Many, many moons ago, I submitted both writing and artwork to a World of Warcraft fanzine called ‘Artists of Azeroth’. Since the published hard copies are now winging their way towards all their owners (I got mine just a couple of days ago!), all of the contributors were given the go-ahead to post their pieces!
For my entries, I chose to highlight just how the game as shaped me over the years and, in particular, one relationship that has grown and developed through Azeroth. The watercolor painting appeared in the zine near the middle, however, due to a clerical error, the written piece did not appear in the printed copy (it will, however, be in the digital version). Therefore, what follows is never-before-seen content, first being published right here!!
I hope you guys enjoy both pieces, I poured my heart and soul into them and I hope they stand as accurate testament to the man who has meant so much to me over the years.
Growing up isn’t easy. There’s a lot of trial and error, mistakes and embarrassments, and a whole bunch of awkward phases you wish you’d never gone through. Yet, it’s also kind of a good thing. Discovering who you want to be, finding out what your passions are, and exploring what you want to do, that’s exciting! Also scary, let’s not forget scary.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I “technically” graduated from that segment of my life – at least, if you’re going by legal definitions – and turned eighteen years old. Although, if you ask me, becoming a ‘major’ only served to teach me just how much more growing up I have to do.
Now, why am I rambling on about puberty in a fan magazine for World of Warcraft again? Well, a lot of the aforementioned maturing occurred right within a little place called Azeroth.
Growing Up in Azeroth.
My first introduction to Warcraft came at the ripe old age of eight as I stood, neck craned, on my tippy toes, peeking over my father’s shoulder. Video games weren’t a big thing in my house at that point, so naturally, I was fascinated by this so-called “World of Warcraft”. The tiny bit of the game that I could see from around my father absolutely captivated me. There was a whole new world on the screen, and I was determined to explore it.
After a few months of begging, I finally convinced my dad to let me start my own character. I immediately rolled a draenei hunter (I think every new player, regardless of age, rolls a hunter) named Eightandgreat and zoned into that great wide world. With my hunter pet at my side in game and my father at my side in real life, I was all set!
At first, picking flowers, making dresses, and getting lost on Azuremyst Isle was the extent of my video gaming. My dad, being the sensible guy he is, only let me play in small chunks and was always in a desk chair next to me. Pretty soon, when it became clear that this interest of mine wasn’t some fleeting fancy, he got a second account and the two of us began playing together.
World of Warcraft became our shared hobby. We’d listen to The Instance on long car rides. We’d argue about which class was the best over dinner. We’d discuss where to go next in Azeroth while doing house chores. And of course, we’d quest, dungeon, and explore within the game itself.
As I got older, our adventures into the game increasingly tackled another new frontier: the social aspect. My dad and I joined our first guild (which had a ridiculous Latin name, as all good first guilds do) and then later on, started a blog together to record of all our exploits, which we still write to this day. I started dabbling in the raiding scene and then the leadership aspect of officership. World of Warcraft was becoming something more.
I began to realize that just as I was exploring the game, I was also exploring something deeper and more important: myself. The challenging teenage years were upon me, and I realized that Warcraft could be more than just an escape from real life for a little while. It could be an experimentation area. A… beta test, if you will. Through the World of Warcraft and the relative anonymity it afforded, I could become anything I wanted to be.
How do I want people to regard me? How do I regard other people? How do I communicate so people best understand me? How do I listen so I best understand other people? How do I lead? How do I approach challenges? Who do I want to associate with? And, most importantly, what impact do I want to make on the world around me?
World of Warcraft was the place where I could test out the answers to all of this. Implement a feature, check for bugs, hotfix the issues, and continue testing. In many regards, it was the perfect place to do this. Away from the pressures of real life, Azeroth was the blank slate on which I could craft a new and improved me.
I am reaching the end of this first part of my journey. In a few short months, I will be moving out and starting life on my own. Yet, the lessons I have learned and the people I have played with will stay with me forever.
And especially, one person in particular.
Thank you so much for being there for me, both in game and out. Thank you for supporting me in all of my endeavors, as crazy as some of them might have been. Thank you for encouraging me to embrace my love of gaming to see where it would take me. Thank you for being the best dungeon buddy and father that a girl could ever ask for.