Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keeping it all in perspective

I want to take this opporunity to address two completely different groups of people who don't quite have things in the proper perspective.

Group 1

Since discovering WoW earlier this year, I've spent an inordinate amount of my free time playing the game, reading about the game, talking about the game, and most recently, writing about the game. I occasionally hear or read things from non-players saying that people like me need to "get a life", or something along those lines. They are quick to point out how nothing in the game "means" anything, and claim that I am just wasting my time.

"So," I ask, "what do you think I should be doing with my time?"

"Oh any number of things. You could be playing a sport like golf or volleyball, or reading a book, watching a favorite TV show or going to the movies, going out to the bars or nightclubs with friends."

This causes me to chuckle a bit, and it is around this point that I have to stop them. I point out that none of those activities "mean" anything either, any more than playing a pointless video game. They are all just different ways we choose to spend our leisure time. Neither I nor the avid golfer are likely to find the cure for cancer. The guy at the nightclub, notwithstanding any deep conversations he might have after half a dozen beers, is not going to bring about world peace.

The whole concept of "meaning" is completely arbitrary anyway. What is important to one person is not necessarily important to others, nor does it have to be. You get all these people looking for meaning in everything, or searching for meaning in their lives. To them I say this: Life is what you make of it, and it means whatever you want it to mean. Do what makes you happy (just don't be a dick to others in the process).

[BTW, this is not intended to address the separate issue of WoW addiction, where your excessive playtime is a detriment to other aspects of your life, be it health, family, job, schoolwork, etc.]

Group 2

On the opposite end of this spectrum is another group of people who has lost perspective. They are the hardcore and/or addicted WoW players.

The people in group # 1 above have a point: playing WoW doesn't really mean anything. It isn't going to cure cancer, or even hemorrhoids for that matter (though it may cause the latter depending on where you are sitting while you play). Getting a new chest piece or an enchant for your bracers isn't going to make you better looking. Killing the newest boss isn't going to get you laid or find you a prettier girlfriend. Farming mats, doing dailies, and playing the auction house aren't going to make money to pay your rent and your utility and food bills.

And since that is the case, I don't understand why some people take the game sooo seriously. If you wipe a couple of times on a raid boss, so what?? Geez you'd think that people were suffering actual physical injuries or monetary losses the way some of them react in these situations.

What's so bad about wiping a few times during a raid? I'll tell you what: People are stupid and lazy. They want everything given to them, they don't want to have to work hard for it, and they want it right now. If you wipe, it means it isn't just going to be given to you, you are going to have to work for it, and you won't get it right now.

A wipe should not be seen as a failure; it is an opporunity to learn and/or to teach... and to actually play the game. It is an opportunity for improvement. The real satisfaction from any game comes from overcoming challenges. Having something handed to you on a silver platter is boring. Having an 80 run your low-level alt through Dead Mines is boring for both of you, because there is nothing challenging about it.

Want to show what a great player you are? Don't start whining and complaining, and then leave the raid after the first or second wipe. Instead, try explaining to others what they are doing wrong, and show them the right way to do it. This impresses me a lot more than calling another raid member an insufferable moron (even if it's true).

And above all else, keep it in persective: it's just a game. You aren't actually being injured, and those repair bills aren't costing you real money. Try to have fun, damn it!

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