A Different Kind of Roleplay in World of Warcraft

Beej the Paladin I fell in love with World of Warcraft five years ago.  It was immediate infatuation.  I stepped into Azeroth and immediately knew that I had found my new MMO home. I loved the world, I loved the characters, and I loved that I could play the game according to my schedule—whether that was 30 minutes or 3 hours—and still feel like I was accomplishing something.

Here was a game that did not require a lifelong commitment to enjoy.

Or so I thought.

Wildheart Armor WoW’s newness wore off eventually as I hit level 60 and began grinding for my 8-piece Tier 0 armor set.  It was then that I realized just how deep a timesink this brave new world really was.

Since then, I’ve raided, I’ve PvP’d, and I’ve generally done what I could to maintain the midlist WoWer’s status quo.  And after five years of grinding instances for gear, badges, and rep, I’m tired.  I’m burned out.  Even with the random dungeon finder, I find that my time is spent more grinding out for that next piece of gear than legitimately having fun and enjoying the game like I used to.

But with Cataclysm on the horizon, I decided that it was time for a change.  I love my current characters, but I have always wanted a Paladin and never wanted to level one—after two 80s and three other 70+’s, I hate leveling.

So I decided to try and make my Paladin discover the game that I once fell in love with.  I sent him all of my gold—about 2k—and spent my badges on getting him the Plate Heirloom items for +20% XP and an ever-upgrading weapon.

Then I set roleplay a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newbie who was actually going to experience the game rather than breeze through it.

Judgement Armor While my equipping three Heirloom items precludes me from ever coming across as being a total beginner, I decided that I was going to not talk about my other characters, the things I’ve done, or the years of experience I had.  I was not going to join any friends’ guilds, but rather find a leveling guild and make new friends the old fashioned way.

I still have my friends list where I can keep up with my buddies, but it’s nice to not worry about being in a guild that’s more worried about raid times and how many badges they need for their next T9 piece than having a good time and joking around.

I’m not going to worry about having to get to level 80 in any predetermined amount of time, unless you consider the wide-open “before Cataclysm” a time limit.  I am taking in the world, doing quests, hitting the AH for new gear, skinning and herbalizing, and talking in guild chat with some fellow semi-newbies about our days and nights and what fun we’re having.  I was even congratulated for hitting level 16.  16!

So far, it’s great.

I’m playing the part of that newbie I was five years ago, and no one is the wiser.  I even chat in General occasionally and help others with quests.  It’s a lot of fun for me to revisit why I have spent five years of my life playing this game.

Season Two Arena Priest I’ve not spent an inordinate amount of time playing the Paladin so far, but I have had a lot of fun.  I log on for 30 minutes to an hour when I can, and I do quests.  I try and actually play.  I had forgotten just how well-made some of zones like Westfall are and how it feels to read quest text.  I know, right? It’s nutty.

So for those of you burned out on the game, try figuring out what it was that made World of Warcraft appeal to you initially.  Once you’ve figured that out, try and recapture it in some way.

For me, the appeal was the casual atmosphere that still led to a sense of accomplishment.  With my Paladin, I have found that old time feeling by pretending that I have not been jaded by the never-ending quest for brighter, shinier purple pixels.  By not joining up immediately with old friends and doing the same old thing day in and day out (but still still having the option there if we need it).  By actually making myself experience the game like I did when it was all fresh and new.

I made the game new again with a couple dashes of roleplay with a healthy dose of optimism.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. I, too, go through periods of burnout and tail off into other endeavors from time to time. It’s the only way to still play a game I love while remaining sane. Oblivious turned 4 years old last week and it shocked me that it’s been that long (3 years since you guys split off for Reckless, btw 😉 ). That responsibility gives me such a different perspective on what the game is that I don’t know if I could play it any other way. I have, in the past, escaped to level on other servers or just played unguilded alts, but it never feels right. Too many people rely on me to provide stability and structure to their version of how they play the game for me to feel like I can ever abandon them.

    Now, on the other side of things, now that we seem to have stabilized numbers again, the “grind” of getting new gear is present, but we’re also learning new fights and actually downing bosses in ICC when in previous times we’ve not even been full clearing previous raid instances when new ones come out. It’s exciting to be in that position with a group that’s there to clear the content rather than just there to get the newest, shiniest purples.

    1. 3 years? Already? Wow. That seems kind of insane. And in that time, I’ve never found a guild where I felt as much at home as I did in Oblivious.

      I really thought about checking with you guys to see if you still had an FaF rank like we used to so I could chat and talk with friends, but I thought that might defeat the purpose of incognito rerolling. I am still tossing the idea around because I always have missed you guys; would that be something I’d have to app for?

      I’d love to be able to get new bosses down and have fun like that again, but the scheduling of raids really hurts with my schedule. I still haven’t been able to set foot in Ulduar, and I just want to go in there. And I’ve not been in ICC, either, and I’d love to see the fights and the bosses. Maybe one day before Cataclysm I will.

      1. We already talked about you potentially coming back a few months back and there was no real issue with it. We don’t have a FaF rank so much, but we do have a non-raider rank. Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday from 7-10 pm CST doesn’t work for you though huh? We’re always looking for healers and even Boomkin.

  2. I read this entry very carefully, and I saw a bit of myself in it. I, too, have played for a little over 5 years now. I have never been a raider, but had my fair share of reputation grinding, with multiple accounts, multiple characters, and dungeon grinding, for gear and later for badges. I too feel burn out, not only because my current –very hard to get gear– will be obsolete soon, but because everything is never ending. Because there are things I will never attain, and that makes me feel like a failure.

    World of Warcraft is nothing like it was 5 years ago, we will all agree. It has gotten easier, but also immense, and to accomplish many things you will have to dedicate a time I (a married, with kid, man) can’t afford. And I feel at lost; I don’t know what to do.

    I hate achievements (because many are unobtainable for me), I hate impossible to get reputations (because they are part of a now dying –or dead– world, or because they can only be achieved raiding, which is forbidden for me) . I hate professions, which do not grow with the current level cap. The game has similitudes to real life, and, well, I have one real life already, which the game was supposed to take me away from, from time to time.

    I don’t think leveling up yet another character will change any of the above. I had had them all: all classes, all races. The bottom line is the same.

    I have no much hopes on Cataclysm, but, like everyone else, I will wait for it, and see if it brings that which I long. Not keeping my hopes high though.
    .-= David Collantes´s last blog ..Glad I am not in North Korea =-.

  3. Absolutely on track. I too find myself in the mindset of “how many more pruples do I really need on my alts”, wondering at the new addiction to emblems in WoW. Our Guild grew close not from instance farming, but from levelling and discovering together (I am infamous for getting us all killed by dragging along a team after uttering “Let’s see what’s in this cave!”). If people are suffering raid or pre-patch burnout, this is an excellent perspective.

    Oh, I can’t help but notice all your wonderful pictures are of the, ugh, Alliance.

    .-= Real Big Kitty´s last blog ..Is This Raining or Pouring? =-.

  4. Oddly enough I started my own Paladin alt (Draenei of course) a few days ago. Great minds eh? 🙂

    And I think you’re absolutely right about just enjoying the game for what it is and not focusing too much on the leveling or acquisition side of it. I think sometimes we’re so busy trying to get somewhere, we don’t enjoy the ride.
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Do Console MMORPGs Work? =-.

    1. I had to go for Human. I have a DK who was a Draenei, and my Shaman is, too. So I figure I really needed a break from the space goats, as much as I love them.

  5. WoW is old by now. The armor sets are at Tier 10 by now, and the game has changed from the World of Warcraft to Dungeoncraft.

    I know how much I was looking forward to Northrend/WOTLK in TBC, and then I was bored and quite done with it in one month and quit.

    I doubt Cataclysm is going to change that. You will level up a new alt in a world with revamped zones and let’s assume all quests got totally changed. Then you are back again to run the dungeon set of this expansion.

    There are other MMOs out there, we just need to give them a chance. The bad thing is many simply suck. Maybe my MMO time is over somehow, I am not keen on getting to know new friends and interestingly most of my gaming buddies who became friends came from Ultima Online and Guild Wars.

    If you don’t insist on having real humans around, Dragon Age looks and feels a lot like a MMO. The world of Ferelden (it probably has another name, but right now I am in the Kingdom of Ferelden) has a rich lore and history, and I am a sucker for such things.

    You could also try Allods Online; it looks a lot like WoW and plays a lot like it, plus the Astral Ships are an awesome endgame concept. My beef with it is that I know the system behind the games by far too good by now. It felt so much like WoW to me that I got this “been there, done that” feeling and when a game is a lot like WoW, so far WoW has always been the better choice in the long run.

    This is also the reason why I am still in the STO Beta. This is a bug-ridden game with ground missions that suck incredibly hard, but the space combat is really good. And it plays differently from other MMOs – you can play it in short sessions and chain together as many of them as you want. The new “open” or “public” quests and grouping mechanisms are really cool. Is the game an alternative to WoW? No, it cannot compete at all. The appeal is that it is so totally not like WoW! 🙂

    Let’s see if the next MMO world to suck in players for years comes from Blizzard again or maybe Bioware can set a new standard for the genre.

    1. I think Bioware can set the bar higher if they do it right. I’m not going to call the next big thing, but I do think there’s a lot of potential for storytelling in MMOs that has been nowhere near realized. Bioware is the company to be able to fix that, I think.

      As for WoW, I still like the game. I get tired of the Instancing for gear all the time, sure, but if I take it in moderation, I find that I truly enjoy hitting a few PvP battles and a dungeon in my spare time. As long as I don’t make it my job, I’m doing okay and can see the appeal.

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