A Pair of Star-Crosséd Lovers
I’ve been teaching Romeo and Juliet at school (sorry to all of you who had bad teachers that made it boring), and it struck me that there are a striking number of similarities between my relationship with WoW and the famous pair. I feel this bodes poorly for me since, well, we all know how it ends.
First, from the title today, is the idea that WoW and I (and I would assume many of you, since WoW is a polyamorous whore) are ill-fated lovers. I know my relationship with WoW does nothing for me really. Oh, sure, I can justify my playing as team-building, cooperation, organization, socialization, etc etc, but secretly we all know that WoW is (god forbid I say it) “just a game” and that I could (should?) be spending more time doing other things. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of WoW to some people, but when I look at it objectively, it’s just a habit, not unlike Romeo’s habit of falling in love at the drop of a hat (goodbye Rosaline, hello Juliet). I really could do with some exercise, and all of those aforementioned skills could be practiced in a more face-to-face social fashion. Yet, I’m smitten. I sit and play and play and sit day after day in between work and food and writing and reading. I know, though, that this won’t last forever.
Logically, I know it has more to do with habit than fate, but I think back to how I resisted WoW for a long time (til just before BC came out). A lot of my friends were playing it; that is to say, all of my friends were playing it except my wife. I’d put off interest for about a year (was it two at that point? Who remembers?). Then, my wife decided to earn a few extra dollars (bless her) by going for a week to Sunny Florida’s Miami Beach to grade AP exams (College level courses for high school students for anyone who might not know), and I was to be left alone. For a week. By myself. And man do I hate being bored.
So I phoned up my friend and said, “So tell me about this WoW thing.”
I bought my wife an account before she got home at the end of that week.
Now, WoW and I have been on and off throughout the past 4 (I think) years. I played LotRO all the way through, a bit of Conan, a good bit of DDO, Star Trek Online… but they all seemed to pale in comparison. Benvolio’s comment, “I shall make thy swan seem a crow,” worked here, too. All other games seemed diminished by my attraction to WoW.
Similarly, the Friar’s advice at Romeo’s wedding, “Love moderately, long love doth so,” is true for me as well. I was never a true fanatic. The same friend who finally got me into WoW played so much computer during college that his grades slumped. He wasn’t getting enough sleep, he wasn’t doing his homework well; you know the drill. When he graduated, he started to play WoW and would go to work late. Finally, he realized he really had a problem (he was, I truly believe, an undiagnosed Internet addict) and gave the game up cold turkey.
As with most attempts of that sort, he was back at it before too long, and only getting a girlfriend, engaged (and married in April) truly put a stop to it. Who knows; if my wife wasn’t a WoW player, I too may have given it up long ago, but instead our time spent together enables (in both the good and bad sense of the word) us to continue our habit.
My point, though, is that I never really burned out of WoW. I took breaks when things went bad, but those were never WoW’s fault, but people’s, so I always came back. The long love doth continue.
Another similarity (a dual similarity, in fact) is in Juliet’s “What’s in a Name?” speech. The first similarity here is that I took great care to name my toons. I have a tauren druid named Stubborn (bullheaded – get it?). I have a priest named Pious. My goblin made I named Greendel (like Grendel, not Graendel, which I have been told is a Wheel of Time reference). The one time I decided to say to hell with naming was with my Paladin, named Paladi. I’ve been given so much grief for that over the years that I regret even once bypassing the naming phase (Skullerymaid for a DK – I love this stuff!) So unlike Juliet’s point, I find there to be a lot in a name.
On the same token, she’s really talking about labels: Romeo’s label, Montague, an Enemy (oooh capitals for Emphasis), and her own, Capulet, family. I have trouble with the label “main” and “alt.” When applying to guilds, I’m frequently asked to identify which is which, and I’ve struggled to do so. I have many 85s. I enjoy all of them. I’m currently spending almost all my time leveling, though. Which is my main? The one I’m currently spending time with? My best geared 85? The one I raid the most with? I don’t know; the labels defy me.
That famous phrase, “A pair of star-crosséd lovers…” comes from the very beginning of the play. It ends with “…takes their life” (way to spoil it, Shakespeare). There have been those, too. Whether it be those who play too much and sacrifice their personal life for a digital one, or the few who have died from exhaustion or malnutrition, or those who’s died due to circumstances completely separate from the game, death is a real issue for WoW, which, as all video games do, trivializes the experience. Bigjimm wrote on this recently in a lovely article that, well, you’ll just have to read yourself.
I’ll leave you with that for today.