Since I last posted, I have had a running battle with my internet provider, Comcast. No reason to go into detail, but suffice it to say the service magically disappeared for about 48 hours, Comcast was unable to fix the problem and seemed uninterested in doing so unless I became irate about it every few hours, then suddenly for no reason and still with no explanation everything was fine this morning. As annoyances go, this seemed to be a major one, but when I put it into perspective, it is petty — there are thousands of Californians, for example, who have lost everything to fire and would give anything to have lack of internet be their only problem.

As a remedy I have a Monday afternoon appointment for installation of FIOS. My thought is, however bad it might turn out, it cannot possibly be as bad as Comcast. Plus I am getting 10 times faster internet and other services for over $100 less per month.

Anyway, what all that means is that I have not played WoW pretty much all week. It gave me a chance to consider the role this game has assumed in my life since I began playing. I don’t know that I reached any profound conclusions, but introspection is good for the soul.

I know that I moan and wring my hands over the state of the game, but in the final analysis I am not even close to giving it up yet. Yes, I am a real fangirl, there is no getting around it. If I am frequently critical, it is because I care about the game. The time to worry that I might soon unsub is when I stop being critical.

My usual play pattern is to spend a couple of hours logged in before I go to bed, with longer times spent on raid nights (Tuesday and Thursday). Weekends are more iffy for me — sometimes I spend most of a weekend day playing, sometimes I don’t log in on a weekend at all. And rarely I will take a week day off and immerse myself in the game. I still think this pattern puts me in the semi-casual category, definitely NOT hardcore.

Early in an expansion my play time is mostly just with my main, chasing gear and rep and what have you, doing whatever needs to be done to be a responsible raid team member. When most of that has been done, I usually move to leveling up one or more alts, usually the ones that have professions that will help my main. (Sorry, Ion, but that is just the way it is. Try not to take it personally.) Closer to the end of an expansion, I move to what I call space-out mode. I spend a lot of time just cranking up music and bopping around doing whatever presents itself — an achievement I want, or farming mats or transmogs, or running quests and maybe even LFR on alts I want to develop a bit more. It really is my favorite time in the game, because it is the point at which I  permit myself to actually have unfettered fun. Oh sure, the earlier parts of the expansion are fun, too, but they are less relaxed fun for me. They are more proscribed in their scope, whereas late in the expansion I feel a much greater freedom to structure my time.

I frequently voice the criticism that Blizz has narrowed the game and dictated specific play styles, and I think much of that criticism stems from my experiences in the first half of an expansion. Readers who take issue with that characterization, I think, are much freer souls than I am, and they feel no pressure to meet requirements for gear or rep or dungeon unlocks in order to qualify for a certain end game activity such as raiding. In truth, I envy these readers, because they experience all parts of an expansion the same way I only permit myself to experience towards the end.

The other thing I found myself pondering during my enforced game absence this week was, what would finally cause me to give up the game? Once again, I didn’t come up with any final answers, but I had a couple of thoughts. One reason, of course, would be some kind of catastrophic life event, which honestly I don’t even want to speculate further on.

But in terms of game changes, I am not sure. On the less-probable end of the spectrum, here are two possibilities:

  • Significant monetization of game activities — things like buying actual non-cosmetic gear or raid enhancers with real money, or overt advertisements within the game.
  • Major parts of the game going to a mobile platform. Thus far the mobile app has been limited to those ridiculous champion missions, but if it went further and permitted, oh say, mat farming, then I think I would start to get concerned. I do think eventually a mobile app will permit pet battling, and while I am not interested in that particular mini-game, I still think I might start wondering about a slippery slope.

As to other, more likely reasons, I don’t know. I think it might be more of a frog-in-pot-of-boiling-water situation. At some point I can see taking stock of the game and deciding there are far more negatives than positives to it. (“Hey Kermit, does this bath seem like it’s getting hotter to you?”) This was always my method for deciding when it was time to move on from a job — when my thoughts about it involved more dread than anticipation, it was time to look for another job. (And yes, believe it or not, you can actually change jobs in the Army.)

But for now, and in spite of the fact that I tend to write a lot of game criticism, WoW is still a lot of fun for me. That it might have seemed to be more fun a few years ago is a reflection both of game evolution and of personal experiences. But for me, $15 a month remains a fantastic bargain in terms of entertainment budget, and I have no plans to leave the game any time soon. And I definitely missed it this week.

With that, I am going to start my weekend, and another week off. I will not be posting next week, Thanksgiving week, and will return Monday November 26. (I hope — that may slip because my new kiln is scheduled for installation that day.) As I indicated last week, I will be taking some holiday time off, both at Thanksgiving and over Christmas and New Year’s. But don’t worry, I will be back on my regular schedule in 2019. Like with WoW, I am not done with this blog yet.

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