Eight Years and 300,000 Words to Say Goodbye to World of Warcraft

One of Polygon's contributors has editorialized about the several years they spent as a guild leader in World of Warcraft - a period of time that was inevitably filled with triumphant raiding, crushing losses, and tough intra-guild decisions. I can draw some comparisons to my own experience in EverQuest and even Ultima Online before that, but I can say without hesitation that I'm glad I never let myself get so hooked that I was willing to sacrifice relationships, internet-bound or otherwise:

Once end-game raiding grew in importance to both myself and my guild, it became my job — my responsibility as a guild leader — to do whatever it took to master raiding fundamentals.

Rote healing skills consumed those early days. As my shaman gained access to the first endgame raid, Molten Core, I gained access to the tools in a raider's repertoire. Optimized keyboard layouts granted us better control. Add-ons like CTRAID painted the screen with a heads-up display that conveyed my team's health, threat generation and the damage they doled out (down to the decimal).

The logistics of raid strategy became daily reading material. We maximized our performance by only bringing certain classes if they committed to certain roles — Druids and Shamans healed, Warriors tanked, and so on. My focus in pushing both myself and my guild was resolute; it was the only way to assure a successful raiding outcome. But maintaining this focus grew increasingly difficult.

Honing raid skill amid a constant barrage of distractions caused my focus to waver. Ragnaros and Nefarian took a backseat to more immediate emergencies — mobs so powerful, so dangerous, they threatened to strip me of my ability to even experience the game at all.

Other players.

At times I felt as though I'd been cast on the TV show Survivor, locked into a battle of wits with anonymous people who were experts at saying one thing and doing another. I questioned which players, or even guilds, I should be forming alliances with. Every day I logged in to World of Warcraft expecting to face another tribal challenge or field some ridiculous complaint about someone's needs we failed to cater to. Unlike Survivor, I needed no voting ceremony to rid myself of dissent. Kicking players from the guild was often necessary. Elitism was wonderfully therapeutic.

Over time, contempt for players became less tribal and resentment grew more personal. I'd read of guild leaders struggling to make a "hard decision," only to discover their gut-wrenching choice came down to deciding between a Bind-on-Account weapon or armor. "Try kicking a close friend out of the guild because even though he's a decent guy he also sucks at his class and has no capacity to lead," I'd think.

Other players had no concept of hard decisions. They had no right claiming it.