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A Problematic Choice and For Once I did Well

November 14, 2011

Dear Reader,

I was recently talking about my guild adventures with my RL buddy who’s in the guild (not the same as my old buddy… but you can pretend for simplicity’s sake).  We went last Wednesday to Blackwing Descent, a backwards step for our guild, and cleared the first five bosses in about two hours.  We had a few wipes, some of which were my fault (I’d never tanked the first five bosses), but overall it was pretty smooth.  We had an all-guild group, but it wasn’t our A team, so things lagged a bit.  For example, our “main” tank (really I’m the main tank, but I’ll let the other pally think what she wants) apparently had a dentist appointment at 7 p.m. in the evening.  Whatever.  You.  Say.

We went in Thursday to finish the job, but not enough people signed up, and some that signed up didn’t show up.  We ended up picking up three pugs: a tank, a healer and dps.  To frustrate further, our vent was cluttered because three or four of our other guildies had organized and BWD raid and were using our vent slots to coordinate it instead of just joining ours.  Hell, I’d have stepped out if my slot was needed… just raid with your guild.

The RL/GM was pretty upset; our A team members were on and not interested, some of our B team members were running another simultaneous raid, and we ended up pugging.  The pugs were sub-par to say the least, and as a result, in the hour and a half or so that we worked on Nefarian, we were unable to down him, which we did in three or four legit pulls our last time in there (my first time tanking him).

All of this serves to bring us back to my conversation with my buddy.  I was talking to him about the guild and where it’s at and my experiences with previous guilds, and he was telling me what he knew about some guild dynamics that I wasn’t aware of due to being pretty new.  It was a very enlightening conversation.  Then came the titular dilemma; I was explaining to him this position that we find ourselves in where we’re getting friendly with the guildies (he’s been there far longer and is much friendlier) but also want to see content.  It struck me then that no game should ever make you decide between being friendly and being successful.

Apparently, I’ve turned into Gevlon.  I seem to have gotten to the point where I’d rather play and be successful than play and be around people I want to socialize with.  I’m not playing with my SC friend any more (that stopped years ago), I’m not playing with my NY friends any more (not on WoW at any rate), and I see my RL friends here outside of the game doing other activities (such as the surprise party I threw for my wife this past weekend; more #bragging on that later (I have no idea how to use a hashtag since I don’t use Twitter)).  The problem, though, is that while I may have become Gevlon, I don’t feel like Gevlon, and I feel guilty about leaving people I’ve previously been friendly with.  I don’t mean my RL friends here, either; I’ll still see them and we have things we can do in-game other than raid.  I mean the other strangers/guildies.

No game should make you make this choice.  In a competitive game played by good sportsmen, the feelings can still be friendly even if you’re working against them.  In a cooperative game, everyone works together towards a final goal, usually with coordination and planning.  In a game like WoW, though, there’s nothing you can do about bad playing if you’re not in a position to to kick and replace or regulate and enforce it.  All you can do is QQ or leave.

I’m teaching a course on games, as I’ve mentioned, so I’ve become a bit of a bathroom expert on the subject (meaning that I’m not an expert at all since it’s just “bathroom” reading.  Is there a better term for this?).  It seems to me that this is terrible game design.  Games should evoke prosocial feelings (more on that later in the week, I think), but instead, WoW engenders a lot of negativity, even turning close friends into enemies or hardworking, respectable guidlies into slackers in other player’s eyes.  Seems like a bad thing, doesn’t it?

On a completely different subject, I made my wife’s birthday great, and here’s how.  Feel free to steal.  It was her #0th birthday (For my own safety, I’ll leave the 10s digit out, though honestly we’re both aging pretty gracefully, for given values of grace), and she had requested a surprise party.  Let me repeat that.  She asked.  For a surprise party.  That’s my wife!

Months ago I began my conditioning.  Using statements like “I wouldn’t know how to put one together” and “It’s illogical to give you a surprise party that you know about,” I conditioned her to truly believe she wasn’t getting one.  I wasn’t sure of my success until the previous weekend when she said, lips trembling, “So… I’m really… not getting a surprise party?”  It was heartbreaking, and it’s very hard for me to be mean to my wife, but I went ahead with puppy dog eyes and said, “Don’t make me feel bad… I just didn’t know how to put one together, and it’s too late now…”  In short, I broke her birthday spirit… but for her own good!

On her birthday, 11/11/11 (for once it the American and European date patterns match up!), I bought #0 roses and hid them around the house.  The roses were of different colors, and the colors corresponded to point values, with 100 points to earn.  I created a few sticky notes with rules on them that I placed near the first few, obvious roses.  The first was taped to the garage door, so she would certainly see it.  It simply said, “Happy Birthday!  You have one point.”

As she entered the house, she found more roses with stickies, eventually piecing together the expectations and rules of the game, as well as the rewards.  She played it in two sessions, finding #4 of the roses the first session and the remaining 6 the next session.  Some were visible but out of her range, so she had to figure out ways to get them down; others were carefully hidden among like-colored objects.  A good time was had by all.

We went out to dinner that night with a small group, but the surprise party was planned for the next day with a larger collective.  The restaurant did a good job hiding the group in a corner so she didn’t know until she was at the table that she’d been gotten.  We ate and were merry, and she had a great time.  Sometimes – rarely – I’m a good husband.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and well-liked, for the moment)

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011 12:37 pm

    That’s a very creative Birthday for your wife! Absolutely impressive. I’m not much of a romantic but that’s pretty awesome! But if my wife reads this, boy will I catch hell! Well I did get her a card and twin live bamboo plants for our anniversary, the pots were Yin/Yang shaped so they fit together. Not awesome but she likes live plants over cuttings so I think at least that much in my own knuckledragging way lol.

    On to the other stuff. WoW is meant to put chemical endorfins into your system every time you achieve Now raiders achieve by downing bosses and learning a system to do so that they can repeat to quantify their strategies. Each time its a win, it’s a serious endorfin rush. Samething when you win a pvp match. It also works adversely for failure to do so. It’s a marketing formula that keeps their long time subs keep coming back when other mmo’s fall short to the polished expectation. This unfortunately has the by product of making the game an eSport.Teams will compete to progress for being the server top tea. It’s geek/dork fotball at its best.

    The thing is, take the time to go back and remember WHY we picked up the game in the first place. To have fun. When we stop having fun, it’s time to change our game plan altogether. Stubborn, you have to be one of my favorite mmo social bloggers. I don’t see you as Gevlon by the way. He expects performance. Fail to perform…get out don’t want to talk to you ever again. I doubt you fit that profile. But be warned, it is very easy to fall into it. Go back to your roots of gameplay. Go do stuff just for the fun of it. You have proven yourself a cpaable raider, willing to accept fault when needed and learn. Go back and run in the grass barefoot so to speak.

    Example: Of late I have been very very heavy into BG’s getting ready for rated and experimenting with arenas (epic fail on arenas btw). But a couple days ago I was getting exremely elitist and pissy during a long day of failed random bg’s. I had to stop even though it meant my gear grind would utterly suffer for it. I decided to reroll an old toon Mhorgrim (yes my namesake) and got back to the roots of adventuring. Well, I did go and send him BoA gear to make the process easier and it’s still fun to crush mobs with little or no effort when I gotta go kill 10 ratz or find 50 eggs so to speak. Anyways, I decided to do the entire Westfall questline and total quests for achievement. I got wrapped up in the story. Didnt even realize that the phasing was taking place but really dug the final outcome of the VanCleef saga. See, before I was so focused on endgame I forgot oto explore again. The endstate was pretty fun again. Just because I tweaked my gameplay and did stuff a little different. A lot of the quests werte turning low lv for me. But I realized it was the storyline and how I was reacting to it on the immersion level that got me going again. Did the same thing in Redridge and ended up leaving a huge crater where the Blackrock orcs USED to reside. Pretty nice since I get to see that forever on this toon.

    Ok, my soapbox. Just don’t forget there are ways to enjoy the game with your friends if you change things up and just go out to have fun again.

    ~Mhorgrim

    • November 14, 2011 4:17 pm

      9 years out of 10, I don’t do nearly so well, but this being her #0th, I figured I should make it special. I’m glad it went over so well; there were three or four near misses with the surprise, but my fast footwork removed them all.

      You’re quite right about getting back to the roots, which is what the 10X85 challenge was all about. I’m still working on that, but it’s certainly slowed down a lot. Also, since I’ve done so much of it, it’s dragging a bit not only in speed up in enjoyment, too. I’ve backed off and played a lot of other things, and I think it’s helped clear out some of the muck. I enjoyed the BRDs my wife and I ran the other night, so I think it’s working.

      End game, though, is tricky. I haven’t played it in a long time, so I think whatever addiction was there was broken, but I still want to play it while it’s relevant for a personal sense of achievement. I’ve been at guild first kills of a lot of the previous expansion bosses, and I want this one to be no different (for the bosses that remain). I just don’t know if this guild has it or not, and I’m not sure I want to stick around long term if they don’t. I’ve not made any decisions yet, but I feel one forming. We’ll see what happens.

      Another problem is that my “friends” are spread among several games now, so playing with all of them at once is no longer possible. Hopefully this will be remedied in the future, but who knows. Until then, it’s a juggling contest to see if I can keep enough balls in the air to not lose contact with anyone. We’ll see.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • November 16, 2011 11:03 am

      Yes, I did read it and what a great job you did on the “no surprise” party!! Kudos. Regarding the rest of the article, I found that to be so true. I once was very into raiding to the point I had burned myself out. I stopped raiding and lost a few online friends do to it. I’m in a guild now where there is a huge push to end game pvp, however, I find myself stubbornly lagging behind. I don’t want to rush anywhere, I want to enjoy the game. But in doing so, I’m not fitting in very well with the main group of folks in the guild. I suppose it is the nature of the beast. So, now I find myself playing on lower alts in a guild hubby and I had created and kind let go for a bit.

      My 85 raiding toon is woefully undergeared for cata so she sits unused unless I need money and then she farms. Some see it as a waste, but I see it as having fun. I’m finding things I missed rushing to 85 and I’m having a blast doing it. Will I ever get to endgame in pvp or pve? Who knows. For now I’m just enjoying the ride. At least I’m not parked in Stormwind complaining of boredom.

    • November 16, 2011 4:06 pm

      I know how you feel; I was very much in a similar place. Since end-game raiding now consists mostly of AoE healing battles and dance-fights where you have to avoid various effects, being undergeared and without practice makes it very difficult to move forward in raids. In the past, you could hop into higher end raids with less trouble because you might be missing gear, but your skill could overcome that, or you might not know the fight mechanics, but they weren’t so complicated and scripted to the point there a single moment out of place led to a wipe. Nowadays, the only way to get to play endgame is to do so almost constantly, which I just don’t find fun anymore.

  2. November 14, 2011 5:34 pm

    “It struck me then that no game should ever make you decide between being friendly and being successful.”

    Eh, if they were real friends, they would show up when they said they would show up.

    The fact that they don’t do this shows that you are not “real” to them, not a real person, or only real in a very abstract way.

    What you call friendliness is merely polite acquaintance. Real friendship is a two-way street. They would show you as much care you show them.

    Now, when you start getting up to Heroics and Royalty guilds, it may become a bit different. But at your level, with the problems you are having, it’s not a choice between friendship or success.

    It’s a choice between people who treat you as an abstract person, a virtual NPC; or people who respect you as a real person, who value their duties to you, as you value your duties toward them.

    I know which group I would rather be “friends” with.

    • November 14, 2011 5:56 pm

      No, I agree with you about those that aren’t showing up. However, the four or five who are good players, engaged in the guild, and do consistently show up on time are the people who I don’t want to be “unfriendly” towards. The others, the ones going with other guilds because it’s easier there, not showing up, or just being totally disengaged, well, yeah. Screw those guys.

      I, too, would prefer to be friends with the second group, but I’ve had a hell of a time finding a group of 8 other people like that in a single guild that doesn’t have attendance requirements that are impossibly high for my schedule. I’ve had some say it’s on me, and i’ve had others say it’s bad luck. I’m trying to stick this one out for now because 4.3 may draw some of the “good but disinterested” crowd back in. Only time will tell.
      Thanks for the comment!

  3. November 15, 2011 4:04 am

    Awww that sounds like a lovely surprise for your wife :)
    I got SW:TOR and a Sniper rifle for my Wii for my birthday *grin* I am not much of a flowers person :P
    I just don`t know what to say about the guildies/friends thing.. All the people that I am closest to now have been guildies at some point.
    But I think that if you have a two groups of people within a guild working to the same goals but prefering not to work together.. then the guild isn´t doing its job. Cliques can have a purpose.. but not if they are detrimental to the rest of the guild.

    • November 16, 2011 8:57 am

      Yes, I think the leadership is part of the problem; not that she doesn’t try, but that she’s stuck even more in the friendly v. successful dichotomy; she knows almost all of the people in real life, so pushing them to play with us frequently and well can have RL consequences. It’s a sticky situation.

      What on earth do you use a sniper rifle for for the Wii? Wouldn’t you have to be 500 yards from your screen?

    • November 16, 2011 12:14 pm

      haha, it’s for Elite Sniper.. and I kind of lie on the floor.. I´m only about .. 6ft away from the screen then :) I should move the sofas so I can get a bit further back!

    • November 16, 2011 4:04 pm

      “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

  4. November 16, 2011 3:02 am

    Jane McGonigal would be proud of you: Gamificiation of your wife’s birthday!

    • November 16, 2011 8:58 am

      I hope so; I worked hard thinking about the mechanics so it wouldn’t be too frustrating (like having all the roses in plain view without having to touch anything; but the place from where you looked mattered. That prevented my wife from having to move everything in every room, which would have been a herculean task) or too easy. I’m certainly glad it went over well.

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