Thursday, July 10, 2008

Picking a class – a matter of personality?

Part Time Druid recently published a great post: The Psychology of Class Choice in WoW.

He elegantly pictures different kinds of personalities who are generally found in the role as tank, healer or dps. If you love to lead you’ll probably end up as a tank, if you’re competitive or oven a bit “ego”, you’ll make a great dps, if you care most about the team effort to succeed you’re better off as a healer, to simplify it. He’s says that most of the players he’s met fall into those categories. To be fair he’s also made a positive side and a negative side for each category. For instance tanks can either be true leaders or arrogant control freaks.

I think PTD describes the different shapes players come in quite on the spot. I could easily put many of the ones I’ve encountered in either of them.

The post raises questions about my own choices. Why have I fell in love with my mage? And when I finally rolled an alt – why did I pick a rogue, which I instantly liked as much as I love my mage? Is it because I’m competitive – or possibly plain lazy, according to PTD, the negative sort of dps:ers? Honestly I don’t think so. Of course I love to compete, but I know I could fit into the other roles as well. I’m just as much of a leader and a selfless take-care-of-the-group person. And I’ve run quite a few personality tests through my RL career and gone through some quite harsh get-to-know-and-improve-yourself-programs, so I’m pretty sure about it.

Still it hasn’t crossed my mind to roll a tank. Why? Simply because it would be a too steep learning curve for me to climb. I wouldn’t only have to learn a completely different kind of playing - as PTD points out, I would also be supposed to lead instance runs. And though I partly think I could do it I know too well I lack an essential part of it: deep knowledge not only about my own class, but about all the other classes and about the different mobs we meet, their abilities and the best ways to deal with them. It’s just too much of information for me to handle, to many new things to memorize.

Although I’ve had a leading role in my RL for years, I don’t in the game. So, being a lazy dps:er, I lean back in the chair, wait for the sheep sign and the skull to come up and then start doing as I’m told, to simplify it a bit. I’m not a leader in the raid, I’m not a heroic lifesaver, I’m just a plain soldier in the background, trying to do her job, and sometimes secretly fighting for a good position on the dps-chart (unless the sheep duty becomes too heavy and mess things up).

Am I unhappy with this? Am I feeling that I’m making violence on myself, staying in the background? No, on the contrary. Actually it’s quite relaxing to play a different kind of role than I do in my real life. I’m less exposed and less responsible for the outcome of an event (even though of course everyone in a raid is supposed to do their best to achieve the goals of the night). On the other hand it’s probably easier for me, since I’m sort of a multiple-role-personality in myself, just like a druid or paladin. Depending on what the group needed I could be a leading tank, a group-caring healer or a pusher and dps:er. In the game I’m running the dps-side of “me”, and I’m OK with it.

Maybe it’s harder to pick up a different role if your personality clearly is in a totally different direction. Haven’t we all heard of people who with a deep sigh start levelling a healer or a tank as a sort of sacrifice for the guild, to make it possible to progress? Sometimes it means violating your personality, playing roles you’re deep inside not comfortable with.

On the other hand – a little bit of discomfort doesn’t hurt. Sometimes it’s just what we need: to get out of our comfort zone and actually try a role which doesn’t come naturally to us. Suddenly the timid, shy girl, put in the position as a steady, tough tank, can step forward, raise her voice, turn out to be an excellent leader and become confident in her own abilities. And that may be just the push she needs to dare to do the same thing in real life.

The roleplaying WoW offers doesn’t just include the possibility to play in character, create background stories and such. You can also literary try to play with different roles, different sides of your personality. Why not try them all out? Try a leading role, try a competing role, try a teambuilding role. I think we miss a great opportunity to get new experiences and discover new sides of ourselves if we just thoughtlessly pick the class which seems to fit with our personality.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I envy classes who can just respec into an appropriate role and not have to roll a new alt (druids/paladins). Even though tanking is a learning experience, it kinda sucks sometimes if you expect to have an ability that you always see when you're 70.

Larísa said...

I actually once did some kind of test which told me I was the kind of player who should be playing a multi-role char, like druid/pala.

It's really attractive in my eyes, since it gives you the freedom to try out different roles without to much trouble (well - besides building up several gear sets which I guess takes some work).

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