The world of Azeroth is very real to me.
It’s not a collection of carefully crafted ones and zeroes hosted on magnetic media. It’s a living, breathing world that I have long called home.
From the wild cats of Dolanaar to the storm-tossed beaches off of Auberdine, across the great sea to the mountains of Lordaeron, and even to the pirate-infested waters off the southern tip of Stranglethorn Vale, Azeroth has been my home.
Ten years and more I spent walking across, riding through and flying above the living land of Azeroth, and there isn’t a tree, hill or cave that I can’t picture even now.
The names of the places often escape me, as my hair turns gray and the struggle to find my keys is real. But the sights, sounds, the feel of the land… it is with me here in my heart, and I don’t doubt it will be with me to the day I die.
I have many memories of my time in Azeroth, memories that are as real to me as any from my time spent on our own dear Earth.
I can remember as if it were yesterday traveling through the Badlands, and discovering a complex of strange caves under the sandy soil. There were dark dwarves doing I knew not what, creations of living stone, and hints of secrets waiting to be unravelled that were greater than I could understand.
I remember traveling across Kalimdor, seeing the destruction the Orcs caused in the beautiful forests, feeling sorrow at the beautiful forests burning. Farther south, I laughed to find a Goblin racetrack on the great salt flats, and experienced joy at becoming friends with a faerie dragon that would join me on my journeys.
I’ll never forget those beautiful skies, the light of the sun streaming through ruins of alien design in the desert sands of Silithus.
How could it not be real to me? Even the poorest sketch can be filled with lush colors when filled in by the imagination, and Azeroth was not some skimpy line drawing but a fully-realized world waiting to be discovered, visited, explored and loved.
Azeroth is a real place, and what my screen didn’t show me, my mind filled in.
Yes, I spent many years living in Azeroth. In a very real way, all of my core gaming and adventuring life was lived there.
I’ve moved on now to spend my nights in other worlds, and none more alien at times than the real one I wake up to every day. I look ahead to what the new day will bring, and I know that Azeroth is no longer in my future.
Despite all that, Azeroth is the home of my heart. No matter how far I will travel from it’s shores, no matter how many years will pass before my journeying days are done, deep inside my heart Azeroth lingers on.
Robert Heinlein once wrote a story called The Green Hills of Earth, telling a tale of the brave pioneers that journeyed beyond the world of their birth to visit the distant stars. Pioneers too filled with wanderlust to be satisfied with the world of their birth, moving on to new lands, new frontiers, needing to explore worlds and breath atmosphere as yet untouched by anyone else.
And yet, no matter how much distance lay behind them or the number of years that passed, Heinlein knew that none of us ever truly forgets the place where we were born, where we came of age, and where we learned what it means to be home.
A place where we always truly belong.
We pray for one last landing/ On the globe that gave us birth/ Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies/ And the cool, green hills of Earth. – Robert Heinlein, The Green Hills of Earth
It’s bittersweet to know that no matter where my own journey takes me in life, no matter how much distance or time separates us, in my heart there will always be a part that longs for one last glimpse at the setting sun of Azeroth before I go.
Azeroth, you will always be a part of me. I have loved my time with you, and I give my deepest thanks for everyone that has ever spent years of their lives to create that wonderful place that I have called home.
In creating Azeroth you’ve done far more than make a video game.
To paraphrase Willy Wonka, you were the music makers and the dreamers of dreams, and you provided me and millions of others a chance at out own golden tickets. For those of us that took the ride, you gave us a tour of your imagination that I know I will never forget. Yes, there may have been more than a few bad eggs along the way (Trade Chat, cough cough), but there were many Charlies and Grampa Joes along the way too, and even the occasional fizzy lifting drink (or poop quest) to giggle over before moving on to the next wonder waiting to be found.
If there is any mercy in the future virtual ages to come, Azeroth will be recreated in loving detail as a world that can truly be walked across and lived within, as was suggested ever so briefly in the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
Good night Azeroth, and god bless all those who journey to your distant shores. You’ll always be a part of me. I’ll never forget you, and I’ll never consider my time traveling across your rolling green hills as anything other than a gift.