*Disclaimer: Though I am married to an employee at Blizzard Entertainment, all thoughts herein are my own.
Yesterday, employees and fans alike celebrated Blizzard Entertainment’s 25th anniversary of creating boundary-pushing games and captivating storytelling – from team brawlers, to FPS, to MMOs – and shared stories of how they came to fall in love with Blizzard.
My story is a bit of a gamer’s fairytale in which I fell in love with a knight in epic purple armor who introduced me to a new world, new friends, and new adventures.
In college, my then-boyfriend-now-husband, Terran, gifted me a laptop for note-taking, essay writing, all that academic stuff, and installed a little indie game you might have heard of: World of Warcraft. Even though I had little interest in playing, I promised him that I would complete my schoolwork before gaming. (I’m basically Hermione. School work was play for me.) All my interaction with World of Warcraft at this point cultivated in my opinion that it was a game for nerds, and not academic, bookworm nerds, but the nerds of Dungeons and Dragons and LARP. (Oh, how little did I know then…)
However, instead of shouldering this game off as too nerdy for me, I invested myself in understanding what it was that Terran did. I knew he worked on movies for Blizzard, but I had no idea what that entailed or the world that he was telling stories in. I wanted to support him on a deeper level, where I could discuss characters, story, and environment.
Terran read my heart and set me up with a druid, a class that I learned spoke to me on a personal, even spiritual, level. Basically, it went something like this:
T: Deva, look! You can be a cat!
D: OMG YES KITTY GIMME.
In the next few months of early Burning Crusade, I learned to loot everything around me, as well as master skinning and leatherworking. (Side note: It took me hours to get comfortable with the idea of skinning.) I liked the game, but hadn’t found my groove. That was, until I accidentally started PvP.
I say accident, because it was by no means done purposefully. I got a quest to go to this place called Warsong Gulch, and like the completionism I am, I said, “Sure, I’ll do this quest. I need to win it? Okay, no big.”
Quick bit of info here: OUR SERVER IS GREATLY OUTNUMBERED HORDE TO ALLIANCE. Ergo, they tend to be more practiced and coordinated.
That didn’t stop me. I wanted to win this Warsong business. I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned that I had a competitive streak, one that I’d never had in school sports or gym class. For every battleground I lost, I’d have to win 3 more just to feel like I leveled the playing field.
Then came the day that Terran wanted to see how I was fairing in game. Keep in mind, I hadn’t been playing for very long, but I clocked in enough hours to surely be close to max level.
The conversation went a little something like this:
T: You’re only level 40? What have you been doing?
D: Well, I got this quest and …
T: Wait, open your currency tab.
T: YOU MAXED YOUR HONOR?!
Yeeeah, I didn’t really know what that was or what to do with it. I pimped out my character in PvP gear pretty darn quick after that.
Of course, I made other newbie mistakes my first year or two playing: I fell off Teldrassil, I tanked my first dungeon (a heroic Magister’s Terrace) with a PvP mace, and went through horrible specs.
Finally, during Wrath of the Lich King, I found my niche. I understood my class, I loved my guild, and I looked forward to raid progression. I come and go from World of Warcraft every so often. I’ll flirt with other games and fall in love with them too, but always come back to my first love, WoW.
All these are my first memories of Blizzard, the company that made a game I love and credit for birthing me as a gamer. However, my strongest memories are less with their games, and more with them as individual people. When I first came to California as a newlywed, I was embraced by Terran’s entire team, including his boss, who now knew that I wasn’t some made up girl from Canada. I watched these magnificent men and women worked tirelessly day in and day out to deliver us the best stories and characters. They’ve captivated me with Warcraft, again with Heroes of the Storm, and now with Overwatch, and there’s no end in sight.
Blizzard isn’t just a gaming company to me – it’s a collection of creative, passionate individuals who strive to tell powerful stories and make memorable games destined to become classics. It’s a community of gamers who believe that you can do what you set your heart to if you only try. It’s people who believe in the power of laughter and friendship.
And the proverbial cherry on top of all this is the gaming community that Blizzard has fostered over the years. I’ve made lifelong friends through their games, many of whom I continue to game with on and off the computer. I love seeing fans’ artwork on Twitter, their thoughts, ambitions, hopes. Even BlizzCon has become a sort of pre-Thanksgiving holiday for me, where I see beloved friends and family who come from across America and neighboring nations. Blizzard has a place for all of us in their kickass gaming family.
Here’s to another 25 years!