Last week, while I was in the middle of spending five consecutive days basically in bed recovering from some minor surgery, I relented to the crack dealers at Blizzard Entertainment who had emailed me an offer I couldn’t refuse – a free week of play time for World of Warcraft, just waiting for me to log in and claim it.
I started playing World of Warcraft in the game’s open beta stage in the late fall of 2004, and when the game launched on Nov. 24, 2004, I created my orc warrior, Derkaderka, on the Whisperwind server. Over the next five years, I spent an absolutely embarrassing amount of time guiding him through Azeroth. At some point in mid-2009, during the game’s second expansion, “Wrath of the Lich King,” I quit. It didn’t stick, and a few months later I brought Derka out of retirement to play again, only to burn out on the game again after a couple of months when I retired again.
This cycle has continued ever since – quit for six months, then relent and poke my head back into the game to check it out and say hello to some people. My renewal last week was, I believe, the fifth time I’ve brought Derka out of retirement; most recently, I ended an absence of about six months in late October of 2010 so I could start playing for the most-recent expansion to the game, “Cataclysm,” which was released in early December of last year. I lasted all of two months before I quit playing again early in January, and that retirement lasted until this past week.
In the week I was back this time, I finished up about 70 quests I had skipped when leveling from 80 to 85 in the expansion’s Mount Hyjal zone, did a whole bunch of repeatable daily quests for the Therazane and Dragonmaw Clan factions (had I had another two days, I’d have finished those reputation grinds off and become exalted with both factions) and started the Firelands daily quest series — which reminded me of the Shattered Sun Offensive daily quest hub from the Burning Crusade expansion, and is something that if I continued playing I’d definitely finish off. I also did some tradeskill leveling on some of my secondary characters.
What I did *not* do was make any effort to group with anyone. I only went into one five-man dungeon when another player in my guild desperately needed a tank to finish off the last boss in Zul’Gurub. Immediately on entering, some idiot pick-up-group player from another realm started bad-mouthing the level of my character’s equipment and, to show his displeasure, repeatedly pulled monsters into our group in an attempt to intentionally kill us.
I suddenly remembered why I hated playing the game. The game itself is pretty fun; I’ve always enjoyed actually playing the game and experiencing the game’s various monster encounters and dungeons. Dealing with the other people who play the game, however, has become a mostly miserable experience. There are fantastic people playing World of Warcraft, for sure, and the guild I’ve been in since 2005 has a lot of them. But the number of absolute jerks and miscreants you encounter along the way makes the multiplayer aspect of the game nearly intolerable – for me, anyway.
My free week ran out yesterday morning. As of now, I have no intention of telling battle.net how to get my $14.99 a month to pay to keep playing. Being back for a few days was fun, but there’s absolutely nothing in the World of Warcraft today that won’t still be sitting there in another six months.