I spent more than half of my World of Warcraft days playing damage dealing characters. I was never great at it, but I didn’t mind. The game was fun anyway, and I was happy following my friends around, carefree, doing mediocre damage
When most of these friends left WoW, I started playing battlegrounds because I was too shy (/chicken) to join random dungeons. I did what I could to help my team, yet watched with indifference whenever I got my ass kicked. Even with a Ret Pally my stats didn’t compare to everyone else’s, so instead of running up bravely to enemies, I started using what healing spells I had to help others who were better than me. Eventually, curiosity led me to switch my pally to Holy and… man.
This was the coolest thing to go through. After a long time of playing with this feeling of “whatever, I suck, I’ll do what I can,” I was suddenly full of adrenaline and a surprising attitude of “Leeeaaave no maaan behiiiind”. I didn’t want ANYBODY to die EVER. It was an intense determination that felt out of character for my insecure gaming self. I loved every second of it.
I’m sure I still wasn’t what you’d consider “good” at WoW… but it felt good to want to be better. It replaced my indifference with a stronger attitude that stayed with me even when I occasionally went back to damage dealing. It changed the game for me. And not just WoW, but every game. Sometimes, indifference is simply a sign that you need to find a different approach to what you are doing. Or a different purpose.
Oh, boy. I just downloaded Diablo 3.
I say “Oh, boy” because Blizzard and I have a complicated past.
I found World of Warcraft at the perfect time when my life changed unexpectedly. WoW helped me deal with difficult emotions by letting me handle painful reality in small doses. (Thinking back, I will always thank Blizzard for empowering me right after life had done the opposite.)
WoW pushed me back into a numbers system with objective progress, rewards, and an outlined path towards a goal. This made me feel a comfort and happiness I hadn’t felt since I was in school.
And then, the game started hurting me for the very same reasons it helped me in the first place. There’s a fine line between coping and denial. I found myself playing until I was literally falling asleep, so I could just stumble into bed and not think about anything. This kept me from having any internal confrontations that needed to happen so I could move forward.
The quick, objective progress in WoW also made my slow, subjective progress as a musician and composer disheartening. Without motivation, my productivity was severely affected.
Now, I have nothing against playing for hours if I feel like it and have the time… I have a problem when it turns me into an irresponsible person.
Being irresponsible makes me feel ashamed… because I know better than that. And being irresponsible because of a game, makes me feel ashamed of playing. I don’t want to be ashamed of doing something I love.
I managed to ease off on the hours I was playing for many months… then like a loop, something bad happened and I found myself staying up until 4 in the morning again. That’s when I finally cancelled WoW.
I still think about it often… especially when I have free time at night… And I still haven’t been able to delete the install. I just threw it in a backup drive. It’s comforting to know it’s there. Bad Malu, but it’s the truth.
So now… Back to Diablo 3, here’s an open letter to myself.
Let this be a good thing that will enrich your life, as any form of art should.
And promise to play only when you feel proud to be playing.