Age is relative. I'm not quite sure about the whole "dog years" thing, but in WoW terms, I'd be clearing my calendar this week for Sunken Temple -- surely a respectable shot past the so-called "mature" players who are still frolicking about in Scarlet Monastery, Uldaman and Zul'Farrak. So when people write in to ask me to write about "older" players and then suggest someone who's, well, my age ... the eyeballs, they start a-rollin'. An "older" player? Try 76-year-old Loyal Leitgen.
Still, I'd have to admit that players older than, say, the mid-40s aren't your typical dungeon finder fare. And an older couple who raids ICC together? Now you're talking -- and so are the gregarious Qryztal and Poli of Silvermoon (US-A), brought together by the might and magic of games across an entire ocean (and still gaming after all these years), in this week's 15 Minutes of Fame.
Main character Qryztal, resto/boomkin druid
Husband's character Poli, gnome mage
Guild <Mystic Heroes> ("our casual raiding guild loaded with /snicker "mature" players)
Server Silvermoon (US-A)
15 Minutes of Fame: Has gaming always shared a place in your history as a couple?
Qryztal: My husband and I actually met in our golden years about 10 years ago playing a game called Heroes of Might and Magic. He worked on a fan site, and at the time, I thought it was a good idea to get into web programming without it being "work." I fired off an email mentioning that java was great coffee, that I knew nothing about web programming and was happy to devote some time to helping them out. Obviously they were desperate (most of us old farts are), and they snapped up my offer.
Over the next couple of years, we worked closely together and spent many hours playing this game online. Eventually, he made the trip from Australia to southern Alabama. This shy, sweet, submissive southern Alabama belle computer programmer charmed her Australian university lecturer, hog-tied him and refused to let him go. With promises of a coffee maker, dishwasher, washer, dryer and microwave, I followed him to the Australian bush and never looked back.
Poli: I just turned 60 and my wife finally got around to telling me that she had contacted you about being a 60+ ICC raider. She even showed me her email and your response after I threatened to withdraw certain favors (I'm not saying which kind). Anyway, there's a couple of things I'd like to add to what she had to say which you might find interesting.
Firstly, my main (although not my only) raiding character is called Poli (not Poly ... hmmmmmph). More interestingly, Linda and I are a true gamer couple. We met online in 1999 because we were both involved with a website devoted to Heroes of Might and Magic. We ended up married in 2001. Nothing remarkable there, except ... Linda lived in Alabama and I live in Australia. So there were a few complications.
What a story! How did you get started in WoW?
Qryztal: I remember clearly my first look at WoW. My then 16-year-old son had been playing since the game came out six months prior and one day said, "Mom, you should give this a try." Highly skeptical, I looked over his shoulder as he was flying on a gryphon from Auberdine to Astranaar. I was stunned at the beauty of the game and the amazing ability to wander around in a 3-D world.
Of course, I convinced my hubby that we both should give it a try. It was a huge jump for us, coming from a turn-based game to a real-time game, but WoW hooked us and we have happily been killing murlocs ever since. (Well, except for the baby murlocs, of course; those are the cutest characters in the game, and the game developer who came up with those should get a huge pay raise. Not often can something so hated be turned into something so adorable.)
Are your guildmates significantly younger than you two, as a group?
Well, being a young 52 against my husband's ancient 60, of course most of the guildies are significantly younger. I refer to everyone as "chilluns" in <Mystic Heroes> as a privilege of being old as dirt – well, everyone except a charming old coot called Pywacket, who is our oldest guildie, and I'm not sure how ancient he is, but he assures me that he holds "the oldest" title. It's actually a pretty decent-sized guild that runs three 10-man raid groups along with a 25-man raid group. Most of them fit into the "mature" age group, I'm guessing between their 20s and 30s.
Does being significantly older than a large portion of the typical player base affects the way you interact with them?
The funny thing is, sitting at a computer screen, I almost picture most folks being my age (until I pay attention to trade chat, of course). One of the best tools and worse tools that Blizzard came up with is the LFG dungeon tool. It's usually quite easy to tell the age of folks you are grouped with almost immediately upon entering a dungeon, and I admit as I get older, my patience level gets shorter. If before you get the first buff applied, the tank with 30k health points has pulled the first three mobs and screams with his/her dying breath, "Where's my heals?", odds are this kid is pissed at his mom for limiting his WoW time. Nothing endears the younger generation to me (more) than having my computer screen spammed with damage meter reports after every mob. My favorite macro goes something like, "Just because my healer is geared does not mean I can protect you from your own stupidity."
My favorite groups are the ones you come into, everyone buffs, and the tank asks politely if everyone is ready. Now that is maturity, when you can spare those extra few seconds for everyone else.
For some odd reason, the younger ones seem to think age bequeaths great wisdom and bad breath. One is true; the other is a fairy tale. I prefer not to point out which is which. In the five years I have played WoW, I have never had a player be rude to me because of my age. This doesn't mean I haven't been called a noob; I don't think anyone of any age has missed out on that pleasure.
Our age is not something we hide in the game. I quite often point out "I'm old and slow" in game chat. I'm sure we are given allowances in the game because of it, and I'm just as sure that players are generous in their kindness in the game. I think the fact we came over with the Mayflower and play WoW fascinates many of them a bit, and they think maybe, just maybe, getting old isn't too bad after all. I love the fact that we get to interact with folks of all ages, from many different cultures and sometimes, although rarely, older than we are.
Have you noticed age having any effect on your physical reflexes and play abilities?
It's not so much physical reflexes that slow down but our reaction times that have taken a beating. I'm a touch typist, so for me it's a bit easier. Although I'm a firm believer in using some addons, others I avoid because of the danger of becoming too reliant on them. I used Healbot a long time ago, and every time a patch came down, it was broken, which in turn broke my healing. Now I only rely on my mouseover, keybound macros, which allow me to heal without looking at the keyboard.
My husband plays a mage and a 'lock; with these classes, it's a bit harder for him, but he still manages to do decent DPS in raids. Neither one of us will top meters at our age, but we have nothing to be ashamed of in our contributions to raiding. Our biggest challenge in raiding is learning the encounters and reacting appropriately. The young'uns have it all over us old farts in getting out of the goo ... quickly. It does mean that if we have a choice between PvP and a legion of murlocs biting our ankles, we'll go for the murlocs every time.
Does anyone else in your family play?
We have two adult daughters, two adult sons and one grandson who are playing or have played WoW. Some have moved on to other interests and some started playing within the last year. These family members are in our very small family and friends guild called <Heroes of Eternity> (affectionately known as HoEs, where everyone is a Trollop [rank]). We have found this is the best place for them to learn the game and feel comfortable. Along with Vent, it has become an amazing venue for keeping in touch with family members that otherwise we would only communicate with a couple of times a year. (There are) so many expectations out there nowadays for everyone to "know the game" that it can be quite uncomfortable and intimidating to new players.
What things do you enjoy doing in game together?
We have always leveled toons together and we make a point of doing dailies together as well. The last pair of toons we leveled together were shaman, and had the most fun doing that. There was just something about a pair of grizzled old wolves traveling Azeroth that appealed to us both. We always try to raid together, although I hate to admit, I'm a bit more hardcore than my hubby and have been known to PUG a raid or two. At this point we are like many others in the game, just killing time and murlocs 'til Cataclysm comes out.
Is there anything you don't enjoy doing or never do together in game?
Occasionally we go to battlegrounds, but PvP is not something we care to do and for the most part avoid. It is the one area that our age shows quite blatantly. The young folks just have so much better reaction times that we know it is not an area we care to compete with them. Battlegrounds use to be one of the best ways to get purplz epix, and we grinded many an hour in Alterac Valley. It's not something either of us miss. Every once in a while I'll jump into Wintergrasp to "do my part" in hopes of "owning" VoA, but my husband has yet to venture into that chaotic world. We leave PVP to the young'uns; they are better equipped for it.
What's been the most unexpected pleasure to come from raiding as a couple?
We have always enjoyed gaming together; after all, it is gaming that brought us together in the first place. At this point of the game, most of our play time together is raiding. My shy, sweet, submissive southern belle-ness gets the rare opportunity to be bossy. Things like, "Sweetheart, your pigtails are on fire; would you please move from the goo and I'll splash you with a few heals?" Nothing quite as satisfying as looking at your mate and saying, "That would look soooo much better on me." Or seeing him beat you on the dice roll and whispering, "How do you feel about couch-camping tonight?" The pleasures are limited only by my imagination.
We have never argued and aren't gonna start arguing with each other in the game. One of my pet peeves is seeing religious, political or player slamming in trade chat. WoW is not the place for these discussions or arguments. The game is a fantasy game and not somewhere that we want to discuss real-life issues. To us, it is and will always be just a game.
What are you and your guild working on in ICC right now?
<Mystic Heroes> is very much a casual raiding guild and it has been around a very long time. They have three groups running ICC 10-man, with at least one of the groups carrying the title of Kingslayer. They took a break on the ICC 25-mans but recently started them back up and are 6/12 of the bosses. It is one of the few guilds that I have seen that take raiding for the most part seriously but seriously have fun doing it. Probably explains their longevity as a guild.
Do you both plan to continue playing in Cataclysm?
As Wrath edges toward its twilight period, we still enjoy playing. We have hopes of downing the lich king, but in truth, it doesn't matter whether we do or not. Our pleasure has always been the journey, so if you don't rush towards the destination, you always have a goal to keep you busy. Of course we will be playing Cataclysm; our family plays and it is still a great source of stress release. Even though I work on a computer all day cutting code, I thoroughly enjoy coming home in the afternoon, sitting at my computer and mindlessly farming, (running) random dungeons or working on achievements.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players. These WoW players from all walks of life range from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to Olympic medalist Megan Jendrick ... from a quadriplegic player to a player who's racked up every achievement in the game.