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Virtual Space: The Sanctity of Elwynn Forest

by Matthew Harrison 5 years ago in rpg / pc
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Remembering one of the greatest online spaces ever created.

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Many a time, I awaken to a flashing montage of past memories and experiences. All can be cited to elicit some type of emotional response, be it a pang of guilt or a warm dull glow that will momentarily sit in my stomach. These collective sets of experiences are universal to the human race and help define our shared experience. However, whilst thinking back to fond memories, something that time and time again resurfaced was my early experiences with the MMORPG, World Of Warcraft.

A certain feeling of enchantment that surpasses a lot of my other memories in the real world hits me when I look back to my 10 year old self eagerly opening up the box to find the plethora of scenarios I would be finding myself in once the journey home in the car was completed.

I remember the smell on my hands the first time I logged in, it was the smell of Imperial Leather hand wash, and I created a Human character (Warrior class) and logged online.

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This was the first time I had encountered an online community of any sort. To encounter a fully realised virtual space with other real people was completely absurd to me and became completely enthralling. The first thing I did as a new player was to run to the nearest city (Stormwind) and stand amongst the real people, even follow some around the city to watch how people interacted with the space. Many people refer to this period of time as a Golden Age, a time in which we all felt a part of a cultural phenomena.

The rigid RP elements serviced as only a backdrop to the emergent situations you would find yourself in. Traditional goal centered structure was only a passing interest to many. To be able to exist in a space which worked entirely separately from the real world really was the crux of why I was interested in the game world Blizzard created. To be able to have a space that felt so inspired and safe was a blessing to a lot of people.

Chance encounters and lounging in the various different locations were the crème de la crème of early childhood experiences. Being able to take some time out from real life stress and slowly walk across the desert in Tanaris were a blessing.

It has been a long time since I've ventured into World of Warcraft. For me, the game ended when the third expansion came out, Cataclysm. This expansion pack redesigned and changed a lot of the map I had grown so fond of over my journeys. This was my first real experience of loss. The space wherein once reminded me of safety had now changed to become unrecognizable to me, a renovated husk that no longer bared the soul I had grown so accustomed to. To think that I can never return to the same spaces I used to (outside of a private server) still creates a feeling of mournfulness.

To disregard virtual experience as trivial is a large oversight. I learnt many valuable life skills from adventures and quests I embarked on, virtual spaces need to be cherished and respected to allow them to create valuable life building experiences. The World of Warcraft I used to play helped create many of my experiences and for that I say, Thank you, and goodbye.

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Matthew Harrison

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