How This Non-Gamer Got Sucked Into Guild Wars 2

My Guild Wars ranger, currently decked out in some pretty awesome pirate gear. Screenshot: Jenny Williams
My Guild Wars 2 Asura ranger, currently decked out in some pretty awesome pirate gear. Screenshot: Jenny Williams

I’ve only ever been a casual video game player at best. There are just too many interesting things to do in life to sit down for hours at a time and be that unproductive. It’s a fun thing to do now and then, but I stare at my screen enough during the day that I like to do other, more tangible, things with my spare time.

And here’s where I declare a pet peeve. The term “gamer” seems to refer to a specific kind of die hard video game player, and totally ignores other kinds of video game players, tabletop game players, and other types of people who appreciate games. But I digress.

Image: Guild Wars 2
Image: Guild Wars 2

Rewind to earlier this year. Rory had recently moved in, and he brought his World of Warcraft (WoW) obsession with him. He played sometimes, went on raids with his friends, chatted with them on his headset, and tried to get me to join him. WoW was one of those things that I was happy to have missed because of the generation in which I grew up. I didn’t need that kind of time suckage device. But after much reluctance, I gave it a try.

We played together off and on for a few months, but there were still many parts of the game that I didn’t understand. And I didn’t appreciate the subscription cost. Pay for the game and have a monthly fee? Nope. Our meager budget forced us to let our subscriptions lapse.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Rory’s friends and family were also tiring of the WoW subscription fee and were starting to play a similar game called Guild Wars 2. They kept saying it was “so much better” than WoW. It didn’t have a monthly subscription, which was a plus, but I didn’t want to sink any money into a new game. Fortunately, a free-to-play weekend came along. Rory and I spent most of that weekend playing, to get a really good feel for the game. His brother gave us a tour of some of the things you can do in it. We had a really fun time. But once the weekend was over, we stopped playing. We couldn’t justify buying the game, or spending the time playing.

Rory's character standing next to mine. Screenshot: Jenny Williams
Rory’s character, a Sylvari elementalist, standing next to my character. Screenshot: Jenny Williams

Then about a month ago, surprise! We each got an email with a play code for Guild Wars 2, an early Christmas present from his brother and his brother’s husband. I enjoyed playing the game before and knew I’d enjoy playing it with Rory again, but probably still only casually. But then we started playing. Not every day, but a few times per week. I got more and more invested. Gathering materials. Completing maps. Getting better gear. Completing daily and monthly achievements. It was like InFiNiTy CoMpLeX all over again (back in my multi-line BBS days of the late 80s).

I’ve managed to level my first character, a ranger, up to level 80, and will complete the entire map before moving on to another character. I like being a ranger a lot. Ranged weapons plus a pet who not only does damage but usually keeps the bad guys off of me… You can’t ask for more.

Rory's Norn ranger character. Screenshot: Rory Stark.
Rory also has a Norn ranger character. Screenshot: Rory Stark.

I’m sure my passion for the game will wane at some point, but since there’s no monthly fee I can pick it up and put it down as often as I want. And I do. We don’t play every day—usually just a few times per week—so it isn’t taking over our life. And it’s something that Rory and I can do together, or separately, because we can each have multiple characters. We will explore areas together, or we can go off and do our favorite bits on our own.

I’m not sure what it is about Guild Wars 2 that finally piqued my interest enough for me to truly enjoy playing. WoW gave me some context for understanding Guild Wars 2, since they are the same kind of game, with some subtle (to me) differences, but Guild Wars 2 is just fun. I’ve finally gotten into a game that is usually in the realm of the more obsessed gamers.

Guild Wars 2 is a great value for anyone who likes MMORPGs, since you pay once and play forever. It’s a great gift idea, or fun to get for yourself and explore.

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