Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finally I’m a teacher – time to shut up

Ever since I started playing WoW in the beginning of 2007, I’ve been a student. Beginning at a level of knowledge far below zero, I’ve constantly been looking for information, inhaling whatever words of wisdom and experience that has been tossed at me. I’ve been lucky enough to meet generous players who have been happy to help me out, patiently telling me the same thing not only once, but several times, until it finally sticks into my brain. And I’ve frequented out-of-game resources – forums, websites and blogs, to get a basic knowledge of what this game is about.

Disciple seems to be my assigned role. It has happened that I’ve found myself in the opposite role, as a teacher, but it has been so rare that I even wrote a blog post about it the one time it happened. It’s not that I don’t like to teach and help others; it’s rather that the people I meet in game tend to be at the same level of knowledge as I am, ore above it. Or maybe it’s just that they don’t expect that pink haired little merrymaker of a gnome to be a trustworthy source of information, so they don’t bother to ask.

But the other day this changed. Finally I’ve found myself in the Expert role. But contrary to what you could think I’ve also come to the conclusion that teaching is exactly the last thing I should do right now. If I’ve got any sense at all I’ll just keep my hands away from the student as much as possible, staying silently in the back. How come? Here’s the story:

Wow hating daughter
The student in question is my daughter. After turning her back to the game two years ago, leaving her lvl 32 druid eternally stranded in Booty Bay, she has been a dedicated WoW hater. I play mostly at odd hours, when my family’s asleep or doing other things, except for those two raiding nights a week that we have agreed on. And yet those two single nights have been a constant source of conflict. To see her mother sitting in the middle of the living room, completely focused on a game, talking to foreign people through a headset, freaks my daughter off completely. This isn’t a normal hobby for a middle aged mother. It’s rather an activity for her classmates. In fact she has been running a private war against Warcraft for such a long time now that I’ve started to take it for granted. To me playing Wow is most of all about managing family aggro, being careful to never go above the threat cap. I balance my gaming time, we negotiate and make agreements, and I stick to those agreements no matter what.

So I was taken completely by surprise the other day when the same wow hating daughter approached me and asked me if I was going to play for long. I was just logged in very briefly and I wasn’t up to any spectacular, just casually levelling my rogue, so I said: “no problem, I can finish any time, do you need the computer?” And then she answered: “I’d like to play a bit if you don’t mind”. Of course I didn’t.

We spent a few hours together in that afternoon. “I’m spending quality time with mum”, she said to her sister, who couldn’t believe her eyes, seeing the change. She decided to start it all over again, since she didn’t remember much of the game after such a long time. It seemed better to begin from scratch. Looking at the creation screen, she asked me about the different classes and I explained, trying to remain neutral as possible about what to roll. She ended up making another druid. (I think there definitely is something in their appearance that attracts 16 year old girls.) Then I helped her to get the UI working properly with all the addons I had installed during the years. I also sent her 100 g and a bunch of bags to give her an easy start, where she didn’t have to worry about not having enough copper coins to be able to pay the training fees or about full bags. But that was about as much as I gave her. After this I backed off to the back, where I tried to stealth, biting my tongue not to say too much.

Staying quiet
I assure you it wasn’t easy. The way she used the camera, the way she moved… it didn’t seem efficient at all. It looked as if she was going to become a keyboard turner, a nasty habit that I slip into myself from time to time and constantly try to rid myself of. I knew she would be much better off in the long run if she tried to rely on the mouse rather than on the arrow keys. I told her once. Then I didn’t say it again, since I saw an angry little wrinkle popping up between her eyes.

The same thing happened when she was starting to cast her spells. “Try not to click on the spells, I said. Use the keys instead. Look here! You can just press the 2-button!”.

She frowned and I stealthed once again, cursing myself.

A few minutes later she exclaimed:

“Mum, this surely must be the prettiest area in the game?”

I thought about it for a second. The older parts of the game are a little bit outdated. I can’t sincerely say that Teldrassil is prettier than for instance Stormpeaks. But why point it out to her? She didn’t ask me for information or about my opinion. She just wanted to get confirmation that she had made a good choice picking a night elf.

“Yes”, I answered. “It really is”.

“Now off you go and do something useful”, she said. “Don’t hang around here looking over my shoulder.” Reluctantly I moved away from the screen. I could be a teacher to her, at least in some aspects, even though I’m honestly pretty clueless about druids.. But in this situation I shouldn’t. She didn’t need any teaching. She needed time to discover the game again, on her own conditions, in her own pace.

Learning by watching
Before leaving her I offered her to sit next to me and watch next time I’m raiding. And she wasn’t completely opposed to the idea, as she’s been before. I think this would be the best way to share some knowledge with her – in case she wants it. I’ll tell her about what’s in my mind when I play, about the things that I monitor and the decisions I make on the fly. She can study me and if there’s something in it that seems useful or interesting she can ask me. But once I turn over the controls to her, I’ll stick to my pervious strategy, staying silent and passive, unless she actively asks me for advice.

I have no idea about how long her newborn interest in WoW will last. Maybe it was just for one afternoon. Maybe she’ll get hooked and end up insisting me on getting her an account of her own.

But I know one thing. I will not be the one jeopardizing her interest in Azeroth, pushing her too much or making her feeling overwhelmed.

I’m going to be the quietest teacher ever seen. Take it as a promise.


DeftyJames said...

What's his name?

Leah said...

you must be a wondeful mother :) i hope your daughter at the very least will not longer fight you about your playing and at the very least will be able to accept your hobby :)

also - I think I'm going to start a crusade of my own, against people who disdain clickers/keyboard turners - nothing personal :P

I was going to write this long tirade, but I think this just might be a good excuse and good topic to start a blog of my own to facilitate aforementioned crusade :)

Klepsacovic said...


I hope you're able to help her avoid the horrible habits that we all learn as noobs. It finally took me three years to rationalize my keybindings, all that time I'd been going off old keys from my shaman, mirroring them as best I could onto other classes.

But don't shelter her from the really noobish mistakes. I am sure that my WoW experience would have been far less fun if I'd not ended up in the totally wrong area, running from dwarfs, jumping into a giant pit (almost to my death) while screaming about rocket launchers (I later learned it was an ability call torch toss). Then there was Felwood and a very mean blighted wolf at level 30...

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Home from Scouts and into the wilds of WoW for some camping....

Sounds like a great approach... I dread ever teaching my wife to play and after trying to show my 2.5yo how to use the mouse the other day in a spelling game, I already know that his inability do do something does not translate into my need to "do it for him", or even show him how.

1/2 the joy of course is discovering via mistakes.

I think it's around the 20's or 30's (levels) (on your 1st toon) that you stop and think that surely you are doing something wrong... or at least can do something better.

So I think letting her watch her expert theorycrafter mother at work is the best thing. Soon enough she will be asking for the occasional single hint, not long after that will be long lesson (or a reroll to try it all over).

You know, just thinking about it, all new toons are spoiled for me now. I can't just start one and struggle. I have to read 100 blogs, print 100 pages, analyse the skills, talents, leveling route... only then can I log on... but too soon I log off.

Oh, and to Larisa's daughter... Hi! I assume you will be checking up on Mum at some point, and when you do... Hi from Gnomeaggedon!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you in your new role as a teacher (and you'd better keep that promise! /wink)

And to your daughter - Good luck and may your discoveries be wonderful!

Flawlless said...

I just started a new Druid too!

And about the appeal of druids.. The nightelf female looks like most 16yo girls Want to look.

Hulan said...

My 9 yo son plays a druid too, mostly rp'ing with her. I find it hard to watch him play as he too uses his keys to move around and his mouse to click on spells and abilities. The worst thing is the way he swivels his camera around all over the place, it makes me feel quite sick!

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to say this...

but since your daughter is 16 years old the first thought that popped into my mind was "there must be a cute boy who plays WoW in her school" >.<

I could be wrong but it would explain why she has shifted from disliking the game to giving it a try.

thedoctor said...

Pockie makes a good point. Either way, gratz on not being a student anymore...YAY!

GL with everything

Gevlon said...

The best thing about the situation: if she get hooked up, you can give her the computer and buy yourself a brand new one.

Important tip: when you have 2 computers, NEVER offer her to quest/raid together unless she suggests. You are a much better player than she is, and being "worse than mum" is worse than death for a 16 years old.

Maybe the best would be if she would be on a different server. She can transfer to you when she'll have confidence in herself.

PS: If she ever finds this blog post, you are doomed. :-)

Larísa said...

@DeftyJames, pockie and TheDoctor: no, honestly I don't think that's the reason. If that was the case she would have had preferences about what server to roll on. Now she first rolled one at our old server, where she had the druid. Then I thought she would probably be better of at my server, so I could help her a bit with money and stuff (opposite to the suggestions from Gevlon). She didn't mind at all changing and rolling the druid where i lived. So no boy around. yet. Who knows, that may change...

@Leah: Oh, how wonderful that you're starting a blog! From your comments I can tell you have the ranting passion it takes to blog. Please let me know when you're out in the Blogosphere so I can check you out!

@Klepsacovic: yeah, I think she deserves to find out some things for herself, not rushing it too much. Levelling is quicker these days anyway. If she'll show some real interest I'll probably give her levellign shoulders. But not so much of advice.

@Gnomeaggedon and Anonymous: you can't say hi to her this way. Yet. She doesn't know about this blog right now. I may tell her in the future, if she'll level a bit further and show that her interest lasted more than an afternoon.

@Flawlless: another druid!!! I know you have bunches of them already. You must really be addicted to it! Are you a 16 year old in disguise?

@Hulan: oh yes, don't tell me about the camera movements. It was driving me nuts, and I had to work really hard with myself not to say anything about it.

@Gevlon: she's a modern young lady, actually she already has a computer of her own, a 6 months old desktop with Vista. I'm not sure how well it meets the system requirements of wow, but to be honest I think she's probably better off with her pc than I am on the one I use now.
But I try hard now not to jump into conclusions, expecting too much from it. Just this little gesture of peace meant a lot to me and now I rejoice at that, not thinking so much about what the future will bring.

Drazmor said...

I've always been a clicker/keyboard turner. I know, I know, it's a bad habit. The clicking, I'm trying to fix. The turning, I figure it can't be that hard and I can figure it out at lvl 80.

Dw-redux said...

First off, as a teacher myself (as part of my job) it sounds to me like you are approaching this the absolutely right way. When teaching someone you know, you need to be extra carefull not to overstep and take over completly.
Important tip: when you have 2 computers, NEVER offer her to quest/raid together unless she suggests. You are a much better player than she is, and being "worse than mum" is worse than death for a 16 years old."
Yes oh God yes. let her play on her own and learn it. once she starts to really know how to play, can you consider teaming up. and make sure you dont read up on druids at all. Hell, have her explain stuff to you. If she wants to learn specific druid hints and tips, im sure your guild has a nice druid that can explain that to her :)
But first, let her get to know the game, and maybe fall in love with it first before you start asking about gemming, speccing, and "best-in-slot-at-current-leve-gear" :)

Carra said...

"Keyboard turner". A word I sometimes use as an insult for some of our raid members... Of course he wipes on Heigan, he's a keyboard turner! Argh, of course we wipe on Razuvious, he's keyboard turning the adds. Got to refrain myself sometimes to tell them to use the mouse to turn. Or stop clicking the spells. Or use an addon for that. Or...

Does make me forget sometimes that I had to learn all that years ago by playing other games (shooters for example: mouse = looking around & moving the camera, keyboard = everything else). But heck, if you just want to level, use whatever keys you want. Just have fun :)

And if her pc can run Vista, it can most probably run WoW.

Barrista said...

Maybe all those other years she was a bit jealous that the game was taking her mom away? Or maybe she was just a typical preteen (mom says X is fun, therefore X is nerdy and bad).

Either way, congrats and have fun with it.

Oh, and I'm a keyboard turner. I'm not sure why everyone thinks their style of play is better/more efficient than someone elses. Just because you had a problem playing well in that style doesn't mean someone else will. This isn't math. There is no correct answer. It's whatever makes someone most comfortable. And I don't wipe on Heigan.

kyrilean said...

You can turn using the keyboard?!

jk :)

Darraxus said...

I got my fiance playing, and unfortunately, I am not the most patient. I have gotten better, but watching her play sometimes makes me facepalm...go left...left....your other left...that is right...LEFT!!!
Thankfully, despite me impatience, she enjoys the game and even plays on her own from time to time now (mostly herbing for gold).

Larísa said...

@Drazmor: at least I have my most common spells keybound and I tend to use that. The movements are a combination of using mouse and keyboard. But there definitly is room for improvement. And I think it's pretty hard to relearn, but of course I can do it if I try hard enough.

@Dw-redux: oh yes, I bet you're right. Actually thinking about it: when she played and was at lvl 32, I was lower than her and she was definitely the better player. So I guess it can feel a bit strange to her that I've passed her. But I'm pretty sure she could become much better than me if she really went for it. She's really a quick learner and probably has much quicker reactions and situation awareness than I when she's been practicing it for a while.

@Carra: I really think I'd be a much better player if I'd ever played any other game, like a shooter one. I'm not a pure keyboard turner of the worst kind, but as I said above, I could get better. What to do? Put some scotch over the arrowkeys, disabling them?

@Barrista: probably it's both things. Being 16 you're pretty opposed to much of the things your parents do.
Hm. I guess there are brilliant keyboard turners out there as well. But it's nice and easy to blame something, isn't it?

@Darraxus: I'm glad to hear that your cunning plan payed off and that you've managed to stay back at least enough not to make her stop playing!

Anonymous said...


I may have a passion, but I don't have the discipline :P I'v noticed though how bloggers feed off each others ideas, get inspiration and ideas, start discussions, developed new perspective just from something that occured to someone else and i've noticed that I'm a lot more ranty and have a lot more to say when I'm not hiding in a vacuum of my own brain, so who knows - this may be the time when i'll have enough motivation to develop some writing discipline :)

I have officialy set up a blog.I haven't published a comment yet - I'm working on a few and choosing which one of the to post as a intro, but its there. god help us all :)

@Barrista - exactly.

Herc said...

There's nothing like having sharing the same interest in game in the family =P.

Even though the wife rarely play nowadays, she still gets a kick out of making money in the AH whenever I ask her to post some items.

Good luck on your mother/daughter adventure.

Dreizehn said...

If she gets hooked (something we all know is a very real possibility), later on she'll fondly remember these beginner days of finding out how everything works by herself. I think we all remember the small discoveries we made alone that, at the time, actually felt like huge undertakings.
In my view, you have taken the right approach.

Carra said...

@Larissa: "What to do? Put some scotch over the arrowkeys, disabling them?"

Of course not! I use my up arrow key to move forwards (or sometimes press both mouse buttons), back one to go backwords and side arrows to strafe (and yes, this is a common thing for shooters too). It's using the side arrows to turn your character that is a very inefficent way to move.

Playing a few shooters might actually help some players. Keyboard turning in a shooter will result in getting zero kills.

Sydera said...

Keyboard turning is a really bad habit. The best players, though, can turn with either--mostly with the mouse, but those couple of times when your left hand is occupied? The keyboard.

To teach yourself--bind A and D to something else so you have to turn with the mouse. It only takes a little while--though you'll feel really silly for a while as you automatically hit A and D, firing off abilities you don't need.

HP said...

I think that is the hardest part of being a parent, letting your child make their own mistakes and learn instead of trying to shower them with the fruits of your own experience. I'm glad you are exercising superhuman control and I hope your daughter learns to enjoy the game so she can play with you =)