Posts Tagged ‘WoW Relationships’

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How WoW Changed My Life: A Sappy Tale Of Hurt, Recovery, And Love

June 25, 2012

This past weekend was very special to me, as my husband and I celebrated our third anniversary. On Saturday we put the baby in the car, loaded up with blankets, snacks and drinks, then drove down to the local drive-in theater for our first night out on the town together in months. We ate hotdogs and drank strawberry shakes, watched Disney Pixar’s Brave and The Avengers our of the back of the SUV, and as we basked in the warmth of a beautiful June summer night we also reminisced about our last three years as a married couple. Just three short years, but then oh so much has happened since.

This was also the weekend I finally caught up to all my blog posts in my reader. In doing so, I had the pleasure of discovering an awesome blog as well as stumbling upon a mini-phenomenon called “All the ways World of Warcraft changed me.” It was interesting to say the least, reading all the earnest responses from bloggers who have revealed how their lives as gamers have changed since coming in contact with WoW.

It’s because WoW has changed me too, all right. Would you believe it has changed my entire life?

It’s funny, because my husband and I still talk about this very subject sometimes. As some of my readers know, the two of us met in WoW, so the game has remained important to me not only because it has changed the way I think about and look at MMOs, but it also has had an unquestionable impact on my personal life. I would like to share our story here.

It was November of 2007. My studies in occupational therapy and work in the Alzheimer’s ward and palliative care at the local hospital had led me to enter a period of deep depression and anxiety. At the time I was also living with a guy with whom I was involved in an emotionally bankrupt relationship, and I knew it. Add to that the dispiriting dark days of a blustery Canadian winter, and you could say I was in a very bad place.

Back then, one of the few joys I had to look forward to the end of each day was playing WoW. It was the perfect escape, a way I could relax each night. In Azeroth, I could almost forget all my worries and doubts.

I played a feral druid, main tanking and co-leading raids with the best mage in our guild, who also happened to be a very nice man. Amidst the many hours discussing boss fight strategies, figuring out our DKP loot system and wrangling guildies to fill our raid rosters, somewhere along the way we had become good friends. On our nights off, we quested together, doing those dreaded dailies which I hated even then as much as I do now. Still, the mage’s good humor and cheerful company always made them more tolerable.

A couple months later, the life I was living became increasingly more dreary, and I think something in me finally just snapped. One horrible day after a bad experience at the hospital, I suffered a severe nervous breakdown. As a result, I had to quit my work and studies and ended up staying overseas with my parents for a month, in order to recover.

It was not the restful vacation I had in mind, and things only got worse. My mom and dad treated my visit as an intervention; out of love, they tried to help without truly understanding, and in their misguided attempts heaped an unbearable amount of pressure upon me. One day, that dead-end relationship I was in also finally imploded, spectacularly. My ex threw a savage fit, took his destructive anger out on our place that we shared, and wrote me a letter threatening to hurt himself. My parents, concerned for my safety, told me I wasn’t to return to my apartment, not if he was going to be there. And so that’s how I also became jobless, boyfriendless, and homeless, all in the span of a few short weeks.

Meanwhile, I was still halfway around the world, away from familiar comforts, feeling all alone, depressed, and helpless to do anything about it. There were days where I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep and never wake up.

At that point, I’m afraid not even WoW could lift my spirits. But my good friend the mage did. We would log onto WoW but would not play. His character idled on the top of Shattrath with mine while he did nothing but listen to me on Vent as I ranted, whined, and cried, basically unloading all the stresses that had been plaguing me for the last few months. Because of the time difference, sometimes these conversations would last long into the night, but he would always stay up to make sure I was going to be all right.

I think it shocked me afterwards, that despite knowing each other so well after hundreds of hours spent in-game together he was still all but a stranger I’d never met, and yet he was so patient and kind just as a good friend should be. When I got better, I realized that throughout that whole ordeal he was there for me, and supported me emotionally at a time when that was all I ever really wanted and needed.

I don’t exactly remember when I first fell in love with him, but I do know that that was the moment I finally admitted to myself how I felt. It took another while to finally muster up the courage to admit it to him. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, knowing that if I screwed things up I could stand to lose not only our friendship, but also the enjoyment of a game in which I have had so many fond memories and fun times. After all that had happened, playing WoW with him remained a diversion I could count on when everything else had come apart, so what if that was gone too?

Well, not to draw out the suspense, but obviously you know how things turned out. My husband told me later that he himself had felt the same way about me for a long time, but played the gentleman and said nothing, knowing I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and was in a fragile state. Also, a part of him could scarcely dare to hope that his feelings would be requited. If he ever suspected I felt the same way for him, he never let on, wanting to let me be the one to act upon my feelings in my own time, on my own terms. In response, I told him if he could’ve given me just even the tiniest hint of how he felt, he could have saved me a ton of sleepless nights.

The two of us met for the first time in Toronto in February 2008. A year after that, we were engaged. Another year after that, we were married and finalizing my immigration papers to join him in the United States. Yet another year after that, I had packed up everything I owned and moved across the border to settle into the house we bought together. And finally, earlier this year, almost exactly four years to the day since I first met my friend the mage face-to-face, our beautiful daughter was born.

All this, because of a very special MMO. To some it may be just a game, but personally I know things would have been very different for me right now if it weren’t for WoW. I would not have my family. I would probably have gone back to healthcare and had a different job. I would have never left my home country. I probably would not be so happy. I look back now and can’t help but think that the day I opened my WoW account and created my druid and joined that guild must have been a true watershed moment. My life was changed forever and it would never be the same again.

Today, the two of us don’t play WoW anymore, but the game and our characters still hold a special place in our hearts. A mage and druid, now husband and wife. We remain avid gamers, continuing to play MMOs as a couple, all the while honoring our (*sigh*) spousal leveling contract.

Partners in-game, partners in life. When I was at my lowest, he helped me get better, and continues to heal me still — and yes, pun absolutely intended.

Gaming is happiness.

Here’s to many more years of both, babe.

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Togetherness

July 13, 2010

As we all know, last week Blizzard made their dubious announcement to implement Real ID on their official forums, prompting consumer outcry and so much gamer rage that they quickly and astutely rescinded the decision a mere couple days later.

Before I continue, I just want to make it clear that I feel they did the right thing for reconsidering. I’m still a strong advocate for using caution when revealing any kind of personal information to anybody on the internet, as you can never really know how it can be used against you. But the anti-Real ID opinion was so negative and pervasive for a while there, I know I for one was starting to convince myself that the only people who exist on the internet are sickos and freaks who are all out to get me. Don’t get me wrong, the sick freaks are certainly out there, but the reality is, the majority of strangers you encounter on your online journeys will probably turn out to be perfectly normal people.

I think back to my own experiences, and for the most part, playing World of Warcraft has led me to meet some pretty decent people, some of whom I even call my friends. This shouldn’t be too surprising. When you take a group of individuals with a common interest, sometimes friendships bloom. And sometimes, you fall in love. It’s no secret to regular readers of this blog that I met my husband over WoW, and we’re definitely not alone in this. “WoW couples” are becoming more and more commonplace, and there are three of four other ones in my current guild alone. Truth is, I’ve seen WoW match more people than eHarmony. But here’s the difference between an online game and some dating site — first of all, you certainly don’t start off planning to fall in love, and you can’t choose who you might fall in love with. In my case, it just happened. And he happened to be American.

God knows it would have been so much easier if he had been a nice Canadian boy who lived several towns over so we could just move in together, keep our jobs, our friends and everything else in our lives intact when we got married, but noooooo. We’re both on the east coast at least, but while I’m aware our situation is better off than say, a WoW couple from United States and Australia or even a couple from California and Vermont, having to frequently commute across an international border to be with each other was still a royal pain in the ass and obviously wasn’t something we could sustain forever. As much as it’ll hurt to leave all my friends and this beautiful and beloved city that I’ve called home for the last 15 years (tears come to my eyes just to think about it), a mutual decision was made for me to move to the United States.

Earlier yesterday, I had my interview at the US Consulate General to conclude the final step. The consular official of course asked how the two of us met, and we answered honestly “Playing World of Warcraft” coupled with sheepish grins. The CO who was a really nice guy looked at us and smiled, said “You’d be surprised how much I hear that, though I gotta say you two don’t look like your typical WoW players.” I was so tempted to ask him what he meant by that, but the conversation turned to WoW in general. He asked if we still played, joked about how interesting it was that I’m the woman and I play the tank (sigh, can’t escape that anywhere), and how in this day and age it’s becoming more common to meet your spouse on the internet and even in online games. MMOs, he said, with their emphasis on cooperation and interaction are especially good at bringing people together. I couldn’t agree more. The times have changed indeed; just look at the way WoW and meeting my husband has managed to turn my life completely upside down. But it’s all good, definitely good, even if it’ll mean absolute hell for me in the next week as I deal with the dreadful chaos and logistics of packing and moving all my crap across the border (as such, gaming time and thus blog posts may become a little sparse).

The CO asked me a few more questions after that just to make sure everything was in order and then told me I was approved. So it’s official. I’m moving. I turned to my husband and gave him a big hug, looked him in the eye and thought to myself, sometimes getting to know people in WoW can have good outcomes too. It also made me realize once again how unnecessary Real ID is. I’ll never opt in for it because I don’t believe you need real names to form and foster relationships, even the most committed and serious ones. Let people use the anonymity of an online game to build those connections on their own terms, at their own pace, by their own choice. If Blizzard wants to turn their games into social networks, fine…but I feel the best relationships are always going to be the ones you least expect.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. And let’s see, a year ago was when my husband and I got engaged. A year before that was when the two of us met face-to-face for the first time. And another year before that was around the time we both found ourselves in the same World of Warcraft guild.

That’s right, my husband and I met on WoW. My family thought I had lost my mind when I told them I met someone over an online game, but really, is it any more crazy than hooking up with someone at a singles bar? When my night elf druid first met his human mage, there were no existing preconceptions between the two of us or any dating-related stress. There wasn’t this pressure or need to try to impress the other person (well okay, fine, maybe I was trying to impress him a *little* with my l33t tanking skills, The Burning Crusade had just come out and I was excited about my bear, after all) because we were both there for the love of the game, not looking for love.

But the thing about MMOs is that they do more than just connect you to a game — they connect us to each other. And with my husband, our connection was one that I had not expected, not for a million years. We were both raid leaders for our guild, and it was through our weekly raids that we got to know each other better. It wasn’t long before we went from discussing boss tactics over Vent to having 20-hour-long conversations on the weekend about everything under the sun. That was when I started to realize…he meant more to me than just a voice in my headphones and a bunch of colored  pixels on my computer screen. I may be young, but I’d had enough relationship experience to recognize that this was something special.

So to my dear husband, on this Valentine’s Day I just want to say: I’m glad you didn’t turn out to be some internet lunatic! Oh, that and I love you very much!

In all seriousness though, I thank my lucky stars every day for online games, without which I would never have met the love of my life. It’s proof that sometimes the good things in life can sneak up on you too, as long as you stay smart and stay safe — good things to remember in any relationship, online or otherwise. To everyone and especially the other WoW couples out there who found their love in Azeroth, have yourselves a wonderful day.