Alexei Barov

We quit WoW because I was crying. Crying isn’t that unusual for me; I’m quite the crybaby. But, this was the culmination of many groups that ended with me shaking or sobbing. I am overly sensitive, but I also have pretty severe social anxiety.

I should point out that we can’t raid. I’m so utterly terrified of getting yelled at or doing something wrong, that for most of our WoW career we couldn’t even random group. That’s how we wound up with TG running four accounts at once (without the fancy multi-boxing software) so we could run Scholomance on our own (back in the pre–expansion WoW days). I still remember my little Warlock kiting Alexei Barov around the upper level of the final section while TG’s characters worked down Alexei’s adds. We weren’t fierce by any means, but we could whittle down most any situation not designed for a raid.

We couldn’t afford to keep five accounts running for long though. We’ve spent a lot of time with TG running two accounts. There was a time when it was really fun to PvP with our three Paladins (Prot, Ret, and Holy spec’d respectively) We could hold Alterac Valley towers off on our own with all the save spells we had. Fortunately, there weren’t enough effective crowd controllers to take us down with Beacon of Light rocking for us. Through Wrath of the Lich King, we could mostly three-man through most of the dungeons.

At least with Battlegrounds I could switch my chat tab, so I wouldn’t have to read what people were saying. That was pretty helpful for my anxiety. Just pretend we’re on our own. That’s not as easy in a random group. I don’t take criticism or even suggestions well. And, I don’t take it well even when it’s being given to another groupmate. I get so worked up when something like that happens, that we usually have to be done for the day. My heart starts racing, and my breathing ratchets up toward hyperventilation. Then, if it goes far enough, I cry.

Toward our end with WoW, we started random grouping more. It was mostly fine, but when it wasn’t fine, it just ate at me. My anxieties cripple me in the real world. It makes me sad that I can’t even slink into anonymity and be okay. I’m fine if I play with friends or people I trust. I can even take teasing if it doesn’t go too far, and it’s people I’m comfortable with. But random grouping or raiding terrifies me. Don’t even get me started with voice chat. That just makes these random strangers all the more intrusive and real.

TG and I have always just played around my problems, but they’ve worsened as I’ve gotten older. Our first MMO was EQOA on the PS2. I was playing by myself when TG went off to college and I still had a year of high school to finish. I made friends and was able to even random group in that game. But, maybe it’s just that people used to be nicer. Back when it mattered if someone ninja looted or otherwise broke grouping etiquette. Nowadays, especially in the anonymous dungeon-finder-based behemoth that is WoW, the etiquette isn’t there. How can you build a community or a friendship of trusted people if the “rules” don’t matter?

I yearn for the days of classic WoW. I miss the original Alterac Valley that took all day to finish. I miss having a community to really be a part of, even if I never joined a guild apart from the one with all of TG’s real life friends and the one that TG and I made just for our characters. Maybe if I got on some sort of medication to help with the social anxiety I would feel more comfortable in an MMO or even at the grocery store without dissolving into a shivering puddle of tears. I love MMOs. I miss PvPing, but I can’t go back to WoW. The people just make me shudder.


About Amanda

Amanda is a 20-something flailing gamer. While she loves MMORPGs, the company in them often triggers flare-ups of her social anxiety. Her all-time favorite games include Everquest Online Adventures, Eternal Sonata, the Animal Crossing series, Katamari Damacy, and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. She lives on junk food, and her favorite books are equally trashy. She doesn't believe in putting two spaces after a period, but she does strongly believe in the serial comma. Unfortunately, she has a penchant for starting sentences with "and" and "but;" hopefully you won't hold that, or her excessive use of semicolons, against her.

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  1. […] night after I wrote about my social anxiety and how it pertains to gaming, I went through exactly the kind of situation I’m always wary of when I’m playing an […]

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