Alarm clock goes off; hit snooze. Repeat five times.
On the sixth alarm, push husband out of bed.
Go back to sleep.
Twenty minutes later, husband comes in to say goodbye. Wish him a good day as he goes off to work.
Get out of bed, get dressed, settle down with laptop in lap.
Check deadlines in appointment book. Closest deadline is two days out.
Hold inner debate – to login, not to login.
“To login” wins and is justified, as I check for successful Auction House sales. Three hours later, my level 263 jewelcrafting mage is no longer a jewelcrafter, but an herbalist with a skill of 137 and rising.
Hi. My name is Stacey, and I am a World of Warcraft addict.
When I sat down to write about my rise to gamer status, I began to wonder how much of an impact WoW has really had on me. In order to answer the question, I did what any logical person would do: I logged onto the game, every single character, to check my “/play” time. While I was there, I may have put a few things up for sale in the Auction House.
The tally on all my characters is a staggering 4,018 hours. That’s 167 full days of play time over three years. My played time is the equivalent of nearly 1.5 years’ worth of sleep, if I was to sleep a full eight hours every night.
Well, that’s a reality check.
And what have I gotten from this time invested? More than 4,000 hours has led to three level 70 characters; a passel of alts; backup characters on different servers for when Dalaran is down; a spot in the best guild on the server for a year and a half; and the opportunity for real-life interaction with people I’ve befriended in game, including drunken buffoonery in Massachusetts and meeting guildies when my husband and I were honeymooning in England. Time spent in-game has led to blues and purples, professions, countless hours herbing, grinding, frustration, excitement, elation, laughs and stories that are only humorous to the WoW-set.
I do get scared when I write that. I’ve been living partially in a game for the past three years. I’ve never spent that much time doing anything, let alone playing one game. Even when I’m not in the game, part of me is indeed still there. When my husband and I go out for dinner or a drink, WoW is often a main topic of conversation. Yes, he plays too.
Yet, I can’t bring myself to give the game up. Nor do I want to. Neither of us do. After all, as the professionals say, “The family that plays together, stays together.” Why break up a good thing?
He’s partially to blame for my obsession. If it weren’t for him, chances are I never would have heard of Azeroth. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t have heard of many of the games I’ve enjoyed so much, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen the computer as my favorite platform. If we’d never met, I probably wouldn’t have a favorite platform at all.
You see, six years ago I met this guy. He was a “gamer geek,” and he ended up bringing out the best in me. He helped free my repressed desires as a gamer girl. Since then we’ve been questing, killing, grinding, puzzle solving, pointing and clicking, and fighting side-by-side.
I can’t say it was a complete surprise, I always loved gaming. I was just a late bloomer. Growing up, girls weren’t the ones that were supposed to be interested in gaming. When I had access to games, I loved every minute of it, yet access came few and far between.
It started when I was little. My father had an Atari 2600. When I finally reached the age where I could use the joystick without trying to stick it up my nose, he gave me the console. I could play Berzerk, Bowling, Combat and Barnstorming to my heart’s content. Even at that young age I could feel my heart flutter when I did something right.
Time passed, and new consoles came out, but they never came to my house again. My parents found it unseemly a girl would be interested in pursuing such endeavors. I was forced to rely on the kindness of friends to help get my Super Mario Bros. and Friday the 13th fix.
During high school, I was relegated to girlfriend status, watching a then-boyfriend play Wolfenstein 3D. I still regret that I never actually got to play the game – apparently girls don’t like blowing up Nazis.
When we finally got a home computer that could handle more than the basic word processing tasks, I received a handed-down copy of Doom II. Thanks to the secret levels I got to try my hand at the Nazis from Wolfenstein. Much like I had imagined, blowing up Nazis was indeed fun. While I loved playing the game, it never crossed my mind to go out and purposefully seek out new games. I still believed girls could only be peripherally interested in gaming. Only guys could be true gamers.
In college and beyond, I got my fix every Sunday, when I would hang out with the guys. We’d play PS2 and watch football all afternoon (or movies during the off-season). When it came to DOA2, I was a force to be reckoned with. It was a rare occasion they could beat me, and I reined supreme for years. Those afternoons were usually the most fun I had all week. Yet, to me they were still just one day – it wasn’t something I could pursue outside of those parameters.
Then, I met Michael.
About a month into the relationship, I came over to his apartment for dinner one night, and he led me straight into the bedroom. Sitting on the bed was his laptop, withNo One Lives Forever loaded up and ready to go. I sat and played the game as he cooked.
After dinner, I lie there learning the ins and outs of Cate Archer and the H.A.R.M. Organization as he watched – something he’s gotten used to; I really don’t like sharing control of the keyboard.
It comes down to our play styles. I don’t have the patience for his. I’m a guns- blazing kind of girl; he is more the logical, size up the situation for 10 minutes kind of guy. In the time it takes him to figure out a puzzle on paper, I will have clicked enough buttons that I can brute force my way to the solution. While he’s planning his stealth attack, I run in with my grenade launcher and machine guns. When it comes to gaming, I take the dumb jock route, and he’s on the debate team.
So, he’s content to take the passenger seat. Our relationship, when it comes to gaming, ended up being the best of both worlds. He’s just happy he’s found someone who he can share it with, even if it means only having actual control of the game 5 percent of the time. I found someone who helped me see that something I’d enjoyed so much over the years was actually something I could pursue and enjoy in my own right.
Ever since then, gaming has become an integral part of both of our lives. Over the years, we’d tear through a new game every few weeks – FPS, sim, RPG, RTS, point and click adventures – you name it, we’ve played it. Most of the time we’d play on one computer, the occasional sim we’d play separate, but competitively. Until Warcraft. For the past three years, we probably have finished only a handful of other games. WoW keeps calling us back.
I still occasionally wrestle with the twinge that we’ve spent too much time in one game. I think of the games that have passed us by. I think of the opportunities we may have missed outside the game. Maybe down the road I’ll slap my palm to my head for the time we sunk in trying to get an epic mount or in getting geared up to be raid-ready. But for now, we’ll continue on in our adventures hand-in-hand, each in control of our own game.
And for now, I’ll still find any excuse to log into the game when I should be working. Speaking of which, I wonder if my [Captured Firefly] sold.
When she is not battling beasties as a mage, skinning Azeroth’s endangered species as a hunter, or pretending to be one of those endangered animals as a druid, Stacey Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York.