I’m paying for my father’s World of Warcraft account.
Well, theoretically it’s my account, but nowadays I hardly play. I got a mage up to level 43 or so before even the lovely quest-drenched grind grew tedious and frustrating. When my a few of my friends bought the game, we all started new characters on a PvP server and played leveled together after work. One of these friends happened to be my brother, six hundred miles away at his new job. This caught my father’s interest and, after I demonstrated the game to him, he showed interest in giving it a try. The idea seemed harmless enough, and remains a source of cute stories to tell folks online. Two things have lately pushed it past cute:
1) I have virtually stopped playing. His priest is now level 48.
2) He had enough gold to buy a mount immediately at level 40.
A few words on my father. He owns about a dozen hex-map war games. His younger brother introduced him to 1st edition D&D in the 70’s, and he introduced it to my brother and myself when we were both pre-teens. He has little interest in fantasy as a genre, but the gaming mechanic appealed to him. The dungeons he would create for my brother and myself were complex logic puzzles. How many copper coins can you carry? Is it worth fighting that Rust Monster to see what he’s guarding? Is that Yellow Mold or just yellow mold?
Not terribly fun at age 8. Most of our characters died before they reached level two.
More important to the story at hand, my father hasn’t played a computer game since the first Might & Magic on the Commodore 64. When I got a new computer this summer, I gave him my aging Pentium III (his gaming machine). Before that he was running Windows 95 on a 486. Skills that I take completely for granted (touch typing, using a mouse and keyboard simultaneously) are steep and daunting challenges for him.
I did not expect him to last long.
He spent his first month of play unable to pilot the character at run speed. So he walked. He doesn’t feel that bats and wyverns are worth the premium. So he walked. Everywhere. From Sepulchre to Thunder Bluff. Then, because various folks in my brother’s guild had the crafting professions, he chose herbalism and skinning. If he saw a monster that skins, he’d walk over and kill it. If he saw an herb he’d walk over and harvest it. Always. If he saw somebody who didn’t have a fortitude buff, and didn’t charge past before he’ d had time to move from the keyboard to the mouse, he’d walk over and put one on them. Always. Because people would so rarely stop, and because he is so slow a typist, he made a few speech macros and put them in treasured places on the quickbar. He has recently learned to identify monsters by color and shape, rather than by clicking on them.
He’s a priest, so people invite him to groups. Now that he’s learned to run, he’s actually rather successful on them. He has a decent set of +healing gear in addition to his soloing gear. To hear him tell it, the most challenging part was learning to understand the leet shorthand and acronyms people use. Things like “lfg” and “lol” went right over his head. He couldn’t type fast enough to ask for translations… every time he’d start, people would be fighting again and need healing.
Our alchemist stopped playing that character, so my father found the auction house. Now he sells everything there. Everything. Any item with a white name that he does not find on his list of everything for which he has figured the ideal price. Every magic weapon. Every magic armor. All the leather the leathercrafter doesn’t want anymore. If any of his old possessions aren’t soulbound, they go to the auction house too…
…and he loves the game.
He wants to know if I’ve logged in lately because he’s sent me a bunch of magic items my characters might like.
He tells me tales about particularly inept groups he’s had in the Scarlet Monastery.
He memorizes specific paths through Ashenvale and the bay off Ratchet for gathering piles of Stranglekelp.
He wonders if I’ve ever found a good source of Grave Moss, and (rather shy of PvP) decides he’ll swim around the horn from Booty Bay to the Swamp of Sorrows.
He plays three to five hours a night.
So an old gamer finds a new kind of game… and adores it. I shudder to think what’ll happen once he retires.