Where do you go to die?

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.

13 comments

  1. In Elwynn we’ll meet Syl. I’ll serve you some alcoholic brewerages (we know you like that ;) and we’ll sit by the lake, sharing stories until the end of this world as we know it.

    I wondered how your days ended. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Elwynn ain’t a bad place. Quiet and restful, long as ya ain’t in earshot of Goldshire. Me bein’ me, though, I’s thinkin’ I’d rather check out sumthin’ like this, when the time comes:

    “Last of all Hurin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew Hurin cried ‘Aure entuluva! Day shall come again!’ “

    (Onlies, ya know, shoutin’ sumthin’ in orcish.)

  3. Is there room for a stray rogue by that lake? Elwynn has always been home for me and that is where I too will log out that last time.

  4. Elwynn’s a good place to pick. I think, as and when my casual warrior (who I can no longer say is my main because I never get time to play him, but I still have very fond memories attached) retires, he’ll do so somewhere in Elwynn’s green fields. He’ll be wearing his scariest gear: a murloc mask, the DPS plate chest from Heroic MGT attaining which took a 6 hour run with a dedicated friend who was to become my SO, from H.MGT and his pair of lurid green 1h axes.

  5. Elwynn is a good choice, I always enjoyed that zone as well.

    I haven’t really thought about what I would do if I quit. I’m torn between giving away my stuff to someone who still plays or to keep it – in case I was ever to return.

    I know I could never bring myself to delete my characters. They’ve been part of me for too long, and it wouldn’t feel right to just delete them like they never existed.

  6. @ Issy

    Indeed indeed, although I do not see myself returning. or to use old Bilbo’s words, ‘in fact I don’t mean to’. but then, maybe that only means our next stop is rivendell. :)

    @ Nils

    I’m sure there will be. I think you know me a little by our most recent conversations; am always going to play some game, possibly online too, but i wonder whether it will ever be the ‘same’ again in turns of intensity, wow does have a special place in my heart, despite all that’s been changed later.

    @ Rades

    I get goosebumps reading such articles, to put it lightly – I had them too when writing this one. so much for people claiming how it’s all just a game. ah well.

    @ Larísa

    Yeah somehow I still needed to write this and it feels good that I did. it’s not right to leave so utterly stealthy, after all I’m no rogue, hehe.
    and I’ll be warming the seat beside me until the innkeeper arrives – and the first beer is on me! :)

    @ Ratshag

    LOL, I love how we are all such utter Tolkien geeks – when I wrote the post I actually had a VERY similar scene in mind from the unfinished tales and Turin (I think..), awesome! x)
    and of course, orcish is win.

  7. @ Tessy

    There will always be a spot for you there, you know it! :) (and a glass of wine!)

    @ Rebecca

    Funny how it becomes meaningful what you’re wearing, isn’t it? It’s not like you can take anything with you, but we still care how we ‘look like’ or what we carry with us…or maybe we’re just horribly vain! :P

    @ Saga

    I totally agree. deleting my character would be like saying that time never existed, it’s kinda weird…i think it tells something about people who do that and their relationship to the game. for me there’s certainly a strong attachment and personal investment there i’d like to cherish as a memory, not suppress or destroy.

  8. I’ve logged off ten-day trial characters, some with pomp and others with a whimper. My favorite was signing off permanently on my Forsaken Warrior I started expressly to follow up on a blog post. The evening before I ran out of time, I wound up in the Deadmines, and a wipe booted me out into Westfall. I had no idea where anything was, so I accepted the Spirit healer res and ambled down the hill toward something that was moving. Turned out to be someone being attacked by a bunch of critters. I helped out and waved, then kept wandering. Turned out it was a Gnome in the SAN guild. I probably confused the poor guy.

    I figured that hill was as good a place as any to log off that character. I figure she’s still watching over the place.

  9. Such a touching post and a subject I’ve never really thought about before. The idea of quitting for good has never occurred to me (at most I take short breaks), much less the idea of putting my character to rest – I’m not sure if I even could.

    Where would I go, what would I do? Given my hobby of popping a D.I.S.C.O. every opportunity then maybe the dancing troll village? Or perhaps in Dalaran where I could immerse myself in arcane lore and become the first troll member of the faculty? Of course I was always partial to Revantusk Village which was always more a home than Sen’jin ever was.

    But this is a question that won’t be answered for a very long time for me. Although Azeroth hasn’t got that shine it once had (after 4 years it’s clearly not going to be as new and wonderous to me as when I first logged on) it is still very much my home. But whilst I’m still adventuring, plumbing some dark dungeon in the arse end on nowhere to stop yet another villain, I will spare a thought for those venerable adventurers who have passed before me and maybe take a moment between my adventures to swing by Elwynn to remember those who might otherwise pass from memory.

    Lok’tar ogar Sylvara :)

    (PS totally spoiling the end of the comment but I’ll blatantly still read Raging Monkeys if you intend to keep on blogging but I will deeply miss you sharing your adventures in Azeroth)

  10. @ Tesh
    You logged off 10-day chars with pomp, lol that’s…awesome! x)

    “I figure she’s still watching over the place…” – I really like to think of it that way too: I imagine Syl sitting there by the lake in Elwynn forest and enjoying her retirement, watching the fish play and greeting wanderers passing by. :) it’s a much nicer imagery than death and like Issy said, death is not permanent in MMOs.

    @ Runzwithfire

    Thank you so much for your warm words. I admit I had to think hard how to justify my blogging now that I quit WoW and I feel sorry that I cannot share new adventures from the world of WoW any longer with my readers; but then I figured I don’t have to justify this blog – I write because I love writing and in the end I hope whoever came to this little place of the blogosphere in the past, did so because they enjoyed my voice rather than just my subjects (and let’s be honest, how much “srs” content can you find here, anyway!). RM was never meant to be wow-exclusive, although wow has certainly been a very integral part for a time.

    so yeah, for me too, anything from here is an adventure, but I very much intend to go on and talk about whatever interests me in the world of online gaming. :)
    I doubt I can shut up about wow either, it’s always going to be a point to start from in my articles and to think back to.

    I’m happy to hear that you still find pleasure playing WoW and that you don’t feel it lessens your enjoyment to hear about others taking their leave. all the goodbyes right now must be a bit over-bearing to some readers in the wow blogosphere at the moment.

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