/Gamequit threads from players who are leaving the game "for good" have become a fixture of MMO communities. Very few players stop playing without a peep. Those from smaller, tight-knit guilds say their goodbyes on their own guild forums and guildchat. Other players post more dramatic farewell threads on server and community forums (not all of which meet a warm, nostalgic reception). And some players go out with a BOOM!
The latter's the case for Boom of US Argent Dawn-H. After a long and illustrious career as a raider, roleplayer and eventually an Arena multi-boxer, real life got the better of Boom's play time. But the Argent Dawn fixture was determined to go out with the same generous spirit and panache that he had devoted to his years in the game. Boom styled a roleplaying event leading to his own execution in Stormwind, a mass event that awarded 5,000 gold to the player who landed the killing blow.
This week's 15 Minutes of Fame is the poignant tale of the lifespan of a WoW character and the friends who made WoW more than a simple video game pastime for the player behind the keyboard. Read on for the story of Boom.
Guilds: For Horde, Twenty Totems
Realm: Argent Dawn -- Horde
WoW player since: Open beta
15 Minutes of Fame: What's been the main focus of your WoW gaming through the years: roleplaying, raiding, PvP, multiboxing, a mix, a sequence?
Boom: In the beginning, it was all about leveling. That's because when the game first came out, everyone was leveling. In between quests, we'd struggle to get a group of good players together, hold our breath and enter an instance. I miss the excitement I felt when I first entered the underground cavern where Van Cleef hid his warship. That was epic. I played a good six hours a day -- which to me is pretty insane. With long weekend raids, I don't doubt at one point it was a 50- to 60-hour-per-week event.
But once I got to 60, PvP became my passion. This was back when Battlegrounds had just been introduced, and you only played against other players on your own server. Every fight, you would find yourself up against someone you recognized. It might be someone you hated, someone you loved and others you idolized. You always knew the players you were up against. It was so much more personal back then.
As I got involved in the Argent Dawn (AD) community, I got tied up in the constant fighting on the official forums between the Alliance and the Horde. I loved the conflict. The bragging, the threats ... it was exciting. As an Alliance 'toon, I was expected to hate the Horde. The funny thing was, I started to find myself supporting the Horde in a lot of arguments. Quite frankly, the Horde players seemed more mature, intelligent, fun-loving and friendly. I wanted that. That's when I created Boom. He was a Tauren Warrior. I PvPed to 60 in record time, joined a major PvP guild and eventually created my own guild, For Horde. From that point on, my time was split between guild management, PvP and running our raid group up to BWL.
It wasn't until November of last year that I decided to give multiboxing a go. I ended up creating the Twenty Totems and blogging about the experience at www.twentytotems.com.
Tell us about Boom. What makes this character tick?
I spent the first year with the Alliance. Up to that point, I had a habit of designing 'toons that I could either relate to (they would look and act like I do in RL) or 'toons I wish I were. When I switched to Horde, I struggled to do the same. The problem was, I couldn't see myself in any of the races. It wasn't until I was playing with the options on a Tauren that I ran across the "broken horn" option. I stopped clicking and stared at the 'toon. In the middle of looking for myself, I found someone else. He was this huge cow, who was embarrassed by that broken horn, and just wanted to be helpful. He wasn't very smart but had good intentions. I knew he'd have a very simple name. Boom was the first thing I typed. So he was named. Boom was a big loveable cow who talked in third person, who was quick to help anyone and everyone he met on his journey.
I'm not huge, stupid or clumsy. But I loved this 'toon. When I played him, I never once imagined myself as Boom. I was simply lucky enough to watch him succeed, fail and grow. It was an amazing change in game play for me ... But it didn't stop me from getting too involved. That's one of the reasons I had to leave.
Before I get into this, I want to make one thing clear: Blizzard makes a great game. We choose to play it responsibly, or we choose to let it control our lives like anything else. I found myself somewhere in between, but I need to acknowledge up front that it was always my choice.
WoW is a spectacular thing. There are literally hundreds of people working every day to create a world designed to make me feel heroic, powerful, successful and omnipotent. I can't die in WoW. Death is just a minor setback on my way to glory. And if I struggled, I could simply pause, pray to Thottbot, and BAM -- I was awesomesauce once again.
I made Boom famous on Argent Dawn by getting involved in the community, holding in-game contests and designing wallpapers for everyone to download. When I logged on, I had a flood of tells. Many were guild members who needed things, but most of them were from names I didn't know, just whispering "FOR HORDE!" or "Sup Boom!" Why would I want to step away from that for even a moment to do laundry, finish a job, pay my bills or anything else I had to do?
Sometimes life sucks. And about halfway through Boom's life, my real life hit bottom. None of the major events were my fault, but they were devastating nonetheless. A lot of the friends I had made in WoW turned out to be RL friends. When they noticed I wasn't logging on much anymore, they were quick to jump in and make sure I was ok. I wasn't, and that didn't scare them away. These "strangers" turned out to be some of the most supportive people in my life and ended up carrying me through the worst parts of my life. (To For Horde: Thank you, guys.)
I know that sounds great, but having that much access to sympathetic friends at the press of a key turned out to be dangerous. You see, after any tragedy, there's repair work to be done. Sometimes it's rebuilding your house, others it's rebuilding your heart. My problems left me with a lot of both. Rebuilding isn't easy. It's hard as hell. And unfortunately, WoW became an excuse to avoid those responsibilities.
I finally cut back on WoW and started to get my life back in order. Not too long after that, God blessed me with a new career, a beautiful new wife and a whole slew of new responsibilities. So recently, I decided it was time to focus on these new blessings and make sure I nurtured them better this time around than I had with the things he blessed me with in the beginning. It was time for Boom to die and time for Rob to live.
Have you destroyed your gear and deleted your characters, or have you simply shut off all your accounts?
I didn't destroy any gear. I gave all my gold away in my farewell RP event, because I don't plan to come back. I didn't destroy any of my 'toons, because I never want the names used on AD ever again. That's just a little something for me.
If I ever do decide to play WoW again, I would be likely to stick to one account and play one of my old 'toons -- but not Boom. He's gone. In a poetic way, I felt like putting him away was like throwing out a pair of crutches after healing from a broken leg. I'm grateful for the help he was to me, but I'm glad I won't need him again. I needed to put him to rest for good, if I was going to move on.
Can you give us a brief rundown of your retirement event? Did it live up to your hopes?
When I left Star Wars Galaxies, I took my Wookie, Frosty, up to this beautiful mountaintop just south of Lake Retreat on Naboo. It really is a spectacular place in game. I had already said my goodbyes to my in-game friends. I sat him down facing the sunset and tried to log out. I couldn't. I had no idea what a strong emotional connection I had to a freakin' 'toon. That was after only a year of play. I simply couldn't do that for Boom. It just wasn't epic enough.
So I decided to stage Boom's execution in Stormwind. I contacted a notorious warrior on Alliance side and got him to roleplay a kidnapping on the official forums. The players went nuts on the forums. They immediately started writing their own RP stories (some were very good), and others either planned to be there to see Boom die or promised to rescue him. To get everyone's attention, I offered 5,000 gold to the last person to land damage on Boom.
I figured I'd have a team of Alliance Priests Mind Control me into the town square and then release me to the crowd. I had no idea how many players would turn out. We staged the event at 11:30 p.m., hoping to get more folks after their nightly raids. When I got to the city, one player reported seeing over 1,100 players on Alliance side. It was chaos. What I didn't know was that Benator (Horde), a well known world PvP leader, had organized two complete 40-man raids to rush in and rescue Boom. The raids were full of members from a huge list of guilds. There was also a third group that had already pushed through Ironforge and was flooding out of the tram into the streets of Stormwind at the same time.
The result was spectacular. The battle in the town square was so huge, we crashed Argent Dawn. Did it live up to my hopes? LOL ... It blew them away.
It has to be the friendships. I met so many amazing people from every corner of this tiny globe. I have friends in the United States, Australia, all over Europe and even a "gold farmer turned penpal" in China. /wave Glona These are real people -- real friends who are still my friends now that I've left WoW. How could anything else in the game compare to that?
Are you still maintaining your blog? What about keeping up with WoW news and people you know strictly through WoW?
Twenty Totems was about multi-boxing, and I'm not doing that anymore. So I'm done with the blog. I still post on the FH forums a few times a week, and many of my WoW friends still email, text and phone me each day.
Are you planning to game elsewhere?
Of course! I'm still looking into social gaming but focusing on games I can pick up and put down in a few minutes. I play on Steam and hang out with old WoW friends that way. I hope to join them on Xbox Live soon.
What's your RL situation these days – school, work, family ...?
I just got married this May to the most amazing woman I've ever met (love you, Jenny!). My new career is taking off and keeping me busy. Thanks to my new wife, I'm not only attending my church but I'm getting involved with the children's ministries, which has been a passion of mine for a long time. I'm also pursuing my first marathon this year, something I simply couldn't do while playing WoW. Running sucks; WoW is superleet. Do the math.
What's on the horizon for the man behind Boom?
I want to blog! I loved writing about Twenty Totems. It was incredibly fun. Now I'm just looking for my next blog topic. My ultimate goal, which has been in my heart and mind since I was a child, is to be a dad. My wife and I plan to start a family in about a year from now, and my main focus is preparing my life and home for my first child.
As for WoW ... It's an amazing game. Blizzard is an amazing company, run by even more amazing people. I leave WoW now with absolutely zero regrets. I loved every moment I spent online and will carry a lot of those memories with me for the rest of my life. While I don't see WoW on the horizon ... you never know.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my story.
/boomhug™, Argent Dawn.