I can say in all seriousness that World of Warcraft has changed my life. About five years ago I moved from New York to Florida, where I had no friends and my sister lived an hour and a half away. I began to play the game in mid 2005, a time in my life where I was full of anger and depressed from being utterly alone in a new place. Swords and sorcery in mysterious and dangerous lands may sound like the kind of thing seven year olds play pretend in the back yard, but to me World of Warcraft was more than just a game. Azeroth became more of a home to me than home was.
Before playing World of Warcraft Iíd never touched an MMO or any previous installments in the Warcraft series. When I played my first character, an Undead Warrior, I was amazed that the people around me were actually played by human beings. The immense size of the world and the sheer number of people in it was awe inspiring to say the least, and I would spend hours just wandering around to look at the scenery.
My problems at school, my lack of friends, and the loneliness of a move to a state I found unfriendly at best seemed to melt away when I stepped into the skin of Naboonta, Orc Warrior. Every quest, no matter how mundane or heroic, helped me feel important and confident in a time when I felt neither in reality. The vast world was open to seemingly unlimited possibilities and full of things to do any time I wanted. Friends were only a /whisper away and the ever-bustling streets of Orgrimmar were a stark contrast to the place I lived where all doors closed at 11 PM sharp.
Even after I switched schools, made real friends, and had a couple girlfriends, World of Warcraft was still prominent in my life. Teenage angst seemed like something that happened to other people Ė I was busy slaying dragons, demons, ancient forces of darkness, and evil gods that threatened the world I loved more than the one I really lived in.
Four years later Iím still an avid WoW player. Though Iíve changed dramatically as a person and learned to prioritize work, school, and a physical social life, the part of me that loves the magical world of Azeroth is still very strong. Say what you will about MMOs being soul eaters or endless grinds; I wouldnít trade a single second of any minute I spent playing World of Warcraft away. Iíve played other MMOs and liked them well enough, and Iím always open to new experiences, but I always come back to World of Warcraft in the end. If the day should come that I really quit the game and leave Azeroth once and for all I will always look back on the days and nights I played and smile at my treasured memories.