I'm going to write some initial thoughts about our Clawcon-west meetup, though I don't know exactly how coherent I'll be given that I flew out of Seattle on a red-eye last night, got into Chicago at 5:50 am this morning and drove straight in to work.
The pic above is the view from the front porch of our beach house in Indianola, WA. Purty! A couple folks joked (or perhaps it was a thinly veiled threat) about whether I was going to be posting any pics from the weekend on the blog. Come on guys, give me some credit. I would not post pics of you guys on here! This landscape pic is about all that's going up here.
Anyways, at one point when we were hanging out, I closed my eyes for a minute and all of a sudden there I was back at my desk in Chicago talking to these people on vent. Then I opened my eyes, and ZOMG, they were right there! I could give Jess or Shmoobert a face or a look if they said something not of my liking! Hooray!
I did end up calling people by their toon names probably 95% of the weekend. Even in front of strangers, which was sometimes quite funny and perhaps embarrassing for them. Now unfortunately this beach house we rented did not have internet access. I do think it would have been quite amusing to watch each other play.
Anyways, in a nutshell what I learned is that yes, you can get to know people well through this game. Damn well. No one really surprised me. The core impressions and feelings that I had of them through the game and vent conversations were the same impressions I had after hanging out with them for four days.
I think I expected this going into it, perhaps more so than anyone else. While others were slightly more nervous about meeting each other, my take on it was come on, we already know each other! It was thus amusing to see some of these impressions confirmed and to think, "Geez you really do get to know people online and via vent". That gut instinct reaction you have about the core of people, as well as the chemistry you have between people truly does somehow travel through miles of cords and wires.
And yes, there was a lot of WoW terminology thrown around. Some could only go so long without bringing in some WoW reference. For example when we were grilling corn on the cob in the husks and the husks caught fire, there was a mention that we should have put up a fire resist aura. We had comments and jokes like that all weekend. All weekend. Sigh what geeks we are...
I'm going to be completely honest here and say that for the last couple of months I have been unsure if I will play Cataclysm. This was something that the guildies and even Jess didn't know. I shared this uncertainty over the weekend, with the addendum that now that we've hung out, it makes the decision even harder. I think the pendulum has swung back to playing Cataclysm.
We come from such different places and backgrounds, that for most of us there is no way in hell that our life paths would have crossed if it hadn't been for the game. It blows my mind that this game can bring people together in this way at a depth comparable or even deeper than some real life relationships. It's so much more than passively watching a movie or TV, or knitting, or whatever other hobby you want to insert in there.
This game brings people together. And for the people I've met through it, I am incredibly grateful.