A couple of weeks ago, a thought popped into my head: I miss playing World of Warcraft. Now, I know what you’re thinking: *back away slowly, don’t make any sudden movements, just leave the crazy lady alone*. Before you jump through the wall, leaving a you-shaped hole and a trail of dust, I’ll say I only played WoW for a few months and I was never addicted. I can say this with complete confidence as someone who is addicted to plenty of other things (who wants another cup of coffee? anyone? no, just me?). Although I miss it, I don’t think I enjoyed the game for the same reason many other people do.
Ok, the leveling up is fun and feels pretty rewarding. The gear is pretty fun to collect. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to play with some real-life friends. But in reality, the main thing I really miss about WoW is my character. I only ever made one. He is a dwarf. His name is Gunnbjörn. He has a pet bear named Bearbjörn. And I miss the heck out of those guys.
I’m not sure if it’s sad or sweet that video game characters can sometimes feel like old friends from the past: gone, but fondly remembered. It certainly means that the game designers were doing their jobs when that happens. I think, though, that it has a lot to do with the same phenomenon that causes very vivid memories to come back when a certain song plays on the radio. That song, those characters, they remind you of the people and places that you associate with the time in your life when you used to listen to that music or play that game.
Gunnbjörn was around for a time in my life filled with anticipation and excitement, as well as stress and a certain amount of ambition and accomplishment. I started and finished playing WoW during my senior year of college. During that time I both felt like everything was on the line, and that there was so much out there in the big wide world, waiting for me to go grab hold of it. Maybe I really connected with WoW during that time because it reflected some of the epicness and struggle that I was experiencing IRL.
I’m currently playing a whole different set of games, and now that I think about it, there may be elements of them that reflect my current situation. More on that next time.