Saturday, 26 February 2011

21st century games? Or just games for the boys?

I don’t bring gender politics into my blog – it’s about gaming, ok...  I’m rather of the opinion that if you feel strongly about equality, go and take some action in the real world, as opposed to a manufactured ‘fantasy’ one.  Go and volunteer on a helpline, in a refuge, take issue with your colleagues and mates over oppressive language, do something, ANYTHING that makes a difference. I’m aware that there is an issue to be taken here:  if you want ‘change’ then you address it on as many levels and in as many arenas as you can, and that’s fine.  I’ve avoided the many debates there have been in the blogsphere about sexism and equality on the basis that I describe above, but today I’m making an exception.

Whilst I’ve been away, packing up my house, Himself has had some belf-free time to play some 'headstart' Rift.  Last night, when we were out for a drink, he told me about it, and I was interested enough to want to see another MMO, with the thought that I might be a bit of a tourist and go and visit.  So when we got home today, he loaded up his game and started to explain it to me.  I am now going to rant.  Those of a delicate disposition may want to look away now.  Because I am so CROSS, I’m virtually frothing at the mouth.   I’m also aware that I’m probably not the first (nor hopefully will I be the last) to be chewing her (or, in an ideal world - HIS) nails to the quick with rage and frustration about how the gaming world appears not to have moved on AT ALL. There will be CAPITALS (you may have guessed.)  There will probably be swearing.  After I’ve written this, normal Pilf-like service will be resumed. 

So, as standard, you start by picking your side – loosely described to me by Himself as ‘either science or god’.  I pick science.  Yay – that was easy (and kinda cool, lore wise from the smidgen he told me.)  Then you pick a race as per usual, yada yada yada.  Himself is clicking on the male models, which is fine and dandy, but honey… I play female characters, c’mon, gimme a female character ok?  So then he clicked onto the female character and I stopped wanting to play the game right then and there.  No you are not getting a single fucking penny out of me, not now, not ever.  Job done – do not pass ‘go’ do not collect a subscription fee.  I guess you can imagine what is coming here?  The male characters are clothed in sensible trousers and tunics.  Legs covered, chest covered, arms mainly covered.  The female ones?  Oh for fucks sake, the female characters have a wrap skirt, fold-over-top (not quite knee high but a damn good approximation) boots and what might charitably be described as a ‘crop top’ on, i.e. a bit of fabric at the front and not a lot at the back.  No matter what race you pick, they’re all wearing just enough so you don’t see boobs, but it is JUST enough.  The sad thing is that they’re actually sensibly proportioned.  They don’t have gigantic boobs, yeah they go in at the waist, but not to a cartoonish degree.  They have sensible, reasonably well muscled legs.  All of which makes it even WORSE that they’re so… underdressed.  What?  You can actually get sensible proportions of the female form in pixel form and then to redress the balance and effectively reduce them to eye candy, you just HAD to go and give them ‘fuck me or protect me’ clothing?  Really?? And Himself did then go onto class choice and onto what I would describe as the bit that makes the game appealing to women (apologies for the generalisation) which is the insanely high level of customisation.  Which is gorgeous, and fun and something I want to play with (and would… for hours) but I cannot get over my instant ‘what the fuck?’ reaction.  Please refer to pictorial evidence below:

This is my character standing next to a quest giver.  Who is sensibly dressed.  She's still pretty, the clothing is still detailed, but she's COVERED UP. 

For the sake of fairness, here is another NPC.  Ok, there's a bit of 'slave girl' in the stereotypical sense going on here, but again, she's got some skin covered...

Now for complete fairness, here is a male quest giver.  Chest out, agreed.  But a serious, arguably even learned face, witness the beard and the frown lines.  Hardly eye candy?

These are IDENTICAL NPCs.  They're both Centurions (I think).  Whose armour do we think might be of more use?   Also, note Himself's strapping, awesome Amazonion character.  Who is now wearing quest gear.  Which consists of... basically a chain mail bikini.   

Now, I don’t pretend to have a grasp of stats, with regard to MMOs but I’m fairly sure that it’s accepted that the gender balance nowadays is as near to 50/50 as makes no odds.  Gamers are no longer the stereotype of teenage boys or sad men fantasizing in their basements. They haven't been for a long time (if ever).  They're a diverse range of often intelligent men and women. Why then, WHY would you potentially alienate 50% of your player base by being so overtly sexist and gratuitous?  Maybe there are female gamers out there who don't mind the utterly stereotypical clothing on offer, if you're out there, well /cast vicious sarcasm right on sister /end cast. But for the love of all things, PLEASE accept that there are many, many of us who DO NOT want our gender denigrated and objectified.  There are many of us who just want some equality.  Really, is it so much to ask?  Just give us armour that makes it as hard to disembowel us as our male counterparts.  Give us clothing that makes us look like we have a purpose.  Aside from eye candy.  

I really don't know what else to say.  Other than my twelve year old daughter initially thought Mum was over-reacting, "oh God, Muuuuuum, you're SUCH a feminist, it's a GAME".  She's now taken a closer look and has just said, "It's such a shame.  Because the graphics are amazing.  And they've used it to do that." I repeat:  she's TWELVE.  If she gets it, why the FUCK don't game designers?  Answers on a postcard, with suitable donations to a feminist organization of your choice.  Failing that, don't give Trion your hard earned cash (yeah, I said it.)  Do something fucking small to stop this sort of shit.  

Thursday, 24 February 2011

*dying swan*

Not in WoW you understand - I've barely played this week *sulks*.

*Dying swan* because I'm packing my house up, then I thought I'd stop and blog as a treat to myself (hey - it's like 9.30am - it's too early for vodka, m'kay!)... only to find that the installment of Saga's challenge that I was up to was Day 5: Favourite Item(s) in-game.  Which would require me to log many, many characters and go to their banks and... unpack stuff - which would make me SCREAM.  So instead I'm going to have a rant about RL (I know!  The shock... you poor things...)

Packing my house up is a big, steamy pile of this. It's soooooooo hard.  And I'm feeling incredibly feeble having been going at it since 5.30am on Monday.  Ok, I have stopped to sleep.  And eat.  And whinge.  And play my pally a little.  A very little.  But basically I'm sorting through 8 years of... stuff.  Happily (or not...) I'm also sorting through junk from two marriages (which is a phenomenal achievement as I'd divorced first husband waaaay before I moved here - and I kept thinking 'why didn't I get rid of this shite when I moved?  Really, wtf`?? And then I realised - because it's easier to pack it and chuck it in a cupboard than it is to go through and sort it out and recycle it or take it to the dump.  And my self control and lack of CAPS in that sentence is epic) and one long term relationship, so add emotional stress onto physical stress and you have a very feeble little belf rocking in a corner.

But I am being amazingly good.  The recycle/charity shop/give away trawl has massively out-weighed the 'chuck' trawl. Books were the KILLER.  I have *coughs and mutters a large number* boxes of books that I'm keeping, but a great deal more that I've given away - NOT at the behest of Himself and  the raised eyebrow at the utter trash (think Twilight saga then worse) that was on my bookshelves, bollocks to that - I like my escapism, but because I realised that there was no way I was going to re-read all of them.  We're talking yards and yards (possibly a mile of I actually laid them all out) of books.  They've gone to good homes (or charity shops) so I feel slightly virtuous.  But worse than the books was the general crap - the 'oh I'll put it in that cupboard there and sort it when I have... time' stuff.  And then worse than that was the wedding photos.  Epically, I managed to find BOTH sets in one cupboard, which is good going even for me.  Daughter was charmed, having never seen any photos of her parents wedding, "Mum - you were SO young!!" , "Yes darling. I was 18.  That's 5 years older than you."  Daughter grimaces and mutters something about "love being stupid" under her breath...

And, because every blog post needs a happy ending...  Last night Daughter was staying overnight at her friends and I was tired, so very tired.  And hormonal.  And feeling generally unloved, having rung Himself earlier and gotten a "I'm in the car (on hands free because Himself is a Good Boy) so I'll ring you when I get home.  I might be a while though." And I'd had a bit of a cry (because I miss him) so I rang my Mum, all sniffly, "Can I come and stay with you tonight?" so emergency parent taxi had departed (I know, I'm 34 - how sad does this make me look!) to collect me and Himself rung. "Where are you?" "Just going to my parents." "Oh, ok.  I'll come and join you then." "........????? WHAT???" "I've just parked."  My neighbours must have been edified to see me explode out of my front door and run, yes actually RUN (last seen circa 2002 in Brixton to get the night bus), at speed, down the road into Himself's arms. And cry some more.  Daughter returned home about an hour later (because she needed cash - why else) and greeted Himself with "What are you doing here?"  "I missed your Mum so I thought I'd come down and see her." 'OK, now I accept that you love her.  You can marry her now."  And I'd like to add, for further bragging rights, that it's a 360 mile round trip for Himself, who left at 6am to go and do a days work.  All because he missed me like I missed him.  Now THAT'S love /ends brag.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Do we want this? Do we need this? Do we already have this?

I was emailing a WoW friend today (god that's a horrible expression, apologies - you know who you are!) and towards the end of the email my hands hovered over the keyboard whilst I tried to work out whether or not to type the next sentence.  The sentence is question, of course, being the phrase for our times "If you want to look me up on Facebook my name is..."  And yes, I did eventually type it, but not without some thought.

I should say now that I know people can be very pro or very anti FB.  I'm kind of ambivalent, I'm realistic enough to know that I'd lose touch with a lot of people if I didn't have FB to keep me up to date with their lives; and to forestall the arguments: yes, I know we did manage pre-FB.  I'm old enough to remember life without the internet and mobile phones, and the first music I bought was on vinyl.  I'm not going to debate whether or not social networks are A Good or Bad Thing, I'm just talking about the reality of 'now' *breathes*.  I'm grateful that I can see pictures of my friends hen/stag nights, weddings, birthdays, kids etc (especially as I can do so quickly if I want, minus the running commentary and  without having to feign interest in every single damn shot!)  So whilst I'm not madly pro - I update about once every two days and I rarely, if ever chat on there, and I have... less than 100 friends (which makes me the most terrible loser in the eyes the Girls who have... lemme go check exact numbers, 790 (omfg! gulp!) and 171 (less gulp) friends respectively) I'm not anti either.  Himself is Anti.  Himself has Strong Opinions about FB and the data it gathers/holds on people who aren't even signed up to it...

I do have 'WoW friends' on FB.  Them being the people who I no longer have much contact with in-game (mainly due to server differences) but who I like to keep up to date with.  But hells' teeth, it's a weird conversation to have.  It's bad enough in RL.  I'm old enough not to just chuck FB friend requests to everyone I meet - case in point, whilst Himself isn't on FB, his friends are, some of whom I'd like to add, but there's that slightly odd convention about whether or not it's appropriate.  So I haven't.  Discretion being the better part of valour and all. And I appreciate that there are people like Himself (who I don't think is in the minority here) who want their WoW/online lives separate from their RL/offline lives.  And that's totally understandable and fine.

So do we have an MMO equivalent of FB? (I know there's Twitter but gods I can't fathom it out.)  Would we want there to be an equivalent?  Surely we've all had people leave the game who we'd like to keep in touch with, or just people that we'd like to keep in touch with but not in a full-on FB way?  How many times have you seen someone come online who you thought had left? How pleased were you that they'd re-appeared? Would it be nice if we could link in outside of WoW/LOtRO/Rift/whatever (clearly, not with the entire realm, but people that we just liked having contact with from whichever server or online game) but under a character (or whatever) name?  That way, when RL gets on top of us, we can have a break without feeling (unless we wanted to) that complete disconnect from what, for many of us, appears to be an important social network (argh - spit spit *washes mouth out - I hate that phrase!!) Or do you think this would be a disaster and yet another 'burden' that people would feel they had to carry?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Get me - an entire year has passed...

So when I said my blogs anniversary was 7 February I was, in fact, out by 10 days.  It's today!  Huzzah and w00t!

I find any sort of 'another year gone' stuff quite odd - vis the performance that Himself had to sit through for the last few weeks about my birthday proper (which was on Tuesday).  It's also the reason why I'm even more grumpy about New Year than I am about Christmas.  Not in a 'time is passing and I'm so old' way, I should point out.  Just that, for me, these sorts of occasions make you sit back and take stock and reflect (possibly too much, if you have an inner belf like I do.)  And if you've had a year of change upon change upon change with a soupcon of change scattered on top, there's a lot to take stock of!

In WoW terms (as well as in RL terms, I should add) it's been a good year.  It's been more than a year since I last raided, and although watching raiding vids on YouTube still gives me the itch, I don't want to scratch it enough to consider going back to raiding, even on casual terms.  I dread to think how many alts I've made in the last year.  Dozens and dozens would be my closest guess.  Some of them blossomed and flowered, some never managed to poke their shoots above the earth.  I think I've played every race and every class at some point.  Not well, I should hasten to add, but I've tried them all.  Azeroth is a huge ice cream stall for me at the moment, there are so many flavours and combinations and toppings and extra stuff you can sprinkle on top that I'm not even close to being bored.  I think probably, I'll always be a healer at heart, my shockadin healed Himself's tankadin through Shadowfang Keep last night - just the two of us again, one shotting everything upto whats-his-face, Lord Godfrey, where we just didn't have enough pew to pwnzor him *sad face*.  And I remembered how much I like healing.  In the right environment...

This is a rambly post I know.  I've got a head full of wedding stress, plus a head full of 'going back and packing my house up next week' stress (in the same head obviously... I don't have two heads...!)  Plus I'm still failing to recover from the gig I took the Girls to on Monday (which proved a few things: a) I cannot pogo around for hours - I barely made it through the one song I knew (a cover of The Middle by Jimmy Eat World) by which point I was a little sweaty, b) that by 10.30pm I wanted my bed, not to carry on for another hour, c) that I'm now old enough that my back aches if I stand for four hours and d) that dear God, DEAR GOD modern youth is so bloody YOUNG!) and the hangover yesterday from having the sum of three alcoholic drinks (I rarely drink - like once every six months) And too much stress.  Or did I mention that already...?

All I need to say now, is to everyone who reads and lurks, or comments, and has done at any point during the last year - THANK YOU. Like Saga I still squee with excitement when someone not only reads my nonsense but takes the time to say something in return.  I love you guys...

Oh no - and one last thing.  Having told Himself I want to honeymoon in Sen'jin, the last thing I expected him to say was "Ok, you want to go to Sen'Jin, I'll take you there." And whilst I was stuttering and stammering (something about, no darling, I didn't mean I wanted to play WoW for a week...) he fiddled around with Google Image Search and said "There.  Will this do?"  Is there a more blessed woman on the planet than me? (It's Tulum, Mexico just in case you're wondering.)

White sand, blue sea and palm trees? Check.

Troll ruins?  Check.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pally Powah?

Over the weekend Himself and Myself decided that we'd put our new(ish) pallies to the test and actually 'do' something with them.  Himself was level 15 (and a tauren) and I was level 16 (and... a belf...)  Himself is prot and I'm seeing if the much loved shockadin build is viable to level with.  In a nutshell,  I'm holy.  Neither of us are fans of LFG - Himself admittedly, does actually do them, or did, but I'm steering well clear.  Especially on a character that I'm still learning to play on...

We figured that Ragefire Chasm would be a good bet for us to try and 2-man.  The trash there is about 13/14 elite and the bosses are 16 elite.  That should be about right for the two of us.  Bear in mind that I've never really healed with anything except a priest, who, like them or not, have a huge variety of heals.  Kinda different to paladins who, at my level, have Flash of Light (omnomnom you can haz no mana...), Holy Light (ok, you can haz mana but the cast is sloooooow), and Holy Shock (you can haz instant cast but with cooldown) and Word of Awesome Glory.  With Pilf I used to toss around Renews and CoH and basically do Flash Heal.  And it didn't eat my mana bar.  With Niae I quickly realised that FoL spam would equate to Himself being dead on trash as I went out of mana.  Himself pointed out that FoL is kind of the 'oh shit' button and that HS/HoL might be better, honey...

When we'd run back in we tried again, and it was a lot better. Himself has tanked before and I have healed before, but we were both on classes that were all but new to us.  Pally healing has such a different rhythm to priest healing, and it took a while for me to get the tempo right.  Luckily Word of Glory means that if I ran into difficulties (or started to look low on mana) Himself could cover enough to keep him alive until I'd recovered (either my composure or some mana...)  Additionally, we were both low enough that greens were great upgrades - we weren't loling through in heirlooms... And how awesome is it that instances now have all the questgivers just inside?  No more running all over Azeroth, making sure that you've gotten all the quests you can do there, before zoning in and realising that you're missing one, and it requires an item, so the other party members can't even share the quest with you!

And we did a full clear. Yes, it took some time and some wiping, ok, a lot of wiping, but we did it.  Just the two of us.  And you know what? I quite like pally healing.  I like the pacing of it.  With the caveat that I'm not sure I'd like to heal in a PuG with a less than considerate tank and aggro-happy dps. I could keep Himself alive whilst he blatted things but I'm not sure that I'd manage to keep 3 others up as well.

We got phat loots - ok we got blues, which was cause for huge celebration - especially as one of the quests gave me mail with caster stats - huzzah!  Himself got an awesome blue - 'Hey baby, have you seen the big bone I've got in my hand...! And on that note I'll leave you... Happy Love is in the Air (for those that celebrate that stuff) - my Valentines evening, as previously mentioned, will consist of RAWK!!11!! with Himself and my girls (who needs mini-breaks to Paris?)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Kalimdor Honeymoons (with apologies to the Lonely Planet)

No matter how much I try to distract myself, my head returns to Wedding Stuff.  Specifically, the honeymoon – I’ve finally thrown Myself on Himself’s mercy and begged pleaded asked him too Just Bloody Sort It.  Honestly, I’ve driven myself round the bend and back again browsing the Lonely Planet website, Trip Advisor, Expedia and about a million hotel websites.  Last night I told him to take me to Sen’Jin… Poor Himself.  But I now present you with Pilf’s Honeymooners Guide to Kalimdor.  

Bloodmyst Isle

Who could resist a moon like that?  Could you ask for more romance?  Maybe you could do without the hostile plant-life though.  And the general levels of corruption that permeate the Isle.  Oh, and the evil satyrs.  I’m sure any decent medic can give you jabs to prevent you catching anything too nasty from them – after all, it’s not really a proper holiday if you don’t have to get vaccinations is it?  


Want to get away from it all in?  Keen on the natural world?  Then Feralas could be the ideal destination for you.  Perfect for romantic strolls through lush wooded groves and beside tranquil rivers.  Just watch out for the giants.  They're kinda huge.  Oh, and the ogres. And the hippogryphs.  I wouldn't recommend availing yourselves of the clear waters off the coast, unless you're happy to bathe with pissed off naga (and are there any other kind?) And you might want to steer your husband away from the harpies as well - surely that doesn't require any further explanation?  


Divine Moonglade - with its beautiful light and ethereal atmosphere you're guaranteed relaxation and good vibes.  Enjoy the architecture, stroll over the bridges and dabble your toes in Lake Elune'ara. It would be unwise to plan to holiday here between the end of January and the middle of February - the Lunar Festival means that you'll be prey for Omen, and unless your tastes are very... specialised, psychopathic two-headed dogs and their minions tend to put a dampener on romance.  


All the beach bunnies out there should undoubtedly head off to Tanaris.  The coastline is exquisite - white sand shelves gently into the calm turquoise waters, and if your idea of happiness revolves around sand and sea then you'll be blissed out here.  Rocky shorelines are a magnet for pirates though, so keep a good eye out if you're wandering along the beach, and avoid exploring any caves that you chance across. Sticking to the coastline and avoiding the hinterland area will mean that you avoid the numerous unpleasant insects, ogres, basilisks - and if you do venture inland stay away from the ruins as the trolls there appear to dislike tourists visiting. 


If Tanaris is a bit too far flung then try the beaches at Sen'jin.  Although the beaches are red sand, rather than white, the sunsets are to die for.  Durotar itself provides plenty of opportunities for keen hikers to explore, although the wildlife (in the forms of boar and scorpions) can be irksome.  Some of the caves contain hostile cults, so ask advice from a local before venturing in!  The colourful, bustling city of Orgrimmar can take some time to acclimatise to, bit it provides a variety of accommodation and is currently reasonably politically stable. 


For those seeking the exhilaration of skiing, skating or snowboarding - look no further.  Winterspring has it all.  Off the beaten track, with beautiful scenery, this land steeped in a permanent winter has delightful hideaways such as the hot springs (pictured above) - what could be more enjoyable than after some strenuous exercise than relaxing in a natural hot pool with your loved one and giving those over-streched muscles a much needed break?  Stay alert as dragonkin abound, along with bears, yeti, alpine furbolg, and ice elementals and giants.  Not particularly accessible (making friends with the Timbermaw prior to travelling is a much) but well worth the effort required.

(I know I'm nuts, but writing this has given me some much needed amusement and perspective on my current state of wedding obsession.  If I haven't got it all out of my system I'll do the Eastern Kingdoms next...) Pictures nicked from Wowhead and tarted up via Piknik.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

20 Days of Warcraft Redux - Favourite memory.

I can’t answer this. It’s as simple as that.  I cannot pick one WoW memory as my best.  It’s one of the reasons that we blog surely?  Writing about our experiences, sharing them and reliving them, keeps them alive. I can’t be the only one who goes back through her blog occasionally, not out of any self-seeking, or self gratifying purpose, but just to look back at stuff I’d nearly forgotten, and chuckle and bathe in the soft glow that memory and nostalgia affords us.  So, unsurprisingly, I’m going to fudge it a little, and give you a few. 

When I first ‘got’ why you’d be guilded
When TBC came out I rolled a belf warlock – Brodmann, who I loved dearly.  He still exists, having been a female gnome warlock for some time, then back to a blood elf, but female.  I haven’t the heart to delete the character because Brod was the first one I got to level 50 and 60, but not the first to 70.  That was Pilfkin-the-First, but Brod followed soon after.  When I was about, umm level 15 or so (still in newbie-ish belf lands) I got chucked a guild invite, and being the newbie I was I just clicked on the ‘accept’ button.  The guild was, well… it was ok.  But most of its members were younger than me. Eventually a few of us left the guild and formed our own one, but not long after I changed faction ‘loyalty’ (as far as I have, or have ever had, faction loyalty…) and went to play Alliance where I was guilded with the people who I went on to form some of my most important, and longest standing in-game connections. 

The guild itself was fairly new and growing fast.  I’ve blogged so much about my experiences with this guild that it almost feels like there isn’t anymore I can say about them, but I guess I focussed on the stresses that came later, not the halcyon early days.  We were all levelling up together, you see, and that does make a difference – that common purpose, that shared goal.  For most, if not all, it was our first time levelling a character so we were all newbies together.  Guild chat was full of ‘gratz’ and smiley faces (which didn’t annoy me in that context, funnily enough) as people progressed - people were on hand to give advice on trade skills, craft stuff you needed, joke, take the piss and generally just enjoy the craic.  Eventually we all hit max level (70 then) and started to gear up for Kara.  Some of my fondest in-game memories stem from The Friday Five – a bunch of us who were running Outland instances, and having the fun and camaraderie that I long to find in-game again, but am doubtful I will.  Instances runs before LFG – when LFG was a channel, with people from your realm in it.  In fairness, LFG was a bit of a wasteland, but we did guild runs.  I haven’t forgotten the in-jokes; so much stuff that still makes me chuckle now.  The names, long gone from game but names I won’t forget for a long time.  Patish, Dindariel, Saigyo, Jaiden; I could run on for a long time, but my memory is flunking out on me.  When WoW was a genuine joy, before I got jaded and burnt out.  Those runs were golden times, made possible by my gilded guild.

Becoming a raider
I was lucky to be a TBC baby – we got Kara as our first raid.  God, that place was wonderful.  I remember the first raid I did with crystal clarity. (I also needed macros and focus target explained to me but, y’know …trivial details!?) I remember being summoned to the stone and seeing raiders.  Proper raiders, about to go raiding, in their natural habitat, as it were. As ludicrous as it sounds now, I’d always viewed raiding as something that the really elite players did – and all of a sudden I was there, with them.  I kept expecting someone to turn around and say "Ok Pilf – now you’ve seen the big boys and girls in their place.  Run off back to Shatt now, honey, you’ve had an eyeful… pop off back there… there’s a good belf.”  But astonishingly no-one did. Admittedly, my epics were intro level crafted, not proper BoP drops, but I was there, at the stone, with my guild about to go raiding!  And I was… well, I was kinda scared. But excited too.  I remember the adds, the crowd control, the marks (mine was always star for shackle).  I remember Moroes and the stress of healing and shackling.  I remember the details in Kara, the atmosphere, the staircases, the chandeliers, the feeing that this really was some spooky, gothic mansion.  I remember getting a Tier token (can’t remember which Tier now and CBA to Wowhead) and not knowing what to do with it – “How do I equip it?”  “Pilf, if you don’t know what to do with that, we’re gonna give it to someone else!”  my RL had said, in mock-stern tones. 

The places
I couldn’t, if I tried, pick a favourite place in WoW.  I remember being stunned by the cities; Orgrimmar, which always felt to me (pre-Garrosh-DIY-and-MDF) like it had been forcibly hewn out of the red soil and rock of Durotar.  Thunder Bluff; the rope bridges which still give me slight ‘don’t look down’ vertigo.  Undercity; the despair and the need for vengeance rising from the slime filled canals.  Silvermoon; when Pilf wrote about Silvermoon, a lot of it was, well... it was me.  

I love Azeroth’s beaches – I’ve always loved the coast IRL so whenever I got a chance to take a character to the beach in Azeroth I was happy.  I really liked the coastline off Tanaris, the shores bordering Eversong Woods and of course Sen’jin (but more of that later).  The places I took Pilf to in The Grand Tour – whilst they were places she liked, there was so much of me in her and vice versa, that they were some of my favourite places in-game.  I really regret not writing more in that series.

The RP
As I’m writing this post, I’m having some internal dialogue with myself.  If I really, really had to pick one memory to answer this question, what would it be?  Which leads me neatly onto RP and RPers.

When I started playing on an RP server I was terrified.  Really and honestly - when you play on standard PvE realms, you are indoctrinated that RPers are just downright weird and freaky (and not in a good way) and I’d met a fair few people who’d had less than pleasant experiences on RP servers (allegedly – I’m still not quite sure how…)  I’ve played on RP realms for just under a year, so about one sixth of my overall WoW time and the memories I’ve gathered and stored from this time far outweigh five years worth of memories on PvE servers.  I remember being thrilled, in a real squee!! moment, all over guild chat the first time I had some ‘real’ RP.  And it wasn’t just the RP itself I loved; I enjoyed writing my little RP ficlets.  I must try to get back to that, I miss that creative bit of WoW now…

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for sometime will probably have figured out what I’m going to link to next.  Because it was extraordinary.   Because when I re-read it (as I just have) I can recall all the emotions - both mine and Pilf’s.  I can picture Pilf and the Beachcomber on the shore – it’s making me churned up all over again because it was so believable and so right, nothing felt forced, just total spontaneity.  It was a privilege and an honour beyond imagining to have had such an artistic and committed RPer and individual as Sven, even if he’s left me hanging, as he’s only written parts one, two and three.  I live in hope that one day, part four will materialise on his blog, but somehow I doubt it will.   If I had to pick one WoW memory as my favourite, it would be Pure Shores.  But it would be a close run thing. 

And the world turns...

Yeah... this kinda over rides this morning's post I suspect... 

Ho-hum.  I’ve accidentally rolled another belf.  ‘Accidental’ character creation must be a bit like ‘accidental’ infidelity: Sorry darling, I don’t quite know what happened, I must have slipped, tripped and fell onto… the character creation screen.  Can you forgive me?

See, when I log into WoW (especially at the moment when I’m doing it as a distraction to stop me obsessing stressing thinking about anything to do with the “W” word) I log onto whichever realm and I ponder. Who do I feel like playing?  Do I feel like a depressed human warrior?  Do I feel like a trollish drood?  Do I (heaven forefend) feel like a dorf? (God – life was so easy when I had a ‘main’!)  And today’s answer, was, unsurprisingly, oh noes – I feel like a belf!  Ok, that’s my default state of being, I know, but sadly, I don’t really have a belf that I feel like I ‘connect’ with at present.  Pilf is just… well, she’s just retired.  I’ve got too much… stuff tied up in her (still) to really be able to enjoy playing her, and I’m ok with that.  I’ll never get rid of her – I’ve got… far too much stuff tied up in her to delete her and I don’t begrudge her the character slots at all, but I don’t want to play her.   My baby warlock is just that – a baby, and I’m a bit warlocked out at present.  Same with hunters.  Pet overkill, I think. 

I’m not managing my Tauren paladin.  I just cannot handle the size of Tauren – not even for the out-of-this-world wonderfulness that is a paladin kodo (and that’s the only kodo you’ll ever hear me apply the term ‘wonderful’ to as well!)  My high level paladin is just a bit yawn worthy.  I’ve never managed to bring much (if any) ‘life’ to my old PvE raiding characters... so the logical thing to do is to make another paladin belf is it not?  Of course it is!  And no dissenters please!  I’ve got a vague RP concept for her – nothing too fancy-shmancy at the moment as I want to see where she takes me first.  So yeah – see below really! 

A bit Pete Tong...

Pilf – are you not too old to be using pseudo Cockney rhyming slang? I hear you ask.  Why, yes I am – thank you for pointing that out.  But I’m also too old to say the *following words/expressions: cool, awesome (cf: awesome-sauce, made of awesome), win, epic, omnomnom, hawt (as in ‘he’s so totally…’), sexeh, babe, fit, (as in ‘he’s so totally…’), fat phat, etc etc.  Himself, I would like to point out is like totally purely allowed to say them being soooo old that it wouldn’t be possible for him to say them in anything other than with a heavy dose of irony as he’s not Mum and therefore can’t be as embarrassing.  /Sulk.  

Moving on though – the world is going a bit Pete Tong because every day this week (and for most days last week) blogs that are on my Reader have shut up shop.  All of which makes me a sad kitten.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand WoW and/or blogging becoming a draining time-sink that’s no longer enjoyable, and I wish all the bloggers happy lives, both in MMOs and in their real lives… but I’d JUST got my Reader sorted (and I was exceptionally proud of myself) and now the list is getting short again. So help me out here folks – I’m especially bad with finding new blogs so leave me linkies to anything I should be reading (and no porn plox, unless it’s of the belfie persuasion!)  And yes, I know that I should just visit Blog Azeroth regularly and see what appeals but I’m made of idle and you’re all soooo lovely…

I’ve also been a bit daft.  Having avoided priests (Project 10 one aside, and she’s a gnome so whilst cute she’s still stinky Alliance and I continue to be For the Horde!!11!!) successfully for… quite a long time now, I made another one.  Not a belfie one – I’m trying, for the sake of both my in-game and RL happiness to stop being quite such a belf (Myself: “There is a difference between neurotic and multi-layered and complex you know!”  Himself: “Yes, yes you’re right.  There is.” Pause.  *Significant glance* that implies I might not be on the right side of the neurotic/multi-layered divide.)  So she’s a troll.  I’m trying to be more troll-ish you see and I love my troll druid a lot.  And ohhhh I love her.  I love her a lot.  Now, I fully accept that I’m fickle and as shallow as a puddle, with commitment issues… But gosh-darn it I do love me a good priest.  Or a bad priest, come to it.  Or priestesses in any form.  So Project 10 might slow down a little whilst I try to wash the discipline out of my hair… 

*NB: List is non-exhaustive and subject to amendments/additions without notice.  Definition of 'too old' also subject to change without warning. Gotta love teenagers... 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

20 Days of Warcraft Redux - First Playtime

Do you know, it's so long ago now that I'm not sure I can remember my first day in Azeroth exactly.  But that might have something to do with having installed WoW... it wouldn't run.  And eventually working out that whilst my comp was no dinosaur the graphics card wasn't good enough to run it.

When I eventually did get it working I remember firing up the character create screen and playing for... umm a while.  Quite a long while.  This was just pre-TBC so there were no lovely belfies, or draenei for that matter, so my first character was an orc rogue - which still kinda stuns me.  She was kickass though and made it to, IIRC the dizzy heights of level 40.  That's the highest I've ever gotten a rogue.  I also made an orc warlock as well.  2 orcs!  But then TBC came out and I went belf and, as you may have realised, once you go belf you never go back...

I remember Durotar vividly - and I remember spending what felt like days in the cave in the Valley of Trials trying to find Thazz'ril's bloody pick, being munched by sprites and felhunters... and dying over and over and over.  I still hate caves today - I barely know my left from my right, so East and West (not to mention North and South) are... problematic.  Himself finds this amusing: "I might not know how to mop floors honey, but I can read a map..." (as I was totally lost in Stonetalon at the weekend.) I feel the same way about castles and keeps as well.  The other thing I recall vividly was the lack of load screens - the fact that the graphics just went on and on and on and on... And realising that the sun and the moon rose and set, and being awed by that.

It's the connections that make it real...

And of course - the other players.  All these characters running around, emoting, riding, casting, fighting.  They were all other people, at their computer, just like I was.  I remember just how... amazed I was by this.  Nowadays of course, it's just something I take as read, but for my first week or so I was completely boggled by it. And just occasionally, when someone /waved at me, I got that odd (but more commonplace now) feeling of 'My oh my.  Some stranger just waved at me.'  And that slightly warm feeling you get when someone who doesn't know you, who has no reason to be nice to you, just decides to be friendly.  Little did I know how much social contact WoW would give me, not on that first day, not on that first week.  Probably not during the first month.  Nor did I know that ultimately, some of the people I met in game would become incredibly important in my life.  I certainly didn't ever think that I'd meet my future husband in Azeroth.

I've come along way since that first day or so.  I've raided, got various titles and achievements, been in guilds, written blogs... And one of the nicest things about Cata for me is how often I've got that 'ohhhh' feeling I had so regularly when I first started playing. Because it's wonderful, when it's all shiny and new.  But re-visiting old haunts is also kinda nice.  Especially when there's enough to be familiar, but also enough to make you curious.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

When... bad orcs go ...good??

In a change to scheduled posting I bring you a non-20 Days blog post.  Partially because I need to think about my first day playing (it was a while back!) and partly because I'm half asleep, thanks to the oinks in the flat next door (and their mates) deciding that 3am was an excellent (and reasonable) time to have a no-holds-barred domestic in the hall outside my flat.  Honestly - someone should come up with an 'insults app': Want to step away from that old fashioned method of insult hurling?  Fed up with using 'fuck' every second word AND as punctuation?  Want to expand your profanity lexicon?  There's an app for that... Seriously - it was like having a Jerry Springer show filmed 5 yards away from your bed.  Really, I don't care who allegedly slept with whom.  I really needed the bathroom and I struggle to pee to the (not so) gentle rhythm of fists meeting flesh, so as a result I didn't get my ass out of bed this morning, Himself went to work having not had his coffee and breakfast made for him, or his lunch packed and I had less then 15 minutes to get Youngest up, washed and dressed and out the door to school.  Snarl.

Right - that's the rant over with. Kinda.

There are still masses of levelling zones I haven't seen yet.  I've haven't finished Stranglethorn (though I am getting there slowly), I haven't played through Thousand Needles, Desolace, or Plaguelands.  And that's just the zones that are up to level 40-odd.  This is due, in part, to enjoying all my Project 10 alts (with the exception of the rogue, le sigh) and of course, I'm seeing the new Alliance zones as well now.  All of which means that I've yet to hit 40 on any character but boy am I having fun.  Himself finished Stonetalon at the weekend and... got up and left the computer to... collect himself. Intrigued, I asked him what he'd been up to - Himself, like Myself, does get very immersed in the game but it's unusual for him to get that drawn in. All he would tell me was that I needed to go and do the Stonetalon zone.

Naturally, none of my Project 10 alts on the Horde side were the right level, so I logged onto one of my SAN characters (which was nice - I'm not used to seeing guild chat nowadays!) and took her off.  By sheer coincidence she's an orc warlock, which was quite apposite, as it turned out.  As an aside, I'd wondered how insane levelling would be with BoA gear and rested xp and guild xp bonuses.  It's totally OP.  Seriously, I like my BoA gear on my orc warlock - she looks really good in it, I get guild xp bonus if you're levelling 80-85 or whatever, but really - WTB an option to turn off increased levelling speed please!  Infact, WTB an option to gain 25% less xp when levelling so I can do the zones justice.  I was handing in about 4 quests and levelling, and this is in the mid-20s...

However - Stonetalon. Again, it's very linear progression, but the story is well-told and really draws you in.  Doing it as an orc is wonderful.  As usual, I'm not going to give you details - if you've done it you'll know what I'm talking about and if you haven't - well go do it! It's really, really interesting.  And you don't realise (or maybe it's just me being a bit slow on the uptake) how sucked in you're getting until it's kind of too late.  And then you're so enmeshed in it all, up to your neck in it - that you have to follow it through. And then you have to face Garrosh and hope he feels merciful.  Yeah - Garrosh and mercy - two words that don't sit well together...

In other important news - there is a thing of great beauty here. (Also here if you'd prefer YouTube.)

 If you fetishise belfies like I do, and have always seen Silvermoon in a film noir context - go and drool.  A lot.  It's kinda NSFW - Himself muttered about me watching 'belf porn' (which may of had something to do with me squealing at intervals, admittedly) but it's not *that* explicit.  I think it's gorgeous.  And just the thing to cheer you up after you've been held responsible for the deaths of innocent cows...

Monday, 7 February 2011

20 Days of Warcraft Redux - Why Did I Start?

Why I decided to start a blog, or why I decided to start a WoW-blog...?  As an adolescent (I would say teenager, but I’m 99.99% certain I was 11 when I started) I kept a diary.  A proper, pour out your heart and soul onto blank pages diary which I wrote in every day without fail.  Every Christmas my parents would buy me a new one, usually A4 size but sometimes A5 (which was cooler because it was twice as thick – each day gave you two pages to write in…) and honestly, until my mother and I had a discussion a few years about it, where she told me the truth (i.e. of course she read it regularly – her defence being, I kid you not, “It was better that I knew what you were doing darling, what mischief you were getting into, than I had unspecified concerns about just about everything.  I know that you’re mature enough to understand that now.”  Really – wtf??) I thought neither of them knew where I hid it.  Under my pillow.  Duh – why would I need a better hiding place…? It was my diary and I was a (pre)teen, therefore of course my life was private and no-one would dare invade that. Hmm.

Anyway, when I left home at 16, I took them with me, and they stayed with me through a few house/flat moves but about a year or so later I was foolish enough to start to re-read them.  Clearly, reading ones youthful angst should be best left until said angst has departed, say around the age of 30-something.  I was so distressed by, and unable to cope with, all the emotion they contained (and my life was far from stable at the time) that, to my deep and abiding sadness, I burned them – yes, that’s kinda angsty and dramatic as well...  It’s something that I regret – mainly because now my Eldest is 15 I’d really have liked to have given them to her to read: see, I was young once – I do understand!! 

For years and years I didn’t keep anything resembling a diary, a journal – call it what you like.  Then, and I can’t recall how, I started to be aware of the existence of blogs.  Hey – online diaries that remove the need for all that tedious handwriting!! (I assume that I’m not alone in being able to type a great deal faster than I can write now?)  So for a long time I kept a ‘personal’ blog, that I emptied my head into. It got me through a marriage break-down and funnily enough, it was where I first started (I think) writing occasionally about WoW, eventually I stopped writing there – it has served its purpose and I no longer needed that ‘escape route’ for my emotions.  As I’ve mentioned before, I deleted it some time ago – my life has changed a great deal and I wasn’t comfortable with all that (slightly more grown-up) angst being on the interwebz.  I missed writing though – it had become part of a routine – and then one day a guildie linked me a page from the sadly missed 4Healz - it was the Valentines Day post and it made me roar with laughter.  Then I realised that there was an entire sub-set of people, an entire community, who wrote about their experiences in WoW. 

My first WoW blog was jointly written but briefly lived.  Then I eventually moved to /Moar Alts, where I have remained for nearly a year now.  Writing is still part of my life and something that I love.  Despite my occasional breaks I’m always drawn back, both to blogging and Azeroth.  I can’t see that changing hugely in the foreseeable future… 

Friday, 4 February 2011

20 Days of Warcraft...Redux! Day 1

Blame Saga - she's given us another meme! And everybody loves a good meme!

So Day One: Introduce Yourself.  Ohhhhh I get to write about my favourite subject... me, me, me! God, I love this meme even more now...

So omg-hai!  I'm Pilf, and I'm a confirmed alt-aholic.  You know this...

In real life I'm a belf on the inside, but a dorf on the outside.  I'm 33 (oh god, in a week and a bit I'm 34...) and I have two daughters who are 15 and 12.  Soon to be 13 and 16.  Fuck... On the plus side, I can embarrass the hell out of them, just by... you know, being.  They're just the right age for Mum's existence just to be too embarrassing for words.  That said, I'm taking Youngest to her first gig on Valentines Day.  How cool is that?  Himself and I get to go and rawk! rather then sitting in an overpriced restaurant surrounded by other couples being romantic. And rawk! we will - Youngest has an excellent taste in music (which I take ALL the credit for) so we're going to see some screamo band.  All Youngest has to do (as does Eldest, for that matter) is believe that Mum isn't going to re-live her goth-chic days and go dressed in jeans, a black Wonderbra and a fishnet top.  Which I'm not.  But only because I haven't got the figure anymore...

I live on the sea (not literally, that'd be kinda wet and cold... I mean on the sea front) in the South of England.  If you want an idea of what it's like just listen to the lyrics on this. That's my world, right there.   I live with Himself, as you might have noticed.  Himself is slightly senior to me and is a Proper Grown-Up with a Proper Job.  He's somewhere between a Troll and a Tauren (in personality NOT looks!)  But he forgives my belf tendencies so it's all good.  I'm sort of a grown up... but basically I agree with Margaret Atwood.  Currently  I'm a housewife cum student. Himself thinks that when I've gotten my degree I'm going to be a SpAd.  Himself might yet be disappointed...

Wow - it's harder to write about me than I thought it would be.  I'm bored of me now.  I'm looking forward to reading about you, so get on with the Challenge folks!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Gender roles (quests?)

Really, I do.  Once everything in the house is ironed! 

Himself is a New Man (deliberate capitals).  He really finds it hard when people ask me what I do and I say 'I look after Himself and Daughter' (even though it's true - Pilf is a housewife IRL!) - I always suspect that he'd rather I said I was a student (which is also true) and then dropped in that I'm studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics. (True again.  I'll give you a second to pick yourself up of the floor and dust yourself down.  Giddy Pilf might not be quite as giddy as she leads people to believe...) But he is of the New Man school that believes in equality and opportunity for all - regardless of gender (or anything else, come to think of it.)  [whispers] I think he quite likes being looked after mind you - but he insists on telling people, with his tongue on his cheek, that having a wife-y is a moral burden...

Ok, I know you're all wondering where this is leading.

There's a quest in The Cape of Stranglethorn - this one to be precise, which Himself couldn't do.  He tells me he tried it four times... I've never known Himself quit on a quest before - unlike me who regularly has a paddy and storms away from the 'puter.  So natch, I had to see what was so difficult.  All you have to do is pick up a mop and swab the deck of the boat for two minutes.  The stains glitter and everything!  So I did it first time (ahem) which caused Himself endless amusement.  We decided that really, I'd better blog it, lest Himself got carried away and brought the ire of... parts of the interwebz down upon him. I'm not kidding here - he couldn't wander round the deck and mop stuff up... Good job that us wimmin are experienced with all the cleaning we do, so are on hand to do those difficult quests...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Waffles (minus maple syrup)

Yesterday I had a huge compliment paid to me.  A blogger who I read regularly, had left me a comment in response to a comment I had left her, regarding my blog, and whilst even my ego (which is large enough to warrant its own post-code) thinks it would be too much to link to said post, I'm flattered and kinda genuinely amazed.  You know who you are *hugs*.

All of which is good blog fodder, isn't it folks?  Because I don't really think too much about my little corner of the interwebz here.  I like blogging, so I blog.  Sometimes I like blogging more than I like gaming - and that's a pain in the ass.  One of the things I missed the most when I took my WoW-hiatus, was that I couldn't write.  Sad Pilf was sad.  And I kept a personal blog a while back but... personal stuff permanently etched onto the internet makes me a little... anxious nowadays. So that blog has been deleted for quite some time.  And actually, I like blogging about something that other people also blog about.  That feeling of being part of a broader community, circle, web, call it what you want.  I continue to be... well, flattered, I guess when people leave me comments.  I've never had tracking addons installed on my blog so I have no clue as to how many people come here, and what they're looking for.  Having read some of the 'search term' blog posts, I'm a bit glad about that... And in the main, I write to empty my head out onto the screen.  Sure, when you keep a public blog, there is no getting away from the fact that you are, to a degree, 'writing to be read', but that's not always the case.  Sometimes it is - especially when, as in my last few posts, I was hoping to get some feedback (which I did - thanks folks!) about topics that were making me go 'hmmm'.

More often though, it's just about the process.  Kinda similar (I think) to Zen gardening.  It's not the end result, it's the journey.  And much as I loved my RP stuff when I was really immersed in RP, I'm so anti-social in-game now, that I'm not getting me any RP.  And much as I should be able to write ficlets from my imagination... I can't really.  I need people to bounce off to get the, uh creative juice, as it were, flowing sufficiently for me to be involved enough to want to write. Because forcing yourself to write just leads to frustration and angst.  Both of which I have a Masters in, natch...

All of which is  avery roundabout way of saying to everyone who reads and comments - thank you!  I'm quite pants at commenting on the blogs that I read usually, and only do if I have something that I feel is relevant, so it's always a privilege to get an email telling me that not only has someone read my drivel, but they've replied to it as well (y'all are mad, mad folk!)  On 7 February (uh that's like.. next week - yikes!) it'll be my blog anniversary so I really need to find some inspiration for an OMG I made it a year!!!111!! post.  Apologies, therefore, if it's a bit quiet here until then!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


I need to do something, anything to stop me staring at the Spreadsheet of Doom (aka the wedding costs spreadsheet) before I go (even more) bonkers than I already am.  Poor Himself must be wondering who abducted his bonkers (but-in-a-way-he-understands) fiancee and replaced her with bridezilla. So off I toddled to Blog Azeroth (my go-to 'I need to blog but have no inspiration' site) to see if anything gripped me and came up blank.  The current topic 'Digging Archaeology' doesn't apply as I... umm... haven't, and the previous topic 'What causes an encounter to click?' doesn't really apply either as I haven't raided in the best part of a year.  Le sigh.  Inspiration, why hast thou deserted me? Happily my blogging circle of lurve means that sometimes comments lead to thoughts, and thoughts lead to the germ of an idea for a post.  So for this I thank Kam, Saga and Jen for their input on my last rambling post (yes, I'm now going to have pink linkies because it makes me happy) and Himself who tried the beta for another MMO last week, but appears to have gotten bored very quickly and returned to WoW.

Azeroth really does seem to exert a hold over people.  Despite all the much publicised WoW-hate within the MMO blogging community (and sometimes within the WoW blogging community itself) it's still a phenomenally successful game whether you agree with the game tweaks and the numbers or not. I've never tried another MMO.  Most of the people I know in-game (which isn't huge number admittedly, but is a fair few) haven't either (I'm not counting CoD as an MMO by the way...)  Some have flirts, one night stands, or short flings with other games, but return to WoW.  In my experience, people quit playing for a load of different reasons, but I don't think (and I'm racking my brains here) that I know anyone who's stopped playing because they've been lured away by another MMO.

The game Himself has been playing (dire intro aside - really, WTB decent voice actors???!) seemed to be to be kinda ok.  It looked like WoW, but then I'm led to believe that a lot of games do, and that WoW's interface came from Everquest or whatever anyway.  (There is nothing new in the world.  Le sigh again. Oh ennui, why doest thou hound me?)  It certainly was pretty.  Pretty and shiny.  Which, interestingly, didn't hold much appeal for Himself.  He likes WoW graphics - the fact that they are slightly... cartoon-like... isn't quite the phrase I'm looking for, but it'll have to do.  I liked the game he was experimenting with because the graphics were more... realistic.  Again, not the right phrase.  Bah.  My daughters, plugged in via boy mates to CoD and the like, roll their (heavily mascara'd) eyes at WoW for many reasons, but one of the things that bugs them are the graphics.  To them, they're clunky and old fashioned.  We explain server-loading to them in vain - they just think it's like sooooo whatever... God, play a modern game Mum... Which is fascinating, because when I started playing WoW I couldn't believe the lack of load screens and the detail in the graphics.  How things change in 5 (or so) years.

I don't pretend to be plugged into the MMO world - I get rumblings through blogs that are more MMO orientated and less about just WoW tso that even I know that every so often a game comes along that's talked up as 'the one' that will finish off WoW.  The one that will lure away the huge subscription base. Whether it's Aion, Rift or the Star Wars thingthey will all cause the death of WoW.  Or, y'know, maybe they won't.  Don't get me wrong here, I accept that eventually WoW will falter and stumble but I'm not sure it's demise will be because of a similar fantasy MMO.  Surely people who want to play fantasy MMOs and who already play WoW will, in all likelihood, continue to play it?  Because of the investment we have made into our characters?  Possibly.  Because of our social networks?  Possibly.  Because basically it's a solid, bug-free (in the main) game?  Possibly. Because of the breadth of the game?  Possibly.  Because of a combination of the above?  Very likely.

That last point, by the way, was one that Kam made.  She said: "I don't even have enough time for everything I want to do in WoW, let alone any other MMO!  Perhaps it's a difference between wanting a depth of MMO experience -- exploring all the different aspects of one particular game, such as WoW versus wanting a breadth of MMO experience -- exploring all the different aspects of the MMO genre as a whole by dabbling in a variety of MMO games."  And that's a GOOD point. If you made a list of everything you can do in WoW; alt levelling, all the classes and races, the RP aspects, professions (primary and secondary), achievements, instances and raids, playing the AH and getting to gold cap, PvP (battlegrounds and arena), guild levelling, and more than I can't think of right now, you've got a HUGE game.  And, leaving aside the people who really play a skewed (i.e. massive) amount of time per day, who really has time to fully experience all those things?  I understand that some bits are more appealing and more attractive to individuals than others, but isn't it great to have a game that covers so many bases?  And I know from experience that what you 'want' can change.  I used to be a srsbznz raider and really struggle with levelling.  I think we have seen that that has now... changed.  Himself plays the AH game and whilst it doesn't appeal to me, I can't deny that he's good at it.  I get madly addicted to professions (I never used to bother with First Aid - and now all my characters appear to have it - go figure...) and have power-levelled fishing and cooking on too many characters to comfortably count. The sheer variety of stuff to do is incredible.  And I don't think, in the midst of all the post-expansion blues and the WoW-hate, that we're that good at sitting back and looking at what we do have. 

So thanks Blizz - I know you get a fair amount of stick, but all in all, I like WoW.  Don't go changing (to try and please them)... That said, what would an MMO have to do/have to lure you away from WoW? I'd be interested in your thoughts!