Go Ahead and Make Your "Nerd" and "Geek" Jokes Now

It's been a while. What can I say? I'm a busy guy: work, school, church, dog, food. The list continues. And there's a part of me that's unsure why I'm even writing this now. I guess there was just a little itch what needed scratching.

It's been almost nine years since I logged into WoW (as it's known among the cool kids) for the first time. My friend Jeff had an extra copy of the game and let me have it. I was familiar with Warcraft, of course, having played through all three of the franchise's real-time strategy (RTS, to the cool kids) games. I'd seen WoW on store shelves and been interested in the idea - playing a single character in the world explored by the previous Warcraft games. Now was my chance to do just that.

I started with a dwarf paladin named Uri (a name stolen from the Lord of the Rings trading card game (TCG...cool kids)), a knight who uses the power of the Light to do justice in the world. I ended about a year and a half later with a night elf rogue named Haldirr (another name stolen from LotR, with an extra "r" added because the game wouldn't accept trademarked names), a warrior of the shadows who could sneak into the most dangerous of places, get all stabby with the daggers and run away, laughing maniacally as his enemies wonder what happened.

Uri ended up at level 42 out of a possible 70; Haldirr got to level 51. Both had trusty steeds to carry them from battle to battle, quest to quest: Uri rode his charger, Haldirr rode a big fang-y cat called a nightsaber. Uri had some blue gear (rares, TTCK (to the cool kids)); Haldirr actually had a purple (epic, TTCK, which were harder to get then - now everyone is all bedecked in purples).

I won't go into any more great detail about my paladin's and rogue's adventures here - that's for another time and place. Suffice to say, fun and frustration were both had in sufficient quantity.

This was me every 30 minutes or so, on average.

It's been roughly eight years since I played World of Warcraft for the last time, having given it up for a future as a responsible (yeah, right) adult. But ever has my mind stayed in Azeroth, the world which my dwarf and night elf fought so hard to protect.

You see, when I'm introduced to a universe, a world, a creation like Azeroth, I'm drawn in and can't escape. I go whole hog into that universe, learning everything I can and absorbing the lore, the stories, the information, from whatever sources I can. I grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars, so my immersion into those universes was gradual, like the frog in the boiling water. When The Lord of the Rings became the thing, with the movies and such, I quickly went from a Tolkien ignoramus to a Tolkien give-me-all-I-can-have-mus. I wanted to know everything I could about Middle-Earth, what came before Frodo and Sam and Aragorn. I bought a guide to it all and pored over every page, reveling in the new-found love I had for this universe that had until then been a mystery to me.

Tolkien liked it, so he put the One Ring on it.

The same thing happened with Diablo, another franchise by the makers of Warcraft. It happened again when Marvel movies became "the thing." Now I love to learn all things Marvel - Inhumans, Avengers, Taskmaster, Moon Knight, X-Force, Civil War, Ultron, M-Day...all of it.

And the same thing happened with Azeroth. This place, this world where the happenings of Warcraft...er, happened...was more than just a setting for a video game; it was a (virtually) living, (virtually) breathing timeline of events and world of places and ecosystem of creatures and population of diverse populations. Since the days of the first Warcraft game, there had been a story, a single thread, about some Orcs coming through a magic portal who end up fighting some Humans. From there it spread to a second war, and then to a third, and then to a worldwide battle against this big bad army of demons who want to destroy the universe, and from there to a literal (virtual) world of conflicts and fights and worries and fears and triumphs.

The makers and writers and developers of Warcraft had...no, have...created as rich a system of lore as any other out there, save Tolkien or Martin or Jordan. That's my contention. It's a world about which many novels have been written and will be written, which will keep on growing until we, the players, say, "Enough." And I think that day is far off.

Why am I even talking about this? What do I care, I who haven't logged into the world of Warcraft in almost eight years?

I care, because ever my mind is on the world of Warcraft. I never stopped following the game's goings-on. I read about and lived vicariously through others: the war against the Lich King and the triumph atop Icecrown Citadel; the breaking of the world by Deathwing and his ultimate downfall at the hands (claws?) of the Dragon Aspects; the parting of the mists around Pandaria and the titanic fall of the Son of Hellscream; and even now I live and experience the discovery of a world changed by a violation of history which threatens Azeroth such as it has never been threatened before.

Once, I could tell you exactly what went down here and why. Still maybe could.
I have been so taken in by the stories and magic and lore of Warcraft that I feel I can rival many in my knowledge of that world. I count myself no paltry authority of Azeroth and Kalimdor and Northrend and Pandaria and Outland and everything on and around them. I've even been driven to come up with my own stories about Azeroth and occasionally put those thoughts to paper.

And there's one place, one group of writers that deserve most of the credit for helping me stay with this place I've come to love: the writers at WoW Insider.

This blog has become the premiere source of news, information, strategy, guidance, help and entertainment when it comes to World of Warcraft. Through its columns and articles, I could continue to learn what it meant to be a rogue, a paladin, an expert in herb-lore or alchemy. I could learn more about the people around whom the World of Warcraft revolves, the heroes we love to fight beside and the villains we love to fight against. One of my favorite columns, called Know Your Lore, gave the background information we needed to understand the people we dealt with for good or ill, about the roles we chose to play in Azeroth and what we needed to know to play those roles convincingly. The column even started diving into the "why's" and "how come's" of what was happening, digging deeper into the Azeroth universe than one could ever get just clicking on things with their mouse. it got into entertaining and mind-stretching speculation about what it all meant, what was to come, what it was all for.

WoW Insider was my link to Azeroth, my anchor in a place I could no longer go myself but in which I could remain mentally and emotionally invested, if only in my spare time.

That's why it was actually kind of painful when I learned last week WoW Insider was shutting down. The writers/editors haven't said too much about why, but today, February 3, is the last day of WoW Insider as we know it. It hurts, because that anchor is going away. Maybe something else will come along; the WoW Insider editors have made cryptic statements about something to be announced later today, but I don't know what it is, and so for now, I'm just a bit bummed, because I'm losing a link that has mattered to me in the days since I last left Warcraft.  I felt a kinship between myself and my favorite writers there - Matthew Rossi and Alex Ziebart and Anne Stickney and Adam Holiskey and Scott Andrews and Olivia Grace and so many others. They probably won't ever see this, but I want to thank them for all the entertainment and joy and fun and information they shared with me; mostly indirectly, but sometimes directly via Twitter. I feel like they are friends, real friends, even though we've never met and probably never will.

So, on the off chance the WoW Insider makers ever get to read this: thank you for keeping an Azerothian at heart grounded in a world he grew to love as much as any other he has come to love.

One of the most incredible artistic works showing Azeroth that I've ever seen.


Dog Knight said…
As someone with very little time for WoW these days (account has not been active for almost two years and was only active for short bursts before that), I am in the exact same boat at you.
I love the universe and the lore. WoW Insider allowed me to keep this link to the world I wish I could spend more time in, but alas, work and family come first.

Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. I hope the previous staff of the site get to read your post.
I read this - didn't understand a lot - but I feel your pain.
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Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. I hope the previous staff of the site get to read your post.

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