Old Ones Die Hard
I think it’s human nature to always assume that whatever was before or will be later is better than what we have now. We have a tidy little saying for it, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” I have seen this thought process being applied to WoW a lot recently, as well, and thought about the implications of it.
We’ve heard talk about the sweeping changes WoW has undergone in its 6 years, about the traditional play of games like EQ, and about the potential next big thing, Rift. We’ve heard bloggers mention that “old timers” were trained on a particular version of a game, and that they never really adapt to newer versions. I’m not convinced, though, that the grass really is greener on the other side.
Habit is a terrible addiction. We become habituated by everything we do, everyone we know, and all the games we play. And habits are hard to break. Ask any smoker who tried the nicotine patch; they had the chemical addiction covered, but still they wanted to smoke. It was the habit of doing so that plagued them. More to our context, ask anyone who’s tried to quit WoW after being a avid player. All that free time, all that work that’d been sunk into the game, and it would just be so easy to boot the old program up – just for one last go at it.
These same habits inform how we feel about the game, as well. People who cut their teeth in 40 man Onyxia raids don’t get the same rush from 10 man ICC. The complexity, the chaos, the sheer size of it is diminished. Players who started in EQ tell us (I’ve never played, myself), that it was far harder than WoW, not better, and yet the offering of a new server seems to be a very popular opportunity. Is it nostalgia? Perhaps, but nostalgia for something that was grueling and punishing seems unlikely. I find it’s more likely that it’s just old habits rearing up again.
Benjamin Franklin, founding father and all-time greatest gout-suffering lady-killer, said that “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” or something of the sort. We trap ourselves with “fear of change”, whether it be not switching guilds even though in your heart you know the one you’re in isn’t working for you or switching jobs in the real world because you’re scared that the new job might be worse. Really, “fear of change” and “love of habits” aren’t much different, if at all.
One more clichéd quote and I’ll stop, but try this one. “If you can’t be with the one you love, at least love the one you’re with.” Just because WoW’s not the exact game you want it to be doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Just because it’s gotten “too easy,” “too hard,” “too complicated,” too overpowered,” “too much like EQ,” “not enough like EQ,” or whatever doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and enjoy your play time.
I know I do.