Patch 8.3 Visions of N’Zoth dropped in WoW last week, and I have to say I’ve been having a complete blast! I really enjoyed the storyline to get our cloaks and unlock the visions and take us around Azeroth. I thought it was a good way to explain (in not so many words) why N’zoth’s corruption wasn’t over the whole of Azeroth (yet). It’s been a great journey.
Part of that journey has taken us to Uldum, and back to Pandaria to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. This week the Vale has the major corruption, so everything is dark and purple and there are tentacles everywhere. And of course there are Pandaren everywhere that we are trying to help (as well as fighting back the tentacles!)
Over the past few days I’ve been spending a lot of time in Pandaria, and while there I started to notice something. I was missing the Pandaren people. I was missing being a Pandaren myself. It kinda hit me randomly to be honest. I imagine part of it is the nostalgia of it – Mists of Pandaria was my first expansion that I did from launch to completion, so I will always have a very soft spot for it. And I do love the Pandaren race – I love their chill but playful approach to life, their appreciation for the world and what happens to it, and I just love their fluffy tummies. All of this was hitting me like a tonne of bricks during the N’Zoth invasions, and well… this happened…
I race-changed my shaman back to Pandaren. Oops!
I didn’t make the decision lightly, despite the spontaneous change. I opened and closed the in-game store so many times trying to make up my mind. But I think in some ways it has been building for quite awhile.
I loved my Kul Tiran, I really did. I had been looking forward to having her for so long. I loved her curves, her strength and even her accent. I also loved their totem design (that was funnily enough one of the big reasons I didn’t want to change – the Pandaren totems are probably the most boring of all the shaman classes). But despite all of that, I wasn’t connecting with my shaman when she was Kul’Tiran.
There were lots of little things that niggled at me – firstly, the female Kul’Tiran dance is stupid. Sorry, it just is. This was abundantly apparent during the New Years celebrations in game when the Auction Houses turn in to dance parties – everyone is in there being all goofy with their fun silly dances, and here I was throwing my arms around in short ballet poses. It was silly, but not in the fun way – in the way that was super daggy.
Secondly, she was so serious all of the time. Even when she was trying to be funny telling jokes she was still really gruff and… well, serious. Even her laughter was too much – booming and almost a little patronising sometimes.
Thirdly, she pulled the stupidest faces when trying to take selfies. I really struggled to find good angles for her when taking pics, to the point where I gave up. Which accounts for the lack of picture updates I’ve been doing. Poor darling was not the most photogenic being…
Lastly, some of my favourite transmogs just didn’t work on her. Belts always seemed too small and shoulders seemed WAY too big. (Though she did look cute as heck in her Wumpus Onesie!)
Because of all of these reasons, I felt a little self conscious with her, like she didn’t quite fit in (despite being so freakin’ awesome!)
Here’s the kicker – all of those reasons that I didn’t connect with my shaman as a Kul’Tiran are all faults I feel in myself. I can’t dance to save my life; I look bloody awful in photos, I’m awkward as heck, my anxiety makes me super serious and cranky, and I just feel like I never quite fit in anywhere. She was just a little bit too much like me. (Not that I’m super strong or kick-ass like she was!)
In a game that I dive in to to escape from the world, I found I wasn’t able to fully escape because I just kept seeing parts of myself in it.
The things I liked about being Pandaren were that she was a little like me (chunky and quirky) but had traits that I wanted in myself – to be cute but fierce, funny, able to chill out and have fun, not take herself too seriously… All the things I struggle to be and do.
It’s been an interesting revelation for me to say the least. I’ve always known how important it is to have characters in the game that people from all corners of life can relate to, but I never really realised how important it was (to me at least) to have characters in game that I want to be, too. It’s that fantasy element that allows us to separate ourselves from the games that we play, that helps us to escape, that can make a world so much more immersive. At the same time, we need to see the characters that represent us, too.
I think World of Warcraft is a far richer game for having Kul’Tiran in it – seeing women with curves that aren’t just giant boobs is so important. And I will always have a special spot for them in my heart. But for now, I need to play someone that embodies traits I don’t have in myself, so that maybe they will rub off on me.