Monday, June 18, 2012
How has WoW changed me?
I enjoyed Syl's post (on a blog I didn't discover until today, how is that possible?) about how a game like WoW can change one's expectations for MMOs. It's hard for me to think of a way that playing WoW this past year has affected my feelings about other games, since I don't play much else. Instead, I began thinking about how the hours spent in Azeroth have had one very profound effect on me personally: I have regained a part of my life that I had thought was long departed.
For many years, I maintained a detailed and vivid fantasy life that filled my waking hours with daydreams. Anything was potential subject matter: all of my aspirations and desires played out on a backdrop ranging from the mundane to the utterly fantastic. The seeds of a plotline, once planted, would bloom into a story that I might put together in my head over days or weeks, whenever I had a spare moment to think. I looked forward to going to bed some nights because that half hour or so before sleep was uninterrupted time to daydream. This inner storytelling was such a huge part of my life that I remember building up my courage for months to tell my then-fiance about it; he was the first person I had ever shared this deepest secret with.
The past 10 years of my life has seen some difficulties on a number of fronts, and I've lost many things that were important to me along the way. One of those things was this inner life. I don't know how it happened, but one day I just realized that I didn't daydream anymore. It was just gone; I couldn't say what filled my head during the times I used to daydream, probably worries about all sorts of bullshit past, present and future. As melodramatic as it sounds, it is accurate to say that stress and struggles at one point literally destroyed my dreams, at least my daydreams.
I was seriously ill last summer, and the following months of my recovery were when I began playing WoW on a near-daily basis. And then early this year I very suddenly realized: as I leveled my toons I was putting together backgrounds and stories for them. And I was "working" on those stories in my head throughout the day. I was daydreaming again. Slowly, tentatively, my inner life was coming back.
Goetia the rogue is searching for her lost sister. Blatella the priest is searching for her identity as a Forsaken. Pantha the shaman loves engineering because her childhood best friend was a goblin girl. Gallore the hunter fell in love with Salhet while they were fighting for the Ramkahen. Silly stories, but they provided the seeds for daydreams that had been lacking for so long.
So if nothing else, I'm thankful for WoW for giving me a place where my inner life could flower once again. Maybe it would have happened eventually as the clouds in my life began to clear up over this past year, but I can't help but think that playing such a beautiful and immersive game at least sped the process up a bit.