It's not that I haven't got any sense for romance. Believe it or not, but even a jaded innkeeper with wrinkles, gray strokes in her hair and less-than-spectacular boobs can see the enjoyment of flirting or even hugging every once in a while. The world needs more love, not less! But I prefer spontaneous manifestations of romance sprung from true affection to deeds that are performed out of social pressure and a sense of obligation.
Judging from what I've seen of Valentine's Day - from my mother's perspective - there is no Gearscore, damage chart spamming or general epeening in WoW that can come anywhere near the brutal competition and measuring teenage girls have to endure on February 14.
Did you get a ton of roses, publicly confirming what everyone already knew - that all the boys in your class have a secret crush on you? Not? Did you even get one single rose that clearly wasn't from your mother? One flower to confirm that even though you might not be popular, at least you haven't gone invisible. Did anyone notice you at all? Ouch. Tough luck. No wonder if you make up an excuse for not going to school on this day next year.
Valentine in Azeroth
Valentine in Azeroth is thankfully more lighthearted than the real life equivalence. Everyone - even the geekiest of the geeks - will get their share of the love, either you ask for it or not. Just put your foot into Stormwind and you're granted to be the target for someone's affection, resulting in a big pink heart buff hovering over your head. Love is in the air, indeed!
Sadly enough I've been feeling a little alienated as I've watched the 2011 edition of the seasonal event from the sideline. I'm not a part of it and I don't think it's my doubts about the goodness of Valentine in real life spilling over; it's more about being jaded. "Been there, done that! Couldn't they have brushed this up with something new?" The achievements were obviously a bigger motivator for me to participate than I had imagined.
Last year I completed my violet meta-drake and ever since, I've been quite indifferent to all of the game holidays. As long as they don't bribe me with substantial rewards, I can't motivate myself to sprinkle perfume, cologne, fill my bags with a ton of pure crap or repeatedly tell the city guards how much I love them.
It was OK or sometimes even fun to take part in those activities once (and I wear my Love Fool title with pride) - it's just not fun enough to do it all over again. I'm speaking for myself of course; I know that there are players who not only stomach, but even enjoy doing all of them on their third or fourth alt. I'm just not one of those.
Hugging an NPC
So, does this mean that I didn't do anything even remotely romantic in Azeroth this year's Valentine? As a matter of fact I did. Obviously it wasn't as romantic as the lovely story of Dawn Moore at WoWinsider (a must-read for anyone with a romantic mindset). But at least I gave out a hug to someone who I thought might need it.
I thought to myself: isn't it a bit unfair that the NPCs in Stormwind get all the love. In fact they look a bit like those girls with the huge bouquets of roses at high school. What about all the others? Aren't there many NPCs in WoW who get very little love or attention these days?
I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day in my own way by hugging someone who I thought might need it. And that's how I ended up, wrapped up in the arms of David Wayne at Wayne's Refuge.
You have no idea who he is? No wonder. He's standing at a godforsaken cliff at the edge of Terokkar, on the verge of falling down into an endless abyss. Not a living soul in his neighborhood. Just this man and his eternally burning fire.
I always thought he was an outsider even in TBC, when players still occasionally came by. his little camp. Back in those days he offered a questline, ending up with a weapon reward, a dagger with special daemon fighting abilities. It required a tremendous effort to get it, including completing a whole bunch of five-man instances. Few did it at that point. And I can't imagine anyone doing it these days, apart from possibly Loremaster title aspirants.
I don't exaggerate when I tell you that David Wayne is about as lonely as you can get as an NPC in WoW.
He didn't say much as I hugged him. Not even a word. I reckon it was a bit of a shock to suddenly get a visitor after all this time - and even more so a little gnome who wasn't interested in his services as a weapon smith and only wanted to snuggle. Or perhaps he was just a shy guy.
The secret of Valentine
In any case it felt good to hug, even if the response was a bit chill. It felt really good.
You see - the secret about having a nice Valentine Day is to not idly sit there waiting for cards and flowers, getting disappointed as they won't appear. The secret is to take the initiative yourself.
If you want to hug someone - go for it. If it's a real person rather than a pixelated NPC - the better, congratulations! But we've all got to start somewhere, right?
Dave Wayne got a hug on Valentine's Day from me this year. Who did you hug?