Putting A Face On Goodbye

30 Aug

One of the main reasons that the gay marriage movement has gained so much ground in recent years has been attributed to people being able to put a face on gay marriage, which makes it much more difficult for people to deny others that right when they know someone who is in a similar situation.  When it’s your uncle, your neighbor, your boss, something like that really hits home for you and it affects you in ways that it otherwise wouldn’t. 

The same goes for a charity that you’re trying to raise money for.  If you have lost someone to HIV or breast cancer, chances are that you will be even more passionate about fund raising for that particular cause and you may possibly even participate in events to do your part so that the very same thing doesn’t happen to someone else.

I remember when the news that Blizzard had lost 600,000 subscribers had been released and people began absorbing and discussing it.  It didn’t really hit me.  I was firmly in the “Oh, it’s just 600,000 people.  We’re going to be fine” camp.  I didn’t have a personal stake in it, really.  Those were just numbers to me. 

Shortly after, we learned that the cross realm Dungeon Finder was going to be implemented.  I remember posting something on my Facebook about this, hoping that the one third of my friends list who I met through WoW or who I know play WoW might be interested in queueing up with me sometime.  Instead of seeing the expected responses of “Sure, hit me up!” I was sad to see a string of “Gosh, I would if I still played the game,” type responses.

Suddenly, those 600,000 people had names.  They had faces.  I knew them.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  They couldn’t all have quit the game.  Could they?  The most surprising response came from one of my ex-boyfriends, whom I had actually met through the game and had even moved out of state to be with.  He was as firmly engrossed in World of Warcraft as anybody else.  He was one of the first PVP Gladiators, had the “Insane” title, and had repeatedly been asked to participate in Beta testing.  In fact, one of the many reasons that we broke up was because of the game.

I remember the night that we broke up, when I told him that I needed a life outside of the game and when he replied that he couldn’t give me one.  That guy was now in nursing school and had been so busy discovering life that his 10 man team (the members of which he handpicked himself) didn’t even manage to finish clearing any of the T11 content on normal mode.  Of course, I was happy for him.  But it still blew my mind.  He was the last person I would have expected to join the ranks of the 600,000 who quit World of Warcraft for whatever reason.  And here I was, still playing.

 

Then word came that another 300,000 had quit.  It affected me a bit more because I was one of them now.  I knew why people were leaving the game.  Because I was doing it, too.  Even then, people were still brushing it off as a modest loss and it was no big deal. 

Today, I read a blog post from Borsk that literally took my breath away.  In it, he mentions that his guild, which had weathered many storms and overcame many challenges along the way had finally decided that their last raid together would in fact be their last.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  Here was someone else, who I thought would be one of the last to stick it out and show us all that World of Warcraft was worth staying around for, who might even be enough to lure some of us back into things and he was saying goodbye, too. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re losing people.  Let me stress that.  We are losing people.  We’re losing loved ones.  We’re saying goodbye to friendships and memories and ties that we have formed with one another.  It’s more than just lost revenue and subscription numbers.  It’s not just a lump sum that we can shave off the top of a quarterly report and write off so easily.  These people have names and they have made contributions to the game and to the community.  I think that’s something that we tend to forget about when we’re thinking about things like this.  It doesn’t seem real, otherwise.  When you can rationalize it away, when you can convince yourself that it doesn’t affect you and it would never happen to you, it becomes easier to deal with it and to dismiss.

What people don’t understand is how difficult it is to get to that point, to know that it’s over, and to know that you have to finally do something about it.  It’s a very hard thing to have to go through.  You might make an attempt to stay in touch and to try and keep things as close to the way they were as possible, but not everybody succeeds.  Think about how many people you have seen leave the game through the years and that you still remain in touch with.  If you’re anything like me, you can probably count the number of people on one hand and still have fingers left over. 

I just want people to remember that, the next time the topic of people leaving the game comes up again.  There is real loss happening here, that goes beyond income and bragging rights.  It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s harder to admit that it’s really over.

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18 Responses to “Putting A Face On Goodbye”

  1. Dyalad #

    Out of curiosity, what were (was) your reason for quitting?

  2. Oestrus #

    Hi Dyalad,

    I quit because I felt like I was living in the past. I missed how a lot of things in the game used to be and I felt like I wasn’t fitting in with the current setting. I resented what raiding had become and how I was expected to conform to it. Healing, in general had changed so much, too. Things just weren’t how I remembered it and the reasons that I enjoyed healing and raiding weren’t there, either. This is what World of Warcraft is now and you can choose to go along with it or you can take your business elsewhere, so that’s what I did.

    I also had discovered a game that was fresh and exciting to me (Rift) that kind of sparked that interest all over again, so I went in that direction.

  3. Jadissa #

    Sheesh, between you and Borsk my mornings this week have been real downers.

    It doesn’t change the fact that you’re absolutely correct, though – WoW has been a cultural phenomenon, a shared experience that crossed borders and boundaries that most of us never expected when we got into it to begin with. I can’t even count all the friends that I’ve made through the game and lost track of, and as a guildmaster, I can’t even begin to remember all the cool people I’ve had the pleasure to raid with over the past three years who moved on to greener pastures and to live their lives.

    Very poignant and admittedly a bit difficult to think about. As with Borsk, thanks for writing this post – you said it better than I ever could.

  4. derevka #

    Well written O.

    I think for many folks, when they quit or when others quit the game it IS the end of that friendship for many of them. (I don’t say all). Just because the game was the conduit to their interactions,a nd without that game- the interactions become fewer and fewer and fewer.

    Of course there are friendships that last outside of the game, and can translate well into other games. For example, Ava and myself stay in touch outside of WoW now that I still play and she doesn’t. (Granted I do run into her on RIFT when I play (very casually) there) and there’s Twitter as well.

    But, a good look at the social implications of the life cycle of a game and the friendships it can create.

  5. Borsk #

    After we had our last meeting as a guild last night, and after one last 10 man, I sat and talked with one of our officers or about an hour just about different things. The part of the conversation that was important was the when we both said “I guess you never know when it’s going to be over.” Just 2 weeks ago, had a low % wipe been a kill, history would be different. It’s a classic thing in sports, the “what if.” What if this person didn’t quit, what if this boss died, what if etc etc etc.

    The fact that all our recruits this expansion came from guilds breaking up and quitting is telling enough.

  6. Markco #

    I was worried you’d be leaving too. If you do I wish you luck but please consider joining the diablo 3 bandwagon! I really enjoyed the podcast we did together and hope to see you stick around in the mmo scene.

    I feel your pain though. I quit wow because those leaving were friends and without others this game is an empty shell of what it can be.

  7. Oestrus #

    I can’t say I have much interest in Diablo 3, but I’m enjoying being on the Rift bandwagon. In case you haven’t noticed my most recent posts.

    ;)

  8. Entropia #

    While it is hard to see anyone quit the game that you’re close to, there are many different avenues for all of us to keep in touch. For example, you wouldn’t even know who Borsk was if it wasn’t for Twitter. There is still a way for you to keep in contact with him through there. It’s like when you left Apotheosis, you and I weren’t going to be playing together anymore but we’re still able to keep in touch through Twitter.

    Until someone completely shuts the door on their usage of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you really don’t have too much to worry about! There are definitely people who I’ve played with that quit the game without as much as logging in for several weeks and I was none the wiser until I thought “Where are they? They haven’t logged in in forever!” and it definitely sucks when you realize that this person you’ve gamed with for X amount of time is completely gone.

    There’s also the issue of attachment. Some people look at WoW and laugh at the idea of considering the person at the the end a “friend” and don’t think twice about canceling their account or keeping in touch with those people. I’m sure that’s been the case for a number of cancellations, but little do they realize that they’re effectively saying “We’re not friends anymore” to the people they played and chatted with. It’s a little hard to swallow when you realize that you’re on one point at this planet and they’re however many kilometers away and that you shouldn’t invest too much because of how easy it to flip off the friendship switch.

  9. Oestrus #

    I actually knew Borsk from World of Matticus before I knew he had a Twitter and before I even had one.

    I don’t know. I think having a Facebook and a Twitter is great, but it’s not the same. I can’t say that I communicate as much with Dahrla or Hestiah since I left the guild and we’re connected on all of those sites. The quality of the communication is different, too. It’s one thing when you’re online with them and actually doing things with them. You’re sharing an experience. It’s just… different when it’s more distant than that. I can’t think of how to word it, but I don’t think that social media helps. We’re communicating, but we’re not communicating better or the same. If that makes sense.

  10. Psynister #

    There’s also the part of quitting where a lot of people want a complete and total break from the game instead of just cancelling their account. That often includes breaking ties on social media to people who speak most often about the game.

    If you have a friendship, then sure you can carry that out in other outlets like Twitter, but if both parties don’t see the friendship on the same level then it’s likely to die. I’ve had a lot of friends in WoW who once they stopped playing I’ve never spoken to again, or only briefly if I have. And not everyone looks at each relationship at the same level. Where I might consider Paladin Bob to be my friend, he might consider me little more than an acquaintance.

  11. GKickPerry #

    Great post and some points that are really important. I will say that I feel fortunate that, even in light of all the recent departures from WoW, that most of the friends I’ve made either haven’t left yet or still keep in touch either via my site, my podcasts or just via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I guess I’m lucky in that regard. All in all, awesome post.

  12. Oestrus #

    Thank you! I look forward to being on your show this weekend!

    (I am still coming on. Right?)

  13. Alethiar #

    I’m sad to read that your departure from WoW is now final, but not surprised.

    The writing had been on the wall for some time now, and I am glad you have found what you were looking for in Rift.

    I completely agree with the points you have made, and there are certainly many that touch my own feelings. Having only begun playing WoW a little after the launch of BC, I have not been there from the start. Even so, I have seen many changes, not all of which sit well with me. However, the things I enjoy about the game are largely still there, so I will continue playing for the time being.

    Over the course of the years I have been playing, I have seen a good few people disappear. Many of them are people I considered friends, but I confess I haven’t spoken to the majority of them since their departure. Without the “glue” of the shared experience, the friendship seems far harder to maintain. As you wrote in a comment above, the other forms of communication, (social media, email, etc) aren’t the same. It’s the little things that happen in game that bring us together. Shared experiences, trials, tribulations, fun, those are what forge friendships. It’s sad when those friendships can’t stand on their own, but I suspect there is a degree of inevitability too.

    Thank you for highlighting what is too often overlooked; we play with real people. When someone stops playing, we are losing a friend, not just another registered user.

    Good luck in Rift!

  14. Oestrus #

    Eh. It’s final, but it’s not. It could always change.

    ;)

    I still have my account. I still have the game installed in my computer. Never say never.

    I’m glad that you still enjoy the game! I was worried that someone would misinterpret my post and think I was trying to make it sound like “the end” and it’s certainly not for a lot of people. If you love what you do, please keep doing it. But if you don’t, hopefully you know that and take the right steps to rectify that.

    Thanks for stopping by, Alethiar!

  15. Apple #

    Even though we’re not as close as I am with some people, you’re still a huge important part of my circle of friends. I don’t get to see you in WoW anymore, and that’s sad, but there’s still twitter, and your blog. I adooore you, darling. And maybe I can talk somebody with $5 into buying Rift for me before that sale ends… I can manage occasional subscriptions if I have the game already. ;)

  16. Inno #

    I had noticed the about frame earlier that listed you as a former WoW blogger when I was lurking around your blog. My understanding is that the healing world will miss you. It is disheartening to continue doing something when you’re spending more time remembering the good old days. Sounds all to familiar anymore. Excellent choice by voting with your wallet. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

  17. Oestrus #

    Hi Inno,

    I’m sure not everyone is sad to see me go and that’s quite alright! I’m still here. I’m still involved in the community, as I still talk about WoW on my podcast that I share with Ophelie and other podcasts that may I get asked to make an appearance on. I still have quite a number of friends who play the game. I haven’t ruled out coming back at some point. I don’t think it’s as “final” as some people are making out to be.

    ;)

  18. Hestiah #

    I knew that something had changed when you were posting more tweets regarding Rift. I knew that when you decided you weren’t going to raid anymore that things had changed for you.

    Over time I’ve felt the change that Firelands wrought. I know that the WoW blogging community is the lesser for you having stopped playing. But I’m so glad to consider you as a friend. And I wish that things in my life had gone differently, so that I might get the chance to meet you IRL.

    I miss you terribly. And I know I’m not the only one.

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