The Rise and Fall of Garr; My World of Warcraft Retrospective

My name is Kody Spitzlberger, and I’m a World of Warcraft addict.

I've known for a long time how hard of a grasp this game has had on me, but for the most part I guess I just ignored it, just went with the flow. I've been a closet WoW player for years, and not many people outside my good friends - or the Geek Domination community - knew it. I've been a part of some of the best guilds in the United States, and achieved some pretty cool stuff in a game where nothing really matters. Let's make one thing clear; I do love this game, and I do not regret much when it comes to my overall experience with it. I've met some incredible people, gained some lifelong friendships, and learned so much about myself and teamwork. I've just recently gotten to the point where I finally realized how this game was affecting my mental health, and had to take a step back from it.  What you're about to read is a retrospective, a reflection, on the last five years of my life with this game and what I learned from it. I’m telling you now, it will be a long read, but I hope that you have the tenacity to learn about what has been a huge part of my life over the years. I’ll tell you about some of the people I’ve met, and what they’ve done for my life; what I learned about myself and a community bigger than most people can ever dream to be a part of; and so much more. And for those who are just here for the “big decision” of me quitting WoW, there is a TL;DR at the end. Welcome to a look inside the life of a closet, hardcore WoW player.

As a side note, the first time I run across a term that may be unfamiliar to a non WoW player, I will give a brief description in parenthesis.


THE BEGINNING

It all started in August of 2011, a pretty shitty year for me. My parents getting divorced, my two best friends had gone away for college, and I was left back at home in good ol’ Lakewood just trying to figure out my life. I’ve struggled with depression for a long time, and this was one of the hardest points in my life. I suppose in my weakness, I found World of Warcraft. I had played the old RTS (Real Time Strategy) Warcraft games - Warcraft 2, Reign of Chaos, and The Frozen Throne - a ton growing up. This was also not my first encounter with WoW; I had played it randomly at a couple friend’s houses throughout the years. I suppose I always thought I was just “too cool” to play WoW. Little did I know that I was pretty much made for the game. I convinced my best friend Jean-Luc Navant to download the trial version with me, and within a week I had purchased the game. During 2011, WoW was part way into its fourth expansion, Cataclysm - patch 4.2 (patches simply signify a portion of content added to the game, or a significant amount of changes made to the game's core mechanics)  to be exact. I really had no idea what I was getting into at the time.

I started as a Warlock, because Warlocks are cool yeah? I mean, I found it really boring, but I just wanted to get to level 55 so I could play Death Knight (Death Knight is a hero class in WoW, requiring you to have a level 55 before you could make one, as they start at level 55). I pressed on, leveled to 55 within a week or so, mainly by doing quests and dungeons. To this day I still remember my first dungeon (short instanced area in which you are placed into a group with four other players) experience and how much I loved it. Anyway, I got to 55, started a Death Knight, and messed around with that. Turns out I wasn’t a big fan of Death Knight after all. I tried a couple other classes, but I realized that I wasn’t really a fan of playing this game by myself, and actually stopped playing for a little bit. I eventually convinced Jean-Luc to buy the game and play with me, and through the benefits of recruit-a-friend (300% increased experience), we both leveled Paladins from 1 to 66 in about eight hours of dungeon spamming (simply running dungeon after dungeon after dungeon). It was also the first time I had tried out tanking (role designed to keep enemy’s focus and take damage for the team) in the game, and I absolutely loved it. Over the next week or so, JL played the game off and on, while I powered all the way to 85; the level cap at the time.


SEJUANI, WIPES ON TRASH, AND DRAGON SOUL

Sometime before JL and I had our leveling adventure, patch 4.3 had been released. It was time for the Dragon Soul; the most epic raid (think dungeon, but longer, harder, and more people; ten to forty. See ERP2 for a more indepth discussion on raiding)  in the history of World of Warcraft. Or so we thought. Dragon Soul turned out to be a pretty meh raid, but raiding wasn’t even a thought in my brain at the time. I was just a scrubby little level 85 Protection Paladin, still just spamming dungeons to try my luck at getting gear. One of my favorite things in WoW has always been to run old raids, for the nostalgia factor, and for cool transmogs (ability to make your armor/weapons look like other armor/weapons). One of my favorite raids to run during this time was the Black Temple, one of the most infamous raids in the history of WoW. Released during the Burning Crusade expansion, the Black Temple was home to one of the most famous and well known characters in WoW lore (story) - Illidan Stormrage. Black Temple was also where the Warglaives of Azzinoth dropped, which do absolutely nothing to your character at this point in the game (you can’t even transmog them), other than up your swag level by about 9,000%. They had a drop rate of less than 1%, so if one dropped, you were pretty lucky.

During Cataclysm, you still needed a group of about five or so people to run Black Temple, which is nothing compared to the original forty that the raid was designed around. One night after JL had finally hit level 85 on his own Death Knight, we were asking for people in chat to come hang out and do the raid with us. We grabbed a couple people, one of them was a Rogue named Sejuani. I later knew him as Poom Techasukji, and he was the first of the important people this article is about. We were talking to him the whole time, just having a blast. We got to Illidan, killed him, and what do you know, one of the warglaives dropped. There are two warglaives, one designated for both main and offhand. The main hand dropped, which was the one that Sej needed. JL jumped at the opportunity for a glaive of his own, and rolled on it as well. JL being the lucky son-of-a-bitch that he is, won the glaive. Sej was devastated; this was only the second time he had ever seen the glaive drop. He offered JL a ton of gold for it, but JL declined, wanting the glaive for himself. However, due to this, I made a deal with Sej, just because of how much I enjoyed hanging out with him during this one run. I told him that I would run Black Temple with him every week until he got his glaive. So every week for the next couple YEARS, nearly until Sej quit WoW, we ran Black Temple every week, to see if we could get his glaive. Even in later expansions when you could run Black Temple by yourself, I still ran with Sej, as to keep my promise. Unfortunately, Sej never did see another glaive drop, but what we both gained was an incredible friendship, as you'll discover throughout the remainder of this article.  

I continued to run dungeons in my free time, until I was finally geared enough to start raiding. Sej got me into a run with a group of some of his friends. One of his friends was Declian, a Priest, and guild master of Wipes on Trash. Guilds are simply just communities within the game; think clans in almost any other modern game. Anyway, I walked into Dragon Soul - my first raid - for the first time, and I did...terrible. I mean, no one is supposed to be a natural at this stuff, yeah? Anyway, after much pain, we called it a night after we couldn’t kill one of the bosses. Declian, for some reason, took a liking to me, and I was invited to join Wipes on Trash, my first raiding guild. Wipes was a pretty casual guild, but it was a perfect first guild for me. All of Sej’s characters were in the guild too, except for his Rogue, which was in Exploding Paladins (REMEMBER THIS GUILD FOR LATER. IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT). I continued to raid with Wipes on Trash until the end of Cataclysm. During some of our weekly runs, we brought in a friend of the guild, Chukbartowski - AKA Chuk, AKA Roger Metz - a badass Holy Paladin (healer) who came and hung out with us from time to time. He had his own guild, Lucid Chaos, and I got to know some of the people in that guild too. At the end of Cataclysm, things were looking good. My ability to raid had improved significantly, I was now an officer (leadership role within the guild) in Wipes, Sej had moved his Rogue back into the guild, and we waited for the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria, to launch. And this, is where this story really takes off.


MISTS OF PANDARIA - AGE OF THE EXPLODING PALADINS

PANDALAND BITCHES! The new expansion was here! People were excited, people were driven, people were...pretty mad about Mists of Pandaria. The beginning of the expansion - to be blunt - absolutely sucked. A boring leveling experience, near endless amounts of daily quests to complete, Monks (new class introduced in MoP) felt boring in comparison to the other classes (although they were crazy strong, no matter which role they were in),  and - believed by the general public - some of the worst raids ever created in the game. After I leveled my trusty Paladin to the new level cap of 90, I actually moved to a more casual form of raiding, leading one of the alt raid teams (group of players on characters other than their main, or simply people of lesser skill/time to commit). I took this step back due to real life shenanigans; I was in my first semester at a new college, and times were hectic. Although, even while raiding only one to two nights a week and barely playing outside of that, I still managed to be the top geared Protection Paladin on the server at the time. That really just goes to show how poor of a server I was on (Shu-Halo). This was really when I started paying attention to the rankings of guilds on the server. Throughout most of the beginning of Mists, Wipes on Trash was around the fifth best guild on the server, underneath Lucid Chaos, Thracians, Aspect, and Cryptic. It was also during this time that I leveled my Hunter as an alt, and was raiding with him on the side, just hopping into random groups on the server.

Lei Shen, the end boss of Throne of Thunder

Towards the end of the first set of raids in Mists, I was able to start raiding with the main team of Wipes again. Shortly after coming back, a new raid - the Throne of Thunder -  was released. About a week after the release, Wipes actually ended up having to quit raiding. Declian had to leave the game due to real life reasons, and shortly after the guild basically ended up disbanding, with most of the main raiders leaving the guild in order to find a new guild to raid with. Most of the raiders - including Sej - went to Undercity Marine Corps. They were a smaller guild like Wipes, so the transition was natural for most of the group. Unfortunately, UCMC didn’t have a tank spot available on their raid team, so I was kinda shit outta luck. I raided on my Hunter a little bit with them, but I never really clicked with the UCMC guys. The guild leader was an asshole and that whole guild was very unmemorable for me. I left soon after joining, and was just a guildless Paladin for a time.

The funny thing about Throne of Thunder? Protection Paladins were absurdly overpowered. They were dealing more damage than some DPS (damage role, often known as DPS - Damage Per Second), healing the raid as much as healers, and could survive longer than any other tank. Raid groups generally have two tanks to survive certain mechanics; Protection Paladins could solo tank half of the raid with relative ease, just because of how god damn strong they were. Because of this, I was a hot commodity. I was known as one of the better Protection Paladins on the server, and I was currently guildless. Out of a stroke of luck I suppose, I found Remnant. Remnant was a fairly casual guild, but had some incredible players in it. I had actually raided with two of them before - Chuk, who had moved into Remnant following the collapse of Lucid Chaos, and Veera (later known to me as the lovely Moriah Hicks), one of the best Shadow Priests I have ever played with, that filled in for us quite a bit in Wipes. Anyway, Chuk had approached me about coming into tank for them, as they needed a Paladin to help them in the raid. I raided with them that evening, had a ton of fun, and joined the guild following the raid. Remnant’s guild master, Torg, actually lives in Colorado, about an hour and a half away from me. We still haven’t met in real life. We suck. Remnant was such a good guild for me. They were the best guild I had been in at the time, and there was such a sense of family that I hadn’t felt in a guild up until this point.

Turns out Throne of Thunder was the reason a lot of guilds broke up. The raid was difficult; it was designed to be (the second boss of the instance - Horridon - was one of the most difficult fights in the entire raid). A lot of people disliked that. Along with Wipes and Lucid Chaos, Thracians and Cryptic also bit the dust not long after the raid’s release. It was around this time that I met a Death Knight named Lowcal. I had heard of him before, mainly his Priest - Germx - but I now know him as Lance Hicks, Veera’s/Mo’s husband, THE best Priest/healer I have ever played with, one of the officers of Thracians, and the original guild master of Exploding Paladins. Lance would raid and hang out with us in Remnant from time to time. Not long after I joined Remnant, Lance began talking about reviving Exploding Paladins, by merging some of Thracians’ old raiders with the current core of Remnant. EP was a very well known guild on the server, being one of the best guilds during Dragon Soul and raids prior to it. It has a long and pretty incredible history (the story of its creation is a grand tale; the events that created EP could be a novel on its own), that really valued a family-esque raid environment above all else. We decided to go for it, even though we knew that not everyone would be guaranteed a spot on the new team. With this, I was a member of Exploding Paladins. Remember how I said this guild would be really important to my WoW story? Oh, we haven’t even begun with its importance yet.

Seven. That's the number of people I raided with in Exploding Paladins during Throne of Thunder that I have maintained a friendship with long after we stopped raiding together. Seven people I met through a video game, and are now some of the people I hold most dear in this world. The reformation of EP was a pretty special thing for all of us. I don’t think we knew at the time how special of a thing we had created. The new EP raid team consisted mainly of eight people, with the last two spots cycling through people so quick that I don’t even remember all of them. The team was myself, Lance, Mo, Chuk, Torg, Sej (who we stole back from those UCMC bastards), and two newcomers from the old Thracians crew. We had Invigorate - AKA Kyle Cordano, one of the best Retribution Paladins in the world (I am not exaggerating this) - and Sxcbeast - also known as Trevor DeCaire, a Protection Warrior, my new co-tank, and forever my tanking buddy. Towards the very end of Throne of Thunder, we picked up Geezpow - Bob Barnes - Thracians’ old GM, and a good friend of the Hicks, bringing the total number of EP friends to eight.

Screenshot of our first kill of Heroic Horridon

There are many reasons as to why Throne of Thunder is my favorite raid that I ever progressed in. The first being that it was just an incredibly well designed raid. Most of the bosses were unique, fun, and difficult. The fact that Paladins were overpowered as all hell during this raid may be skewing my perception pretty heavily, but just ignore that fact. The second, and more prominent, reason is the relationships I gained and cultivated during this time as a raider. I talk to all these people on a near weekly basis, and will be attending my second Blizzcon with three of them later this year. If all the pain, stress, and annoyance in my life due to WoW was merely justification for this, then it was all worth it. Exploding Paladins continued to raid well into the next tier of raiding - the Siege of Orgimmar. We maintained a second place ranking on the server, until we finally had to call it quits due to new real life commitments, attendance problems, and ever changing rosters. The best and worst thing about EP was the family-esque raid environment; it was held above everything else. And while that created an amazing raid team, it held us back at the same time, because we dealt with a lot more bullshit than most guilds, just because we liked the people we were raiding with. The Exploding Paladins were no more.

First kill of Heroic Fallen Protectors in Siege of Orgrimmar


THE ORIGIN OF MYTHIC RAIDING

Not long before the collapse of EP, another guild on Shu’halo had a huge shake up in their roster. Aspect - current top guild on the server - had a large uprising. Most of their core raid team had left due to a massive argument within the guild. Through the ashes of this uprising, Origin was formed. I had met some of the members of Origin before its formation through conversation and pugging (grabbing random people/friends from chat to continue raiding with a full group) - the main two being Phurr and Pandaleche. Pandaleche was one of the best Brewmaster (tank) Monks in the world, and the few times I had run with him before, I was in utter awe of how shitty I was compared to him. Then there was Phurr - Jake Hannah - who had been described to me before by Sej as the absolute best raider on our server. With the disbanding of EP, I was in need of a new guild. While nearly everyone else on the EP team took a break from the game all together, I pressed on, just because I wanted to continue to raid. I had leveled a Monk in my offtime, and had been enjoying it enough to decide to make it my main character. Brewmaster Monk was hard to master, but if you could it was incredible how little damage you took, and how much you dished out. I had also gotten the hang of Windwalker (damage spec) and was having a blast with it. I eventually contacted Pandaleche to apply for a spot in the guild. This was going to be the biggest guild I ever attempted to enter, the first time I would actually have to fill out an application to be in a guild. Fortunately, I was accepted, and placed on to the damage roster not long after. This would be the first time where I raided mainly on a damage class, and I was excited for the change of pace.

When Warlords of Draenor was announced, mythic raiding was announced alongside it. Let me explain what this means to those who have no idea what I even said. During Cataclysm, raiding had two difficulties - normal and heroic - that could be attempted by groups of two different sizes - ten or twenty-five. When Dragon Soul was released, the Looking For Raid - LFR - difficulty was announced. This was a super easy difficulty where you were queued into a group of twenty-five random people. The gear was sub par and the fights were easier. Then, in Siege of Orgrimmar, flex raiding was released, a difficulty in between LFR and normal, in which you could bring anywhere from ten to twenty-five people, and the bosses would scale their difficulty based on the amount of people in the group. Mythic raiding was implemented really just to screw with everyone. Normal and heroic would now have the flex scaling technology, and the new mythic difficulty would be hard locked at twenty people, to be the absolute hardest difficulty. Oh look, here's a picture that explains that better.

This change was made mainly to allow the developers to better design the hardest content. There were always debates of whether ten man or twenty man raid teams were better, as bosses that were near impossible for ten man groups were a joke for twenty-five, and vice versa. This would end that debate, and make one difficulty to rule them all, showing which guilds were truly the best.

Origin, and every guild I had ever been a part of up to this point, was a ten man raiding guild. But with mythic on the horizon, we made the switch to twenty-five, and finished raiding Siege of Orgrimmar as a twenty-five man guild. The logic made sense, as it’s easier to cut five people from twenty-five to make twenty later, rather than to make ten more people randomly appear out of nowhere. We had to make this switch to continue being a serious raiding guild, as raiding as a twenty man team was the only option now, if you wanted to raid the hardest content. By the end of Mists of Pandaria, after raiding Siege of Orgimmar for FOURTEEN months straight, I was so ready for something new. I had made a name for myself as a Windwalker Monk, and was now one of the best damage dealers on the server. I was so hyped for Warlords of Draenor; I was in a fairly hardcore guild, had become a well known figure on the server, and was ready to bring the new expansion to its knees. Although, the launch of WoD also brought the exit of an old friend. Real life had reached a point where Sej would no longer be able to play WoW. My first WoW friend was leaving, and I’m not going to lie that I was pretty upset about it. As I stated before, I still talk to Sej fairly regularly, so at least we have maintained our friendship.


WARLORDS OF DRAENOR - THE WORST EXPANSION

As the title of this section implies, Warlords of Draenor was just a grand time to be playing WoW. Not only did it have one of the worst launches in the history of...ever - with unstable servers and broken instances of the game - you ran out of stuff to do VERY quickly. I had actually taken my vacation from work in order to dive into the release of WoD, in which I was incredibly hyped for. I hit level 100 in about sixteen hours; if realm first level 100 achievements (special award indicating that you were the first on a server to hit level 100) still existed, I would have been realm first 100 monk. And then, I was pretty much out of stuff to do, other than spam dungeons and get gear. The first raid - Highmaul - didn’t come out until two and a half weeks after launch.    

As WoD launched, major leadership changes occurred within Origin. Phurr had to resign as guild master due to real life problems, which led Panda to take his place. Panda was, by far, the worst GM I ever had in WoW. He passed off nearly all responsibilities to his officers, and made the decision that ruined the expansion for a lot of us; promoting a new raid leader. Sheepie, or as she will be known from here out as Super-Ultra-Mega-Bitch, had been made raid leader of what was considered the best guild on the server at the time. Sheepie was...God I don’t even want to talk about her. She was incredibly whiny, didn’t take any responsibility for the vast amount of problems in the guild, and an overall sub-par raider. I don’t want to get too negative here, so that's all we’re going to say for now.

Between the overall lack of content, and being in a guild that was going through a lot of drama, the launch of WoD was very rough for most of us in Origin, but for no one else other than Phurr. Despite stepping down from GM, and going through seven different kinds of real life hell, he was still one of our raiders, and was there to the best of his abilities. He had a lot going on at the time, and the officers in the guild pretty much did nothing but talk shit about him all the time. I sympathized a lot with Phurr, He didn’t do anything wrong, was still an incredible player (better than most in the guild), but real life just shit on him. Phurr eventually left Origin - the guild he formed - due to the circumstances. Not long after, I also left Origin, for a variety of reasons. The biggest of these was that Origin just had so much tension between all of its members, and a lot of that stemmed from the leadership simply not doing their jobs. The guild was 90% shit talking, and 10% best friends, which was just unhealthy as all hell. Origin was, by far, the worst guild I was ever in. This was the top guild on the server at the time - the guild everyone was supposed to dream to be a part of - and it was pretty much hell. I wasn’t the only one who thought this either. As the months trickled on, more and more people left Origin, in search for a guild that didn’t just put people down all the time.

Fortunately for me, Exploding Paladins had begun to return to its former glory, so I was able to return to the only guild that ever felt like home for me. It only had about half of the dream team of members we had built in Throne of Thunder, but I was happy to be raiding with them again. We raided through the second raid of WoD - Blackrock Foundry - until we had to call it quits due to not being able to recruit enough members to continue into mythic difficulty. This was the hardest part about mythic; being hard locked into twenty members. While it did make for better encounters, it hurt the smaller guilds on the smaller servers who simply could not recruit the raiders necessary for mythic.

With EP disbanded again, I was left again without a raiding guild. Thankfully, I already knew which guild I would be shooting for next. The top guild on the server at the time, following the decline of Origin, was Flavour of the Month. Phurr, along with a couple other Origin veterans had actually made FotM their new home, so I already had some contacts within the guild. I applied, was accepted, and entered into the guild for the final raid of WoD - Hellfire Citadel. FotM hit this raid hard, so hard in fact, that it had burnt most of the raid team out. Nearly a month after I had joined, most of the FotM raid team had decided to take a break from WoW. Warlords of Draenor really just killed WoW for a lot of people, which I totally understand. It was at this point that I decided to take a break from WoW. I had been going pretty hard at it consistently for about 4 years at this point, and a break was much needed. I still hung out and played games with the FotM crew, such as Heroes of the Storm and Final Fantasy XIV. It was a fun experience to get to play something other than WoW with these lovely gents. During this time, Phurr and I became very close friends, and even with my exit from WoW, I talk to him nearly every day


LEGION - THE GRAND FINALE

With the announcement of WoW’s sixth expansion, Legion, we were all very interested in the game again. Legion was bringing a lot to the table - the new class Demon Hunters, spec specific weapons with heavy lore implications, a revamped Player vs. Player system - it seemed like a wonderful time to be a WoW player. Flavour of the Month had risen from the ashes, and was looking to be a Top US 100 raiding guild, which was no easy feat. We reformed the guild under new leadership, with Phurr at the helm as guild master and myself as one of the new officers. The final months of Warlords of Draenor were upon us, and our only goal was to build up the guild as much as we could, making Legion launch as easy as possible for us. We recruited a ton of new raiders, and waited for the launch of Legion. As I write this, the launch of Legion was only two weeks ago. A lot has happened within that time.

Legion launched. I again took a vacation week from work, and locked myself in my room to play the ever living crap out of the expansion. Unlike WoD, there was A LOT to do in Legion once you hit level cap. The new daily quest system had scaling rewards, so they were always fun and worth doing; the max level zone of Suramar had a ton to do, and a gripping story alongside of it; profession quests, class hall quests, artifact power grinding… It was a little overwhelming to say the least. I played Legion so much during the first week; nearly 14 hours a day, until I had to return to work. Vacation was over, *cry cry*, and with it, came the news that my schedule would be changing. I would no longer have as much control over my work schedule, and had no idea how I was going to fit raiding - basically a second job - into my schedule. I took a couple days to think about it, and decided that I needed to take a step back from raiding again. I was not going to be able to maintain it alongside work, Geek Domination, and my personal life. I made the announcement to my guild. I had every intention of still playing the game, just not raiding full time. They were - expectantly so - pissed. I was one of the officers, one of the tanks (I had decided to return to my roots as a Protection Paladin for Legion), and only a week into the expansion I was calling it quits. Instantly, I felt like an outsider in the guild. No one talked to me. My attempts to contact people failed; I felt like I was a total ghost in the guild now. For those in FotM who are reading this, I don’t blame you for any of this, just disappointed how nearly a year's worth of friendship went down the drain in an instant.

And with that, I was done. At this point, I’m done with playing WoW other than super casually. I didn’t realize how much fun I wasn’t having with the game after all this time, and seeing the backlash of me stepping down from full time raiding was pretty much the nail in the coffin. But I was ok with this, I honestly felt relieved that this chapter of my life was closing. I had realized that WoW was doing so much more harm to my life than good - the stress, the drama, the negativity. WoW had become a toxin in my veins, and it felt cathartic to walk away.


TL;DR - THE REFLECTION

When I decided to write this...novel, it was to create an absolute sense of closure to my WoW experience. And I achieved that. It was so much fun reliving the last five years of my life with this game, reminiscing on how I met so many people, as well as reflecting on the negatives. So...was being addicted to WoW worth it? Depends how you spin it. I made some lifelong friendships - with people all around the world - that would not exist without this game; I got to be a part of something absolutely huge, but it added a lot of unnecessary stress to my life, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. But, as I said in the beginning, everything WoW did for me was worth it.

So, if I loved this game so much, if playing it was so worth it, why was it so easy to walk away? Aside from my own mental health, there were changes made to the game and to the raiding scene that made the game just not fun for me anymore. The biggest thing was mythic raiding. Ten man raiding was the sweet spot of raiding for me. I was able to create real relationships with so many of the people I raided within these smaller groups. I actually felt like I got to know these people; I knew their lives, their goals, their families...It made me feel like they were family. When mythic was introduced and I was forced to double the raid size, I lost that sense of family and community in these larger raids. In Origin and in Flavour of the Month, I had close relationships with maybe a couple members, and everyone else just felt like acquaintances. In Exploding Paladins, we were a god damn family. We cared about each other, and understood that each of us was a real person, not some random guy just sitting at his computer hanging out with strangers on a near nightly basis. Once I left EP, I lost that forever. Writing this now, I realize that it was always about the people, and never about the game. Yeah, playing a fun game was a nice plus, but interaction is what we crave as human beings, and I had it in spades in EP, but never really again. I had close friends in later guilds, and I love those people, but EP will always have a special place in my heart, above and beyond everything else.

I found WoW in my depression, in weakness, and at least I can say that five years later, I am a much stronger person because of it. And I have the people I met in WoW to thank: the best friends I gained from it; the super ass holes who did nothing but put me down; the people who boosted my ego; and the people who made me feel like utter trash. I am the man I am today thanks to this game. I can happily say I’ve outgrown it, at least for now.

So, to the incredible friends I’ve gained from all of this - Sej/Poom, Chuk/Roger, Torg, Invig/Kyle, Sxc/Trevor, Veera/Mo, Germx/Lowcal/Lance, Geez/Bob, Phurr/Jake - thank you. I know I am a difficult person to deal with at times, but I hope that being in your life means even a fraction of what you being in mine does. Thank you for the memories, for the pain, the laughter, the tears, the victories, the disappointments, and so much more. I hope that one day we meet again, whether it’s on the battlefields of Azeroth, or in this terrifying thing we call real life. Special shout out to Lance, Mo, and Bob to already having the courage to meet me in real life.

To the keyboard warriors, the assholes, and to the people who put me down, thank you for making me stronger. I’m glad that putting people down on the internet and in a fucking videogame helps you sleep at night. But seriously, thank you, for reminding me that life isn’t all butterflies and sunshine, and that there will be assholes that come around just to kick you in the teeth.

To every person that I ever raided with, thank you for making me a rockstar at teamwork, and a stronger leader. Most people won’t understand how much teamwork is involved with raiding, but that doesn’t matter because it matters to us. And apologies for not mentioning every single person in this; it would have been ten times longer.

To Blizzard, thank you for making an incredible game, more unique than pretty much anything out there. Yeah there are other MMOs, but I don't think that any of them have the sense of community that WoW does. Special thanks to Chris Metzen, who announced his retirement as this was being written, for helping create this incredible universe.

To the Geek Domination crew, as well as the others that I had proof read the ever living crap out of this, thank you for the help. I am no author, so I appreciate all the help I can get. Also, thank you for the moral support through all of this, as I sure as hell needed it.

And thank you, random person, who just read this entire thing. I don’t care if two people read this, two thousand, or two million. I don’t care if you're a hardcore WoW fan, or some scrub who doesn’t know what a keyboard is. You took time out of your life to read this story, this reflection of my life.  I just rambled on to the next level; but this was for me, and that’s all that matters.

Until next time

Garr, Shu’halo & Stormreaver Horde

Kody Spitzlberger

September 17th, 2016


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