|Screenie from Wowhead. Angst from me.|
Let me tell you the tale
of a girl and a gun
and how home truths were learnt
as an Auction was done.
That your life is a game
that should always be real
and that sometimes the truth
needs a loss to reveal.
Regular readers will be familiar with my struggles with dps consistency in Instances. I am doing my weekly pushes into LFR and updating items with Valor as soon as the opportunity arises. However, there is one constant weakspot: my weapon. This is a story I know many of you are familiar with (certainly one with which my husband's Paladin can sympathise) as the choice of upgrades is deliberately small. There is no engineering gun this time around, and only one Epic drop in Heroics. I've tried, but my luck in any kind of group instance has been just above woeful. That hasn't stopped me, every week, making sure I run the Will of the Emperor in the Vaults and Lei Shi in the Terrace in the vain hope that something will drop. For me however there is one alternative: the re-skin of the gun I always wanted from the Crusader dailies but was too low level for anyone to be useful (ah, the days pre-Mogging.) Flintlocke's Blasthammer is a decent weapon, even when you can't socket it with the +500 Agility Sha Gem. Mr Robot tells me it's an upgrade, even though he doesn't need to.
I've tried (and failed) on several occasions to own one. The problem? The weapon's only available on the Black Market Auction House. This week I decided that enough was enough, and I was going to do my utmost to make the weapon mine. It wasn't about the thing looking good, or about owning an item only a small number of people would ever get their hands on. It wasn't ANYTHING about prestige. It was all about guilt: feeling bad that I'm not able to contribute as well as the other raiding hunter in the Guild who's had multiple drops of Epic weapons and who is consistently pulling far, far more damage as a result. I don't want people carrying me, I need to be doing my part. I can't do that when everyone else in my raid has their weapon slot upgraded and mine isn't.
Now, there is a school of thought that says that this state of affairs isn't a problem. I can hear a voice in my head, an imaginary Dev or CM smiling and then saying 'if these people are your friends it shouldn't matter, you will do it together,' and although that sentiment is clearly laudable I'm a grown up and know that the truth is far less clear cut. When everyone else is doing their best, in these situations, it really does come down to the gear, and if you don't have it, then the group fails. I can't easily accept that, when I know there is a way to improve the situation that I have some control over. Suddenly I had chosen to play a completely different game, one that had nothing to do with where I went, and everything to do with how much of my time I was prepared to sacrifice. This mini-game however isn't fun at all. In fact, it's pretty soul-destroying.
|The Seven Circles of Hell, Panda Stylee.|
I spent pretty much an entire day trying to second-guess the end time on the Auction, to discover that this item doesn't run the same twelve hour cycle most others do. I also spent a long time working out just how much money I was prepared to throw at the opportunity, and in the end this was to be my ultimate downfall. People in Guild kindly offered to lend me cash but I declined. I'd decided the amount I was prepared to pay, but had failed to grasp the fundamental truth that, if you want something badly enough, you need to be prepared to pay everything for it. Part of me refused to throw a ton of money at an item that was transitory. Unlike a pattern, pet or a mount, which would always have some value after purchase, this item would be gone. If I wanted to mog with it it would be easier and simpler to go buy the gun at the Coliseum. Because I couldn't equate a high value to my need to help my teammates I was doomed to failure the moment another hunter arrived and sat down next to me.
|Just before the auction went to Short, the bidding began.|
This person's name is well known on my server. They're the one who managed to tame a Hydra from Wrath. They're also the person who loves to undercut people's cut gem auctions by one copper, all the time, and the moment the male dwarf appeared next to me I knew that I was doomed to failure. This individual is gold capped, and that means that even if I had chosen to bring all my cash with me and thrown it all at the gun, they had the option to outbid me and win. It was at this point I underwent something of an epiphany, as three more hunters arrived to check on the status of the gun. All these people want this upgrade too, enough to come and waste Real Life time on securing it. Whatever their reasons, regardless of motivation, this game moves people enough to use their most precious of commodities in order to further a world that only exists inside a machine. More significantly however was the realisation that if I didn't have two children, if there wasn't the full-time commitment of being a mother, I'd probably be gold capped too, and be ready to throw whatever I needed at this item to make it mine. I couldn't be critical of this person, of any of these people, because this is how I would have played the game before my kids were born.
I'm really glad as a result I came to Warcraft when I did.
When the auction clicked over to Short I decided my fate. I didn't have enough money on me to get into a bidding war. I wasn't prepared to start one anyway, so I'd throw all my cash in one lump at the Gun and expect an outbid, thus pricing the gun for my opposition to buy. If they wanted it badly enough, then almost a 10th of their income shouldn't be too much of a penalty, after all. Sure enough, as soon as I placed my bid it was countered. Even though I knew it was coming, I got angry despite myself, and before I realised what I'd done I'd used /say to point out that it was a stupid price to pay for a weapon that you couldn't put a sha gem in. A stupid price that I myself had placed on a bunch of pixels. I wasn't trying to buy it for that reason, I just wanted to feel as if I was helping my friends. In the end it had stopped being about that too, and had warped into something toxic that made me feel frustrated, disappointed and angry with myself and a person I'd never met. This was the moment therefore to step away, and I did.
|The final bid. I should have gone for the Oozeling ^^|
With the benefit of a night's sleep, I realise that my best bet would simply have been never to go to the BMAH in the first place. Regardless of whether I'd won or not I have learnt some interesting lessons, mostly about myself and how I perceive the gaming world around me. Those will take time to digest, the commodity I feel most aggrieved about wasting, far ahead of the benefits the gun's acquisition would have afforded me in-game. Having more dps won't help me avoid Attenuation (blog post to follow) or help me stack for Unseen Strike in the Heart of Fear. A better weapon won't make me consider how I judge people based solely on in-game actions. The BMAH's 'value', for me at least, hasn't been as a place where I can get stuff I missed out on, its been to make me realise how much I assume that the game is to blame for how other people act, when I'm just as much to blame as everyone else. The smart move, for me, would have just to have waited until next week's reset and started again.
This gun is dangerous, but the best thing I could have done yesterday was to lose out on winning it. Nothing intangible is ever worth that much grief, regardless of its perceived significance.
I consider this a valuable lesson relearned.