When Raid Lives and Real Life Intersect
The relationships you develop when you play any online game can leave an indelible mark on your life. Often, these wonderful moments and memories are attributed to such random names as Sundown, Viszerban, Boot, Sarutobi, Narutotwo, etc. Because, honestly, how often did you find out their real names?!
Twelve years later, I still remember with fondness Sharina’s /huggles; that my mage Kochanski, who was named after Lister’s love interest in Red Dwarf, was very similar to the Polish words for “I love you” thanks to Merlina, my warlock friend of Polish descent living in Canada; that Tiggy /bites and would often demand sandwiches once he found out I was a woman; that Coolcat lived freakishly close to us, yet we never got together; and that Alenassin worked in coal mines in Virginia.
I remember drunken shenanigans with several guildies in Massachusetts one night during the Burning Crusade days. For the life of me I cannot tell any of their real names, but I can tell you that my husband and I had a lot of fun partying with Alterya, Watz, Steelfury, Tuon, Hegram and one or two others that night. And Watz? She could cook one seriously badass skirt steak and that bacon corn dish she made? I’m still trying to recreate it to this day.
Yet, of all these experiences nothing has, or will ever, hold a candle to traveling across the ocean and receiving a guided tour of my personal Mecca from our guild leaders. On our honeymoon.
Yes. We met our WoW guild leaders and they gave us a tour of their hometown and my musical holy grail - Liverpool, England. My Macca Mecca, if you will.
Life doesn’t often get more random than that. Then again, isn’t that the beauty of the relationships we develop through our online avatars? Fleeting, and if you’re lucky, enduring relationships that change us (hopefully) for the better. Even the brief moments where we allow someone to touch our lives via a game without ever meeting in-person change us: the late night chats where you get a glimpse into someone else’s life halfway around the world or when you’re having a woeful stretch IRL and someone online provides the words of comfort you didn’t realize you needed.
And when you’re at your luckiest, you get to travel around the world and connect in-person.
It was 2006 and we’d been playing faithfully on the Dalaran (US) server since a few months after release. We were members of The Windriders, the top guild on the server through C’Thun. It was enjoyable being in the upper echelons, but as time went on, we suffered raid burn-out and discovered that we also enjoyed the slower track. It was a fun challenge of going through the raid instances with a brand new guild. Seeing Molten Core with new eyes.
It started with us occasionally joining MC raids on alts, but ultimately we became members of Fusion - a guild led by married couple Peculiar and Alyssandra (Pec and Aly). We got along well with them and since I wear my musical passions on my sleeve, or in this case, my hunter - Seltaeb, they knew my love for The Beatles early on and we discussed their hometown often.
Along with a healthy dose of daily WoW and work, we were in the process of planning our wedding and our honeymoon. We knew from the start we’d honeymoon in London - it was a city that held great meaning to both of us individually that we wanted to share together. And, since he is a saint when it comes to humoring my musical obsessions - the trip would involve a side trip to Liverpool so I could see the place that birthed The Beatles. It was definitely an added bonus we’d be able to meet Pec and Aly! As the trip neared, we began to solidify our plans with them.
We would take the train early one morning, meet up with them, spend the day sightseeing and then take a late train back to London. Of course, travels never work out quite as planned and the train schedule flipped from Summer to Fall a few days before our trip - which left us with far fewer options. After FINALLY finding a car rental shop that had an available car - we were on the M1, several hours later than planned.
Our day trip was turned into a two-day trip and saw us arriving in Liverpool and at Pec and Aly’s doorstep in the evening. There was something surreal about pulling into their driveway that night, ringing the doorbell, coming into their home and seeing them raiding with all our guildmates, the majority of whom were back in the states. We hung out for a bit, but didn’t want to disrupt the raid too much.
We made our plans to meet up in the morning and headed into town to find a hotel and start taking in the sights. As it turns out, when in England, you need to take football matches into consideration when traveling. There was a Liverpool-Manchester match in town that night and hotels were booked up solid. Between drinks at the Cavern Club and The Grapes (another known Beatles hangout), we went from hotel to hotel in ascending price point looking for a room. Finally, when we thought we’d hit the last hotel in the city, the concierge tipped us off to a brand spanking new boutique hotel back downtown. He called down for us and got us the literal last hotel room in the city around 1 a.m. It was a gorgeous hotel and ended up being cheaper than the room we had back in London. We lucked out completely!
The next morning we met up with Pec and Aly (AKA Adam and Louise) at PanAm, a restaurant on the Albert Dock alongside the River Mersey. We ate lunch, chatted guild and game and then hopped into our cars. They drove us around to all the sights: Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, St. Peter’s Church where John met Paul. All these magical sites that I’d spend my life dreaming of that were part of their everyday world. Sites made all the more special because we had friends showing them to us.
All too soon, it was time for us to hop back in the car and head back to London. We said our goodbyes and “See ya in game”s and headed out.
As time went on, we all took breaks from the game and sadly lost track of each other. Yet, they are still in our hearts for sharing that special day with us.
So, Alyssandra and Peculiar of Fusion on the Dalaran server circa vanilla WoW (AKA Lou and Adam of Liverpool, England), Seltaeb and Quill thank you for your hospitality, your friendship and one amazing addendum to our honeymoon!
Have you ever had an in-person experience with an online guildmate? We’d love to hear your story!