A while back, I stated in a post that when people leave their longtime MMO community, most will do so swiftly and abruptly. If you’ve spent many months or even years playing with the same folks, it’s always hard to turn your back on them, no matter how good your reasons for quitting might be.
In retrospective however, I think I wasn’t quite correct in my reasoning; not everyone leaves a game in the same manner. As often as a departure might baffle others, many players plan and prepare for this last moment, thinking about when to leave for a long time. And how.
There are some famous examples on Youtube: the players that will capture a video of how they disenchant or dump all their gear and then delete all their characters, before the eye of the world. Proving to everyone that they are finally leaving – the person they’re trying to convince the most being themselves.
Then there are those like my ex-guildie of few years back, the funniest kid, so funny that Blizzard decided to mention his fanmade WoW video series on their EU frontpage at the time. When he left us shortly before the end of vanilla, he created a short clip that had a striking resemblance to this farewell movie, where he orchestrated the suicide of his ingame character with a heart-tearing tune playing in the background. A very literal death. Not so far-fetched an analogy.
Many players don’t create quitting videos, but they still choose a sort of ritual when they go. Some send gifts to all their best mates, others hold goodbye-parties or run their favourite 5-man for the very last time, in the company of friends. Or they give away all their gold, to the joy of whoever might not expect it. A last nudge given to those who walked the road with them for a while, a last smile put on somebody’s face before pulling the plug. When Grumpy Dorf decided to finally retire his paladin tank of many years, he envisioned a place for the old dwarf to go and spend the rest of his days in peace.
Most of us don’t get to choose the time and place of when we die in the real world; but most of us get to decide when and where to put their virtual alter egos to rest. This is a very special thing. And while the comparison might be over the top, it is a death of sorts to many players and there are real feelings involved. They end a chapter, taking with them whatever their bottom line might be. And those they leave behind might remember them, feeling the loss more acutely at first until the sting fades away gradually over time and nothing but fond memories remain, or a wistful sigh late at night when all their channels have gone quiet…
Whereby I found closure
When I logged Sylvara out of World of Warcraft, for what I still believe was the last time, I didn’t raise much attention. I guess I could have done, having co-founded and acted as officer and healing coordinator of my raidguild for so long, but then I had already written that ‘one post’ at the end of Wrath of the Lich King and I didn’t think I had it in me a second time. Nor would it have been the same for others. It simply didn’t feel right to me. No drama, no tears and long goodbye posts, not this time.
What I did instead was inform the rest of my officer team obviously, speaking to guildies that I caught online those last few times I was logged on and sending a PM to each of my closer mates, to thank them and wish them the best. I sent out one single item, a very precious gift an extraordinarily generous guildie of mine had given me not long before and which I felt obliged to return, given my somewhat unexpected departure. That’s all I touched though and it would never have crossed my mind for one second to delete my character of 6 years, I could never bring myself to do that. I don’t feel like denying anything about my time in WoW, there is no shame and no regret in having spent that time as Syl in Azeroth. Every thing I did during that time was my decision.
I did choose where to log out – somehow that was the most important part to me. I had to smile when Larísa mentioned in her recent, final blog post, that one day she will go to Elwynn Forest and log out the pink-pigtailed gnome for good. Syl is sitting at the bank of mirror lake, my favorite place in all of Azeroth. She’s decked in Tier 5, wearing the one staff in all of WoW that tested my patience far beyond its limits. The pieces all match, of course. While putting the gear on one by one, I felt oddly reminded of Colonel Markinson in “A Few Good Men”, suppressing that thought swiftly. I logged my character out quietly one evening, with only 2 or 3 guildmates being online, attentive Kashim almost instantly whispering me “are you logging out at that lake?”
And so I did. In Elwynn, my lovely, where the journey began. In Elwynn, where my personal anniversary event quest for Adrenaline was stationed. In Elwynn, where the Crazy Cat Lady will go on taking in strays and the murlocs will gurgle forever at the riverbank of Eastvale Logging Camp, long after I have left. In Elwynn, with Goldshire at its heart where all paths lead to greater adventure.
A good place to rest.