Virtual Worlds and Real Life: an autoethnographical journey in online gaming.

I stand at the summit, with a sword in my hand. The beast is slain beneath my feet.  It is late and I am exhausted.  At my side are 39 of the most fierce, loyal, brave, and driven companions I have ever fought in battle with.  Five hours of difficult terrain and formidable enemies.  Five hours, to finally meet the most dangerous foe I have ever encountered.  The battle was not short; a chess match of wits if you will, between myself and an enemy with an arsenal of tools and weapons.  Standing over fifty feet tall, the battle required every ounce of skill, passion, and devotion possible from myself and my comrades.  My hands shake and my mind races as I consider my reward, and the rewards for my team.  These rewards are of great significance, for the battle did not start five hours ago; it took years of spending countless hours honing my skills, improving my weaponry, and fortifying my team.  I sacrificed family, money, career, and many other things to be able to stand where I am standing today.  Fallen along the way are countless compatriots incapable of seeing the task through to completion.  There were trials no doubt, yet the goal always in sight.  As we make our way back to the city, the tale of our exploit precedes us.  Our force is met with praise and adoration.  The praise though will only last for a few short weeks, for we have heard the rumblings of a new foe, even stronger than the one we just vanquished.  Tonight, we celebrate, for tomorrow we must begin again.  This is of course a story.  Yet let there be no doubt that while this event happened in a virtual world, playing a virtual character, defeating a virtual enemy in the game World of Warcraft, it is absolutely real life. My real life.  The foe, sword, and summit may not have been real, but the time, sacrifice, effort, and years of preparation most certainly were. Continue reading