A Problematic Choice and For Once I did Well
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.
Stubborn (and well-liked, for the moment)