Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Crossing that line

In reply to a post from, one of my favourite writers, Stubborn, of Sheep The Diamond, who has written a very thought provoking post on losing your 'innocence' in WoW, or any general MMO.

No, despite the above image, this is not in relation to ones age, although it can be seen that way. Rather the maturing and realisation process you undergo from the day you begin to play a game of this type, specifically World of Warcraft. Not following? Read on.

As Stubborn puts it, the time when you 'lose your innocence'
... I'm not sure when it switches, but clearly there’s a moment when numbers suddenly become more important than story, than enjoying your play time.  I don’t think that moment is the same for everyone, and I don’t think it’s a permanent change at first, but I do think it signals the slow decent into eventual burnout...
You know, that moment. When you start to forget, or lose track, of the immense experience you had every time you set foot in Azeroth. When your biggest concern was the cunning Brotherhood of the Defias, in Westfall, or banding together to take down Hogger for the first time. When choosing a talent was a case of 'what looks like the most fun right now?' and building your own, however silly, theories on how game mechanics worked.

To make this all clear, lets take a look at a personal example (However embarrassing).

2006. Taken by the sights and sounds, I follow my nose for adventure into Westfall. My first character. A level 10 Human Warrior, whose name I just can't for the life of me reveal.

Jumping around and spamming the auto-attack button while trying to click as many abilities, in whichever order, as possible, I try to dodge incoming attacks and land maximum hits.

Soon enough I ventured my way into the heart of the zone. Dying repeatedly to wild creatures along the way. Eventually managing to acquire something that put me on top of the world. (Bear in mind which class I was playing). Staff of Westfall. I was now, in my eyes, unstoppable.

Mean, it was blue! The title even stated that is must have been one of the best weapons available to me, especially after all that hard work. It granted me the use of both hands, intellect to allow me to outwit enemies with sheer intelligence and spirit to... Well.. I don't know exactly. Anyway, surely this would be great assets to improve my character.

Now, of course, we look at this as sheer madness.

Though you know what? I couldn't have cared less. I was having a blast. Nothing could prevent me taking on the world with my genius of a Warrior. This dreamlike period, of complete immersion on all levels, lasted for quite some time, despite learning that I could benefit more from Strength and Stamina. Soon enough though, I started to care.

Suddenly I began worrying about those numbers flashing up on my screen. I pondered just why I really had to keep killing all these harmless creatures and running errands for, somewhat, lazy citizens. Questioning why nobody else had a cool hybrid talent specialisation like mine.

I am not sure exactly when I crossed this magic wall. I think it was at some point during Wrath, when I began to look competitively at my role. Maybe when I first installed Recount and Omen (damage/threat meters). I'm unable to mark a specific point, however, when my outlook and feel in-game changed.

Looking back at many past experiences, they seem a lifetime away. Like a childhood you lost touch with:
  • Wondering why enemies could still see and attack me even when I was standing behind a rock or in a bush.
  • Imagining that I was really saving Azeorth with every Kobold, or target creature, I destroyed
  • Discovering the Auction House and making 1 GOLD!
  • Figuring out why I had a red man on my screen
  • Really getting lost within a questline, even if it was just to investigate who stole so-and-so's equipment.
  • Being resurrected for the first time! (Like seriously, this felt like magic)
  • Asking in general chat what a Tank was and how I could find one and a group for Deadmines. (Which included a reply stating that it was a Stormwind army vehicle which rolled over enemies)
  • Trying to equip grey items...

I'm sure that many of us can spend endless amounts of time reminiscing about life as a new explorer when the game was new. Especially for those, like me, that experienced WoW as their first ever MMO. 

By any stretch I am not trying to imply that the game has changed, at least in this respect. Yes the game has moved with the times, so to speak, but I am sure every day new players embark on that same adventure that we all once did. 

You may have many views and opinions on the matter, but the truth at hand is; the game isn't new to you any more. You and I are on a fairly even level with the game now, that we can make a good guess at where each step will lead. It may be, which I feel quite strongly about, that we have matured, as well as the game.

... However, I think that’s the moment where my eyes were opened to the type of game that WoW really was… and has become more so since.  I’m not saying that losing one’s innocence in a MMO is inherently bad, but I do think that it leads to eventual burnout, which a lot of us veterans are (or already have) experiencing...

First and foremost I would like, I would love, to hear your view on this. What was your first encounter with World of Warcraft like? Did you share this 'beginners mind'? Are you still in this period of escape? When did you feel the magic faded? Heck, did you never feel like this?

Keep posted - Follow, Comment & Subscribe

- Jamin


  1. Well,
    You saw my wall o text at Stubborn lol. But hey, good post anyhow. Nastolgia over past fun times is still cool. You will never regain that total sense of wonderment again but you might still play for just purely for fun! Good post Jamin!


  2. My first few days of WoW, I ..

    - went around chasing people trying to ask in /say how you can talk in other chat channels like General or Trade. Because it wasn't in the manual or anything, I had no clue.

    - chose an orc warlock, picked up the breadcrumb quest for RFC and "got stuck with questing" because I couldn't solo RFC. Having explored plenty of caves on my own in Diablo 2 it didn't occur to me that perhaps this one wasn't meant to be done alone.

    - never got past level 47 with three of my characters on my first server (EU-Defias Brotherhood) because I kept RPing.

    - stared at trade chat trying to figure out what all these abbreviations meant. Especially LFG UBRS puzzled me for a long time, because "uber" is a German word, also used in D2 for Uber Diablo for example. I thought "UBRS" was just a group of really strong monsters, and people LFG LBRS were idiots that couldn't spell UBRS.

    Being ressed was indeed nice, if only because I was used to the Guild Wars system of dieing, where you spawn back at the start of the instanced world with a -% stat bonus.

  3. @Mhorgrim

    I certainly did, so that count as a reply here too XD

    Good points, thanks for sharing your view!

    - Jamin

  4. @Vuuk

    Ah thanks for sharing those experiences! Got to say, I too had many of the same =D

    Might have to make a compilation of these for a post, look out!

    Thanks for dropping by,

    - Jamin

  5. Jamin,
    Lots of questions, so here's what I can remember...

    What was your first encounter with World of Warcraft like?

    Pretty awesome. I leveled my first toon with my wife - a holy priest. LEVELING as a holy priest. She did the dps; I kept her and her pet safe. It was a "great" combination, until someone told me I should just level shadow instead... loss of innocence begins.

    Did you share this 'beginners mind'?

    Yeah, I didn't know anything. I wasn't much into Diablo, so the item colors were meaningless to me. I didn't know about guilds, the AH (didn't know what "ah" meant, either. Ah what?) I didn't know to party when running dungeons (my new friends I think made the same mistake for a while) and wondered why the hell we were dying so much. It was wacky times.

    Are you still in this period of escape?
    Clearly not.

    When did you feel the magic faded?
    Probably once I started raiding, like you. I had to learn fast, but I spoke of that in my post.

    Anyway, great post; I really related to the 1g thing; 1g used to be a POWERHOUSE of money, and you had to get a WHOLE HUNDRED to get fast riding. Good times, great post!

  6. Now I wasn't expecting a big reply, to my 'reply' Xd

    However I can really relate to those. Especially when somebody tells you that another spec IS faster. Then you feel like you were doing it all wrong, despite having fun anyway.

    Now, I also remember pestering my friends for gold at level 40 for a mount. As back then it required some!

    Thanks for adding,

    - Jamin

  7. I remember spending days trying to figure out how I could make something unsoulbound.

    I remember soloing a dungeon because I thought it was a test of my abilities and did not know it was meant for 5 players.

    I remember being so excited making my first gold and then being so upset that there was nothing I could buy with it that I wanted.

    I remember seeing the first green item that dropped for me (malicite I believe) and forgetting everything I was doing so I could run to the auction house to see how much I could get for it thinking it was super rare and I would be rich.

    I remember feeling horrible, I mean really horrible, when I tamed a new pet and used it for a while. My original pet had been such a great companion that I had to go back and get him again. (whenever new content comes out now, my original pet comes out, it is my only leveling companion)

    I remember my first time killed in PvP protecting a town from a horde attack. Didn't matter the horde were ??, I had to protect my town.

    First experiences are a great thing. Too bad you can only have a first experience once.

  8. TheGrumpElf

    Aha, I remember trying to sell Soulbound items in Trade chat. Ooo, let the flaming begin..

    Your last two I did exactly the same thing. Defending Azeroth for the greater good! Wait, ??, what's that mean.. Who cares!

    Definitely going to consider making a compilation of these, quite enjoyable to read through!

    Thanks for stopping by,

    - Jamin

  9. Aw, great post! I often joke about my early days of being fresh to WoW and MMO's and all the really dumb stuff I did. But yeah, sometimes I do wish I had that innocence back, of not knowing or caring that I was terrible and silly.

  10. @Group5Gal

    Yea, it is enjoyable to lock back. If only you could take back all your experiences and start afresh :)

    Stop by again soon,

    - Jamin

  11. I loved this post. I have to agree my innocence has been lost. I can relate to not knowing what AH meant and the fact that one gold made me feel like a goddess. I also look back to the days when the bosses had 100k health and we thought wow that's a tough boss. Now we have to have 100k health and the bosses are just obscene with health.

    Not burned out yet, I quit the raiding scene before it happened. Now I just amble along not in a hurry to level cap (much to guilds disappointment). I'm exploring things I rushed by in the past and generally enjoying the ride.

    I'm turning into a pretty good pvp'r, but have yet to do rated bg's or arenas, but love world pvp. But then my main is a sub rogue...hehe.

    Again, great post.

  12. @LMRoberts

    Why, thank you!

    Tell me about it. I literally thought I was the richest player in WoW! Indeed, numbers have grown substantially. I remember seeing PVP videos of insane level 60 Warriors hitting 3k, that was big back then.

    Ah, intersting to hear a side which isn'[t focused on end game. Many find it hard to come to terms with. I'm sure it's a great way to, really, escape when you play that way.

    Yes, PVP is like a whole different game at times, especially in the wild (world).

    Thanks for stopping by!

    - Jamin

  13. A great post Jamin! I remember my innocent WoW days, and now I am so much "older" though if I start a new toon I feel like I'm innocent again, trying to learn my wings etc.

    I have to say that PVPing made me grow up. Starting low level BGs made me realise I had to use more spells, more abilities, more teamwork... it wasn't just me anymore.

    Anyway, good work :)

  14. Navimie

    Yes, PVP can be a quick route to the 'realization'.

    Thanks for commenting :)

    - Jamin

  15. Oh this brings back so many memories! I thought that red man was some kind of equipment. I kept trying to figure out how to use it and it was there ALL the time on my first character.

    I remember being so proud of my wonderful vendor-bought armor. No wonder my poor hunter was always dead, lol.

    Luckily, like Navimie, all I have to do is start a new character and it's all new again for me!

  16. @TomeOfTheAncient

    Aha, I can just imagine trying to click it. "Dam you, why won't you click.. Must be this mouse!"

    Good to hear the magic never dies for some :)

    Drop by again soon,

    - Jamin

  17. Oh gosh, is this what is happening to me? Has the game become old hat and lost its appeal for me?

    I remember begging my max level friend to help me with a group quest because I couldn't find anyone to help me. Later, in Netherstorm, I remember being complimented on healing a hunter's pet in a group quest. At the time I wanted to "heal all the things" but as experience has shown not all healers feel so inclined ;)

  18. @RedCow

    Now losing the appeal is something slightly different, on a whole. But more so the 'magic'.

    Keep healing everything! =D

    - Jamin


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