Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Flogging a dead Scapegoat

Well, Christmas is over, as is New Year - and where are my gaming dilemas at the moment?

Well, over the festive period I decided to stage a grand experiment. I was going to test myself and World of Warcraft to destruction. These were the rules.

(a) My target was, between 17/12 and 02/01 I was going to try to level Gortessa, my Tauren Shaman from 43rd level to 56th level, so that she could legitimately enter some of the guild instance runs.
(b) To do that, I would pretty much have to play WoW as much as was humanly possible during the holiday period.
(c) However, I was going to temper that by ALWAYS being on call to my family - even if it meant dying in the middle of a battle

I played and I played and I played - I pulled in some 12 hour days at the PC. I used every quest stacking trick in the book. I even resorted to a small amount of emotional blackmail to get some L60s to ease my way through some of the instances, just to clear the quests. And, lo, on the afternoon of New Years Day, Gortessa dinged 56 in the middle of Silithus. Huzzah!

And miraculously, I'm still married and I had a wonderful time with the kids, even though they totally own me at every board game in their arsenal...

So, what were my discoveries?

(1) Yes, you can play too much WoW. Oh boy, can you play too much WoW. There were days when I literally could not face sitting in front of the computer again, but I stayed with the plan of the great experiment and forced myself. It became very obvious to me that I am 'content done' with the game at the lower levels. I did consider levelling a priest to bolster the ranks of the guild in that area, but in the end the thought actually turned my stomach. I could not face doing that same content again for the third or fourth time. No. No. No. It's not a challenge anymore. I know exactly where to go, what to do and how to do it - it's now just a very very long series of processes and that is nowhere near fun.

(2) Interactivity is everything. I -always- had more fun when I was grouped with people rather than when I was questing solo. It's as simple as that. Soloing, whilst it can be productive in terms of xp and loot, sucks in terms of entertainment value.

(3) Even raiding can become repetitive. I discovered something else in my long haul, and that was to do with my 'relationship' with my main Gorthaal. Raiding is cool and can be exhilaratingly fun (our latest UBRS run was stunningly good) but in the end, the only roll that is really of any consequence is the one from the end boss - does your Tier 1 item drop? If not, well, you can always try again. And again. And again. And again. Oh boy, does that sound familiar? I think it does...

So what did I do last night? I logged onto WoW and looked at what was being done... possible Strat run (done it dozens of times now), possible UBRS run (doubtful) or some farming for leather to get an epic necklace. I applied my new filter - what can I do constructively? The answer was nothing.

So I made some armour for a new guildie, delivered it in person to him (which in itself was funny, as the epic kodo trots into the newbie area and delivers a Guild Entrant Care Package in the midst of the new players...) and then logged off.

When the computer fan turned off, everyone in the house looked a little stunned. What happened next was sheer magic.

I watched a DVD (Brothers Grimm...OK ish) whilst sorting out my Raw Deal cards one more time into some sembelance of order. After that I registered with the new efed that I have hooked up with and then I caught up on some emailing and wrote a RD to-do list. Hell, I was just about to dive headlong into the world of fanfic when I realised that it was 12.00 and time for bed!

But I was buzzing because I had achieved a load of tiny little things that I had forgotten to do, or indeed had been hanging over me for some time. It was great.

So this means WoW is bad right?

In my mind, couldn't be further from the truth. To scapegoat WoW is to fall into the same sad trap that has people blaming teenagers shooting each other on a Marilynn Manson album. Lets see the honest truth here - the person who is the blame is me.

Why do I not write fanfic anymore? Is it really that I don't have the time...or is it that I'm really just not interested anymore?

Why do we find it so hard to roleplay? Is it because we are all glued to our PCs or is it because we are adults with busy lifestyles that find a post-work time commitment taxing to the extreme?

Why do I not play Raw Deal as much? Is it because WoW as overtaken it as our groups #1 pre-occupation or is it because ... no actually, that one is true.

In the end though, it's nothing malicious. World of Warcraft and all the things that surround it is just a hobby that has found it's position in my hierarchy of priorities and that hierarchy is controlled by me. By actively taking control of my hierarchy and managing it, things can move forward.

So - more structured play would seem to be the order of the day and less faffing about. Whether this works, we shall see.....


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