What defines a person? What is the thing that is at their core, which makes them who they are? There can be many things that do this, which can be small or large parts of their lives. As a gamer, we have a way to extend these definitions of ourselves into the virtual world through the characters we play.
Of course, not everyone does this. There are people who play only for the enjoyment of what a certain character can do or a role that is required. I believe that someone who truly enjoys playing a certain character does so because it’s something they can identify with.
Looking back at the characters I’ve played over the years, I can see a progression of how I identified with these characters and why I chose what I did. More so, I can see why I’ve stuck with my Tauren Druid so long and still really enjoy playing him.
Of my many characters, I’m only going to focus on two: my previous main, a Blood Elf Paladin and my current main, a Tauren Druid.
I stuck with my Paladin for a long time, starting on BC launch day and raiding as a healer through Tier 5 stuff (Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep). This was my first experience playing a melee oriented class that I actually enjoyed, as previously I had played only ranged/magic classes in my online gaming career. With this character, I found that I could identify with him somewhat.
In real life, I’m a very ordinary guy. I work for a living, I have a great family, I do very normal stuff. However, part of what I do in my job is help people out (since I work for a bank, it just happens to be financial help), and that is part of who I am.
When I focused on being a healer and a paladin, I could identify with what the paladin is supposed to be. A protector of others, putting other people ahead of one’s self. As I was healing my guildmates and keeping them alive through these encounters, I could see myself in that role as well. Because of this, I believe that I stayed with the character for a while.
The Paladin was a member of the Blood Knights, originally siphoning power from M’uru, and thinking that he was just doing this for his own advancement. Yet, as time went on he realized that he actually liked being able to help others out. Rather than just being another Blood Elf minion, he established himself as a member of his guild and a vital member of a raiding team. When he found out about the betrayal of Prince Kael’thas, he decided to focus on the friends he had made in his guild and only be loosely affiliated with the Blood Knights, even though the Sunwell was restored.
My current main character was born because my wife had recently started playing WoW as well, and we wanted to level characters together. She had created a Tauren Shaman, and I wanted to create a new Druid – hoping that it was better than the original time I tried to level one in Vanilla. We had a lot of fun, and made it to max level in Burning Crusade, and I eventually made him my new main.
I see my Druid’s identity as part of that original experience. He was going through the world with his wife, trying to help people out and bring glory to the Horde. His loyalty is first to his family, then to his fellow Tauren, then the Horde. This is basically how I am in my real life situation.
Our experiences shape who we are, in-game and out. Whether that is a traumatic experience that makes you cringe when you see spiders, or a smile whenever you see kittens because you just love them. If you value protecting others by keeping them safe, a healer or tank might be a good option for you because it aligns with natural personality. If you protect others by removing things that would cause others harm, there’s DPS for you. What type of DPS? Take out your frustration by stabbing things as a rogue. Enjoy setting things on fire as a warlock.
WoW’s longevity can be credited to a number of things, and I believe that relatable characters is a very big part. I wrote about this before regarding NPCs, but this definitely also applies to player-controlled characters as well. Why have a hero if you hate being that person?
Unfortunately, just as one of the biggest events in World of Warcraft’s history happens, my real life schedule starts to make me busy. Never fails! However, I’ve finally had a bit of time to try out and explore some of the new areas and I’m incredibly happy. Blizzard did an amazing job at 4.0.3a, as it is literally a brand new world (with a few exceptions, of course).
Initially, I went on my Druid and started to explore Kalimdor. I started out in Thunder Bluff, then went on a bit of a trip around to different places getting the new flight paths and seeing the sights. I knew that they said that the Barrens and Stonetalon Mountains would get some of the biggest changes, but I wasn’t prepared for exactly how much different it was. I think I’ll be using the word “amazing” quite often in this post.
Thousand Needles is awe-inspiring. When you went through it before, you were on the bottom looking up to the very high “needles”, working around them or on top of them. The whole zone is flooded now, which gives it a whole new feel. Where there once was the Shimmering Flats now has the Shimmering Deeps, with the goblin/gnome project of a big speedboat. Through a small but incredibly fun questline, you can get your own boat that is usable only in Thousand Needles, with one part that sends you to the bottom of the sea floor to collect debris from the old raceway.
Next, my wife and I made new Taurens to check out the new starting zone there. I was wanting to make a Paladin, and my wife made a Priest. Apart from the fact that there were close to one million new characters starting all at the same time, it went well. I always had a problem with Mulgore because it was quite boring and involved lots of running around – now the quest hubs are consolidated into managable areas which involve objectives close to where you started out. We just started Northern Barrens, which I’m quite looking forward to. I never thought I’d ever say that about the Barrens.
Recently I made a new Forsaken Hunter, since I wanted to have one and I heard that the new Undead zones are (once again) amazing. So far I have not been disappointed in the least. There are so many new features and quests, and also a fair amount which are the same or similar – it’s a good combination of brand new while still keeping things close to what it was before. One thing that is entertaining is that there’s a flight path in Brill, so if you wanted to be extra lazy you could fly to Undercity.
I just moved into Silverpine Forest, and it is incredible. I’ve only just done the quests up to The Sepulcher, but up to now it’s been playing out like a great book or movie. There are a few points when it goes into “movie mode”, basically a mini cutscene that advances the story – it’s happened when the Worgen story is advanced, as well as when you ride to the Sepulcher from Forsaken High Command alongside Sylvanas. I truly can’t say enough about how awesome this zone is turning out to be.
My only suggestion is to NOT wear heirloom shoulders and chest, since you’ll outlevel the zone before you’re done with it. The stories are too great to miss, and I can’t wait to experience more of it.
After mulling over Vanilla WoW last week, it’s time to move on to the next phase of World of Warcraft: the Burning Crusade. This was the first expansion pack for WoW, and people weren’t really sure what to expect. They had only ever had Vanilla to experience, and weren’t really sure what was possible.
We were all in for a treat. Released on January 16 2007, Burning Crusade offered a number of new features to the world of Azeroth, and more importantly the new continent and world of Outland. Two new races, a new profession, flying mounts, socketed items, a streamlined endgame, just to name a few features.
Like Vanilla and all other games, there were things that are remembered as successes and some that are remembered as failures. All in all, I like to think of my time in Burning Crusade as being a lot of fun.
(reading music: “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire)
I am a true altaholic in the true sense of the word: I love to level my alts, and my main(s) suffer because of it. There are many times when I should be farming for something, questing, making money, or things like that – but I’m working on an alt instead.
Right now I have a main and a main alt: my feral druid and my holy paladin. My druid is geared in some ICC25, some ICC10, and one piece of T10, with other upgrades needed from frost and triumph badges. My paladin needs a whole bunch more work than that, as he only has one piece of T9 and is still rocking a fair amount of non-epics. In order to fix this problem, I need to do random dungeons – and lots of them.
Part of the problem is making sure that I have the time to do the randoms. Having a small child doesn’t really make it easy at times, since there’s the chance that I’ll have to leave at a moment’s notice. Since I’ve been queueing as a tank on my druid and healer on the paladin, it’s that much more vital that I pay attention to the run.
I think that part of my love of alts comes from this. I can hop on one of them, quest around for a bit and not have to worry if my son decides to do something that requires me. World of Warcraft is very kind to me this way. All I have to do is get on my flying mount and get about fifty feet in the air, and I’m set.
Yet, over the years I’ve realized that I love to raid and do dungeons. I wasn’t really sure at first, but once I got with a group of people who had fun doing it, life was much better. Since my son was born, I’ve been limited to only going once a week, which also makes me a bit antsy to do other things when I’m online. If I could, I’d love to make both nights of the 25-man, the main and alt nights for the 10-man, and do a bunch of randoms so I can finish gearing up.
Right now I’ve been going back and forth between my level 71 hunter and level 75 warlock. With playing melee classes for a while, it’s nice to do the ranged ones again. Yet, I also have a level 80 resto/elemental shaman that has been sitting in Dalaran for the last 3-5 months collecting dust that I could probably put to good use. Along with them, I have a level 70 death knight, and then all the way down to a level 26 warrior. My last three consist of a level 10 rogue, being my bank and auction house go-to guy in Orgrimmar, and a priest and mage who are waiting to be deleted and re-made into goblins as soon as Cataclysm comes out.
At least when Cataclysm does come out, I will most definitely not be the only altaholic around.