Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,
Hello, I’m Erinys from the Harpy’s Nest and this is my first foray into guest posting.
Six years ago today I killed my very first Old God.
The road to that victory was a hard one, late nights of raiding, far too much farming earth in the Badlands so I could drink my fill of nature resistance potions and lots of yelling. In fact sound is my endearing memory of that night and the weeks which lead to it.
Our raid leader, a teacher by profession putting his best “You are all a bunch of annoying little children and you will be quiet and do this repeatedly until you get it right or I’ll wipe your dkp, spank you soundly and send you to bed with no supper” voice across vent whenever someone screwed up and the resulting laughter of our rogue pack unless of course it was one of their number in trouble.
The screams across vent when we finally vanquished the old order, the yelling and the exaltation that followed, as we came, we saw and we conquered. We’d gone from a bunch of uncoordinated people who couldn’t enter a room properly, whose Druids took it in turns to get lost and pull Ouro into a team. 40 people working together to accomplish a common goal, moving as one unit, communicating and focusing together.
It takes a Village
I know the “community” in WoW gets a bad press, at times deservingly but without the people we play with and against, would WoW have it’s charm? Somehow I doubt it. Through this game I’ve learnt so much, met so many different people and been exposed to things that never in a million years did I imagine I’d encounter. From Russian cartoons, to the best tzatziki recipe I’ve ever eaten, to angry Norwegians threatening to come around to your house and “beat your ass” because you were causing mischief in the priest channel, WoW has made me laugh, cry and scream with sheer frustration.
When I first started playing I was a in dark place. My confidence was shot as my sense of self worth. I wanted to hide away in a darkened room and WoW seemed like the perfect answer. I thought I could play it as if it were a single player game, ignoring the rest of Azeroth’s denizens.
Oh how wrong I was.
These people didn’t want to be ignored, they dragged me in and enveloped me in kindness and spit and Gnomish hugs. Almost before I realized what was happened, I had a guild tag, I had in-game friends, people as I logged on would spam guild chat with “Hiya Eri”. Much to my surprise, I discovered that not only did I enjoy raid healing, I was actually good at it.
Looking back at the last seven years I’ve spent playing WoW, every moment that stands out is one spent with others. Downing bosses as part of a team, raiding Orgrimmar at three in the morning with a bunch of drunks who can’t stop giggling on vent, going head to head pre-made against pre-made in WSG with guild pride at stake. These people burst through the bubble of my shyness and blew me away with their conversations and silliness.
Most of all though, the greatest gift WoW has given me can be explained best through the words of Charles de Lint, he put it so well that paraphrasing it seems pointless.
Hope is what allows the strong to rise above their despair, ” Diane said. “It’s what makes them strong. Not blind faith, not the certain understanding that someone will step in and help them, but the understanding that through their own force of will they cannot merely survive, but succeed. Hope is what tempers that will and gives it the strength to carry on, no matter what the odds are ranked against them. (Pg 322 of Dreams Underfoot).
Playing WoW and interacting with it’s community and the blogging community gave me hope. A belief in myself that I’d forgotten I had, lost as it was in layers of misery and doubt. My voice silenced once, would never have found the self belief to speak up again without this amazing game. Without it, I’d never have found the confidence to start writing again and definitely not to start blogging in a public environment. I’ve met so many people both in-game and across the forums/blogs whose opinions and advice I value that I can’t imagine a world in which I put that game box back on the shelf. Whether my Azerothian journey lasts another six months or five more years, I’m so glad that it’s been a part of my life.
Warcraft in many ways is a Pandora’s box. Contained within are many things, a lot of which are nasty. The community is rife with all the isms, swearing is second nature to most and so is not taking responsibility for your own actions but even so, down at the bottom of the box, hiding in plain sight is hope. So to all of you, friends and enemies alike, this is huge and heartfelt thank you. Yours are the voices which makes all this worthwhile and you are the reason we log in every day. Most importantly though, without WoW, I’d never have discovered that I giggle exactly like my avatar. Art imitating life once again.