Why I Reinstalled World of Warcraft Just As I Was Finally Starting to Get My Shit Together

Eight years ago, Aaron and I — I think it’s fair to say — were both in kind of a rut. At 22, we’d recently graduated from college and…well, you’ve heard the story before: we started Silicon Sasquatch. But it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, this site only came into existence after many, many weeks spent fruitlessly searching for jobs during the day and grinding away toward the level cap in World of Warcraft each night.We hopped on when the game’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, was released. Wrath captivated me in a way the vanilla game had failed to do since its release in 2004. A whole new continent to explore on ground and from the air was exactly what I needed to distract me from the rending anxiety of failing to find a place for myself in the post-graduate job market.

We had some great times on WoW thanks in large part to our conversations along the way about our job searches, ideal career paths, and — of course — the games we were playing. We found a lot of common ground for not just sharing the games we enjoyed but critiquing the ones that put us off. Everyone may be a critic, but we were trained and eager for this work. All we needed was an outlet.

Somewhere along the path to reaching the level cap, we decided to channel this creative energy for writing about games into something tangible, and, well, here we are, reading this sentence together. But after a short while, the fake world of Azeroth lost its sway over us. Aaron and I moved on to other games and (fortunately) paying jobs before too long. Neither of us went back to WoW — but Silicon Sasquatch grew into something bigger than ever. We felt like we’d siphoned every bit of positive energy we could from World of Warcraft, and we were ready to abandon it and never look back.

It’s 2016. I turned 30 a few months ago. Last month Aaron and I restarted our World of Warcraft subscriptions.

So a few questions are probably racing through your mind right now:

  1. Are they asking for help?
  2. Does this have anything to do with Silicon Sasquatch coming back after a long hiatus?
  3. Did Nick ever figure out how to not be terrible at tanking?

Fortunately, I have answers. (Maybe, probably, absolutely not.) But I do want to dig into my motivations here and to justify — even if it’s just to myself — why I’d decide to leap back into the jaws of such a relentless time sink. Aaron’s working on a similar piece, so hopefully you’ll get his side of the story soon too.

Rogues gallery
Rogues gallery

It takes way less time to play now

I don’t have a lot of free time right now, and that’s by choice. I’m running a meetup group for amateur game-makers here in Portland, working on my own games on the side, writing for this site again, trying to keep up with my reading list and holding down a full-time job. Fortunately, there’s plenty to do in WoW that requires less than 30 minutes of commitment, and you can make meaningful progress with minimal effort.

I’ve been leveling a new rogue up primarily by joining random groups and running dungeons. It’s an awesome opportunity to hone my skills as a damage-dealer and to try out new builds for my character as I level up. I’m currently sitting just shy of level 40 after 12 hours of play. Back in the vanilla days, it would have taken me four to six times longer to reach the same level.

It’s like Slack but with stuff to kill

Even after Silicon Sasquatch went into stasis, our group has stayed in close contact via chat. In many ways, WoW is an extension of that — Aaron and I have been grouping up from time to time and catching up on stuff while we grind through quests and dungeons. We’re also part of a guild with Spencer, our fellow Sasquatcher, so there’s plenty of banter going around.

It’s the best shot I have at maintaining my sanity through the duration of this presidential election

Seriously.

Conclusion

2016 has been a banner year for crazy shit happening in my life, but it’s also been a period of immense growth and introspection for me. In 2008, I approached WoW as an escape hatch out of a world that felt hostile and outside my reach. In 2016, it’s a breath of fresh air in between work, projects and the inescapable horrors of modern politics.