of Warcraft of course, but it hightlights the unspeakable lengths some gamers will go to to feed their MMORPG addiction. I've read some equally disturbing stories on . This site is great if you feel yourself yearning for WoW, and need a few short reminders why you gave up.

I couldn't have given up WoW so easily without the support of my boyfriend (soon to be husband on 6th August, hooray!) We both quit at the same time - I knew I wouldn't be drawn back in by him as he's got amazing willpower. He's one of those people that can smoke for years and then just drop it one day and never look back. However, he brought up an interesting point the other day when we were idly reminiscing about WoW (not something we do often I must add). You see, he's recently been signed off work with stress due to a boss setting ridiculous deadlines, ringing him up at all hours of the night and expecting him to work three weekends in a row without a word of thanks. My fiance admitted that the mindless, repetitive nature of playing WoW was almost like meditation for him, something that enabled him to switch off from work and de-stress. Could it be that giving up WoW actually exacerbated his stress condition by giving him no outlet to unwind?

It's an interesting thought and I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. Personally I think there are much healthier outlets for stress. Even if you're hardcore gamers like we both are, there are other games that have a beginning, middle and end, giving you that sense of completion and achievement. I do often feel that something's missing without WoW in my life, maybe I still need to find that stress outlet myself?

Friday, 27 May 2011

A Bit of A Rift Appears...

Firstly, apologies for the appallingly long absence. I promise it won't happen again.

This game review thing is really taking off. I submitted a review of an old point-and-click game called Hugo's House of Horrors to a retro gaming website and they liked it so much that they've asked me to review some other games and I'm actually in the process of conducting an email interview with the game designer himself!

I'm so chuffed to have had positive comments on my work. I've always suffered from quite a bit of low self esteem -  another reason WoW appealed to me in the past was feeling a sense of self achievement in-game that I thought I couldn't get in real life - so to finally realise I have a skill is brilliant! And better still, that skill incorporates my love of gaming! There's a real delicious irony to that, especially since I'm in a real "stick two fingers up at Blizzard" frame of mind at the moment.

Speaking of which, I hear that Blizzard have got their knickers in a twist at the moment about the rival MMORPG Rift. A couple of WoW-buddies I'm still in touch with tell me that mentioning the word Rift in WoW-chat, in any context whatsoever, is getting players instantly banned. I find this ridiculous; Blizzard must be seriously worried if they are this threatened by a bit of healthy competition. Can you imagine the chaos throughout Azeroth at the moment? "Oh yeah, there's a bit of a rift in my guild at the mo.....huh - wtf? What do you mean my account's banned? ****nerd rage****" And yes, I am sniggering smugly to myself as I type this.

In other news, my Open University Psychology course is in full swing and it's a lot of fun. It feels so nice to be learning again. Most recently I've been reading about the "consumer society", and how we consume things to maintain a sense of identity. That's exactly what I was doing with WoW. It gave me a sense of identity. I had to surround myself with WoW-friends, read Elitist Jerks all day, buy merchandise - all just to feel secure about who I was. I've carved a new identity for myself now and I like this person much better!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Two-Month Itch

I find myself up against a rather unexpected rough patch in my WoW-detox. It’s been two months now and I haven’t looked back. My life is richer, fuller and for the most part happier, but just recently I’ve been experiencing waves of Warcraft nostalgia, wondering to myself “what if, just what if I made a brand new character from scratch on a realm where nobody knows me?” Even typing those words just got me worryingly excited.

It’s funny the small things that keep cropping up to remind me of WoW. I’m reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island at the moment, having become an avid bookworm since The Big Quit. You would think all the pirate talk would have me absorbed in Jim Hawkins’ world, but all I can think about are The Bloodsail Buccaneers, Booty Bay and Scalawag Island (remember that fantastic chain of pirate quests just off the coast of Howling Fjord? That was always one of my favourite parts of the game).

The trouble is, I’m still in that gaming mentality. I’m still gaming a lot, adventure games, point and clicks, text-based stuff mostly. I thought other games would help me wean myself away from WoW, but it’s like sitting myself in the same comfy chair, same laptop on my knee, making those same mouse clicks. My brain is saying “Hey, I was expecting some WoW-related release of serotonin from this situation, where is it? Why aren’t I getting it?” At least I can justify the other games a little bit though; I’ve been in touch with a game review website and I’m currently working on writing a couple of reviews for them. That will make a nice addition to my writing portfolio.

The annoying thing is there are so many other activities I could be doing. I have a beautiful half-finished Georgian dolls house to decorate, before I abandoned it to WoW. I had all these plans to read more, to learn Japanese, to get back into writing my novel. I’m actually starting an Open University course in Psychology next month so I will really need to knuckle down and stop gaming so much then. So, although I am teetering on the edge of the Game Addiction pit, I am still a long way from falling to the bottom where the WoW-monster lurks.

When I quit WoW some guys from my guild said “We’ll give you three months”. I am so determined to prove them wrong and you know what? I had a scary moment or two there, but I really think I will.