Friday, March 20, 2009

A post about emotions, passion and my need for ironskin

This post takes off from another meme. I was tagged by WTF Spaghetti, who thought that I could come up with something on the “Wanted” theme, that has been going around in the Blogosphere for a while, originally initiated by Megan, as far as I remember.

Following the rules you’re supposed to make a very short statement, following this pattern:

On the road of X there is Y and Z
Insertwitthyhere Wanted

The word which made me hesitate to jump on this train was “Insertwittyhere”. To be honest I’m not the witty type, especially not on request. Being witty in English is even worse – I don’t master the language well enough to come up with fun puns. And finally the most effective way of killing a joke is to beforehand claim that you’re just about to be “witty”.

Still: a tag is a tag, and I’m a service minded blogger. If someone asks me to write something, I try to deliver. So after some pondering I came up with one. It’s supposed to be in a picture, but I skipped that part since I a) don’t have any good imaging program b) fear that people who read the blog through a feed will have problems to see the text if I hide it in a picture. So here we go, the Wanted meme in a texted PPI version:

On the road to the closing screen
There will be broken hearts and lost illusions
Ironskin Wanted

After writing this one I realized that it was rather sad. It needed to be balanced somehow. So I made another one:

On the road to the closing screen
There will be moments of laughter, happiness and triumph
Replay button Wanted

Why emo is a problem
What do I mean by those Wanted poems? The idea was to somehow catch the emotional aspect of World of Warcraft. “Emo” isn’t a pretty word; normally it’s used pejoratively, as a way of belittling people who’re making too much fuzz about small annoyances they encounter in the game. In guild recruitment ads you often see statements about that they don’t want players who “go emo”, “crybabies”.

And I can understand this reluctance. It’s not that there’s necessarily something wrong about having emotions. The problem is if you display them at the wrong time. You can be on an emotional rollercoaster by yourself and that’s fine, but if you let your hurt feelings out at the wrong time, in a raid for instance, you’ll force everyone else to join you in your emo ride, losing energy and focus.

But even if it isn’t ok to go “emo” at certain times, I think it’s OK to have those feelings. It may even be a good thing. After all, what are those emotions, but signs of passion for the game?

Being passionate
For some reason the norm seems to be that we shouldn’t be passionate, shouldn’t involve ourselves too much. How many times haven’t we read the “cool down, it’s only a game” statement? No matter what issue you’re discussing, you can always pull the “only-a-game”-argument card, thus killing the debate.

I don’t buy it. If I was to keep my playing at a cool, distanced, intellectual level, not involving my passion and my emotions, the game would be close to dead to me. What’s the point of trying to kill a boss if you don’t knit your fist when you fail or cheer when you succeed?

I know a boss kill, an achievement or an upgrade doesn’t matter in real life, but it matters in the game. I invest dreams and hope in the game. I will feel fear, anger, frustration and disappointments, but also joy, laughter and sheer triumph. It can be quite exhausting from time to time. But it makes me feel alive and it keeps me hooked.

Ironskin wanted
Sometimes I get a bit too much of it. There have been moments over the years when I wished that I had an ironskin or a reflecting shield to put up to protect myself a bit. Hence the first Wanted verse.

Funny enough what really brings me down isn’t failures in raids. I can cope with wipe nights. I can cope with getting criticism (more or less disguised as “suggestions”) when I deserve it. I see it as a help and I don’t get a breakdown because of that. And I’ve never ever become depressed about not getting a certain drop.

No, the things that make me sad are all on the social side, the guild drama like stuff that happens. Sometimes I find myself in situations that for some reason remind me of the school yard jungle. For instance, when I see clicks getting formed, “cool” people sticking together and find myself standing alone along the sideline, unnoticed, unwanted, like a cast out, I’m emotionally turned into a 10 year old schoolgirl once again. In moments like that I start to blame myself, for being an outsider, but also for having those emotions, for being so squishy that I care. Ironskin wanted.

Replay button wanted
But being emotional can also be the opposite. I probably sound like an extremely pathetic, pity worthy WoW addict now, but to be honest it happens quite rarely that I get the same level of pure joy and excitement in real life as I get in WoW.

While raiding you build up a tension during a long time. When you finally succeed – or someone cracks a good joke – the relief and the feeling of happiness is so intense that it’s hard to compare to anything else. Some players remember to take screenshots – unfortunately I’m not one of them. The golden moments pass too quickly and more than once I’ve wished that I could rewind the tape and play it again. Replay button wanted.

A wave breaker
Emotions. Passion. Some people get scared by it, but not me. I’m rather angry and frustrated than cool, bored and indifferent. I prefer to clash into players who are passionate about the game than to play with people who don’t care much about anything.

Maybe what I need is a wave breaker. It wouldn’t stop the waves altogether – I could still enjoy the intense movement, the flashes of joy and of sorrow. But it would give me some protection against the biggest waves and prevent me from getting crushed into pieces.

End of post. I didn’t insert anything witty. Sorry about that, WTF Spaghetti. Hopefully it gave you something anyway. I stick to my habit when it comes to memes: I tag no one and therefore everyone who’s up for this one.


Carra said...

Reminds me of what a guildie said a few days ago. We were discussing a player who was a bit irritating to others. Basically seeing some things wrong and trying to fix those issues. Mentioning them in guild, giving suggestions... He got emotional about WoW.

Now, the guildie opened my eyes, he said "All good players get annoyed at times. It's because they care." And that's 100% truth. If something goes wrong, you should get emotional. Else it just means you don't care. Do we really want people in our guilds who don't care whether we progress or improve ourselves? I think not so a good debate and getting worked up from time to time is unavoidable and actually helps the guild.

Kromus said...

Carra Said:
"Now, the guildie opened my eyes, he said "All good players get annoyed at times. It's because they care." "

Excellent quote - - i like that.
i agree with it too.

In reply to your post Larisa- wiping means fuck all to me, but i hate peoples reactions- not just in WoW, but in general-- some gamers make me sick. If at first you dont succeed- try and try again- or shut the fuck up- unless its constructive, but often it isnt.

Aleathea said...

Larisa, you have such a gift for expressive writing. So many times I read your words and think, "Yes! That's exactly what I feel but can't find the words to express." Thank you.

Darraxus said...

I fixed you on my blog. I generally have a thick skin, but then again I dont get upset in the sad way. I get upset in the pissed way, which can make people less likely to try to shit on you.

DeftyJames said...

I think you just invented a new poetical form. When I read the first one I thought that it sounded like a strange Haiku. And it's close: 8/11/4. Maybe it's the Swedish way of doing Haiku. I like it.

On the road to enlightenment
There are killers and thieves
Buddhas Wanted

HP said...

I wouldn't know how to make a witty meme either =X

Your post echoed alot of what I was thinking though. How it's just a game yet not and how screen shots are the only form of replay we get...

Lovely entry =)

Akiosama said...

That response - "cool down, it's just a game" - or its many, many variations always seems like a major cop-out to me. I mean, if it's really just a game, what's the attraction of playing with other people?

The main reason, I feel, for playing in a multiplayer game is to further expand on the emotions or passions created by the game you're playing. Even if you're just playing against other people in order to challenge yourself, because the game's AI is too easy, that's showing you have some passion for the game, as there are certainly enough games out there to challenge any player, even against the AI.

However, you're now playing a game that deals with other people. Whether you're playing PvP or PvE, the game is meant to be interactive. You interact on the Auction House. You interact in the zones, competing for quest mobs/gathering nodes/etc. You interact when you groan/laugh/respond at General chat. And what about guilds and raiding?

All games, single player or multiplayer, must garner some sort of emotion or passion in a person, otherwise that person would just find something else to do. What does "It's just a game" actually mean, anyhow? I think it's supposed to be a sense of "A game is not really that important, so don't take it so seriously," but to a certain degree, why shouldn't you? You're investing time, money and effort into the game, just like a person would invest time, money and effort into any other activity out there. But with a multiplayer game, it’s almost a given that the amount of yourself you’re putting into the game is more than in a single player one, since you’re out there interacting with other people. Otherwise, why go out and find people to play with?

Why is it that people get passionate about golf, for example - which is more game than sport, anyhow - and think that's reasonable, but criticize people passionate about WoW? It's pretty hypocritical, isn't it?

So, maintain your passion and emotion. Get mad. Be happy. Laugh and cry. Meet people and make friends and enemies. Why not? The true value of any activity is only determined by what it is worth to you, and if you can expand that value in a manner you desire, then why not? Nobody else out there should tell you what’s worthwhile or not – that type of judgment lies with you alone. It’s your life – live it.

And one note, regarding my time on WoW. It's only recently that I've joined (really joined and put forth myself into the guild), and I feel I've expanded the value of the gaming experience a thousandfold. One can be an island in WoW, but I think that forsakes a good portion of the experience available in the game. Not every interactive experience in WoW is like General chat (or is that Trade chat, now?), there are many pleasant people on our game. Enjoy finding them, and enjoy your experiences with them. I think that full experience is really what "it's just a game" should mean.

My 2 yen,


Larísa said...

@Carra: Yeah, I think the insight that people getting a bit emotional actually care a lot can help you to put up with it a bit better. The opposite - totally cold people - actually leave me cold as well.

@Kromus: Oh I agree about the wiping thing. What I say is that emotions are ok, but expressing them too loudly in a raid doesn't help a bit and is inconsiderate to other players.

@Aleatha: thanks!

@Darraxus: actually it's probably much healthier to get upset in a pissed way than in a sad way.

@Defty James: hm. you put ideas into my head! Actually I DO like the restricted haiku form of poetry. By putting up restrictions you sort of enable creativity, although within limits. When there was this haiku thing going on around the blogs about a year ago I did a bunch of those. Nothing I'm really proud of though... :)

@HP: There is also the alternative to frap things, but it seems way too hightech to me. And I guess it still wouldn't be the same as if you could replay it sort of in your head.

@Akiosama: thank you for a long and beautifully put comment! And yes, I definitely agree that guild life adds a totally different aspect to the game. It adds joy and laughter but also sad feelings. It's for good and for bad but I wouldn't want to be without it because it adds depth, colour, flavour. The game would feel like black and white without it. As it would if I just locked in my passion, not allowing myself to feel anything because it's "just a game". Thanks for your encouragement!

Gevlon said...

"but to be honest it happens quite rarely that I get the same level of pure joy and excitement in real life as I get in WoW."

This line made me sad. I like you and it seemed to me that you are not too happy in your RL. And, unlike in WoW problems, I'm out of advices which make me feel powerless.

Larísa said...

@Gevlon: I think it sounds much worse than it is. I'm not that bad off. But yeah, it felt a bit weired to write that line. Insights like that make you wonder a bit about what's going on. It's probably about time to venture for some epic adventures in real life as well..

Thank you for caring about me. Thank you for your worries and your thoughts. It's worth so much more than any kind of advice. I'm so touched that I really don't know what to say.

Fish said...

There have been many times when I wish I could go back, take all the knowledge that I've accumulated, and have a do-over with my characters. But then it wouldn't be the same experience. . .