If you’ve ever felt the tiniest bit of nostalgia for anything you most likely wished you could relive that time over again, maybe even change something about it. It could be anything from spending time with friends and family to living in a place you really enjoyed or could be something as simple as a video game. Regardless of what it might be you look back, fondly remembering the fun you had and the friendships you developed. We all know that you can never relive those times, but sometimes we’re lucky and we get to experience something like that moment. One of these moments for me is World of Warcraft with friends.
In 2004, World of Warcraft launched and it changed my life. Since then it has constantly helped me redefine my outlook on social life. I’m not awkward by any means, but I’m not a social butterfly either, but this game helped me connect with people I otherwise would have never known due to distance, hobbies, social circles and other factors. I felt as though this was when we entered the “Golden Era” of the MMO genre because of Blizzard’s creation. World of Warcraft took the framework of games like Everquest and MUDs and packaged it in a way that made it extremely accessible to gamers. Blizzard created a popular world where despite your social capabilities you found someone within this nerdy culture.
For all the bugs and issues the original game had it was the lack of a group finders, fast leveling and other enhancements that made the game great. Each server had two very unique communities and both were constantly at battle. Regardless of the side you found yourself on you always had a chill down your neck each time you found someone of the other faction alone and PvP flagged. Whether the battle was long or short you were sure to hear about it on the forums where personal barbs were traded. You could make a name for yourself and the entire server would know your name. These interpersonal transactions made the game exciting and always brought people to the battlefield to test their meddle against the other factions best.
If PvP wasn’t your game you always had the PvE dungeons that provided a challenge and instilled the importance of working as a team. The social interactions that were finding a group led to many small groups and guilds being formed. We all had aspirations of leveling up, running dungeons and eventually raiding with our new friends. A story could be written of your epic Stratholme run where you saved the entire group from a wipe with an expertly timed heal or placing a Freezing Trap to save the healer.
I don’t play on an emulator just to flip off Blizzard. That’s not the intention at all. The truth of the matter is I’m extremely grateful for what they developed. To this day I still play other Blizzard games, but World of Warcraft has gone down a road where there is no return. For me, the sense of community is gone and that is what made me return day after day. I returned because I enjoyed my company not because of getting a gear drop from a dungeon or collecting that hard to obtain mount. This is what Blizzard, and if we’re honest the entirety of the MMO industry, has failed to recognize for years.
I played Nostalrius because I wanted to experience a community again and wasn’t let down. After the end of Nostalrius, I returned to Elysium because of the friendships that were forged. Everyone may complain about issues with stability, lag or bugs but at the end of the day we’re all here for the same thing… Community.