Monday, October 27, 2008

Can WoW build your character?

The criticism against MMO games is old and seems to never end. Now Dr Phil has joined the gaming hating forces, according to a post at WoW-Insider last week.

The general picture of gaming is that it’s a sign of a weak character. You fall for the temptation of having fun and entertaining yourself with useless stuff in stead of doing good stuff like helping old ladies across the street, pulling up weeds in your garden, ironing curtains, pulling weights at a gym or whatever.

But recently I’ve become to think that you can actually look at WoW-playing in the opposite way. It helps you to build your character, not only the drawn toon, with her talents, abilities, skills, gear and stats. It builds your personal character as well.

I’ll give you a couple of examples of the virtues you need to train.

To be patient
All time high these days, with all the pain it’s caused us with server downtimes and general errors, making the playing far from easy and fluent. Patiently we wait, hoping it will become better.

To accept disappointments
This is a game full of hope and expectations, but because of that also full of failures and disappointments. We train ourselves daily in the art of handling it with maturity and dignity. We loose important rolls or the loot we hoped for won’t drop at all. We sign up for raids and are benched and miss out the guild first kill we so much would have been a part of. We put up high goals and we fly and we fall and we recover.

To be a good team player
In WoW we meet so many different sorts of people. Some of them we like instantly. Some of them aren’t exactly the people we’d choose to play with in the first place. But you can’t be too picky in a game that is based on cooperation and interaction between the players. You won’t come long in this game if you don’t learn the noble art of being a good team player, handling all sorts of people – even the ones that aren’t so easy to love at first sight.

What is grinding, whether it’s for gear or reputation, but a long training session in endurance? In WoW we train ourselves in putting up long term goals and sticking to them, whatever other temptations may show up in our path.

To acknowledge our weaknesses and work to improve
At least if you’re a part of a raiding team it pretty quickly shows what you’re capable of and not. In WoW you get trained to receive feedback – which sometimes can be pretty harsh – and to deal with it in a constructive way – starting to work to improve yourself rather than sulking.

I know there are many more, these were the one’s that first came into my mind. The question is: do you think Dr Phil would listen?


David said...

The character lessons I have taken from my years playing WoW:
1)Instincts. If you are in a PUG or even a guild that is making you wince for one reason or another, it's best to remove yourself from that situation and find people you can enjoy your time with.

2)Appreciation. The game is full of nooks and crannies and nice little touches everywhere. The writing is pretty good, and the lore is deep and compelling. Don't just click through quest text and focus on leveling super fast, take in the world around you and you will enjoy the whole experience more.

3)Objectivity. We were all noobs once, and its good to remember that. I feel much more satisfaction by helping a new player, rather than making fun of them in /trade or telling them off.

Objectivity #2: Don't judge a book by its cover. More than once I have joined a group where someone looked improperly geared or has no idea where to go and I got worried about pulling off the run. But then that person performs spectacularly (or equips their tank gear instead of the dps gear I originally saw) and the run is an unmitigated success. Of course, if my non-judgmental attitude puts me in a bad spot, I can always refer to lesson 1 above ;)

Gevlon said...

MMO-s are simulations. Safe enviroments to try out different actions and learn from their consequences. The other toon is controlled by another human so its reactions are real. You can learn from it.

I find WoW a fascinating enviroment to learn about the people, what they think, and why they do what they do.

The economy simulation is really great since programmed NPC-s don't take part of it, all actors are real humans.

Dr Phil is just a TV celeb wanting some audiance.

Esdras said...

If my misses never played wow already i would point her to your blog XD

Larísa said...

@David: oh, you're quite right, good examples!

It's a challenge sometimes to see what's a good and sound instinct and listen to it and what's actually judging books by a cover, as you talk about in the third point. I train at this constantly.

@Gevlon: I agree totally. The interaction, the great social experiment, is what keeps me hooked in the game. Not the monsters as such. Human behaviour (in the game) is much more interesting than the programmed stuff.

@Esdras: oh you lucky bastard!

Herc said...

It's a virtual world but the experience is very much so real.

Frustrations of a PUG run, getting corpse camped, losing arena rating or getting zombified.

Excitement of dinging to 60,70 or 80, getting your first 1k gold, your first epic, your first succesful raid, or get lost in a new zone.

All these leaves mark wether be good or bad. The people playing behind the other toons are REAL.

The thrill of downing a boss for the first because it took 25 people to coordinate and play their characters well or the frustration because I guess that same person can't get out of the efin fire.

I've learned alot from the people I met online both good and bad. If you think about how many people in the game have influenced your decision making/taste/attitude you'll be surprised.

@esdris I know the feeling. The wife plays WoW too =)

Fish said...

I think gaming is actually pretty healthy, like anything it has to be taken in moderation. After a night of gaming, I've never woken up the next day all sore and bruised up.

Oh phil, I think he picked the wrong group to make disparaging remarks towards. . .

Larísa said...

@Herc: yes, I definitly learn a lot from the people I meet in game. It's not only that they're different from the people I normally see in my daily life, it's also that meet in other situations, forcing you to do a lot more of cooperation and interaction than you normally have to.

@Fish: yeah, combining gaming with alcohol isn't any good idea so in that aspect it's healthy, though I must admit that the physical training is about zero. But ofc you train your endurance, so perhaps I can use that to make myself go out jogging or something as well :)