When I was 19 years old I lived in New York for three months. The largest city I had ever visited previously was Glasgow, population: 500,000. Tiny in comparison.
For the first week I wandered New York City with my head pinned to the sky, the back of my skull glued to the base of my neck. Complete awe. This place. The scale of it. The possibilities. It’s a miracle I didn’t get robbed.
I’ll never forget my last day in the city.
Just before I left for the airport a man approached me in the street. He had a broad cockney accent.
“’Scuse me mate, how do I get to Madison Square Garden?”
A simple enough question, but I knew the answer and I gave him that answer. I was overwhelmed. In three months I had gone from a googly-eyed tourist to the kind of person who could confidently give others instructions. It felt amazing.
On Friday night, I was playing World of Warcraft. My brother in-law, after reading this series, had decided to start the game for the first time. We played alongside each other. He was manually clicking corpses for loot.
“Hey, if you push shift and click, you automatically pick up all the stuff.”
I’m hardly an expert — I’m still an Idiot In Azeroth — but I don’t feel like a tourist anymore.
The weekend just passed was a difficult one for me. My personal circumstances are conspiring to make it very difficult to play World of Warcraft. With a demanding job, an 18 month old child, and other commitments, sitting down for even an hour a night seems impossible. If I want to play I have to grab those spare moments and make them count. Sadly this has the potential to make gaming feel more like just another chore I need to tick off my list. It’s not always ‘me time’. It’s often ‘time I need to spend in order to continue writing this series’.
One of the major obstacles at this particular point in time is the fact that – in two weeks’ time – I’m moving house. I’m also in the process of finding a tenant for the apartment I’m leaving. If you’ve ever had to cart a shit ton of stuff from one place of residence to another you know what’s involved: boxes. A lot of boxes. And packing those boxes.
Long story short: my Sunday involved a lot of legwork. I estimate I wandered from my house to the local Westfield roughly four or five times: for lunch, for groceries, for an inordinate amount of stuff. And boxes. Lots of boxes. It was a shit-boring day that felt as though it would never end.
At the end of it all, I sat down to play World of Warcraft. That’s when I stumbled across the level 1 NPC some of you know as ‘Billy Maclure’.
Or as I now know him: that steaming little shit-dick who makes me jump through hoops for XP.
Here's the list of shame: first I have to talk to him because he stole a necklace. Then the little bastard won’t give me any info until he gets a goddamn pie for some reason. Then I have to kill some poor placcid, harmless boars in order to get the ingredients for the pie. Then I need to take those ingredients back to the woman whose necklace he stole so she can make the pie. What. The. Hell?
Then I have to take the goddamn pie back to Billy so he get his grubby little thieving paws into it.
But that's not the end. Billy informs me that he accidentally lost the necklace in a mine! What a level 1 child was doing fucking around in a mine filled with level 5 Kobolds I have no earthly idea — but apparently he shit bricks in the face of some gold-toothed bastard and ran off. Now I have to head back to the mine in question and slaughter some otherwise innocent Kobolds miners in search of this goddamn necklace. Fuck you Billy.
How many must suffer? How many must die as a result of Billy Maclure and his criminal ways? How many must be slaughtered in his name? First it was those poor boars, their tender flesh baked inside a delicious pie. Now it’s countless Kobolds — all they want is some peace and quiet to mine for candles.
Billy Maclure you little scamp. A king’s ransom for that bastard’s head on a plate.
Point being: after a long hard day collecting boxes, packing those boxes, heading back to Westfield for more boxes. Heading back to Westfield to get lunch. Heading back to Westfield when the lightbulb in my kitchen blew out. Heading back to Westfield to buy the garlic bread I forgot to buy. After spending all morning and afternoon partaking in what amounted to one single enormous, real life fetch quest, I chose to spend my precious spare time carting about Elwynn Forest looking for a necklace.
It was a chore-like end to chore filled day.
But how can you deny it? How can you deny that urge?
I could have stopped playing. I had every excuse. I was tired. I really wanted to play Destiny. I wanted to watch TV. I wanted to sleep to be perfectly honest. I’d been awake since 5am.
Yet I kept on. Billy Maclure got his delicious pie and Bernice Stonefield finally got her bloody necklace back. Literally ‘bloodied’ in the claret of boars and Kobolds.
And you know what? I can't deny it. I wanted this. I wanted to keep playing. I didn’t want to stop. Truth be told I found it difficult to stop.
My head is no longer pinned back, the back of my skull is no longer planted on the base of my neck. I am not a tourist. I am one of you.
You can read previous entries into the Idiot in Azeroth series here.