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Changing Perspectives

December 2, 2008

Aleathea and Romer reached eighty twelve days after the expansion was released. The journey was most enjoyable and kept both of us up far longer than we intended each night as we eagerly quested on to see what would happen next in the story line. The Dragonsblight quests were second to none and the beauty of all the zones made the experience as aesthetically pleasing as the quests were engaging.

Thanks to some lucky instance drops and easily obtainable rep rewards Aleathea was quickly defense capped and headed straight into heroics. Since the tank shortage on my server is second only to the healer shortage, I’ve had no lack of opportunities to tank instances and even got my first look at Naxx last night. This expansion has afforded a unique opportunity in that it provided a “reset” button; effectively equalizing gear, breaking up established groups and bringing together people who would not have met otherwise.

Which brings me to an interesting story.

Last Friday I was keeping an eye on the LFG channel while doing my Sons of Hodir dailies. I saw a group in need of a tank for heroic Nexus and, since I was feeling particularly brave at the moment, I sent a tell offering my services. Once we arrived inside the instance I looked around and discovered that I had fallen in with a group from the top guild on my server. To say I was nervous would have been an understatement. Fortunately, I’d run heroic Nexus before and had some idea what I was doing. The run went well and we proceeded on to heroic Oculus, Old Kingdom and Culling of Stratholme. Throughout the runs we chatted on vent and, once they got past the shock of discovering their tank was a woman, (something of a rarity I surmise) the conversation was quite relaxed and enjoyable. By the end of the day we were joking around like old friends.

The holy priest and I hit it off particularly well and, over the next few days, we sought one another out for frequent heroics. I spent several hours one afternoon helping him farm mats to power level his enchanting and he surprised me that evening with a gift of several twenty slot bags. Only twice, in all my years playing WoW, have I met someone with whom I so quickly felt a connection, and our friendship has steadily grown. I was on line Sunday night when a server announcement popped up acknowledging that his guild had achieved the realm first completion of Heroic (25 man) Naxx. My friend was actually part of that raid and, trying to ignore the flood of snide and derogatory comments spammed in general chat, I whispered him my congratulations. Several hours later, I still found myself disturbed by the negative comments I had seen directed at those raiders who achieved the server first. What bothered me most was not the comments themselves, but the knowledge that only a few days before, such comments would not have phased me.

You see, up until now, I have never actually known someone who was part of an end game guild accomplishing server firsts. It was easy enough to label their kind as elitist snobs with no lives, no families and no jobs and to accept that they deserve the derogatory epithets hurled across the computer screen. But now I know him – and I couldn’t have been more wrong. My friend is a hard core raider. He is also a happily married, well adjusted family man in real life. My friend is a member of an end game guild that is number one on our realm. He is also one of the kindest and humblest individuals I have ever had the fortune to meet. He is an exceptionally gifted healer. He is also a real person. He gets lost in instances almost as much as I do. He apologizes for wipes and tries to take the blame – despite the fact that I pulled a whole room full of elites. He is nice to obnoxious people and forgives their rudeness when most people would kick them from the group. He accepts PUG players and treats them as equals regardless of their gear level or what guild they come from. He is everything I never expected of an elite end game raider and our friendship has shown me how dangerous it is to label someone before you get to know them.

This is what I love most about this game that is so much more than a game. You never know when a chance encounter will lead to a friendship that will teach you something about yourself and leave you changed. I made a promise to myself that night, that if I ever found myself among WoW’s elite, I would remember his example. And then it struck me … there are those within my guild who already look at me as elite. I am to them what my friend is to me. My responsibility doesn’t begin on some far off date when our guild has cleared all of Wrath’s content … my responsibility begins today. Kindness, patience and humility – these are the characteristics I most admire in my friend. These are the characteristics I would like to develop in my own life. I may have reached the level cap in WoW, but in real life I have a long ways to go.

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