It’s hard for me to pick a dead-on favorite, but I really love the season of autumn. There’s more than a few reasons for this – the calm, wet, crisp, reflective weather, the collage-like nature of all the different falling leaves, and finally, the excuse to stay inside and play more video games.
But there’s another stand-out reason, and it happens to be an emotion – nostalgia.
I don’t know what it is about autumn, and later, winter – but they always seem to evoke such strong feelings of nostalgia in me. It’s probably because the last two major holidays of the year take place during these seasons, and they both openly embrace warmly staying at home with your loved ones and that sort of thing. Staying at home usually means video games, and Christmas means new video games plus more playing of old ones – so there, maybe I just figured it all out.
But yeah, autumn is a hardcore nostalgia-inducer for me, and it always has been. Not only for fond gaming memories, either – more like, well… everything.
The chilled weather and rainy days remind me of when the family and I first settled down here in Vancouver. Everything was fresh and new, and I remember going to my first day of eighth grade on a rainy day. Before I opened the car door all the way, I stopped and asked “Mom, are the days here usually this rainy?” To which my Mom replied in that sweet but brutally honest voice of hers – “Oh, yes. It rains a lot here.” I took another pause. “Good,” I said. “I like this kind of weather.”
I still do.
But every fall or autumn or however you say it, the rainy days bring back that memory. And we all know how growing up is – that was only six years ago, and yet it’s like I’m thinking about someone else’s lifetime. It’s a memory that although vivid, isn’t recent enough for me to revisit the same way it happened – almost like it isn’t mine. I guess that’s how I know that I’ve grown-up somewhat since.
Thinking back on the nostalgia-storm that is my collection of memories since coming here, that seems to be the one that stands out the most at this point in time. But there was one other. You see, back in grade nine around 2008/2009, something really magical happened.
I discovered World of Warcraft.
It’s so incredibly difficult to describe or even begin to summarize the feelings I had for that game, and it’s even harder to describe them now that they’re so distant. But know this – I had never experienced anything like WoW before. The world of Azeroth, although blatantly artificial, held so much warmth and comfort in its virtual walls. I remember distinctly how I felt when I stumbled into cities like Orgrimmar and Ironforge. The scale – the fact that I was playing in a world filled with other people and so many possibilities – I was beyond fascinated with it.
Naturally, school came first. I was always pretty good about balancing games and schoolwork. But still, I made the point of taking the game manual to school to read when I had free time during classes. Looking back on it, I seriously wonder why I felt compelled to read that thing. Reading that manual now is just not the same – it’s just page after page of information that I’m now very familiar with. Simple stuff – how the inventory worked, character classes, and races… you get the idea. But back then, I was consumed with a passion for anything Warcraft. I ate up every word in that game manual, and it wasn’t just because I felt like figuring out how to play the game – I just wanted to know anything, anything at all about my beloved Warcraft, who was at home waiting for me to come play.
I was so fascinated with Warcraft’s world that I created a character of every race just to see what new exciting areas I could see. Back at school, another kid I knew who played WoW laughed at me – “Dude, you’re still so low level!” But I didn’t care. It wasn’t about leveling, or progression, or any intended goal for that matter. It was about me and this world – this enticing, beautiful world that was quite simply the best thing I had ever seen.
I could go on and on about my memories with WoW, but it’s probably best that I don’t. If you played WoW yourself, you probably know that warm, nostalgic feeling I’m trying to get at here. You probably know it all too well.
Since then, though, my relationship with the game has slowed since – like an old friend you make an effort to check in on every once in awhile. However, gaps between communication seem to grow and grow in length, and eventually you’re so far apart that you both know it’s over. You’re left with fond memories, however – the kind you’ll think back to time and time again.
One of my daily blog readings today involved, of course, The Ancient Gaming Noob, who has been detailing his adventures on a vanilla-WoW private server called Emerald Dream. I’m tempted to check it out for myself, but at the same time, I’m reluctant to. I know I’ll never seriously play WoW again, nor will it ever capture my attention like it once did. Hell, no game may ever be able to do what WoW did for me.
It’s a lot like visiting an old childhood playground. You can go back and see the playground again for yourself, sure. But the memories, the experiences you had, and the warmth that you feel when you think about how much you loved those times – that all comes from within you. The playground is nothing more than the stage, the setting. Memories – no matter how vivid, no matter how much you truly want to revisit them – will always be a thing of the past.
And you know what? I’m okay with that. Maybe I don’t want to go back, maybe it’s best if I don’t. Instead, I’ll just hold onto those memories fondly. Always, and forever.