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When WoW becomes work


I love World of Warcraft. I should, because I've been playing it since release, I have no idea what could motivate someone to do anything for about three years uninterrupted if not love. But even the most intense, fervent love for the game can hit a rough patch. Lately, as I've been tanking more and doing everything else less, I get nostalgic for those days of running for my life through Stranglethorn Vale while being chased by an inexhaustible army of panthers.

Okay, well, not that part. But lately I'm noticing that I've developed a very workmanlike attitude towards WoW. Punch in (that is to say, log on) an hour before raid time, get my consumables lined up, talk to the other tanks about strategy, help to herd the raid group to the instance, help summon folks who didn't get there under their own power because they logged on five minutes before raid time, tank the raid, get myself back to Shat, get my banking straightened out, run a few dailies, punch out (that is to say, log out). Maybe I'll log on some alts for PvP or level grinding, and maybe I won't.

Frankly, this is a terrible way to play a game. So I've resolved that I shall not do so anymore. What am I doing to make my play time less like middle management?

Well, for starters, I'm stepping back from den mothering people. This is a game, not a social outing for preschoolers, and it's not my job to hold anyone's hand and get them to the raid on time. (Unless I'm actually supposed to be doing that, but thankfully I usually don't have the raid leader job, just tanking.) There's a line between being conscientious and being an enabler, and I don't need to cross it. Luckily, my guild is sort of insane, and so between guild chat and the irascible but hilarious guild leadership I've been able to just sit back, laugh my head off at what they say between pulls, and decompress from my self-appointed cat herding.

Secondly, I'm actually going out and having fun, even if it means I don't do all my dailies. I've gone back on my 'no PuG' stance a bit, grouping up with random people with no expectations at all. The reactions you'll get when you drop in on a group of level 67's in quest greens and offer to tank the Ring of Blood for them can be downright priceless. You can even DW tank it if you get bored. And it can be hilarious to go into the battlegrounds in full tanking gear and confuse the heck out of people. No, I'm not going to kill anyone anytime soon, but man, concussion blow can really ruin someone's day, and while my crit rate is low in that setup, a 1500 point shield slam to the face is never fun for anyone. Except me. It's hilarious for me. I don't even care if I die if I get to see that happen. And hey, we know who's tanking Drek! It's the dude who has zero killing blows with the shield on! Finally, some clarity comes to Alterac Valley.

I also had fun discovering that yes, you can get a rogue to level 12 in a day. Even if, like me, you are painfully awful at playing a rogue. I made it harder by not sending myself bags or gold, which meant a lot of crisp basilisk urethra would have gone unlooted had I managed to kill anything more impressive than an angry pig. In my defense, she was very, very angry.

Essentially, it wasn't the game at fault, it wasn't even raiding, it was my attitude that needed adjusting. No one's forcing me (or anyone else) to run dailies and raid exclusively. Now, granted, some of this comes from a feeling of responsibility... I want to help my guildmates and be the best tank I can be so that the other 24 people on the raid don't get shafted... but I have to temper that desire to excel with a sense of fun and a willingness to do more than stick the blinders on and whack the same mobs in the groin over and over again. This isn't my job (well, okay, it's sort of my job, I mean, I get paid to write about it but still) so I shouldn't treat it like one.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

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