How I lost my friend to World of Warcraft

David MacNeal

Do I miss him?

It’s a question I’m bound to ask again, but perhaps, yes.

Bromances only go so far. Rarely do friendships endure after high school, settling in our own ways like Pangaea drifting apart’mdash;similar contours but different climate.

It used to be there was nothing worse than losing a friend over a girl’mdash;but no, wait, there is. I lost mine to World of Warcraft (WoW); and while it’s miniscule compared to the 12-year-old boy dying from a stroke of too much ‘War-crack,’ the number of undervalued companions is double, if not triple, that of the 10 million WoW player accounts.

Expect that number to rise when the expansion pack, ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ is released on Nov. 13.

For those unfamiliar with it (you hermit), Warcraft is a massively-multiplayer, online role-playing game in which people create fantastical beings on planet Azeroth, collect gold, upgrade weapons and armor and abilities, and run around ‘pwning’ as many ‘n00bs’ as possible.

Weeks and months of invested care are poured into obtaining a character’s max level of 70. My friend, let’s call him Jake, and I were buds since middle school’hellip; we had a Lv. 65 relationship.

We were the ones who played video games and made home movies’mdash;one in which we had soda can peckers and would pop our tabs, fizzing all over the place. This later evolved to working retail together, and getting cross-faded at night.

Then Warcraft came into our realm, and gradually unanswered phone calls turned into none at all. There wasn’t even time to be a third wheel. I lost Jake to a Night Elf druid who could shape shift into a bear.

‘We didn’t play the game at first because we didn’t want to be nerds,’ says Asaemon, a Lv. 70 Blood Elf paladin. ‘But then you find out hot girls play too!’

I’m talking to three Warcraft veterans in the book storage system of CSUN’s Oviatt Library to help me understand my forlorn friend.

The WoW community is like a small-scale Earth. Itto, a Lv. 70 Dwarf hunter, says that people online end up traveling across states to meet and date each other. Sometimes they get married, both in reality and in Azeroth…wedding dress, tuxedo, rings and witnesses.
Even burials are replicated in WoW with occasional guild raids on the bereaved (YouTube search ‘Serenity Now bombs funeral’).

‘It’s been said that developers would have to invest $1 billion in a game to top Warcraft,’ says Windz, who hasn’t played for nearly a year. Windz is an anomaly. He’s logged 250 days of playtime within two years, became the third shaman in the world to hit level 70, and did it all while maintaining good grades and a 3-year long relationship.

‘However, there are periods where you tell your girlfriend that I need to play for two weeks straight, sleeping two hours a night,’ he says.

Dedication, not only to leveling up your alter-life but also to people, can be punishing. Not everyone playing is a shut-in recluse’mdash;sometimes wives will feed dinner to their husbands during gameplay.

Then again, the real monsters don’t only exist online. Take for example Itto’s compadre who dumped his girlfriend, and what that conversation may have been like:

Sarah: [walks in room] Listen, we need to talk. [sits on bed] I think you play that game too much.

Gnome_Stomper1128: Uh-huh.

S: It’s been weeks since we went out and did stuff.

[GS1128 stares intently at PC monitor and wipes crumbs from lap.]

S: I love you and you don’t care.

GS1128: I’ve been busy.

S: You’re not busy now. Let’s go to Shogun Sushi.

GS1128: Yes!!

S: Good. Is it cool if I spend the night?

GS1128: Wait. What? I just acquired a Draconian Deflector.

S: [starts sobbing] It’s either me, or f***ing Warcraft!

GS1128: [‘hellip;] Okay. [brief pause] Get out.

You know that old Warcraft saying: ‘The drums of war beat once more.” The battle to save people from socially annexing themselves won’t easily be won. It’s not like I’m trash-talking WoW, in fact, they’ve created a scapegoat for peoples’ dull lives. Huzzah!

Actually, you might like to know I still see Jake. Granted, our meetings are annual, I’m reassured that he can still walk and his skin isn’t entirely translucent.

But it’s not the same guy that taught me how to shift gears in his self-modded Japanese import, or the drinking buddy I helped prop up so he wouldn’t piss on himself.

Itto, who’s read Warcraft books like ‘Lord of the Clans,’ says the lore got him sucked into it in the first place. ‘It’s like they’ve got their own American history.’

He tells me how he was unemployed and out of a school for a whole month, playing. When I ask if he regrets all that lost time, he says he doesn’t but then says he wishes he could have invested it elsewhere.

‘I could’ve hit the gym, started up a music company ‘hellip; I feel like a loser when I play, but I wouldn’t take it back,’ he says.

Even if Jake swore off War-crack, it wouldn’t be the same’mdash;like cloning the family dog and reliving memories. Just knowing a game was more important than our strange and mirthful years’hellip;

So, do I miss him?

The answer would have to be a melancholic, yes, although I don’t see myself asking it ever again.

You win, Warcraft. I am smitten. [sighs and deletes contact from list] Pwned!

🙁