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The call went out yesterday: time to reserve your preferred name on the Warcraft Classic servers:

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This is both smart and sensible on the company’s part: pre-booking gives an idea of actual numbers. If it matters enough, you’ll arrive early and pick up that name you first used back in 2005. It also allows people like me the ability to sit back in their chairs, gnaw their bottom lip for a bit and then finally make a decision on what happens to their Warcraft life going forward.

All that time and effort. Thousands of pounds spent on merchandise and play time, literally and virtually. All the heartache, and fights, and threats and late night inbox messages that called me a whore, a slut. Telling me to go away and never post another blog again. Reminding me how worthless I was, what a bitch I’d become, that nobody gave a fuck about what I said. Ah, happy days indeed.

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And still, I miss it. It would be the biggest lie ever told were I to pretend that yes, I’m over the addiction, the obsession, that need to collect what I could in the time I have. I miss the grind, and the raiding. Most of all I miss like-minded people who made me feel as if I mattered, when in reality that was so far from the truth. However, that’s the past. All of that is what I was before, and not now.

So, when you miss something like that and know how destructive it can be, is it ever possible to successfully return to the life? That’s a question that’s popped up as the August deadline has approached for the Classic game. Would I play it again? Can I reconcile the new set of variables that exist in this modern iteration of game-play against what I know I’d have to do in order to enjoy myself again…?

Except now, I realise, the game isn’t what’s stopping me from playing.

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This is not the same Blizzard as existed back when Classic was released. It’s not the same group of people I played with. The world has become a considerably more challenging environment in which to exist within, considering my unique set of circumstances. Being sold a ‘Blizzard quality classic experience’ won’t take me back to those days, and I’m really very grateful for that, as I have absolutely no desire to return there ever again.

It doesn’t remove the sanctimonious asshats who still believe they’re all that matters in gaming. It won’t stop idiots hijacking my old Twitter username under what they presumably considered was a misguided attempt to help me return to blogging when I changed my mind. If I were to start playing, I’d clear my Friends list, alter my Blizzard ID and vanish. I sure as fuck wouldn’t ever blog about Azeroth again.

There, I said it.

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Some things are not meant to be shared. In this world where everybody is in your business, all the time, the biggest mistake I ever made was allowing a hobby to become a job, before I’d fixed the real source of my issues. Now I’m on the way to being fixed, I realise that sharing everything is really very dangerous indeed. At some point, realistically, anonymity is absolutely the best thing you will ever do for yourself online.

Making a living out of this whole concept used to be the dream I aspired to. Except, ultimately, I could never be good enough. It was never enough. My own shortcomings, in the end, destroyed the ability to enjoy the game as a casual and then just like that BOOM, it just all fell apart. My fault. Nobody else’s. I can malign ActiBlizz all I want for being money grabbing capitalists, but that’s what everybody does in gaming.

Enjoyment is entirely secondary to profit.

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I met some fantastic people along the way, however, without whom I’d never have made it this far. The ones I love most are those who get that reality and fantasy are two very different constructs, and who can freely move between both with professional ease. They know who they are, and I hope they’ll read this and grasp that, in essence, I’m still the same person who began in Classic in 2005 because I loved gaming.

That’s still true, but so much has changed in the last decade that it’s still hard to be objective sometimes, especially when so many other people just enjoy the pixels for what they are. What happens with Warcraft now is nobody’s business but mine, and it doesn’t get shared any more. Returning to the past has no real interest. If the present looks interesting, I might be persuaded to restart anew.

Mostly, it’s up to the designers to show me any effort is worth the reward.

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