This is part of the series I am doing because I want to participate in the 10 Years: 10 Questions project.  The project asks all players of World of Warcraft to answer the same 10 questions.  The answers that people give will be collected up and presented in a series of podcasts.  I am looking forward to listening to those!

Each of the ten questions requires players to sit down and think about their answer.  For some of the questions, I knew the main thing I was going to answer it with.  But, when I started writing, I ended up remembering things that I had completely forgotten about.  It has been a fascinating challenge!

Question 6: Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

My answer to this question surprised me.  The area of the game that I always return to is Ironforge.  That seems like a strange place to pick, considering that I spent a lot of my time in World of Warcraft (WoW) with a Draenei as a main.  It’s also a strange choice for a person who hates the snow and cold weather in “real life”.  There was a long span of time when I didn’t have even one character that was a Dwarf.

I remember that I rolled a female Dwarf way back when I first started playing.  This was either at the end of “Vanilla” or shortly after The Burning Crusade had launched.  One day, I decided to roll a Dwarf and see what that was like.  I remember I gave her dark hair, but can’t recall much else – not even her name.   She might have been a Warrior, but I’m not sure.

I got through the starting zone and was wandering around near Ironforge.  Some random player came up and started talking to me. I have forgotten the details of the conversation, but I think he wanted me to go into Ironforge for the purpose of picking up some quest that he thought I needed.

What I do remember is that this guy was pushy and annoying.  After several attempts to politely get rid of him, that he failed to grasp, I finally gave in and decided to head to Ironforge with him.  I’ll go get the quest and then log off.  That should work!

Something happened as we walked up the hill to Ironforge.  My camera angle shifted, and I couldn’t fix it.  Now, all I could see was my Dwarf’s feet.  I had no idea where I was going, and had yet to learn how to shift the camera angle.

The instant I stopped walking, the other player started shouting at me to hurry up.  I tried to explain that the screen shifted, I couldn’t see where I was going, and I didn’t know how to fix it.  He kept yelling “Change the camera!  Change the camera!”  I didn’t know how.

I ended up logging off WoW for the night.  The next time I logged in, I decided to delete my Dwarf.  It was the only way I could think of that would prevent that player from finding me again.  This was a pretty miserable experience for my first time at Ironforge.  Yet, the place itself grew on me.  (Years later, I did roll another female Dwarf, in part because of a podcasting project I wanted to do.  She’s a Priest.)

So, why Ironforge?  The most honest answer is that Ironforge feels like home.  I live in California now, so “home” in WoW should probably be Booty Bay.  I even have cockatiels!  But, Ironforge reminds me a little of where I grew up, sort of near Chicago, Illinois.  The winters there are brutal, and feel like they will never end – and it’s always winter in Ironforge.   I hate the cold in “real life” but, since I can’t actually feel it in WoW, it does not trouble me.

The stone structure of the place reminds me of some of the bigger, older, buildings in Chicago that were made with huge blocks of stone.  Ironforge even has what resembles Chicago’s Field Museum inside it.  If you get there from Stormwind via the Tram, you pass through the underwater part that always reminded me of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  There have been times in “real life” when I took the train to get to Chicago specifically to go visit the aquarium and the museums.

In addition to the structure of Ironforge, I find myself relating to the Dwarves themselves.  Like them, I’m short and stocky and solidly built.  The Dwarves don’t seem to feel any need to hide their emotions.  You can hear the non-player characters (NPCs) laughing loudly when something strikes them as funny (especially during Brewfest that takes place not far from Ironforge).  I have a tendency to laugh out loud at things that I find amusing, too.  You can hear my laughter in many of the podcasts I’ve done over the years.

Dwarves also are strong.  When I was younger, I learned that I could lift more weight than one would expect of a woman my size. This enabled me to get employment moving boxes of stock either by hand or by pulling a pallet mover.

Now that I’m in my 40’s, and certain chronic illnesses that run in my family have found me, that extra strength might not be what it once was.  What remains true is that I can still drink like a Dwarf.  I carry a “buzz” for a while, can drink anything (that doesn’t have gluten in it) in any combination, and I never get sick or hung over.

Ironforge feels like the city I would live in if I were magically transported into WoW as I am.  It feels like home, and I don’t think that will ever change. The screenshot you see at the top of this blog is of my Draenei Zoeie, flying home to Ironforge, on November 6, 2010.

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