I haven't raided in about 3 weeks.
After killing Lei-Shen (one of the all-time great fights in Warcraft history - seriously amazing), I lost my flex-time at work and couldn't raid anymore with my guild. Finding myself in a position of having to go through the applications, interviews, introductions, and assimilation, process again just proved too much.
Maybe my heart just wasn't in it as much, which makes the decision easier. Honestly, my heart broke when Tidal broke up and never really mended. From Ulduar-onward I only ever raided with people I felt like were my actual real-life friends. People whose phone-numbers were in my cell, and people I met in real-life and knew on a first-name basis. It took years to build some of those relationships, but the Occasional Excellence/Tidal people were just so genial, warm, and welcoming that the months of courtship took weeks.
That's an impossible standard to hold any guild up to. Methodical is an amazing group of people, some of the best raiders I've ever known, and yet I never felt like a part of the team. No fault of theirs, they're very warm people as any, but I think my heartbreak kept me from committing.
And finding myself having to find another group... I just couldn't do it again.
Playing this game and not raiding would be like living real life without listening to my favorite music again - an impossible task. I've decided to uninstall WoW from my computer for the time being, and replace it with real-life raiding.
Or as close as real-life gets to it anyway - I've re-joined a table-top RPG group that I had stopped playing with after my son was born. It's so nice to be back among old friends and in familiar surroundings, rolling dice and scribbling on character sheets with pencils. Well, not that I've started yet, but next week will be my first session back.
I've also begun to work on my writing career again, breaking out my old novel to re-work it for the marketplace and really giving it the old college try to sell it this time. I'm playing the Piano again and thinking about doing a bit of recording with my guitar and synths. I've begun to study a new mode of programming to get some mobile application building skills under my belt to shift careers in a year or two, and maybe move into video game programming.
In short, I've re-structured my life in the last few weeks to compensate for the loss of raiding. Yes, raiding took up enough time in my life that I sacrificed things as important to me as my writing, music and furthering my career. No, I don't regret it - raiding is the finest e-sport I've ever played, and if I had a team of friends and the time to play, I would dive back in it. But it's more than just the game itself. My character - my avatar in this world - has come to meat much to me.
My avatar's successes were my own. I took some meaning from their
existence, and their glory in game was mine in some thin, yet material
way. I took pride in their achievements, their accomplishments, their victories, their impeccable standing in gear and especially in my own ability as a player (if I might be so bold).
Innana - my main character, the paladin, has meant much to me. Her success in Azeroth has helped me see that success is possible in reality. The confidence in her role was both inspired in her faith (that I lack more-or-less completely as an agnostic), suicidal in its vulnerability and bold in the courage it required. I see her - and will see her - always as a human paladin, no matter her temporary race or allegiance,walking the canals of Stormwind, in simple white robes, unarmed. Her hands strangely empty for the want for a weapon and shield, her shoulders free from the grip of pauldrons. In the lack of the materials of her office, she found the peace she was fighting for.
That I never got to roleplay as much as I wanted to is my great regret. Her previous incarnation as Joachim cut very close to me in all his roleplay, and his death was written in the moment he was conceived in my mind, I think, but I didn't know it at the time. His arc was always morbid, fearful and corrupt. It consumed him in the end. But Innana was stronger than that, there was a vein of steel in her that kept back the corruption if not the melancholy of being no more than an instrument of something greater than herself, and I wish I had gotten to know her as well as I knew Joachim.
I've realized that if I want to spend hours and hours online, I want to do it with friends. And I want to do it in less time than I've devoted to raiding in the past. Now that nearly so many of my friends have left the game, I will also let it lay quietly. For a while. This is not an adieu, but it is, probably, a fairly lengthy break.
As for this blog? I don't know. There are so many half-written guides, incomplete posts that will likely never see the light of day...
But firstly, I want to thank those of you who have continued to read for months, or years, and those who have asked me about the lack of posts lately. Your readership has given sail to my writing over the last three years of writing block and it means a lot to me that I was able to write at last something during that period of drought.
Secondly, I love blogging. I don't intend to stop, and I don't really see the point of starting a new blog when this one already exists - maybe I can acquire it for my other "raiding" goals as it were, the new activities I mentioned above, but maybe I will start writing in a new blog just to keep this apart as a chronicle of my Warcraft experience, and return to it, if and when I return to the game. I don't know yet. I will make another post if I do start writing elsewhere, so those interested might follow.
I always thought my last days in Warcraft would be somewhat dramatic - I'd do this or that, park my characters in thematically appropriate places, dressed for their civilian life, but I think I'm just going to leave them where they are. Mid-step in their military careers. Frozen in amber, as it were. Waiting for me to come back to them, one day, and to pick up where I left off.
Well. This has gone on long enough, and I know when I'm stalling.
Rest easy for now, my friends. Until we meet again... in this life or another.