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Levelling up

One of the most interesting experiences of my college career so far has been when I quit playing World of Warcraft during my first week there.

Now, first, a bit of exposition: I had worked a part-time gig at the local library for a year or so when I graduated high school in the Spring of 2007. That summer, I worked one of the best jobs I’ll probably ever have: playing WoW and getting paid to write about it.

So there I was, the summer between high school and college, afraid (as is natural) of the pending semester, faced with the realization that pretty soon I would have to hang up WoW writing and get a real job. While going to school full time.

Of course, when prodded about getting a job, I protested and made vague allusions to the prospect of not having enough time for homework. Of course, I knew full well that I was really just trying to prevent losing WoW time. After all, aside from spending my days playing and writing, I also spent my nights raiding so that I easily played 40 hours/week that summer.

And then school started: I moved in to the dorm Sunday, had my first day of a real job Tuesday, and the first day of class Wednesday.

Within a week, I’d given up the game. Although, not spontaneously, and not tally, mind you. With my writing duties concluded, I had mostly been spending my time raiding, a massive cooperative effort with 24 other people to jointly conquer dungeons. The social mechanic for this is a guild, a group of players that will raid together with hierarchical command logistics structures not unlike a military company.

Drama is also an inseparable part of the social structure, and it was just such drama (I annoyed the wrong people, failed to do things I was never told to do, and so on) that got me booted out of my guild one day in August when I was still adjusting to my stiff dorm bed.

And at that point, I knew that I essentially had two options: quit raiding or try to find another guild. Neither option seemed great, but I realized that this might be my one chance to give the game a rest.

And I took it. I didn’t swear the game off or anything: when an expansion pack came out a few months later, I picked it up and played for a while. But even then, it was a matter of fitting WoW into college, not deforming college around WoW.

In the end, though, the bit that still amazes me is that my erstwhile nightmare came true (college impinging on WoW) and instead of it being a hellish fate, it just seemed the natural thing to do.

And that’s almost the very essence of growing up.

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