Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day in Azeroth - Who did you hug?

OK, let's put this straight from the beginning. I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day.

It's not that I haven't got any sense for romance. Believe it or not, but even a jaded innkeeper with wrinkles, gray strokes in her hair and less-than-spectacular boobs can see the enjoyment of flirting or even hugging every once in a while. The world needs more love, not less! But I prefer spontaneous manifestations of romance sprung from true affection to deeds that are performed out of social pressure and a sense of obligation.

Judging from what I've seen of Valentine's Day - from my mother's perspective - there is no Gearscore, damage chart spamming or general epeening in WoW that can come anywhere near the brutal competition and measuring teenage girls have to endure on February 14.

Did you get a ton of roses, publicly confirming what everyone already knew - that all the boys in your class have a secret crush on you? Not? Did you even get one single rose that clearly wasn't from your mother? One flower to confirm that even though you might not be popular, at least you haven't gone invisible. Did anyone notice you at all? Ouch. Tough luck. No wonder if you make up an excuse for not going to school on this day next year.

Valentine in Azeroth
Valentine in Azeroth is thankfully more lighthearted than the real life equivalence. Everyone - even the geekiest of the geeks - will get their share of the love, either you ask for it or not. Just put your foot into Stormwind and you're granted to be the target for someone's affection, resulting in a big pink heart buff hovering over your head. Love is in the air, indeed!

Sadly enough I've been feeling a little alienated as I've watched the 2011 edition of the seasonal event from the sideline. I'm not a part of it and I don't think it's my doubts about the goodness of Valentine in real life spilling over; it's more about being jaded. "Been there, done that! Couldn't they have brushed this up with something new?" The achievements were obviously a bigger motivator for me to participate than I had imagined.

Last year I completed my violet meta-drake and ever since, I've been quite indifferent to all of the game holidays. As long as they don't bribe me with substantial rewards, I can't motivate myself to sprinkle perfume, cologne, fill my bags with a ton of pure crap or repeatedly tell the city guards how much I love them.

It was OK or sometimes even fun to take part in those activities once (and I wear my Love Fool title with pride) - it's just not fun enough to do it all over again. I'm speaking for myself of course; I know that there are players who not only stomach, but even enjoy doing all of them on their third or fourth alt. I'm just not one of those.

Hugging an NPC
So, does this mean that I didn't do anything even remotely romantic in Azeroth this year's Valentine? As a matter of fact I did. Obviously it wasn't as romantic as the lovely story of Dawn Moore at WoWinsider (a must-read for anyone with a romantic mindset). But at least I gave out a hug to someone who I thought might need it.

I thought to myself: isn't it a bit unfair that the NPCs in Stormwind get all the love. In fact they look a bit like those girls with the huge bouquets of roses at high school. What about all the others? Aren't there many NPCs in WoW who get very little love or attention these days?

I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day in my own way by hugging someone who I thought might need it. And that's how I ended up, wrapped up in the arms of David Wayne at Wayne's Refuge.

You have no idea who he is? No wonder. He's standing at a godforsaken cliff at the edge of Terokkar, on the verge of falling down into an endless abyss. Not a living soul in his neighborhood. Just this man and his eternally burning fire.

I always thought he was an outsider even in TBC, when players still occasionally came by. his little camp. Back in those days he offered a questline, ending up with a weapon reward, a dagger with special daemon fighting abilities. It required a tremendous effort to get it, including completing a whole bunch of five-man instances. Few did it at that point. And I can't imagine anyone doing it these days, apart from possibly Loremaster title aspirants.

I don't exaggerate when I tell you that David Wayne is about as lonely as you can get as an NPC in WoW.

He didn't say much as I hugged him. Not even a word. I reckon it was a bit of a shock to suddenly get a visitor after all this time - and even more so a little gnome who wasn't interested in his services as a weapon smith and only wanted to snuggle. Or perhaps he was just a shy guy.

The secret of Valentine
In any case it felt good to hug, even if the response was a bit chill. It felt really good.

You see - the secret about having a nice Valentine Day is to not idly sit there waiting for cards and flowers, getting disappointed as they won't appear. The secret is to take the initiative yourself.

If you want to hug someone - go for it. If it's a real person rather than a pixelated NPC - the better, congratulations! But we've all got to start somewhere, right?

Dave Wayne got a hug on Valentine's Day from me this year. Who did you hug?


Grainger said...

Long ago I realized that I wasn't going to get the meta-achievement, so now I only partake in holidays for a few very specific reasons:

Easy gold while waiting for a queue/guildie, etc. (i.e. spray 10 folks with perfume takes no time at all and I got another pet to add to my collection (goblin cupid)

Want a particular drop (i.e. agility neckpiece for my newly 85 hunter - who leveled 80-85 exclusively through Archaeology and fishing dailies).

Want a mount - in this case the Love Rocket

Aside from this, I really have no desire to do any of the other achievement related stuff. (Unless there is a nice prize for doing that Crown Chemical questline that I never looked up)

Being altoholic, I just feel I have other things to focus on rather than all these holidays. I guess that is my thing - there are just way too many holidays. I would be happy with one per quarter/4 a year. For the rest of the time I would like to see decorations to commemorate the holiday and not silly "collect 1000 eggs to try to get bunny ears" time killers.

Stubborn said...

I also completed my meta-achievement, and I decided at the time that over the next year I'd do it again on another one of my characters, and so on, one a year, so I wouldn't get burned out. That lasted until The Lunar Festival in 2010, when I remembered visiting all the elders and decided I'd rather solo ZG for hours on end, or fish, or ... well, all the things I did.

For a few years, Blizz was pretty good about changing up things from year to year, even if it was just a little bit. Sometimes they'd add a boss, or an achievement, or something new (like the Chemical Brothers Valentine's day thing last year (and again this year)), but I was seriously underwhelmed as time went on with Blizz's performance. Then it was no new stein at Octoberfest. Really? And it's been more and more underwhelming from there.

At any rate, I feel your pain, and while I didn't hug any NPCs in Azeroth, I did visit David Wayne while I was leveling through the Outlands; sometimes a khorium node spawns near him.

As for loneliest characters in WoW, I think David's a pretty good choice. However, someone's visiting him. He's not just eating fish about to fall off the world from his stream; he looks far too healthy for that. Someone's bringing him food. But there's a skeleton in Nagrand, on one of the floating islands above the lake near the Throne of Elements (the name escapes me) that I like to visit (usually to eat a mote of air cloud). When I'm there, though, I reflect on what brought this poor soul to this place. He's not the loneliest anymore, but I'd say at one time, he was.

Redbeard said...

Did you get a ton of roses, publicly confirming what everyone already knew - that all the boys in your class have a secret crush on you? Not? Did you even get one single rose that clearly wasn't from your mother? One flower to confirm that even though you might not be popular, at least you haven't gone invisible. Did anyone notice you at all? Ouch. Tough luck. No wonder if you make up an excuse for not going to school on this day next year.

Did we go to the same high school? Wait, I went to an all boys high school. Results were the same, however.

Well, nevertheless... Happy Valentine's Day!

Ratshag said...

On the rare occasions what I's over that way, Skyguard Khatie always tells me what she misses me. Mebbe I'll go give her a hug, and wrangle her up some aether rays fer old times' sake.

nowiamtree said...

This year I took time out to send a red rose to each of my guildies - I used the day as an excuse to say thank you for being so lovely to them all.

At the weekend I spontaneously decided to purchase and giftwrap a pet for my husband's Gnomish mage. I didn't tell him I'd got anything for him, just persuaded him to come on a trip on a loveboat with me. And bless him. He dressed up smartly in his best Gnomish Zorro outfit, complete with rose, and rode up on horseback to meet me. I gave him the present, and he was surprised and delighted. It made us both smile. And my Night Elf hugged her little gnome, and we went on a ride around the canals of Stormwind.

And then we got up, and hugged each other in real life.

Loronar said...

I remember David Wayne. There used to be speculation that he was somehow related to the then-missing Ashbringer.

I paid a visit to the Isle of Quel'Danas to show those SSO defenders some love. It appears the still remember me since they are still greeting me wherever I go. I thought it was appropriate for me to do the same after all these years.

Larísa said...

: Yes, there are quite a few of them. I actually do remember that completing them all took quite a lot of my gaming time over that year. When I see the double events we've seen lately, I most of all pull a sigh of relief. Not my thing anymore.

: Oh, you're right. Someone brings him food. I didn't think of that. I really have to go and see that skeleton. It sounds like a lost soul who would need a pink pigtailed hug.

: Obviously the pains of Valentine are equal these days. Don't know if it's something to rejoice about though. More sad kids in the world. :(

@Ratshag: That's a good choice too. I thought about giving some of the ogres in Blades Edge a hug as well. I don't think many come their way either.

: Awww! Nowiamenvious!

@Loronar: I so love when they greet you! I can't help thinking that if you hugged an NPC you should get some sort of appropriate response. A hug back? A smile? A nod? How hard can it be to program it?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, nobody. The only person I'd want to hug is a touch over 7000 miles away. :(

TheReaper said...

Ahh, valentines... I have a special connection to the Love Fool title that makes this holiday enjoyable each year.
I play on a german server and for some reason, the translators decided to translate the english Love Fool into german as Love God.
So whenever I see someone donning the Love Fool title, I am reminded that those who think themselves gods, are fools indeed.

Concerning the lonely skelteon in Nagrand:
If I remeber correctly, its next to an apple tree and a basket, with an axe burried in its skull. Since its close to Draenei settlements, I always
figured they were the remains of an ordinary draenei, out picking apples before Outland was torn apart, who was caught by surprise by an orcish raiding party.
So while he may have met a terrible fate, he may have not been all that lonely after all, just a normal villager.

Saga said...

I haven't really done the events since I got my proto-drake either, but I do love mounts so I do the holiday boss daily in the hopes of my very own red love rocket! (Cheesy name, but hey - it's a big rocket!)

I didn't hug anyone in game yesterday, but I made my GM happy. He has a gnome fetish (or as he likes to call it "an exceptional care for") and is always whining that I should race change into a gnome.

Now, I'd never do that (pink pigtails in all honour, but no..) but I stocked my bag with Pygmy Oils and chucked them all in the raid so he got a little pygmy gnome warlock in his raid group. :)

(I'm already starting to stock up so that I can turn the entire raid into gnomes for his birthday!)

Bri said...


Clovis said...

Hi Larisa, great post :) I especially like this part: "But I prefer spontaneous manifestations of romance sprung from true affection to deeds that are performed out of social pressure and a sense of obligation."

I think you are entirely right. Unfortunately (especially for guys, I think), it's hard to avoid conforming to the custom. Even if a man has shown true affection all-year-round, his girlfriend will still expect some sort of special treatment on Feb. 14, and be disappointed/mad at him if he doesn't deliver.

Even if they had previously talked about the futility of Valentine's Day, and agreed that the day itself didn't matter, she would still secretly hope for something (gladly, I have never fallen into that trap).

Valentine's Day reminds me of Thanksgiving Day. If you are truly grateful - why wait for November to show it?

Grainger said...

I did try to hug one of the many Larisas that run around Tol B when the Horde controls it - but they didn't like that and gave me an Arcane Blast to the chest.

Khaas the Insane said...

Speaking from the other side, there's a pretty substantial amount of pressure on the males as well. Did you get her a big enough box of chocolates? Enough roses? Was that the right card? I thought she liked cats...

Now, here I am married for going on five years now. And I still try to do something nice for the wife every year, but now it's all for her. No one else has to know...

Larísa said...

: :(

@The Reaper: Hehe, so the reputation about the rather crappy translations into other languages isn't exaggerated...

@Saga: Does pygmy oil make you into a gnome? I just thought you got small.... Got to check up on that.

@Bri: Awww Thank you!

@Clovis: /agreed on that. Being thankful or loving is an all-year-round thing, not one-day-a-year.

: Oh dear. I'll try to talk to them to behave better next time.

@Khaas the Insane: I can imagine.... Regardless of what you do you'll always wonder if it was enough or appropriate. :(

Saga said...

Pygmy Oil turns you into a Pygmy (gnome) if you chuck about 10 of them I believe it is right after one another :)

If you just take one or a few, yeah you just get smaller.

You just gotta keep getting smaller until they turn you into a pygmy gnome ;)