Chris Metzen has announced his retirement. I’m not shocked, but I am happy for him, and thankful for the role he played in my life.
I’m a gamer, and have been since I was about five years old when my mom left my brother and I to play arcade games at Mr. Gatti’s Pizza. My mom worked for a computer manufacturing company called Texas Instruments and one Christmas she bought us a TI Basic. We had a ton of fun playing that thing. But we had consoles, we got an NES in 1986 and that kicked off our obsession with gaming. In 1994, the year I graduated from High School my mom bought me a desktop without much power. It was supposed to be for writing college essays and so she reasoned, it didn’t need much in the way of a processor or a graphics card.
I upgraded quickly.
Gaming in the 90s was awesome. It was the wild west in terms of what was available. Doom was one of my favorites. Then I discovered a game called Starcraft. My obsession with Blizzard had begun. I played for hours on end, only taking a break to read my assigned books or do homework. I had several frustrated girlfriends who complained about how they could never call me because I was always online playing Starcraft or later Diablo II and the xpac Lord of Destruction. Then came Warcraft III and The Frozen Throne. These were wonderful games that filled my imagination with things I had only ever read about in the great fantasy novels of my youth. It was as if someone had, by force of will, brought Middle Earth into my life.
I was alone a lot growing up, with the exception of my brother. We were close until he was thirteen and started doing drugs. I think in hindsight, and after many years of therapy that his drug and alcohol addictions were him self-medicating for schizophrenia. After his death my mother told me he spoke to dead relatives, called the cops because his Christmas tree was attacking him, thought he had been abducted by aliens among other things. I never knew this about my brother. I simply cut him out of my life when he was about fifteen because I could not take his drug and alcohol use.
Then in 2005 I went to visit him for Thanksgiving and he introduced me to a game he had been playing called “World of Warcraft.”
He let me roll a toon on his account to see if I liked it. I made a Night Elf priest and stayed up all night spamming star shards and smite at nightsabers and owlkins in Darkshore. I love it. When I got home I subscribed and created a gnome mage. We played Alliance because my brother just had to play a sexy female paladin and at this time pallies were ally only. We quickly leveled and got into a great raiding guild. We were farming MC and BWL in blues and some greens. (I remember kind of skipping Z’G except to get a few items for people who would not shut up about it). We got into the top guild on our server and opened AQ40 together. We pvp’d in Altrac and Arathi and Warsong and had so much fun. (To say nothing of Southshore – I miss world pvp). I would pew pew and he would follow me and heal me.
Burning Crusade was even better. We plowed through content eventually earing a spot in our server’s top guild. Server firsts were normal. We were respected and I made a lot of friends in guild. This at a very isolating time in my life. I was working on my MA and was surrounded by shitlibs. So it was nice to have friends I could talk to. But most of all it was nice to have my brother back.
But there was a dark side to it. My brother had a severe alcohol problem. He had kicked the coke and meth years before, but he was drinking a bottle of vodka a day. His health got worse and worse as time went on. He would fall asleep during raids, or fail to show up at all. I became an officer in our guild handling recruitment, and stalled on finding a replacement (shortly after server transfers were allowed). But I didn’t want to replace my brother. I knew without WoW he would have little to nothing in his life. He would be gone.
One day the other officers sat him down and asked him to leave since I refused to get a replacement. He understood and accepted their decision. I was right. Two months after leaving the game he was admitted to the hospital with severe liver problems. Then Wrath dropped. He would not be able to level fast enough to get into a good guild. So I stopped playing for a while and took the opportunity to spend time with my brother. We bonded again out of game and because of the game. We were at each others throats over his drug and alcohol problems for about a decade. But WoW and Chris Metzen helped heal old wounds.
My brother died of complications due to liver and kidney failure in February of 2009.
I miss him every time I log into WoW and see the bags he made for me that say “Made by Cyannide”
But I am thankful for the time I got with him. Metzen helped heal old wounds. He gave me a lot of good memories of my brother. I’ll never forget watching my brother, OOM, spam heal our MT on Vashj as I shot fireballs at her trying to bring her down. We were the only three left standing when we got that kill.
So Chris Metzen is moving on to spend time with his family. I respect that. He’s accomplished more than most of us ever will. But most of all, he built an imaginary community of friends, and brought my brother back to me. Even if it was only for a little while. Thank you Chris.