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Goal!

Sometimes I find myself just standing around somewhere while lost in a deep conversation with a friend, perhaps wandering my character around in some pattern while I talk. It feels good to just let go of time, and immerse myself in that conversation.

Some of my friends, however, would never do this, because they have solid goals that they always want to work towards achieving. Whether it's getting keyed for a high-level instance, attaining some new gear for fighting in PvP, or even just leveling up a new alt they like, many players seem to be in motion all the time. Sitting down to talk just doesn't feel productive, especially if they've reached the level cap and there's no such thing as rested experience anymore.

Once, a friend of mine told me about his brother's 3 level 70 characters and several other characters getting close to 70. He said his brother is always doing something related to leveling or gear whenever he logs into the game. Sometimes I inspect someone I know, and as I mouse over their various epic items, I feel like I'm getting left behind, like maybe I should get busy like my friend's brother, doing something --anything -- to get farther along in the game. Something inside me says, "What do I need to do to get that item or level up that kind of alt? ... but wait a minute... How much do I really want that? Am I playing this game for the loot, or am I playing it for something else?"

Everyone has something they want to achieve in World of Warcraft, whether its getting an epic flying mount, or just getting to the level where they can get that really neat spell. Those goals can be healthy and keep the game interesting when they come one after the other. Obviously, I want those things too, but sometimes I wonder when that urge to progress becomes an unhealthy thing, when you start to feel like "you've got to play WoW everyday" in a World of Warcraft equivalent of "keeping up with the Joneses."

My method for balancing myself is to think of my WoW-time as a chance to fulfill multiple, sometimes conflicting, goals. In addition to gaining a certain reputation, earning gold, or finding a certain item, I also want to have more quality experiences with my friends. When I find myself just standing around doing nothing but chatting, I remind myself that that's the highest goal I have when I play this game, to do things with other people I care about. If I sacrifice time running instances in order to chat with a friend, I needn't feel as though I'm losing anything; rather I'm just fulfilling another of my important goals. If I started to focus too much on power of one sort or another, I might start to overlook the subtler achievement of deepening my friendship with someone.

I may never be an Arena team god, or a member of Nihilum (nor even want to be), but I will be living life and playing my favorite computer game with my friends in a way that means most to me.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

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