The WoWification of a Sorority Girl
If you had told me exactly one year ago that I, a 23-year-old alumnae of a sorority who is trained as an arts and culture critic, and who has never even owned a video gaming system EVER, would be playing World of Warcraft in a year’s time, I would have given you my WTF face (furrowed brow, left eye goes all squinty, mouth kind of twitches to the right). And then when you insisted that you were from the future and knew FOR A FACT that I would be playing, I probably would have made up some excuse about needing to go meet friends so I could get away from the delusional person from the WoWified future.
But as it turns out, I have been playing for six months, am now at max level, am a (clumsy) member of a guild, and actually really enjoy playing WoW. Does that make me a different person? Absolutely not. Has that changed the way I look at life? No. Then, what has it done for me?
I think the answer to that question is that I’ve discovered that people who play WoW, or any MMO, (which I would have called an RPG six months ago) aren’t people who are obsessed with escaping reality through a fantasy game. In fact, they are people who have lives–jobs, families, friends–and enjoy playing World of Warcraft for no other reason than they enjoy it.
I’ve learned that WoW is a way you can invest yourself in something where you interact with other people, and connect with them on a level that is collaborative and social and non-judgmental (Unless you suck. Or are a jerk). You can join a guild and be involved with it–or you can decide to not do that, and just play recreationally. And there’s no pressure either way. (Okay, that’s sort of not true now that there are guild perks, but you see my point.)
Anyway, since the day I started playing and blogging about my experiences in-game, I feel like I’ve become a part of a very large community of highly supportive, helpful people. Despite the fact that I have NO IDEA what I’m talking about a lot of the time, or that I sometimes ask STUPID questions of my Twitter followers, or that I tend to forget to type “/w [my long distance boyfriend's character]” and end up telling my guild that I miss them, people are SO NICE. They’re encouraging, helpful, supportive, and understanding, which is exactly the opposite of what I thought I’d find when I started playing. It’s a very welcome realization.
I think (I hope, I pray) my entire lack of knowledge of not only MMOs, but video gaming in general, makes people remember what it was like for them when they started–how frustrating it can be when you can’t hit the right combination of buttons quick enough, or how confusing it can be when the directions in the quest are a little vague and you don’t know what to do, or how disconcerting it is to be unable to climb out of a crevice before someone tells you to “get on your flying mount.” (Duh) And because I am the hilarious embodiment of awkward game playing, they help me. Because they’ve been there before and know what it’s like.
But more than even all of that, what I find really refreshing about WoW is that no one expects you to be someone you’re not. No one cares how many Coach bags I own, or if I know the major artists of Abstract Expressionism. No one cares if I show up in jeans and cowboy boots instead of a dress and heels. (Let’s be honest–I play WoW in pajamas and cozy socks. If you are disappointed, you may pretend that I play in a dress and heels.) And best of all, no one makes me feel as if I am a disappointment or that I should be better than I am. In fact, people accept me and want to help me become better.
So what has World of Warcraft done for me? It has reminded me that not everyone is selfish and petty and conniving and horribly competitive.
Well that, and it’s given me the ability to have a conversation about the difference between sin’dorei and kaldorei without making the WTF face.
Bethany’s main is a Draenei Paladin named Elaelia who is far more badass than she will ever be. You can find her thoughts about World of Warcraft on her blog, Sorority Girl Plays WoW, and can follow her on Twitter @WoWsororitygirl.