It began a long time ago. Naivete is the word that comes to mind. A narrator, never to be heard from again after this introduction, told me a short story about the Forsaken, a sect of undead that, upon regaining free will and imbued with a maniacal thirst for vengeance, set out to fight against the fallen king that put their souls in his sword and forced them into slavery beyond death. A zombie civilization.
I was fourteen at the time. It was whatever to me.
I stumbled around the deathknell, the starting village for all zombie characters, and the beginning of a personal adventure that would last me throughout all of my high school years. I swiped at spiders with my dagger, pressing the little auto-attack button at the bottom-left corner of my screen, then pressing the “Sinister Strike” ability button next to it, and then the “Eviscerate” ability button next to that. The “Eviscerate” skill always made a satisfying exploding sound when you used it, so I used it a lot. Naivete. Then, as guided by the gentle, directing, but encouraging hand of the quest-giving NPC’s, I was told that I was strong enough to start my journey proper. So into the greater world I went.
The Tirisfal Glades were the gateway to that greater adventure, taking me out of the stroller and making me learn to crawl, as it introduced to me the concept of aggro. As opposed to the defensive monsters I fought in the deathknell, bad guys would now aggressively come after me if I got too close. Stand and fight. Or sneak past, as my class, the Rouge, would often do. I grew a bit stronger, and as I did the ruinous expanse of the Tirisfal Glades, a decrepit land of ruin and decay left in the wake of a ravaging undead plague, began to wear on me a bit. I needed a change of pace. I took a flying Zeppelin to the red badlands of Durotar, land of the brutish Orcs, allies of my fellow zombies. I continued to quest there until I realized I was too strong for that place, as it was the equivalent in challenge and level scale to the Tirisfal Glades to an Orc or Troll player.
It was at that point that a seed of appreciation, a seed of love for the game planted itself in me. Durotar, the orcish city of Orgrimmar, and yes even the desolation of the Tirisfal Glades, had been lovingly crafted into something massive. It was like Bilbo’s journey in the Hobbit, except realized visually, virtually, as an experience for me, to share with friends and other adventurers. Everybody could be Bilbo and go on their own grand adventure. This experience was paved by mere polygons suspended by processors and memory behind a computer screen, but because of the wonder of connectivity, it was beyond a mere video game.
I felt that need for connectivity in earnest when I encountered another aspect of the Massively Multiplayer Game that was new to me: the dungeon. The creatures in dungeons were far too monstrous for me to deal with alone. They were greater, hit harder, and needed to take a lot of punishment before they could be put down. This was not The Legend of Zelda. I needed help. With four other people at my side, we could strike out those dungeons, slay bosses and find priceless treasures, mostly in the form of armor and weapons to upgrade ourselves. The furthering of stats, the furthering of numbers. Making our numbers bigger with flashy items. That was the end goal.
I plumbed the depths of the Wailing Caverns, a beautifully big dungeon in the dry plains of the Barrens, many many times. I would join groups, sometimes gather my own, bring friends I knew from real life, all in order to get through that place so I could complete the quest I got for a shiny, powerful dagger. After many attempts, which were usually half-done excursions before our responsibilities directed us elsewhere or we were just not very good and got our butts beat too much, I finally beat the final boss of that dungeon and got my shiny new dagger. But that was only the beginning, I was level 18 when I was done with that place, and there were 42 levels to go.