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Roman Hands and Russian Players

September 2, 2011

Dear Reader,

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.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (who didn’t plan this writing to take such an ugly turn)

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2011 10:12 am

    I envy your friend’s ability to just get into it and have fun, instead of constantly re-evaluating and “trying to have fun”. But I consider myself smarter, because I think that in contrast to him I understand what’s actually going on psychologically.

    • September 3, 2011 6:54 am

      well, I agree that ignorance can be bliss. and I’m not so sure that being smarter is always the more gratifying of the two. you forgot to mention one thing about it though: it’s not like you have a choice. we don’t get Neo’s choice of two pills, we can’t help it when we perceive ‘more’. so naturally, you will make a virtue out of that.

      who knows which one is truly better…I often think a bit more ignorance makes for a much more comfortable life. especially if just having more knowledge doesn’t mean you have the power to change anything at all.

    • September 6, 2011 6:49 pm

      I do too, and I realize, as I’ve written about several times, that I’m to some degree “trapped” by WoW. It’s not that I’m unhappy with this entrapment, only that I’m aware of it. What bothers me more, though, is his constant rushing through things, which prevents us from being able to do stuff together. He has a tendency, for example, to play at times that he knows I can’t and that will prevent him from playing when I can; for example, he’ll stay up until 4 in the morning playing a game when I’m only available to play the next morning (and I’ve let him know this). Because he can’t wait a few hours and sleep before pushing forward, we both play 4 or 5 hours alone instead of together. On the face of it, it’s not that big of a deal, but after 7 years of doing this, of having him finish a game and get tired of it well before I do, so that I end up feeling like I’m inconveniencing him by asking him to play,

  2. September 2, 2011 10:50 am

    I found Eureka compulsive watching, even though, I’m still not entirely sure I *like* it 🙂

    I have a guildie who sees WoW as a series of challenges *collect 100 pets*, *finish these instances*, and tbh, I’m glad I’m not a completer finisher and can bimble about doing whatever the mood takes me. I have playing with someone else to thank for that though, I didn’t get to that attitude alone 🙂

    • September 7, 2011 9:30 am

      I’ve used your comment about Eureka twice now to different people to explain how I feel about it; you summed it up perfectly. There’s lots of silly, transparent issues with the stories, the acting, the special effects, and so on, and yet I keep watching it.

      I am a completer, unfortunately, and I do set little (or big, in the most recent case) assignments for myself. However, I also have a strong internal auditor who knows when to say enough is enough, no matter how it may make me feel to give up. Collect 100 pets was doable. I’m not grinding for 150, though. Forget that.

  3. September 2, 2011 12:56 pm

    “Every game is destined to become boring.”

    This is a revelation I had myself lately when thinking about my current main MMO. I was wondering if I would spend six years playing it the way I did with WoW, and I realized that: a) no, it would probably hold my interest for a year or two at best; and b) that’s okay!

    I’m sorry that the era of the WoW zeitgeist is probably over because it was amazing to have everyone in the same game. In the future, though, my expectations are lower. If I can get 18 months out of an MMO and truly enjoy it, then I figure my time and money was well spent.

    • September 7, 2011 9:32 am

      Hilariously, I feel the same way, but on a much smaller scale. I’m sticking with the buck per hour formula, even for MMOs. I figure if I get 15 hours a month out of WoW, it’s still worth it, and since I know I’m getting 5 or 10 times that (I’m not doing the math right now), it’s a steal. Rift worked out of me, but only just, and LotRO and DDO were both good buys, so I don’t “regret” playing any MMO that I paid for (a few free ones I regret – and they were free!). Thanks for the comment!

  4. September 3, 2011 6:52 am

    Oh yes, learn to have some ‘zen’ and withstand the rushing – fun in a game is limited by nature. no game lasts forever.

    • September 7, 2011 9:34 am

      I really wish I could project that idea onto my friend, but he’s who he is and I’m aware I can’t change it. I just wish he’d slow down; he’s through every game he bought in the Steam summer sale already on top of playing WoW and several of the games you suggested. However, today’s post has another free game mentioned that he’s “into,” and I told him not to roll a second character and rush through (which he always does – one to level with me and one to play alone, and he always finishes the game alone so the time he plays with me holds no surprises or interest). We’ll see if he can restrain himself.

  5. September 6, 2011 8:13 am

    I might rush a bit sometimes, or feel that I *should* rush, but I seldom do it. I’m too lazy 😛 (or tired, or any suitable word)

    This friend of yours remind me of one of mine though. He came back to WoW after a break some time ago. He rolled a new character and was level 85 in a week. A couple of days later he had full gear from ZA/ZG. There was no waiting for my brother and I to make it online to cap his weekly VP. Heck, he couldn’t even wait for us to do Baradin Hold (which on our server at least is almost always switching hands every 2,5 hours, so there’s no worries that the chance to do it won’t come again). He just kept charging forward.

    I think it took 6-8 weeks before he more or less stopped playing again. I’m not surprised. Playing that much during such a short time I’d be more surprised if you didn’t burn out.

    Me, I prefer doing things with my guild/friends. I rather wait or even risk missing BH/VP cap if it would mean doing it alone. But then I prefer WoW as a multi-player game when it comes to those things. I enjoy the company. I’ll level alone a lot, but when it comes to everything else – I like company. And the wait is worth it in my book.

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