Sometimes you can get so caught up in remembering the negative that you forget to even mention the positive. We do that with World of Warcraft, too. You’ve seen my blog posts on how excessive gaming (and a whole slew of other problems, I definitely can’t stress that enough!) buried me so deep in the hole I’d dug for myself that I thought I’d never get out.
If World of Warcraft wasn’t an overwhelmingly positive experience for me, however, I wouldn’t keep playing it, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be blogging about it!
So a few weeks ago I asked you guys to share your positive WoW stories with me. Specifically, stories that answered the question: “How has WoW affected your life in a positive way?” The responses I received were amazing. While each story brought me a smile and a renewed hope in the positive energy of the gaming community, one left me with that “feel-good” warm fuzziness from start to finish.
Here’s the 1st place contest entry submitted by @Zerena_Hoofs, a full-time mom who found that WoW was just the thing she needed to meet amazing new people and form strong bonds that would last in game and out:
I started playing Warcraft in December of 2008. How did it happen? Well, here’s the story of @Zerena_Hoofs.
In March of 2008, my husband and I moved our two young sons across the US from Washington, DC to The San Francisco Bay Area. My husband had been offered a position at a gaming start up in Silicon Valley and we both thought it was an exciting opportunity for him, and for our family.
We arrived in California to beautiful weather, beautiful surroundings, and nice people. We loved it right away. The only thing that sucked was we had zero family and no local friends, which equated to no local support network.
At the time we arrived in California our youngest son was about to turn 1 and our oldest was 3 years old. Very challenging ages since both boys needed a lot of attention. We settled in and life on the West coast got started.
My husband liked his job but because it was a start up there were a lot late night hours and weekends spent working. We just hoped that the strain it put on us would become profitable at some point. So we endured as best we could and as best we knew how.
As a stay at home Mom, needless to say, I was lonely. Being at home with two toddlers for extended periods of time was very isolating. I found myself striking up conversation with random people at the grocery store just so I could talk to another adult. I was desperate for interaction. I’d looked into Mom’s groups (ugh) and neighborhood groups (double ugh) but I hadn’t found any local friends that I’d clicked with. I’ve always been somewhat of a social rebel and I really hadn’t found anyone that I could be myself with. Putting yourself out there as an adult can be pretty daunting.
As I mentioned, my husband was working for a gaming start up. At the time he was playing games including some Warcraft on occasion. At first I resented it because when we had time to spend together I didn’t want to compete with a game for his attention.
Flash forward to December of 2008. Wrath of the Lich King had just come out and my husband was playing again from time to time. I noticed the Winter Veil was going on and I was sucked in. He let me create a toon on his account and that was the beginning for me. It didn’t take long for me to get my own account.
I’d always been a sucker for fantasy worlds in books and movies. Now I was actually a character in one and that was totally amazing! What really captured me was that there were other people around! People I could talk to and who clearly liked the same kind of fantasy world I did. I immediately felt like I belonged in Azeroth. Even better was that I could log on at any time of the day or night and my toon was waiting for me and I could talk to other people if I so desired. It definitely gave me a sense of belonging and I felt a lot less lonely. I also gained a sense of accomplishment from questing and leveling my character.
Game wise, I definitely gave meaning to the term noob. I had no idea how to play the game and I had no idea there were online resources. All I had was the little booklet that came with the game disc. I was definitely a gaming “hot mess”. I was fortunate enough to come across some random nice folks who were willing and patient to show me a few things here and there. The kindness that was shown to me is what motivated me to start my own guild. I wanted to pay that kindness forward by helping other people and building my own little online family. In January of 2009 I founded an Alliance guild called Friend or Foe on the server Madoran.
The next month I convinced my best friend @madynnmads to give the game a try. She got sucked in just like I did. I felt like Warcraft was the answer to my prayers. There were people I could talk to, the world was incredibly fun, and now my real life best friend was playing with me! It was like I’d hit the mother lode of all jackpots! Warcraft had made a huge positive impact in my life and it became the first hobby I’d ever become passionate about.
Three years later and an awesome group of guildies, I couldn’t be more pleased with my online family. We’ve had so many incredibly good laughs together, we’ve experienced highs, lows, frustration, happiness, growing pains, holidays, birthdays, weddings, health scares, death, love, hate, and everything else a real family goes through.
Of course there is no replacement for in person family and friends, but the last few years in California have been a lot less lonely for me. I have the World of Warcraft and my online family to thank for that.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Zerena! I wish you and your family – online and off – many more years of happiness and success!