World of Warcraft – Reflecting on Fifteen Years

Over the last week, WoW hit a major milestone, turning 15 (for real, a launch anniversary!) and with that, I felt it would be fun to talk about my own journey through the game, as Wilhelm Arcturus also did recently!

So while I have technically been playing the game since June 2005, so not quite 15 years for me (yet!), I also lived with a group of friends when the game launched and so they were all playing and at varying moments, I played on their accounts (don’t tell Blizzard on me) and tried to get into the groove of the game, before finally landing on my own account after the bug finally bit.

Rather than telling the whole story of my time in the game, I feel like a bit of fun trivia about my taking to the game fits, since most of you know the history of the game itself.

1. WoW is the first MMO I played – Probably not a surprise to many who’ve read my comparative analyses of MMO’s as a genre, but yes, WoW is the first MMO I dipped a toe into. I never really knew many people who played the other genre mainstays, except one guy who played EQ1 in our JROTC group. Joe, the friend who I initially lived with after high school, was an MMO sampler, playing Star Wars Galaxies, Lineage, and a few others before settling mostly into WoW. (Even later, he ended up also sampling nearly everything from the big MMO boom of the aughts save for maybe Auto Assault.) That changed relatively quickly after it launched for me, but nonetheless, WoW is still my first-played and most-played MMO!

2. Of all the classes and roles, Priest is what finally roped me into playing – Playing WoW at first on those friend accounts was a crapshoot – I started with a warrior, then went to a mage, and then kind of tuned out of the game for a while until trying again with a priest. Once I rolled a priest, I found myself with the role I wanted, which surprised me. Priest in vanilla was a bit weird, being the only class with racial spells, a primary healer, and a class with a very strange mash of abilities in the early levels – healer with a lot of random DPS spells, DPS with a fair number of healing options. I had never really been a support/healer type, and yet it hooked me – my raid “career” in vanilla was healing exclusively.

3. I only took two major breaks from the game – during two of the best expansions – I’ve been playing the game mostly unbroken for around 6 years now, but my streak of gametime was broken in two expansions – Burning Crusade and Mists of Pandaria. Both, somewhat humorously to me, were due to my ex-fiancee – in TBC, because she got really mad at me for a six hour Karazhan raid (which gave me the excuse to leave the raid, since it was kind of a rough run!) and then in Mists because of the breakup. The departure during TBC lasted for around a year, but the Mists departure was less substantial – gone in May 2013 and back by October. For that reason, I have a lack of TBC nostalgia (my Classic wish is that the game goes right to Wrath!) and I feel like I missed a good chunk of Mists (I left during my guild’s progression on Throne of Thunder, one of the best raids in the game, and I’ve only done 2 bosses in that raid at the correct character and item level.

4. WoW got me into content creation – Well duh, you’re reading this, but once upon a time, I was creating daily YouTube videos and streaming hours a day on Twitch, in the early days of Twitch, back in 2013. I started a few weeks before the aforementioned breakup, so…yeah, it also stopped pretty quickly. If you want to see me feeling my worst, but in a very well lit room, those old videos are still around over…here.

5. Prior to the recent guild merger, I have met most of my guildmates in real life – My guild is run by my friends and I, in which I used to be the guild leader and raid leader, a role which we eventually split into a guild lead and a raid lead, which I was until my May 2013 departure. A good chunk of my guildies are local to me, and many of us have known each other for a decade or more. There was a second contingent that were largely from Portland, Oregon (and have since largely moved and no longer play) who we knew online, but between the 2013 wedding of two of our guildies from that group (including the person who took the Guild Leader mantle for me when we first split the role) and the 2017 Blizzcon (in which most of the east coast US players in our guild attended along with our main west coast group), I’ve met nearly everyone I played WoW with on a regular basis in person. Between the roster merge this year and many people falling out of playing the game, that has changed, but I think it was a cool bit of trivia and something fun!

wedding guild photo.jpg
Six of the people in this photo were active WoW players, and one is me!

6. I’ve leveled every class to the current level cap since Cataclysm – Wrath marked the first expansion where I played alts semi-regularly, leveling a Death Knight, Hunter, and Paladin, and then starting a recruit-a-friend binge. By the last 4 hours of Cataclysm, I had leveled my warlock to 85 and capped off all classes at cap, only for the road to level 90 priest to start shortly after that same night. When I started raid leading in Cataclysm, I felt like I had a responsibility to my guildies to learn every class on at least a basic level, to better understand the things they needed from me as a leader. Even though I gave up the mantle of raid lead in Mists of Pandaria, I’ve continued to level everything each expansion, with the point of all classes at cap coming sooner and sooner. In Mists I had full level 90s shortly after the patch 6.0 drop, in Warlords I had full 100’s about 6 months before Legion pre-patch, in Legion I had full 110s in 7.3 and had them all geared before the 8.0 patch (have I mentioned the Mage Tower lately?). Given all that, however…

7. It took until Warlords of Draenor for me to have a Horde alt at max level – I’m an Alliance guy, so sue me. My friends played Alliance (mostly), so that’s what I picked, and it was where I found the most comfort as I leveled alts since I had resources there (and the new Heirlooms of Wrath of the Lich King in their original, restricted state). Yes, that expansion is no coincidence – I used my 90 boost to get a Horde alt and leveled to 100 that way. However, I also used Legion invasions from the 7.0 pre-patch event to raise a Goblin Warrior from 1-100 in a few days, so, hey, guess that counts!

8. I joined my first raiding guild at level 50, before I could even raid – It was funny then, still funny now – I joined at level 50 so I could have a guild home for Molten Core once I got up there. It took another month or two of gameplay for me to be useful, but the guild took my application and let me in all the same, and in the end, it worked out really well!

9. My first Razorgore kill is still on YouTube – Not my footage, but still fun – that raiding guild, Exiles of Cenarius, was my guild home until I left the server in the name for work friends during TBC, which, as I mentioned above, went…swimmingly. Having a relic of that era is fun to me!

10. I dinged level 40 on my original character on a demo station at the first Blizzcon – If you’ve read almost anything I write about Blizzcon, you’ve heard this one, because it is a cool tidbit and I love sharing it just because it is weird compared to today’s locked-down con, but in 2005, it was a different era, and the demo stations were far less constrained. They had internet access to the outside world and the retail client, so I logged in during The Offspring (I was a real nerd and knew my priorities) and ground out a few quests in Stranglethorn Vale until I dinged 40 and could purchase mount training!

So, ten fun factoids in 15 years, not a bad return on investment. Here is to 15 more!

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