People frequently ask me why I play World of Warcraft. “Only nerds play video games, you don’t look like a nerd.” What the general populace does not understand is that World of Warcraft is much more than a video game. While slaying dragon pixels is super fun and brings a wonderful sense of accomplishment and pride, the draw to the game goes way beyond that. A couple of incidents this week made me think about sharing my story with you all;  one wonderfully happy and the other devastatingly sad. To get the whole picture let me start at the beginning.

In the fall of 2004, my family and I lived in Hawaii and I worked for the PAC-TNOSC at Ft. Shafter, Hawaii.  One day, I had a conversation with one of my coworkers in the break room regarding a game that he loved, Warcraft. I had heard of Warcraft but never played RTS games. He told me how this was one of his favorite games and he was debating whether or not he wanted to buy access to the beta for World of Warcraft. I remember telling him that if he loved it so much and it would bring him enjoyment, he should buy the beta and so he did.  World of Warcraft went live in November 2004 and this coworker was having a ball playing the game. In January 2005, I picked it up and my life has never been the same since. I made a gnome warlock on Stormreaver and immediately fell in love with this cute little cotton-candy haired doll.

Keeta

Keeta – my first WoW character

My reasons for purchasing the game were primarly social. I honestly had no clue what I was doing and I was nervous and scared about what the community would be like. Playing games like EverQuest had left a bad taste in my mouth, BUT I had played The Sims Online and MUDS, so I knew how much fun it was to be part of an online community. Given that I was in Hawaii with 3 small children, and a husband who deployed frequently, I figured that I could make some friends and have a bit of a social life in the evenings and on the weekends after the boys were in bed. By September of that year, I had made another character, Clöver, my night elf priest and had moved to Skywall to play with some other coworkers in the guild ÆNIMA. It was in ÆNIMA that I met some of my nearest and dearest friends (BFFS). I didn’t raid at that time because of the time difference and lack of a max level character. It took me a year to hit level 60 with Clöver because I was so clueless that I leveled her holy spec >.<. Took me forever to kill mobs. /smite /smite /smite

Fast forward to 2008 and I was now in Wisconsin, my kids were older, and Blizzcon had been announced. I REALLY wanted to go and meet up with some of my guildmates. I was able to get 8 tickets for everyone in our group who was going (yes they paid me) and man oh man, the looks I received from people who thought for sure I was a scalper as I carried out the myriads of goody bags for my friends. That year there were 7 or 8 of us that attended and boy was it a blast. It was amazing to see everything the effort Blizzard put forth to make this a wonderful event for us and boy was it! This trip really solidified the friendship between a few of us and we still talk daily.

As the years progressed, our Blizzcon group changed and fluctuated in size depending on the year and the availability of everyone to attend since the convention is in Anaheim and most of us are dispersed throughout the country. In 2010 we were in the lobby of the Hilton engaging in typical Blizzcon behaviors (re: lots of drinking) and started bantering back and forth with the group sitting next to us. They were Alliance, we were Horde and it was quite fun to taunt each other. Before we knew it, we were buying each other drinks and became fast friends with the “enemy”. We hung out with them that whole weekend, but never did exchange contact information (big mistake) and left feeling sad that we hadn’t taken that step so that we could stay in touch after everyone went back home.

Another year passed and by this time I was living in Southern California about 40 minutes from Anaheim (my dream come true), so in 2011 most of the Blizzcon bunch stayed at my house. Chris and I had won tickets to a Curse gaming after party at the Hilton so he and I hit that up, while everyone else went next door to watch the Starcraft Finals. After a bit, Chris and I decided to join our friends and headed over to the tournament room. While sitting in there, I happened to look up at the door and in walked 2 of the guys from the Hilton bunch from the year prior! I could believe our luck in crossing paths again! Blizzcon is a huge convention with at least 25k attendees so I felt so lucky to run into some of the guys we really wanted to find. We made sure to exchange numbers so that we could stay in touch, and we have since that time.

It is at this juncture that I need to introduce the one of the big events that happened this week. You see, Jonathan (the only guy repeated in the photos directly above this text) passed away last night after suffering from health issues for some years. I woke up this morning to the news and was immediately saddened. He was a wonderful guy, very giving, kind and helpful. He was my con buddy. I attended San Diego Comic-Con with him in 2012 and he had a great time. In 2014 he very excitedly introduced us to his girlfriend who shortly thereafter became his wife. I really feel for her, but it makes me happy to know that he knew he was loved.  Jonathan, I want to thank you for being my friend and for the fun times we had at various conventions. You were always good for a laugh and you will be sorely missed in the Blizzcon bunch.

This week started off with a bang and I have to share that story too and then I’ll get to my point about all of this. Monday morning I was not particularly raring for the week, it was Monday after all and the beginning of a week where I don’t have all that much to do. The week prior, my good friend Renee, (also part of the Blizzcon bunch and an OG member of ÆNIMA) had whispered me for my address telling me that she found something cool and nerdy she wanted to send me. I sent her my address and then promptly forgot about the conversation until a package arrived at my doorstep.  Inside the box was a FigurePrint of my mistweaver monk, Jadedot and the most touching note anyone has ever sent me in my life. I’m a super emotional person and broke down in tears when I read her kind words and was immediately filled with a great sense of love from my friend.

Jadedot statue

Jadedot statue

You see friends, World of Warcraft isn’t just about the game. The thing that makes the game amazing and great is the RELATIONSHIPS formed by teaming together and working towards a common goal. Our group is a huge dysfunctional family, and we certainly have had our disagreements at times, but in the end it’s worth it. We love each other. We support each other. We have impacted each other’s lives for the better. My life is better with these people in it.  I look forward to many more Blizzcons with them and hijinx in Azeroth.

This week has been filled with emotions both high and low and as it draws to a close, I’m forever grateful that these friends are a part of my life and I theirs.