How 9 years of World of Warcraft has made my life better

This week, I had a hard time coming up with a blog post. In-game, most things are going well right now. My guild just recently killed Garrosh on Normal and started heroics. There isn’t a lot of WOW news going on while we wait forBlizzcon to roll around. So, as someone who spends most of her time critiquing the game, I have very little to complain about right now – for the first time in quite a long time. Even in my real life, I enjoy working in my research lab, and everything has been going my way. It is hard to find topics to complain about when I’m so darn happy. So, today, in honor of Lisa Poisso’s post on WOW Insider, and the rapidly approaching 9 year anniversary for WOW, I wanted to write a happy post to answer one very important question:

“How has playing WoW made your life better?”

Many of the answers to that question echo Lisa’s post: bringing together family, teaching me skills (both gaming-related and professional), and so on.

  • Azeroth is where my family lives: The World of Warcraft game was one thing I had in common with the man who is now my husband. Early in our relationship, talking about the game – or playing the game – brought us together. In addition, my mom is one of the co-GMs of my guild and raids with me. Since I don’t live in the same state as my mother anymore, the game gives us a reason to talk to each other nearly every day. I’m thankful that the game allows me to spend quality time with my family.
  • Real friendships are born in Azeroth: During my six years of grad school, I didn’t always have time to go outside and socialize (especially when it was snowing outside). WOW gave me a connection to the outside world (beyond just the context of the game) and allowed me to develop friendships with many people along the way. Someone once asked me about whether WOW friendships are “real” or not. I tell them of the story of a 16-year-0ld guild-mate who died in a car accident in one of my earliest guilds. I tell them about the messages we left for his brother (who also played the game) after we heard the news. The fact that WOW players take their friendships beyond the boarders of the game to help each other when we are in need is enough evidence I need to know that WOW-friendships are real friendships. Even if some of the friends I’ve met along the way are people I don’t still talk to regularly, I still care about them as much as I care about the people I met outside the game. In the end, there are real people sitting behind the characters in the game, and I appreciate the friendships with all of the people who I’ve gamed with along the way.
  • Developing better writing skills: In the years of playing the game, I feel as though I have spent more time writing about the game than I have spent playing the game.  Writing blog posts and guides help develop my writing skills in several key ways. First, I have to translate complex concepts into easy to understand language for my readers. Being clear and concise in my writing takes practice, but is a skill that translates to my real-life career. Second, I have to keep up with deadlines (such as patch days), and in learning to write content in a timely manner, these skills have also turned into fast and timely writing for school or work-related assignments. In short, writing about gaming makes me better at writing in general.
  • Making me a better scientist: The analytical skills I use to scrutinize the video game are the same skills I use to scrutinize the experimental design in my real life scientific work. In fact, my current research project, involving development of an educational video game for teenagers with autism comes directly from my WOW gaming knowledge. Without a gaming background, I wouldn’t have the complete set of skills I would need to think about how games can make better intervention packages than the standard model of relatively boring “point systems” tacked onto otherwise boring content.
  • Developing leadership skills: Many years of being an officer in raiding guilds has taught me important leadership skills. This includes conflict resolution, team building, motivating team members, having clear instructions and goals, organizational skills, and more. The same skills that help with leading WOW guilds are also used for leading teams of people in other situations.

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I do want to highlight that most of the ways that WOW has improved my life are social in nature. While many people view games as solitary activities, WOW has been anything BUT solitary for me. The ways that WOW has improved my life is in bringing me closer to other people, and teaching me skills that I can use in my everyday interactions outside the game. So, thank you to all of you who have made my life better over the last 9 years of playing World of Warcraft!