As popular as WoW has become, I've never set virtual foot in Azeroth. Not once. That's okay because WoW is doing just fine without my participation. At last count, Activision Blizzard pegged the number of subscribers at 10.2 million, or about half a million more than the combined populations of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Washington DC.
Of course there are WoW subscribers in all corners of the globe, and it takes a massive amount of gear to host all the different game worlds, or realms, as they're referred to. Each realm is hosted on its own server, and in late 2011, Activision Blizzard began auctioning off retired server blades from the days of yore to benefit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This was a chance to own a piece of gaming history even if, like myself, you never actually played WoW, and to add a few points to your philanthropy skill set and level up your personal character at the same time.
The pitch went like this:
"Blizzard Entertainment is offering a series of special charity auctions featuring server hardware originally used during World of Warcraft’s early days. We’ve since upgraded the game’s infrastructure with the latest technology to offer an even better player experience, but these 'honorably discharged' server blades are now unique collectors’ pieces. The net proceeds from the auction will go to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital."
This was an awesome thing Activision Blizzard was doing and I knew I had to have one. There may never be another game as popular as WoW, and even if there is, at the very least WoW will always be considered the first mega-successful MMORPG. I wish I would have held onto my Atari 2600 console, or my Commodore 64, or my first graphics card, a 3dfx Voodoo 3 2000 PCI (if memory serves me correct), or my collection of Sierra InterAction and PC Entertainment magazines. I don't have any of those things any more, but I am now the proud and geeky owner of the server that hosted WoW's Minahonda realm in Europe, which from my research was a Spanish-speaking player versus environment (PvE) realm.