For most of my adult life (so far, anyway), I’ve been the kind of person who goes through phases of hyper-interest in a hobby, followed by periods of apathy and occasional bouts of anxiety before returning to the hyper-interest stage. I can easily pinpoint Mists of Pandaria as being one such period of hyper-interest. I played WoW almost to the exclusion of other games. My other hobbies lagged behind, forgotten. My dolls collected dust, my cosplay outfits went unfinished… Only my writing managed to maintain any semblance of momentum, and a large factor there was that I was writing for my WoW roleplay characters.
The end of Mists coincided with some major life changes, however, and I found my hobby interests shifting away from the game. As had happened with my other hobbies, I became less and less motivated to spend time playing WoW. I began login in less frequently – once every few days, then once a week, then once a month. As a roleplayer, this meant that my characters were outside of guild and interpersonal storylines. When I did log in, I had no idea what was happening or even who all of these people in my guild were. That feeling of being an outsider (largely my own fault) contributed to social anxiety to the point where I just stopped logging in altogether and phased my characters out of ongoing stories.
I spent a few months avoiding WoW. Warlords of Draenor didn’t have much to capture my interest as a roleplayer, and I didn’t want to go back to raiding or PvPing. I also didn’t want to have to rebuild the reputations and stories of characters I had spent three years developing. I loved being part of an active RP guild but I couldn’t keep up with the college students and other young adults who spent several hours a day being main characters in guild stories. I felt like my efforts over those three years came to nothing, once the people I had roleplayed with were gone. Though my rogue was a veteran of several major battles the guild had fought or instigated, and someone the former commander had trusted as a leader, now she was encountering new recruits who had no idea who she was or why she was so grumpy about it. Recognizing that I was too casual even for a roleplay guild was a difficult thing.
Of course, like many others the lure of Legion was too strong. I came back to the game and started fresh, with a brand-new warlock on Moon Guard. I didn’t even look at my level 100s. I ignored my roster of alts and focused on roleplaying and leveling. She’s 95, now, and getting closer every day to level cap. But I also got distracted from her. I began playing my alts again. I ground out the achievements for Draenor flying, began working on a legendary ring for my boosted shaman, and shuffled my characters around. I think I need to focus on one character, though. The problem I have with Warcraft is that it’s almost too big. There’s so much to do, and I get easily distracted. I’ve been letting my warlock roleplay languish, which makes me sad. I was so excited to play her as a way to get myself excited for Legion without limiting myself to demon hunters or complaining about not being in the alpha. I talk about embracing my inner casual, but I think I still have a long way to go on that front. I spread myself too thin, spending a few minutes on twelve different characters and doing nothing of substance on any of them. I would rather dedicate myself to one or two characters (I say two because my girlfriend and I have been leveling a pair of druids together and I don’t want to give that up) and feel like my time is being well spent.
So I guess this week’s goal is to narrow my focus, accept that I will never have every single achievement in the game, and get back to what I really care about – the stories we tell about our characters.