Last night, I watched “Frozen Dick,” season one episode 12 of 3rd Rock from the Sun. I’ve never seen the show in its entirety and so I started from the beginning last week when I discovered it was on Hulu Plus. In this episode, Dick is traveling with Sally to Chicago when he discovers she likes to sing show tunes to pass the time on road trips. He’s trying to figure out how to woo her and so he bursts into song in the middle of a diner in order to cheer her up. The other guests join in a rousing rendition of the title song from the musical Oklahoma!
I automatically joined in the singing. Oklahoma! was the first musical I did in high school. I played Gertie Cummings and if you’re familar with the show then you know my character had an obnoxious laugh. I am well remembered for that laugh.
I experienced a plethora of emotions during this scene. My mind immediately went back to the “Little Theater” and hours of rehearsals leading to the thrill of performance. I was at once not the least surprised and amazed that I remembered every word of a song I had not sang for over 20 years.
I was joyous.
Those memories represent some of the best moments of my high school experience. I forged friendships during that show that have withstood the test of time and that I cherish to this day. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia… and I liked it.
Never one to let a simple experience be just that, I started thinking about other avenues of nostalgia and landed smack dab in the middle of a decision I recently made.
I went back to World of Warcraft.
This was a complicated decision for me, one that truly I grappled with for longer than I care to admit. I had to figure out what it was the finally put me over the edge and made me decide to play WoW again.
I paid close attention to the first few times I played after returning. It was more than a little disorienting going back to a familiar yet changed landscape. I forgot how to “drive,” how to move my character with any efficieny. I realized later that was because I had spent so much time in other MMOs with different control systems. I couldn’t remember how WoW worked.
But that wasn’t the case for my main’s abilities. Sunnybee sprang to life before me, and I remembered the power and the joy I felt lighting things on fire. I started to solo the Pandaria content, basking in the experience of being in a “new” land that was virtually empty since its newness had worn off from those who had not taken years off from playing.
The best part, though, was watching the lion’s share of my friends return to WoW. It was a snowball effect… one person went back, then another, and now we have almost everyone back from our original guild.
Better still, we all seem to be enjoying it again.
I still don’t have a lot of time to play, but I can log on and run a few quests and check out the story for the Pandaria expansion. I’m taking my time with the content and not rushing through like the Mastery Player in me would have done when I originally left WoW. I’m allowing myself to be a Self Player and I am enjoying every minute of seeing myself as Sunnybee again.
The nostalgia brought me back to WoW, but I know it is my friends who will keep me there.
What game holds this same kind of power over you? What do you return to time and again for the joy it brings you?
Regina is a gamer, writer, teacher, and podcaster living in the Pacific Northwest. She completed her Ph.D. in 2011 from Washington State University in Vancouver and continues to teach there part time. Regina’s research interests focus on women and technology, and her dissertation discusses female gamers and identity in digital role playing games. A lifelong geek and technology enthusiast, Regina recently started a Girls Who Code club in support of their mission to close the gender gap in technology.
To continue the conversations about gender and gaming that Regina started during her research, she started a podcast called Game on Girl. Called the “NPR of game podcasts” by Chris Brown of The Married Gamers, the podcast features women involved in the game industry, and tackles some of the complicated issues in the gaming community. Season 2 began in the spring of 2018 and will premiere new episodes monthly.