The Things we Carry, Part 2
As we discussed in our last correspondence, age and experience are two of many things that each of us carries into our game world. Whether we’re young, old, have played many games, or only a few, our personalities, capabilities, and neuroses inform our game play at every level. Bravetank discussed in a frank and honest post her fear of upsetting people with the need/greed system. I found her post to be starkly honest and telling, and I felt it important for each of us to do a personal inventory of our own behaviors that can affect our game play.
I have plenty of neuroses. Perhaps because I was picked on so much as a kid, I developed a real bully-buster attitude. It causes me sometimes to escalate things that could just be let go, to sometimes jump the gun on someone I think is being a jerk who I may in fact have just misunderstood. Gevlon, another unique personality on the web (though putting unique next to a description of him would probably irritate him), admits to the same sort of thing. When you evaluate too heavily, whether it be for bad behavior (in my case) or bad play (in his case), you open yourself up to being the bad guy. I know on a couple of occasions I nailed someone who didn’t deserve it (or backed down in such a convincing manner that they fooled me).
Right along with my attitude goes my teaching. It’s been discussed at length in the annals of this blog (is it fair to say annals when it’s been less than a year?), but it bears at least a quick mention again. I can’t abide bad play, so when I see it, I frequently fall back on one of my most prevalent patterns, instruction. Sometimes this leads to better play, sometimes it leads to being cussed out. Regardless, though, it’s pretty clear where I come down on the topic of kicking or teaching, which was making its rounds about this time last month in our little sphere, which is strongly for the latter.
Those really aren’t enough, though, to follow Bravetank’s example. Both are dressed up to seem positive, to seem like they’re bad but really are bragging. No, I need more personal and embarrassing behaviors that I’d rather not share.
Okay. This ties in with my first neurosis, but it’s the far darker side of it. I’m a strong believer in justice, sometimes to the point of frothing diatribes at the TV when, say, murderous mothers get away with their crimes. In dungeons, this translates to the brass rule, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” When I see a player being an abusive jerk, I usually start in on them myself. I can paint it in positive colors, saying that focusing their ire on my protects the other players, but it’s just as easily cloaked in negativity; that when I see a jerk I want to be a jerk right back to them. I’ve had countless dungeon runs where I’ve been downright nasty to people who were starting up on someone else. Part of this comes from the lengthening of the Vote to Kick option; if I can’t get rid of them with a clean break, I’ll try to get rid of them other ways. It’s developed enough that my buddy used to see me getting ready to start up and ask me in a whisper, “Is this really worth having to run a spite dungeon?” meaning that we may end up being unable to finish or quitting and having to do another. Usually his answer was no, but mine was yes.
The problem is that the vengeful behavior sometimes becomes petty. I’ve done things in dungeons to people who weren’t being jerks but just exhibiting inconsiderate behavior. People who inspected someone and made a suggestion about their gear, I’ve done the same to, just to make a point. To Dps who want to hurry, I’ve slowed down or, if they got really annoying, I’ve stated I was going afk for 10 minutes; usually of course I just wait for them to drop then come right back. Neither of their behaviors is really “jerk” behavior. Sure, their both inconsiderate, but in reflective moments I wonder who made me police to Azeroth (well, the Dev team did, actually, but that’s just my bull-headedness flaring up again).
I’ve had people ask me why I had such a stick up my butt in dungeons, and while of course I gave as good as I got, afterwards, I can’t help but wonder if they weren’t right. While I never would inspect someone’s gear – ever – in an instance, there’s not a great distance between that and my unprovoked instruction to someone about their play. Both are hugely presumptuous, and it’s no wonder that some people have come back at me nastily; on a bad day, I might have done the same.
So there’s a huge hypocrisy in my play; I can dress it up any way I want, but in the end I do some of the bad things I get irritated in others doing. My wife pointed out another just the other day. As a tank, I’ve said to her on occasion (over and over, she’d say) that her primary job was to stay with me; that if the dps are lagging behind, that’s fine, but to stay with the tank. Just the other day on my shaman (or was it my priest? Things are getting mixed up in this 10 x 85 challenge) I was complaining about tank who kept “running ahead” (it was definitely my shaman – we were in Gundrak and he ran into the room after the first boss and pulled three groups while I was gathering tablets for the quest on the other side of the boss’s room). She reminded me that it was my primary job to stay with the tank, to which I could only begrudgingly respond, “You win this round.”
While I savor the irony of such things, even at my own expense, I also feel very guilty about them. I don’t know if it’s my time with the game, or the fact that I’m struggling to stay interested (against better advice, I might add), or if the challenge itself is turning me into a worse player as I want to do things quickly and efficiently since I have so much further to go. Most likely, it’s a combination of all three.
Those are some of the neuroses filling my embersilk bags. Like Bravetank’s, all of them can be shown in a positive light as teaching, whether it be rotation or appropriate and considerate behavior. However, also like Bravetank’s, they can be viewed with a more critical eye, usually our own, and seen for what they really are: psychological baggage. And no matter how many times we drag them to the middle of the screen and type “delete,” we just can’t seem to get rid of them.
Stubborn (and reflective, at times)