Dabe Alan

Cancelling an MMO subscription was stressful, oddly personal, yet life-affirming

Cancelling an MMO subscription was stressful, oddly personal, yet life-affirming

It all began so simply. A company gave me a press account for a popular online game, and I played, enjoyed, and covered the game for a decent amount of time. I paid for the game myself once my press access ran out, but after a while I stopped playing. The charge remained on my credit card statement, month after month, a reminder of the game I had left behind. I kept telling myself I would return to it, but I never did.

Soon after I changed jobs, moving from Ars Technica to Penny Arcade. I gave up my Ars email address and moved into my Penny Arcade email address. I thought nothing of it until my wife finally convinced me to cancel the MMO subscription. I didn’t remember my login name, nor my password. I asked to reset my login information, and it dutifully sent the necessary link to do so, but it sent them to my Ars Technica account.


I had to send a message to BioWare through PR, and a few days later a friendly man in customer support called to try to figure it all out. He said it was fine that I didn’t have access to my old email account, but on the other hand they had to make sure I actually Ben Kuchera. This wasn’t a reddit AMA, and they wouldn’t accept me jumping on my Twitter account to say “Hello, [publisher], please shut down my account.”

They would accept, on the other hand, correct answers to my security questions. All of them. This was for a game I signed up for some time ago, I began to get nervous. I have a bad habit of not taking that shit seriously.

“Who is your favorite author?” the man asked. I felt pretty good about this one! The trick is to go with the first thing that pops into your head, so I knew it was a tie between Stephen King and Robert Heinlein. I still think King is one of the best modern American novelists, but Heinlein made me fall in love with science fiction growing up. A year or so ago, what was I reading? What this guy bounce me out of the process if I started guessing?

“Stephen King,” I told him. I had to stifle the urge to say it was my final answer.

“Correct. Can you give me the name of your favorite pet?” Oh dear god.

Did I put down my childhood cats, which I loved dearly and simply named Big Kitty and Little Kitty? If so, which one? What about the dog I had in high school, Murray? He was pretty cool. The question didn’t ask for my most recent pet, but my favorite pet. Right now I have two cats, one of which is named Lilly, and the other’s name is both hard to spell and nearly unpronounceable. There was a long beat of silence as I went through all of this in my mind. I went with Lilly, mostly due to simplicity.

“That’s correct,” the voice said. I felt like I had won something. “Now, who is your best friend?”

Are you KIDDING me? Okay, I’ve hung around the same group of guys for the past 16 or 17 years, so this should be easy, right? Aaron was the best man at my wedding, but if I wanted feedback on a piece of writing, I’d call Rodney. Scott is who I would take with me to a fight, and he’s the absolute best when it comes to cheering people up. Josh? That’s the call for when I went to get goofy or play guitar. Mike is always up for an adventure and Jason is always willing to talk about life, the universe, and everything.

The voice at the end of the phone was quite comfortable waiting for an answer, but I was in the awkward position of getting all teary-eyed while realizing how lucky I am in the friend department. Quality above quantity, don’t you know. I gave him my answer, and was right once again.

I felt pride at my own life when all was said and done. I’ve enjoyed good pets, good friends, and a slightly pulpy taste in my literature.  The whole process made me want to sit back with a glass of brandy and a pipe. I even remembered the city of my birth, a topic that normally causes me confusion due to my nearly constant movement between Ohio and Kentucky residences.

My life felt full, and I wasn’t even counting that extra $15 I would be saving every month. I imagined a hypothetical MMO fan going through the same ordeal, being reminded of his parents who had passed away, the sad state of his social life, and the lack of friendly animals around his childhood home. I wanted to reach out and make friends with this person, and tell them it would be all right.