I started playing World of Warcraft back in May of 2004 during the closed beta test. My time and tenure in Star Wars: Galaxies was winding down, and Dark Age of Camelot was far in the rearview mirror. None of us knew what World of Warcraft would become or how much the game would influence some of our lives. For me, World of Warcraft represents time, effort, passion, and drive; when every other option available was lacking, uninteresting, or just wrong, I wrote about my passion. I'll never stop playing because I see no reason to stop.
I'm sad today because I have to say goodbye. I'm happy today because I'm taking a big step toward achieving my dream. That might not mean much for you, I understand, but know that if I can do this, you sure as hell can. Ever since I was a kid and I wrote a letter to Nintendo Power, I knew that I'd never stop playing or writing, and one day they'd want me to be a part of the process. I'm being given a chance to be a part of the process.
The greatest feeling in the world
I am so humbled by every one of you. You saved my life. You saved Rocky's life. You've given me the audience to do all of this; I pity everyone who has to accomplish anything without the kind of support you've the WoW Insider staff. There's something to be said for being strong, and there's something else entirely when your strength comes from the army of people who want to do nothing more than talk to you, interact with you, be your friend, get your advice, or just want to shake your hand. It's hard to put into words, which is why people don't talk about it a lot, but it's the greatest feeling in the world.
Thank you all especially for The Lawbringer. That column quickly became my soapbox for anything that I found interesting or share-worthy with the group of readers who connected with the column. Over time, that number grew to a degree we did not anticipate. Thank you for reading The Lawbringer -- an extra piece of my heart was in it.
The personal good-byes
Here come the goodbyes. This is going to suck.
Liz Harper didn't know what she was getting into when she hired me, and I don't blame her; I didn't know what I was getting into, either. She took a chance on me, which I can't say thank you enough for. Thank you for a path to success and a place to germinate.
Dan O'Halloran probably won't remember that he told me this, but I do. It was a hectic night. After I finished up MCing the BlizzCon 2010 party at the Anabella, Dan came up to me and said, "So, for next year, we're going to have you ..." -- and I didn't really listen to the rest of his statement, because the assumption was already made that I would be back again next year, doing the task again. That's trust. He made me feel trusted.
Matt Low and Joe Perez are two of the most passionate gamers in the world. Matticus single-handedly rejuvenated my passion for World of Warcraft by being my guide through its other half. Joe and I are friends because he knows a lot of secrets about me, so he has to be catered to. He's like Batman and rules through fear. I found new friends for life.
Dawn Moore is wildly talented and super creative and makes me jealous with the number of professional StarCraft players that she knows. I walk around in my Protoss hoodie and think I'm big man on campus, but it's all a show. She is infectious.
Robin and Lisa, thank you truly for tolerating our shenanigans. Kelly Aarons, never stop doing what you do, no matter what happens. Chase, other Elizabeth, Basil, Olivia, Christian, Allison, Megan, and the rest of the esteemed staff writers who I wish I got to know better over the years -- I've read all of your columns, and you're all so passionate and talented. There is a reason WoW Insider produces the best WoW content on the internet, and it's because of your dedication.
The future of mankind
You will never know Michael Gray the way I know Michael Gray. This man gives me hope for the future of mankind, because no matter what happens to us as a species, when the end comes, Gray will be alive and well, safely protected from death and destruction due to a well-built standing desk, an impeccable dog run, and the knowledge and understanding that nothing means more to a man than his home.
In fact, one day, myself and a small, adventurous, lucky band of survivors will be held up in a farmhouse in the countryside, cut off from the rest of the world. At one point, near hopelessness will turn to elation as Michael Gray, his wife, his 12 dogs, and his enormous family ride through in their home-built zombie destroyer, clearing a path of carnage and saving everyone's lives. He was ready for anything.
The weirdest part about knowing Anne Stickney is that I used to know Anne Stickney, then I didn't, then I did again. It was odd, but it worked, and I'm a more thoughtful and happier person because of the light she brings to people's lives. Give her all of the respect and adoration she deserves on the WoW Insider Show.
I don't know what I would do without Fox Van Allen. Did you see the birthday book he made for me? Do I really need to say anything more than that?
Adam Holisky. Oh, you. Will you stop instant messaging me? No. So why am I even writing anything for you? We'll be friends forever.
Matthew Rossi has shown me that no matter how pissed off I get, there is always someone out there ready to listen to my bullshit and fire back with even more. It's like trying to put out a fire with extra fire -- which I'm told is called a "controlled burn," is totally a thing, and only reinforces my terrible point that I don't know where I would be if I did not have Rossi's ear for everything from life advice to orc radio. If I am ever half as creative as you, I'll have succeeded.
I consider Mike Sacco one of my closest and best friends. We're going to hang out a lot more now that we're going to be in the same state, finally, so expect dumb YouTube videos of our hair, Sacco making fun of my hat, Benihana's, fart jokes, ban puns, Twitter references, and more. Nothing but quality. True story: I had a dream a while back that Sacco and myself were in some small, crappy comedy club -- it barely held 40 people -- with a laptop on a stool doing a live edition of the WoW Insider Show for an audience. I will make this a reality. This isn't a goodbye; it's a hello.
Alex Ziebart has been the best, most honest, most caring, and thoughtful friend anyone could ask for in their entire lives. Alex is the kind of person you make room for in your life because he's goddamn worth it.
Thank you Blizzard for World of Warcraft. If I didn't have your company to admire and chase, or your games to get lost in, I wouldn't have gotten here. Thank you for what you do. Super-special thanks to Zarhym, Mumper, Lylirra, Nethaera, and the rest of the community team that steers a pretty crazy ship.
Thank you, Chris Grant, for tolerating me as a happy-hanger-on at GDC for Joystiq and giving me the single greatest piece of advice I've ever been given: "Why not?"
Thanks again, everyone. I'll be around. Follow me, I've got a lot of stories left to tell. Some of them aren't even about the World of Warcraft.
My Twitter is @gomatgo. You can always find me there.