World of Warcraft is back in my life. I started playing it at launch in 2004 with a Night Elf Rogue named Ming (as in Ming the Merciless) and eventually rolled a Tauren Hunter named Blackelk to play with my friends. And to be clear, these friends are people I know in my day-to-day life, so I had a lot of fun, and look fondly on those days of going to the gym at 6 am, then firing up the game for a few hours on Saturday morning.
But I digress. A few months ago I fired the game back up and started playing the Warlords of Draenor expansion. It was a little fun, but not as much fun as it used to be chatting with my friends as we tackled the Mana Vaults or chased after some epic drop together. Then, one day, my brain made it much more entertaining by bolting on a storyline to my noodling around in an MMO without interacting with anyone.
I wasn’t playing through content, grinding my way to level or for reputation. No Blackelk was out of retirement because he was needed. His friends, Doash, Khagash and Mailen were missing and so he had to go find them. Every move I made, every daily quest, I shoehorned into a narrative in my brain of Blackelk searching for his friends, using the same pet, Heckler (a rare hyena from vanilla whan that used to matter), traveling back through old zones.
I know I can never recapture the magic of that time when we played together, made up a narrative together, and basically enjoyed each other’s company more often than we do now. Now I am capturing a different, lesser magic on my own.