Roman Hands and Russian Players
Today’s correspondence actually has nothing to do with the cultural background of players. It’s a take on a old saying about teenage boys, that they have Roman hands and Russian fingers; the “joke” of it is heard better in speech than seen in type. However, I’ve had many an argument recently with my buddy, who’s completely burned out on WoW, about how he approaches games. Unfortunately for me, I’m synchronously teaching a course on games, thinking, and learning, and I’ve found that his behavior is completely normal from a psychological standpoint.
You see, dear reader, my buddy runs through games. He doesn’t take time to stop and smell the digital roses. He sets his goal on something, be it “get to 85,” “collect 100 mounts,” or “do the dungeon achievements,” and then he does them, nonstop, until his goal is met. He rushes through things.
I’ve only ever been able to level with him once, in the well-documented 4 person leveling group from a few months ago. On other occasions, We’d start characters together, but he’d be at max level in a few days while I was still pushing through the 40s. He simply can’t put things to one side for a while so they can be savored later, with friends.
Dailies were the same way. He gets up in the morning on the east coast, does his dailies, and is done before I’m getting up (or getting done at work) in central time. Then I ask, “Hey, want to do dailies together?” and he says, “Sorry, did them already.” “Why didn’t you wait? You know I get on about this time and we could do them twice as fast.” “Why wait? They’re done now, so I don’t have to worry about them.”
The exact same conversation could be had about weekly dungeons, when I was doing them. He’d be done with all 7 on Tuesday before I got off work.
I can’t argue with his logic. He doesn’t really want to do them; he feels he should be doing them, that he’s obligated, so he gets them out of the way as soon as possible. I used to be the same way, but even then I preferred to play with others. And that’s the problem, you see; we’re obviously playing for totally different reasons now. I’m only playing to complete my challenge and to spend time with my friends. There’s no more “should be” for me. If I want to play my priest, I play him. If I want to play my shammy, I play her. If I don’t want to play at all, I go watch Eureka (it’s okay, I guess. I was told it was a lot better. Maybe it gets better; I’m only on episode 8). He, though, feels like it’s a job, so he rushes through the “work” and moves on.
I don’t know why I was never able to get across to him my reasons for wanting him to wait. I felt I was pretty clear – the point is to play together, not to play at the same time doing different things. He never really could grasp that, but I’m not sure why. Conversely, he never understood why I was peeved at him for getting his stuff done before I could even get home. It would only have made a few minutes’ difference for both of us. Maybe he intellectually understood, as I do his point of view, but in the end, he had all the power; he could finish everything before I even logged on; I couldn’t wait on him.
This problem has leaked into other games. When playing any Co-op FPS, he usually plays the assault rifle, armored guy and rushes into battle. I prefer a stealthier approach, usually sniping from a distance. While this can make for an excellent team, it often means I’m getting into position when he’s running into battle. By the time I’m up on a tower somewhere with my scope up, all the enemies are dead. It’s not that huge of a deal, because I’m much better at planning, map reading, and strategizing, so we’re still a good team; it just means frequently he gets all the glory – or in these cases, the fun.
It ties back to our Wow playing because he’s done with the game. When I was giving him gruff the other day about being willing to play Allods but not WoW (which are essentially the same game), he pointed out that other than a few obscure dungeon, raid, and PvP achievements, he’d done everything in the game. He feels there’s nothing new in the game to explore any more, and at some level, he’s right. The only real place of exploration for him might be alliance side leveling up to BC, which of course then means grinding through the same last 25 levels that he’s done 5 times before. I hit him then with the “rushing” thing, that he’d exhausted all his options too quickly due to the speed and obsession under which he’d sought them, but he mostly dismissed this. “At some point,” he said, “The game’s going to get boring. I’ve played it a lot longer than you.”
The author of one of the books I’m using backs that up. Every game is destined to become boring. It scares me, in a way, as it means that one day all of this community will be gone. We’ll subdivide either into different interests altogether or different games. We’ve seen it happening already to many long-time bloggers. We’re all sitting on a time bomb, only instead of exploding, it just fizzles out with our interest.
This correspondence has taken a depressing turn, so I’ll end with my positive point. Enjoy it while you can, dear reader. Don’t suck the very marrow from the bone of the game, because then there’ll be nothing left to suck (maybe not the best metaphor). Take your time at things, don’t approach them with obsessive zeal. There’ll always be another day to raid, to get achievements, to collect mounts. There’s no reason to play so hard; it takes its toll on you by stealing your future with the game. Enjoy it while you can.
Stubborn (who didn’t plan this writing to take such an ugly turn)