It’s Just A Game

Hello again, friends.

Why is it a bad thing that someone can be emotionally invested in a game?

I’m not talking about fantasizing at all times of the day about their character and how it pertains to any situation, or anything really above and beyond the norms of enjoyment, but more along the line of what we bloggers feel about the games we blog about. There is a very real line between being obsessed with something and having an investment in it – this is a line some of us skate daily with anything we do and being able to straddle and ride that line for months and months are what separate some of us from the people who Need Help. After all, to blog is to love something enough to want to write about it (whether it be general life, a particular way of doing things, or any hobby you can think of), right? So there can be a general consensus that if you write often or even not so often about anything (for this discussion I’ll be referring to a game most of us know: World of Warcraft) you have investment in it, you want to think about it, you are involved in this game to a degree most are not.

I have spent a lot of time in World of Warcraft for the years I’ve been playing it doing different things: sometimes I raided, sometimes I PVP’d, sometimes I did daily quests, and other times I did none of those things but still logged onto the game. If I added up the /played time of all of my characters I would reach a number that branches out into a number of months. Therefor, friends, I have an investment in this game: that is Time. I have spent a lot of Time in this game, engrossed in the lore, swallowed up by the people I’ve met and the digital places I’ve been. I remember things that are not in the game anymore, experiences I will never go through again, and because of those things I am the man I am today. There is a Past to this game that is wholly my own, that no one has experienced as uniquely as I have – you have your Past, which I have never experienced before, and that separate but ultimately real reality shapes your investment into this game.

This reality I’ve shaped by the sum of my experiences and added onto the expectation of experience are also my investment, apart but not unconnected to Time: these are my Memories. Combine the two and you have something that has no monetary value – a Thing of pure emotional investment (for without my joy for the Time I’ve accumulated, it’d be nil) but at the same time something that is very real and very powerful. These are the things we can’t see when we play, one of the many things hidden behind the computer and the face and lodged within the mind and the heart.

I am unashamedly invested in this game. I put forth my effort and my time and I place at stake my reputation on doing certain things within the game. So when I am told that it’s “just a game” and that I “shouldn’t take things to seriously”, I’m at a loss as to how to respond. Am I to take the years I’ve spent and throw them to the wolves to be devoured? (NOTE: There is a very real truth that no one should take any sort of hobby as seriously as the person saying these things means: there are lines that you should never cross with regards to any game or any fandom. Getting upset that you and your friends cannot kill a certain internet dragon? Acceptable. Getting violent in any regards when you and your friends cannot kill a certain internet dragon? Unacceptable, completely and fully.)

For a second, let’s dissect the anatomy of this statement.

“It’s just a game” only comes into play when someone is emotionally charged (negatively or positively) by WoW and is usually said by someone with less investment. For instance: I (called Person A) play this game a total of five hours a week, you (Person B) play more than I do. I have no investment in this game: this is pure relaxation for me and I couldn’t care less if anything unique happens, all I want is to relax and enjoy myself in whatever I do. You, on the other hand, have goals you’d like to accomplish on any number of characters and care whether or not these goals come to fruition. Holding no investment in this game I can say to you, whenever you get upset or too happy, that it’s “just a game” and mean it because it’s exactly how I feel. Shaping this reality for myself, it’s hard to see any other way: this is how I play the game and if you do not play it the same way you are playing it wrong and wasting time. (NOTE: This can happen both ways. Person B plays more and has more investment and sees anything less as a waste of time and less enjoyment. Person A is not getting his money’s worth and should just unsub if this is how he plans on playing. See?) Thus is born the statement.

Despite the genuine feeling behind it, can it even hold water? Literally, yes, this is a game – there will never be any disputing that. Can this game be considered a Way of Life? Certainly: people have, do, and will shape their life to fit around the mold WoW has enforced upon them (raid times, PVP queues/teams, daily quests, reputation grinds, the AH). To the crux of the argument: are any of these things a Bad Thing? Back to our previous example: Person B plays the game for, say, 50 hours a week. To me, the writer of this blog post, this is a number that is far too high and is unhealthy. Who is to say (beyond a licensed professional [and even then it gets grey]) that this is a Bad Thing, though? If they can play that much and still work and lead what society deems a “normal life”, who are they hurting? What difference does it make?

Truth: it doesn’t. It really, really does not. Because you only raid does not mean the person who only PVPs is wasting their time. More to the point, just because someone takes this game seriously as a hobby does not mean they are wasting time or live in their parent’s basement (though this is true for some and is only sad on a case-by-case basis). It means one thing: they enjoy something you enjoy but in a different capacity, shaped by different emotions and experiences. How, really, are any of us different? We play WoW, we enjoy the game, and we actively lurk or write blogs about them.

Can the fucking division in this universe cease? Please?

You are a good tank.

Remember how I said I’d frequently update? Yeah, I’m so sorry, guys, but I haven’t been (shock!). This blogging thing is new to me and it seems that, unless there is very real danger in not posting, I can’t be arsed to do it. But you know what? Eff that. Eff that right in its eff-zone, because I love posting, I love this blogging thing, and I want to do it more. So I’m going to. No more “meh but the idea I have is shit, I won’t blog about it” BS I come up with. Idea comes to mind worth posting about? I’MMA DO IT, GANG. There is no way I’m letting this be something else I give up on after five minutes.

LOOKIT WHAT I BOUGHT :D

So, today’s post. Yep. I’ve had this idea for a bit now, and I wanted to really share it in case there are low-level tanks looking for advice, or even players who have been around since Vanilla and haven’t tanked but want to. This post idea came about after a weird little Dire Maul – West run.

Now, to preface, allow me to strut my feathers like the good little boy peacock I am: I am a good low-level bear tank. I am, really. I know what to look for in gear (barring the few levels when I was starting out when I used Intellect leather, but guys I thought I would be a boomkin so shush), I know what the hell my abilities do, I can LOS pull, I can kite (I’ve played a hunter for six years – I can kite, baby, you just have no idea), I can do all of that hoo-hah that you level-capped tanks can do.

But there’s one thing I cannot do, and it is not my fault: I can’t reduce incoming damage. By that I mean I have no defensive CDs yet, so in essence I’m tanking au naturel. Big spike damage coming from the boss? LOL HEAL THROUGH IT PLZ. I don’t have Shield Block (gained @ level 28) and I do not have Divine Protection (gained @ level 30). What I have, by level 29, are two points in Feral Swiftness (4% dodge) and one point in Thick Hide (which equates to a metric assload of armor). At level 30, when both other tanking classes have one or more defensive CDs, I have none. Now, this is not to say that I have nothing going for me – quite the opposite! As a druid I have more passive mitigation in my dodges and the sick armor from Thick Hide (yay for 4.0.6!) to hold me over, so I’m not exactly keeling over every pull.

But, I’d be lying if I said that the lack of CDs were not noticible.

Preface aside, here’s how it went down: I zone in with a shaman healer, warrior DPS, paladin “DPS”, a hunter, and myself as tank. I grab all of the quests from the charming Dagg’thol (what? You want me to bow before your Master, do you? I dunno, Daggy, I have this thing about bowing before Masters who have less than five eyes… oh you don’t say. How many?) and Mr. Warpwood and trek forward. The shaman, upon inspection, is running low on mana. No problem, Innervate hoooo! and I’m back in bear form, popping Enrage and being a polite, patient deathmachine. Then I notice a shield. It belongs to my best friend, the paladin. Thankfully he does not have Righteous Fury on, so I assume he has no dual-spec and expected to tank (why he queued for tank and damage, I haven’t the foggiest). No big deal, this has happened before and the runs have gone smoothly.

My other best friend, the shaman, is bursting with mana, and so we adventure on. Faerie Fire (Feral) the big tree to my right, charge into the pack of treants on my left, and we’re off to the races. For those keeping track at home, the packs of treants come in two varieties: singular or triplicate. This pull happened to have three treants, so that puts us at four monsters hitting my furry behind at once. I’ve tanked more and lived, through liberal kiting, application of Demo Roar, and interrupts, so I honestly thought nothing of it. Dear readers, I came out of that pull with 2HP. There is no punchline.

As much of a tank as I am, I am also a healer, and a DPSer, so after the initial pull and I’m spamming Maul or Mangle for a few seconds, I like to see what everyone else is doing: what they’re casting, where they’re standing, if they’re AFK… the usual. The shaman (my other bestest friend, if you’ll recall) did not start healing until I was on the last treant. So! He was busy: his house was on fire, his grandma fell down a well, his baby was crying, his dog learned to speak and was cursing at him very harshly, his girlfriend was hitting him, his boyfriend was leaving him. It happens, I understand.

Three pulls laters, I’m dead. Now, I have no shaman past 20, nor have I any idea how they heal (I know they like putting stuff that looks like floating poo around me, which is awesome in a 5th grade sense of humor). I do, on the other hand, know how to heal. I know that spamming your low-cost, long-cast heal when the tank is getting hit steadily is a good thing, nay a great thing. I also know that when my HP drops below 20 and I can do nothing but watch while I die, you better pray to all the Loa you can think of, ’cause I wanna see that high-cost, fast-cast heal firing. In essence, I’d like you to heal, and to do it with some semblance of knowledge. I saw neither of this. Instead, I see this:

“god youre terrible. let the pally tank.”

I’m sorry, I blacked out there. For a second I was swimming in a sea of red with shapes moving beyond my sight, indeed beyond my realm of kin, with all of the hate the universe could ever dare produce pumping like magma in my chest. I’m… I’m what?

Friends, let me fill you in on a secret: I am emotionally involved in this game. Let’s define that! It means I care about the people I play with and value my time spent in game. I am invested in this blogging community we have, with the shithole we call an official forum, with the dickheads and the carebears. I care, is what I’m saying, and sometimes I care with my hatred of everything “brotacular” and sometimes I don’t.

I was offended. I was also hurt, I really was. I denied all responsibility to myself. It’s not my fault, I told myself, it’s Blizzard’s for not giving me the tools to perform my job… to his… standa- Wait. To his standards? No. Nononono. Negative, Ghost Rider. Though I still felt that pang in my chest, the one which always follows the slights of LFD dickmuffins, I also felt something like indignation. (“Oh, I’m not good enough for Mr. Shaman, eh? Really? Shall I go respec prot warrior and Last Stand/Shield Block my way to e-fame for your whims? Art thou not entertained, Caesar?”) In a moment I’m proud of, though, I said simply, “Why?”

“idk i just like healing palas. just fucking let pala tank gees”

“Again: why? Do I get a reason or is it ‘because I said so’?”

Nothing. No answer. Nothing, really, from the shaman after that, except some random garble before he left group about “putting *something* near the silljin”. Though, I did get to contend with the hunter pulling every goddamn thing in sight and the warrior making love to his Taunt ability. It was rough, but I did it, and do you know why?

Because I am decent. I know my speech at the top of the post was full of bravado, but guys, honestly, I’m only pretty good, not great. You may see me in a LFD PUG and think “I’ve had better” but I guarantee you’ve had worse.

And this brings me to the title of this post (I applaud you if you’ve made it this far): you are a good tank. I promise you are, no matter what the dickpants in LFD PUGs say. I know you. I’ve leveled alts through LFD. I’ve probably healed you before, or DPSed while you tanked. You’ve made mistakes, and sometimes we’ve wiped, but that’s okay, because I’ve had fun during those times. We may have never seen each other again, but put me behind a healer while you tank and I’ll remember you vividly from our times in Scarlet Monastery/BRD/BC dungeons/Wrath dungeons. Do you know why? Because you’re a good tank, and let me tell you, you’re a fucking dime a dozen.

You will mess up, my friends. You will hit one button when you meant to hit another, and you will wipe. You will focus on the boss while adds are swarming your healer and you will wipe. You will die because you’re eating a sandwich. It’s okay. I promise that you’ll learn, that you’ll adapt and, eventually, people will make level 1 alts on your server/faction just to ask you how they should gem/enchant their gear. All it takes is practice and the devotion to your craft to power through the shitmongers and idiots and just get better at your own pace.

Back in Vanilla, there was a semi-spoken truce among druids: Horde or Alliance, PVP flagged or not, you just didn’t hurt each other. The druid population was dwindling, and support for the class seemed non-existent. This was before Alamo’s famous DURID manifesto. At the time, if you played a druid, you played it because fuck yeah druids best class ever, not because you were OP. Where is that these days? Camaraderie, my friends, I’m looking for the camaraderie.

More examples: in junior high (for my friends over-seas, this would put me in about 7th grade), I had geek friends. I was not all that popular, but the best friends I had then were my geek friends (apart from one friend who was a jock, and we’re still friends to this day). If someone picked on one of us, we’d group up at one of our houses and play video games and tell stories about how we heard that bully was caught picking his nose on the bus or something equally stupid. We bonded together through our adversary.

As adults, our adversaries are immaterial things like money, the time we have left to live, or simply how to survive. We have nothing concrete to direct our anger at. Instead, some of us turn to video games to calm down our aggression. Killing this internet dragon feels good because we are powerful in this game, because we are not John Doe who has ten bills to pay and little money to pay it with. We all do this at some point in our life. Everyone who plays World of Warcraft shares this, and is united by this.

And yet instead the culture sees how my gear is better than yours or how I love blood elves and you love dwarves or how I love Uldum and you love cheese. Does it fucking matter? Really? Why do we have to be so goddamn rude to each other? Yes, I’ve read John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but I hold a unique position of being completely opposite of that theorem (more on that in another post) and thus am forced to wonder: why?

(Addendum: This spiraled out of control, really. It went from rant to actual post to me ranting again about idiots on the internet. To note: I, honestly, am not upset at the shaman for being rude. What I am upset about is the culture within WoW which believes him a hero for being a douche for no reason whatsoever. That’s all, really.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.