Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)

Ditch your superstitions, lose your inhibitions...

Last week, I told you why you should be playing Warcraft. This week, I'm going to tell you why you shouldn't.

There is a basic problem with Fansites, or indeed any kind of website/experience that relies on support from organisations that fund them: you have to love what you do. When your bottom line means maintaining a relationship with someone, there has to be a line you won't cross. You won't diss them publicly, however bad they may become, because without them, you won't exist to begin with. That can make your relationship with your object of affection difficult too, especially when real life throws stones into the road. However, there is one enduring factor that makes people forgive just about anything, and it is this that is the keystone to my argument this morning. If you want to stop playing Warcraft, it isn't the game you need to look at first as a source of the problem.

It is yourself.

Consider, if you will, every game you play to be like starting a relationship. The first days and weeks are fun and glorious, exploring your new life, understanding which buttons to press to make you happy, and which cause problems. If your game is engaging, if it surrounds you with things and people that continue to keep you stimulated, you'll stay on even when the new becomes repetitive and the wonder becomes routine. However, depending on the kind of person you are, what's going on outside the screen will makes a big a difference to what happens on it. Those factors will continue to sway and influence with far greater significance, as is only right and proper. The problem then comes if you stop listening to what you SHOULD do and begin to focus on distraction.

They see me trolling, I am simply pointing out the obvious disparities...

There is absolutely NO POINT in continuing to play a game if it makes you angry, frustrated or it affects your real life in an adverse manner. However, there is plenty of point in working out WHY these things happen: I mentioned this in my podcast last week. The ability to be critical of something you love is a life skill everyone can do with not simply learning but improving on on a daily basis. Therefore, if it comes as a surprise to some people that I will occasionally not be happy with the content Blizzard gives me, just wait a while and I will tell you why. I understand that this isn't just about blithely sitting back and giving five stars to everything you're given. It is about finding what works for you and then understanding what doesn't, and how to make that better.

The Blizzard 'Fan World' can be quite intimidating when you approach it cold for the first time: the cliques, the in-jokes, the presumptions, the expectations: it's a fan base that isn't simply forgiving and hugely generous, it can also be scathing and incredibly insular. From the outside, that can be enough to make some people run away screaming. At that point, and indeed at every moment, you need to remember WHY you are here, and what is important to you. If you are not enjoying the game for what it is, a game, then you won't engage well with other people either. There needs to be a basic grasp of your own desires and needs, and where those can be best served, because when all is said and done, that is what matters most. If you are one of those people who has to validate by being in a group, then you need to understand that also brings a set of responsibilities. Just because you're alone at your screen doesn't mean you're alone when you login, far from it. It might be easy to forget that sometimes, but inevitably when you do, there are consequences.

There then may come a point when it stops being fun. The moment that happens, I think you owe it to yourself to know it is time to log off for good. The problem comes, of course, in a world where most people around you seem to still love Warcraft, and you don't. They don't matter, you know. You do. What makes you happy is the most important thing, and if being in the game is making you sad or angry or any other of those negative emotions, it really is time to walk away. Of course Fan Sites aren't ever going to say this because if everyone got a strop on simultaneously, a lot of people are out of a job. However, what the collective often seems to ignore is that people do get frustrated and often, simply because of the nature of this massive beast, their cries for help go unheard. That's why I think it's important that more people admit that things aren't perfect a lot of the time, and they need to be better, and I'm not talking about class balance or instance tuning. This community is fabulous, but it is also dangerous. People would do well to remind themselves there are two sides to every story.

I know, Tams. I know *hugs*

In the end, I've been in a relationship with this game for a very long time. I have had my ups and downs, but I understand that if something matters enough to you, then you find a way to make it work. Ultimately, I write here because I want to and I love it. I still do, after all this time: I see the good and the bad together, and I find my own place to exist within it. I'm not doing this to validate myself, or to gain favour... I just write because that's what I do. That's what I've always done and this is how I get better, every day. I find ways to challenge myself and (hopefully) you, to make people think and to not be the same: not because I'm trying to make a statement or wave a flag, but just because I want to say it. As long as this game still makes me want to sit here and put words into space, then I'll continue to do that. When I lose that desire, you'll be the first people to know about it.

I love this game and that's why I play it. If you don't, don't be afraid to say so and walk away.


Anonymous said...

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the honest truth!

redhattedrogue said...

Yeah, this is a super post. (Shocker!)

I don't think we do this often enough: encourage people to just stop playing the game. Not because of screw-you-Blizzard or you-should-have-more-of-a-life-loser or any of that superficial, knee-jerk stuff, but because it very often can be really healthy for you, *and for the game*, if you just stop playing it when you're no longer enjoying it.

I do think it's important to know why you're stopping, though. If you're unhappy and not having fun because your friends have left or your guild has turned sour, you may well still get a lot of fulfillment out of this hobby of ours by finding new friends, or switching guilds, or changing something else about your outlook on (or approach to) the game. Quitting (or just taking a break, as I've done many times) with no understanding for why you're doing so is arguably almost as unhelpful as continuing to play with no understanding for why you're doing so.

To be fair, I do think Blizzfolk and many fansites are pretty realistic about this -- I've seen plenty of them suggest that people take time away from WoW -- but I agree there's a lot of unavoidable bias and vested interest that all of us who are part of the community have to be wary of. To the extent we can, anyway. It's a weird balance to strike, sometimes.