Once upon a time, a man saw a rare mount in WoW. He thought it was really cool and wanted one for himself.
I used to camp rares on my shaman in Everquest. I’d spend dozens of hours at a time for months to get a ring or a rare drop for a quest. I was also in my early 20s with the constitution of an elephant and the caffeine threshold of a Mountain Dew addict. I camped spawns in FFXI; sniper rings sold like hotcakes, bro. These days, I like taking naps.
Flash forward 15 years, and I’m sitting in a group of perhaps 300 people on my server. There have been CONFIRMED REPORTS that Poundfist has started spawning on other servers. This is being reported via Twitter, and the results are being uploaded to a Google document that everyone can view to verify that, indeed, the mythical Poundfist is spawning and that the acquisition of the mount is nigh. There are pictures of large groups of people sitting on their ogres like nerdy Mûmakil.
I inform my wife that I will more than likely be spending an inordinate amount of time on the computer this weekend. She lets me know that that is no problem, play to my heart’s content; she thinks I’ll do what I normally do, which is play for a while then retire to the couch. Little does she know I will still be sitting in the same position 24 hours from now.
Poundfist supposedly spawns 48 hours after a server reset and can take over 120 hours to materialize at one of numerous spawn points in Gorgrond. I chose to make my stand at a central location, along with hundreds of other people. The minutes go by slowly, partly due to the incomprehensible conversations taking place all around me in multiple languages, and also because I’m already getting tired.
For the first time in my life, I’m checking Twitter. I have a window open tracking #poundfist and the google doc. To my undying shame, I’m refreshing Twitter like a selfie-taking millenial.
Midnight comes and goes, and the racist banter taking place in general chat intensifies. The wheat is being separated from the chaff as the normal people go to bed and the loseriest of the losers become the majority. As a longtime MMOer, none of this is too shocking to me, but I cringe at what a less jaded player must think.
I give up and crawl in bed for a few hours of fitful sleep. Visions of a bunch of racist kids killing the mob while I’m laying down run through my head, denying me the rest I need to summon the willpower and rejoin them in my quest for a meaningless mount in a meaningless game. Cognizant of my place in the universe, I sit back down in front of the computer and check Twitter: no spawn on our server yet.
I spend the day listening to music and watching the screen looking for someone to say “he’s up!” People are trolling by reporting false spawns, causing massive migrations between spawn points as several hundred people rush to get there because as soon as he spawns, despite the best efforts of well meaning people to coordinate some kind of system where everyone has a chance to get the mount, Poundfist is going to melt like a snowcone in August as soon as he pops.
I begin to wander between spawn points, mainly out of boredom, but also because I don’t trust the people manning them to report a spawn. It makes a certain amount of sense not to, because they could either get lagged out and miss the spawn and also because the more people there are, the faster he’s going to die. In order to get the mount, all you have to do is attack Poundfist one time. The well meaning people I was speaking of earlier have been encouraging people to only attack with their fists, not spells, and for people to crowd control him so people can come from across the zone to get their hits. Nobody is fooled.
It is during one of these forays between spawn points that I happen to see a little train of players moving very surreptitiously. Always quick to detect someone potentially fucking me over, I follow them.
At this point, I’ve spent a combined thirty hours or thereabouts camping this mob, which is about 29 hours longer than I’ve spent camping something since Leapin’ Lizzie. I know that there are many people that still have not acquired their mount, and I feel bad for you guys, but for me, I was about at my wits end. I was going to make one or two more circuits of the spawn points and throw in the towel.
As I follow this group of perhaps twenty people, my thoughts are wandering. I’m in the middle of a particularly nice stream of self-degrading missives when I see a big, ugly ogre in the distance: HE’S UP.
My heart rate instantly quickens and I become completely alert. As ridiculous as it sounds, my body dumps adrenaline into my bloodstream over the appearance of a fucking mob. Poundfist’s health is already relatively low, and I know that I’ll make it in time to get my hit in, but I already know that anyone not already here has no chance of getting it. I dutifully type into general that “HE’S UP HE’S UP”. Others are doing the same, and the chat channel is erupting into a cacophony of ‘wtf where omg’ and ‘wtf my comp lagging wtf’.
I, and perhaps 50 others, loot our mounts. I am shaking with excitement, yet in the back of my mind, I am also a little sad. This has been a very draining experience for me. The cloud of nostalgia that covered my recollection of all the days wasted in Everquest evaporates and leaves me with an unfettered view of my own loserhood.
I have my mount, but I’ll never get back my pride.