As we all know, it’s been 8 years and 4 fabulous expansions for World of Warcraft. Over the years the game grew to an amazing 12.1 million subscribers just after Wrath of the Lich King. It might be on a slow decline, but the game still proves to be an excellent hobby for over 9 million people around the globe. That is defiantly nothing to sneeze at. It’s proven time and time again, it is the best MMO ever made to date. Time might take its toll on its numbers, but we can all look back on the 8 glorious years and reminisce. I remember the first time picked up WoW like it was yesterday…
[EDITOR’S NOTE: All of this may or may not have actually happened.]
Midnight November 23rd 2004:
I just returned from an overseas tour in the military and discovered a fancy new store that was opened 24 hours called Wal-Mart. I strolled into the store wearing my leather jacket, white V-neck tee-shirt, ball snuggin’ blue jeans, and my two-toned bowling shoes. I was flabbergasted at the size of the store and the shear amount of crap I could buy at midnight. I only went to the store to get super slicking hair gel and a new switchblade comb to grease my hair back. As I effortlessly glided down the aisles, like I was on a conveyor belt, all the while snapping my fingers and humming a show tune I once saw in a movie with Jane Fonda, I suddenly stopped dead in a line as far as my eyes could see.
I took one last swipe of my hair and placed my comb in my breast pocket. Slowly, I removed my filter-less “Reds” from my bleach-white shirt sleeve and started packing them as I listened to the patrons in the line ahead of me. “Horde is definitely better than Alliance!” The skinny man with more zits than the moon has craters said.
A pudgy man with a half molded orange stain on his shirt argued, “HAAA! I’ve played beta for months now and Alliance is far superior to the Horde. I will see you on the battlefield, dirty Horde lover.”
I knew war and this line had to be for some kind of army competition sign up. At the time I wasn’t sure what these teams they spoke of were fighting for and why both red-blooded Americans were fighting against each other in a supermarket line, but I would soon find out. As I listened to their banter back and forth for what seemed like hours, I learned of the game World of Warcraft and how “epic” it was. Unfortunately, this was not the game it thought it was. Even though it wasn’t a training tool to hone our youth into being ultimate killing machines, I started to imagine the world of Azeroth in great detail.
I learned of a world millions of people could kill each other in without spilling blood or crying tears for our lost loved ones. A fantasy world filled with creatures wielding swords and guns of death to fight each other and flaming monsters from the pits of Hell. It all made my head spin like the black 20-sided dice tubby kept spinning on his fingers. I felt a little out of place standing in a line full of weird nerds when I was the only “normal” guy around. Rhythmically, I snapped my switchblade comb open, oozed it with gel, snapped my fingers, clicked my heels, and smoothed the cool back into my bones. I needed to wait to see this challenge to the end. I was growing impatient, but after 45 minutes of waiting in line with these raging nerds that smelled like Satan had peed on them, I would’ve bought a fresh bag of dog turds just to get out of the damn line and delouse myself.
How quickly 8 years passes in Azeroth! Back in 2004 I never imagined a day I would skip taking a shower or eat so many potato chips that Lay’s would call me during investor meetings. Time surely changes a man; from the cancer sticks missing out of my baby barf-stained tee-shirt, to my hairless bald head. The one thing in life I couldn’t have counted on was WoW bringing me countless hours of enjoyment. Even when my now ex-wife, left me for that overly hairy, gorilla looking Italian man that turned out to be woman, I had WoW to dry my tears. When the stacks upon stacks of nudie magazines just didn’t tickle my fancy anymore, Goldshire and that 50 year old man playing a female Night Elf was there to put make me feel special.
You see, WoW might be less and less popular, but our memories remain strong in the Mists. No matter what day you stepped into that line, you will always remember the energy flowing from the people around you. The excitement generated from hardcore MMO fans is strong and sometimes pungent. The day I hung up my Battle Dress Uniform for the United States military was the day I donned my Alliance badge with pride. Forty-five minutes after the clock struck midnight on November 23rd 2004, my life changed forever. And while WoW may be getting on in years, I’ll always remember what it was and what it can be when it’s at its best.
Do you remember?