I was only 14 when I first flew my mage into Grizzly Hills. I was just leveling through to get to the brand new cata zones (Yes, I was a cata baby) and I was dead set on grinding through quests as fast as possible, until something happened and made me completely forget about leveling at all.
One lone stringed instrument started playing as I was on my way to a quest destination, and it made me take my hands off the keyboard as I sat still listening to this… thing… that I had never heard before. It was playing a melody so simple yet… emotional and comforting, that I remember myself getting goosebumps and starting to swell up in the eyes.
"What *is* this?" I thought to myself.
(Mind you, I was one of those 14 year olds listening to the same three Metallica albums on repeat, taking the occasional break to listen to AC/DC, so this feeling and this type of music was completely foreign to me, and I had no idea why this music was bringing such as response from me.)
I immediately tabbed out of the game, went to the forums, and made a post asking about the instrument and the piece it was playing, and it took a little while before one poster just said:
"Oh yes, love that tune. That's a Swedish instrument called a Nyckelharpa. Pretty cool instrument, it has a lot of strings on it that you don't even play."
I hopped over to youtube, and searched "nyckelharpa", and 9 years later, and my life revolves around not only that instrument, but the music of Scandinavia as a whole. My wife even walked down the aisle last year to a Swedish Bridal Waltz performed on a Nyckelharpa.
A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a music conservatory I had applied to with nothing more than an essay on Edvard Grieg's love of Norwegian folk music and some recommendations, telling me that I had been accepted (with sizeable scholarship) to study there for the coming year.
I don't really know how many have read this far, but I guess this is my cathartic way of telling Warcraft thank you for serving it's purpose to me. If it wasn't for that Nyckelharpa in Grizzly Hills, I honestly can't even fathom where I would be right now in life or what my purpose would be.
World of Warcraft raised me for my teenage years. It gave me this beautiful world filled with art and music that still inspires me to this day, even though I haven't actually been a part of Azeroth's story since 2015. I was living in a city at the time, and it gave me escape into the great outdoors that I so desperately wished for, but after moving to New Hampshire a few years ago, I found no need to escape into video games when the world around me is the very thing games like WoW gave me a taste of growing up.
So… thank you Azeroth, and thank you Blizzard (particularly the music team), for playing a role so significant in my life that without you I don't think I'd have the purpose or the incredible opportunities I have today. Even though I don't play it nowadays, years later your game has introduced me to my love of folklore, language, history, art, fantasy, and music that gets me out of bed every morning.
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