Thursday, May 28, 2009

Playing WoW with chop sticks

Have you ever watched dogs having dinner? You put down the bowl on the floor and before you know it it’s empty. Over and done in a few seconds.

Embarrassingly enough that’s pretty much how I behave at a dinner table. I’ve got so much manner that I won’t start eating until everyone is served (given that there are <8 people in the party), but at that point… Oh dear. I just start eating and I won’t stop until the plate is empty and I’m finished. While the other family members still have at least half of their meal left to enjoy, I’m beginning to tap my toes, impatiently, wondering if it would be very rude of me to start clearing the table. They surely couldn’t mind if I at least put my own plate in the dishing machine?

I know this habit is far from healthy and whenever I’ve got the opportunity I try to put some restrictions on myself to slow me up. So if we’re eating china food and there are chop sticks available I’ll always pick those, hoping that the difficulties in handling the tools will keep me occupied a bit longer. (Unfortunately my skills in chop stick eating have improved too much lately, so the method doesn’t work as well as it used to.)

The Klepsacovic suggestion
Anyway. Klepsacovic made me think about the chop stick approach when I read a comment he did to my post yesterday:

You're rushing, there's your problem. Take your time. Relax […] Don't focus on the goal and end up with an unfun process, the goal ends up being a relief rather than a reward.

I think he’s absolutely right. I really need to slow down a bit. Mind you, not in the raids. Never. I really don’t like to raid at a slow pace. You know when there are several breaks without any clear time limit, when there are too much of discussions and random waiting for nothing particular. When marking and assigning people take ages. It makes my skin itch and my focus shatter. Besides, there is a good reason for raids to hurry up – after all there IS the weekly reset and a set amount of raiding hours available (in our guild about 10) before we’re starting it all over again. If we ever want to kill Yogg-Saron we have to keep it up, just as Spinksville suggested the other day.

No, let’s keep the speed in the raids. But what I’m talking about are the other activities, the things I do in between. What is the hurry, really? What exactly do I think I’ll reach by always trying to do things as quickly as possible, in an “efficient manner”? Am I not fooling myself, playing WoW as if it was a job? Will reaching the goal be more of a relief from an un-fun activity, as Klepsacovic puts it, than a real reward?

The thought worries me. It really does.

The need of variation
I could blame that it’s how I am naturally. I walk quickly too, in spite of my short real life appearance. I talk quite quickly – and a lot when I’m in the mood for it. Not to talk about my writing. I actually write faster than I think. So why shouldn’t I be rational and quick in my questing? Why force myself to a slower pace?

Well, the thing is that I imagine that constantly running your engine at warp speed eventually will wear it out. What we need to work at our best is variation. We need periods of recovery between the intense rushes. Moments of tranquillity and relaxation.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m looking for it in the wrong place, wanting to spend some slow time in Azeroth. Maybe the best thing between raids would be to minimize the online time, to just get the little gold I need for repairs and consumables in the quickest possible way. I should shut down the PC, open the door to the little garden on my backyard and lose myself in the May concert of the blackbird. (Have you heard it? It will break your heart if you just bother to listen. There’s no game sound that can compete with it, believe me. And above all - it's random, unscripted and absolutely unique, a one-time-only happening.)

Still there are reasons why you should be online not just on raid time, not the least if you want to have some kind of social life and be a part of the guild. And I can’t rid myself from the thought that it should be possible to play WoW in a different manner. I should be able to enjoy the quests and the incredible details in the artwork, instead of mindlessly chasing the next reward.

I wish I could slow myself somehow, making it possible to actually feel every flavour of the game. I want to silence the competitive side of myself, the one that is constantly striving for “accomplishments”, which in fact mean nothing at all. I want to eat WoW with chop sticks. Not always, but sometimes.

I only wish I knew how.


Klepsacovic said...

You're so much better at making titles than me. :(

I often have the same food problem. The only good solution is to eat with people who are too good to talk to for eating to get in the way. Of course this may result in Cold Food Syndrome.

My suggestion was not meant to be taken in raids. It is not suitable for medical treatment. It should not be used as a replacement for fun.

Ahem. Raids should not go slowly. The big difference between taking your time and being a snail is context. If anything, slow raids make things worse because they waste time, so you feel more rushed elsewhere.

azurephoenix said...

Thank you.

A lot of times what you write resonates and I really appreciate that you share these thoughts with us.


Elnia said...

LOL. You eat exactly how my brother eats. He'll be done in five minutes and I just picked up my fork. I drive him batty because I'm so slow (in his eyes).

As for the larger point, I think that it is neither rushing or being slow. It's taking it measure for measure. Music is played in different time signatures and with different tempos. The trick is understanding what time and what tempo the music needs to be played in. Is this moment a rumba or a waltz, rock or country.

Anonymous said...

Larisa, you often make me think or laugh or sometimes both at the same time, but what had me giggling today was completely non-WoW related.

It was your mention of the 8 people at the table rule - I was starting to think I had made it all up. My English husband was at first baffled by it, but now at larger parties he will quickly tuck into his food after explaining that "The Swedish, they have this rule, you see..."

Your small parenthesis on that made me giggle on the dreary commute in to work, so thank you for brightening my day. :-)

Anonymous said...

Im writing a book and one of the chapters fits this perfect... enclosed are some extracts from the chapter Do Less, More Will Happen. Hope it helps.

Everyday we task our selves with the objectives set to us by our working lives and the managers above us. Their preaching tells us of unprecedented levels of self-reward at the end of the day, so, we write our to-do list out for the day and we work hard to achieve the goals set. At the end of the day, one of two things will happen; all of your goals are complete or they are only partially complete.

The first of these two outcomes presents us with self-reward at the end of the day, that will only last a short moment between finishing the list and the end of the working day. Or if you are the type of person who will take their job home, this self-reward will last most of the remainder of the day. As a result, any reward you have gained will be forgotten the next day when you write out your next list.
The second outcome, the partially complete list, has a more negative effect. Any self-reward is extinguished by the unfinished items on the list, human nature has a way of emphasising the negatives to cover up the positives, so then you have to continue your work at home, the ‘workaholic’, or continue the next day, thus pushing you to work harder.
Regardless of the outcome, one overall thing will have happened; you will be pushed into a never-ending cycle of to-do lists in an effort to keep your stress levels down and your work up. Managers will have succeeded in having you completely dedicated to your work regardless of your own person health. What if there was another way? Another way to achieve self-reward, satisfaction and lower your stress level. Short of quitting your job this sounds like a pipe dream.

Let’s go back to the start and begin our day at work. We go with no idea what we are going to do when we get there, and when we get there we ‘do not’ write out a to-do list. What then? We sit at our desks and pick up the first thing we have to hand, then we process that item and complete it. Right away, you have completed a task that you had no idea you were going to finish today, the process repeats. At the end of the day, you will have a long list of tasks finished, with no check lists of unfinished items. No negative effects present, therefore negating the first two example’s problems.
If you plan a day down to the last minute, every available moment is taken, or you have one set goal for the day of continuing a task. The moment something interrupts that day, as no one can predict what will happen day to day, the plan set in motion will collapse and domino for the entire day. So that when the end of the day does come, stress levels are higher and tasks are unfinished. Is that a successful day?

Plan without detail, that’s the idea and basis of the philosophy. Plan to start something, plan to do something, not to finish it. Finishing something should be a reward that comes unexpected. If someone was planning a surprise for you and you already knew what the surprise was, does that surprise not become less appreciated and overall redundant? Leaving the reward redundant also?...

...I’ll plan to go out somewhere, with no clue as to what I’m going to do when I get there or what’s going to happen. Everything that does comes at a surprise, and anything that doesn’t happen I can’t be disappointed by as I never planned for them to happen. It’s about living the moment we belong, rather than the moment that we don’t yet have. It would be hard to enjoy something that you are waiting to end because you have other things to be doing. If something is better to have done than it is to do, is it better not to have done at all?...

...Go somewhere, don’t think about how it’s going to happen, don’t wonder why something works, appreciate it for working. Throw away your to-do list and planners, hideaway the diary and schedules. It may seem like a big step and risk to get into, but the reward is more than worth the doubts.

Anonymous said...

P.s, it's a little fragmented as I can only post 4096 chars in post so I appologise but I could send you the whole chapter if you requested, and sorry for its size too :)

Gevlon said...


Anonymous said...

I'd take it the other way. Why should you slow down if you're happy with the pace you play? Wouldn't that frustrate you more?

I'll give you an example. I love hanging out in MMOs with my husband but we don't spend much time questing together. Because after an hour or so, I've had enough. He's much slower than I am, and a lot more cautious about pulling mobs, he wants to go back to town to sell every last grey item while I'm running off and exploring, trying to get to the next quest. We just play at difference paces.

If I'm with my sister on the other hand, we could pretty much quest until we drop. We play at the same pace.

There's only so much standing around and looking at the scenery you can do, unless you set yourself some new task to go and explore more carefully. So I don't think it's a case of playing more slowly, maybe instead it's a case of finding different things to do?

Anonymous said...

Try putting the fork down after every bite.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of that joke they told in the movie Colors.

"Two bulls standing on top of a hill, an older bull, and a younger bull. They were sitting watching a bunch of cows graze. The younger bull says let's run down and screw one of those cows. The older bull says why not walk down, and screw them all"

The point I'm taking you rush, you might miss something, even in a raid if you go too fast, you might make a mistake. Whats faster taking 5 minutes longer make sure your strat is right, and everyone is on the same page, or 15 minutes it takes for everyone to walk back after a wipe, and rebuff.

It's your 15 bucks a month, but if your a gamer at heart take some time to look around in the world you play in. The devs worked hard, and it shows itself from the art hanging in Scarlet Monastary, to the Ogre doing a little dance in Dire Maul.

Fitz said...

If you've ever served in the military and had 3 minutes to finish in the mess hall every single day, you'll quickly find out that it's very hard to slow down once you get out. It's a hard habit to break, eating for sustenance only rather than enjoyment.

But on the WoW-side of the discussion, I'm currently chasing silly achievements in fishing. I'm having fun traveling around the old world, Outland, and Northrend looking for pools to fish in, and just generally having a relaxing time on my main. Downing raid bosses is the same as silly achievements in that neither has weight outside of the game anyways, so why not relax and enjoy yourself?

krizzlybear said...

Different types of WoW chopsticks:

Start a new character.

Turn off all of your addons.

Disable instant quest text and auto-loot.

Playing with an IRL friend.

Kromus said...

Well-- for me, there isn't really a relax in WoW other then fishing- if i want to relax I play FPS games (such as Team Fortress) where you pick up and play, pick up and go. Thats relaxing. No strings attached, one night stand with a game.

Btw, I eat very slow, and im a very slow person *not bright either*, and my girlfriend is very fast, so we have a huge speed mismatch which results in me choking and my girlfriend tapping her toes like you, haha.

Yey backgarden!

Carra said...

This reminds me of the Bartle test. It categorizes mmorpg players into killers, achievers, socializers and explorers. I wasn't very surprised to be in the achiever category, always trying to do things the most efficient way.

One of the appeals of online gaming to the Achiever is that he or she has the opportunity to show off their skill and hold elite status to others. They value (or despise) the competition from other Achievers, and look to the Socializers to give them praise. As they achieve more, they are no longer easy targets of the Killers and may enjoy their new position on the food chain. These gamers also tend to like seeing their user names at the top of scoreboards and ladder systems. Many games cater to these players by offering special titles and a special exclusive mounts to those that place in the top of the competitive Arena ladder.

In many ways, the Achiever is the style of play most targeted by the MMORPG genre. In many successful MMOs, there is always something else to achieve; even when the character has reached the highest level, there are usually rare items to obtain and objectives that were bypassed the first time around. Since Achievers can sometimes set very obscure goals for themselves, especially if they feel like they'll be (among) the first to achieve them, they may spend long periods of time engaging in a repetitive action in order to get one more shiny trophy.
Maybe you're an achiever too? Going after that special mount or pet. Wanting to top the arena ladders. Getting server first kills. In short, being very competitive.

Anonymous said...

How to slow down on WoW...

Open 20 Youtube videos and go back to playing...when WoW picks back up to normal speed...replay the videos...

Problem solved...

(btw...slow on WoW drives me batty!!!)

Larísa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Larísa said...

@Klepsacovic: haha, thanks… Actually I think my title often are pretty much “bleh”, more informative than attractive. You’re right about that it’s always a scale about what’s quick or slow. I can vividly imagine that there are raiders among us who wish we went quicker. We all have a different pace that comes natural to us I think.

@Azurephoenix: thanks!

@Elnia: it’s funny that you’re mentioning music. Actually I had originally written a few lines about how I want different tempo in music, mentioning The Four Seasons by Vivaldi as an example.

@Tufva: It’s not global? It’s just a Swedish tradition? I had no idea!

Wow, thank you so much! It seems like the kind of book that I would want to read. I’ve read quite a lot of self improvement literature. Some crap. Some gems. In periods I’ve been a “to-do-list”-person. But currently I’m leaning more towards your philosophy. Making “what have-I-done”-lists, pondering upon how you’ve spent your day and if it’s in the line of your long-time wishes how to spend your life will help you better in the long run than just fighting to get another check on a list. I think it’s a good idea to approach WoW that way too. A really interesting comment. A pit you had to shorten it. Thanks!

@Gevlon: now that you say it… Actually I think I’ve been doing that too little lately. It’s a good thing to do when things are spinning a little bit too quickly.

@Spinksville: actually I think doing things that feel a little bit unnatural to you can be good in the long run. You don’t see it now, but later. Some aspects of the game takes some time to learn to appreciate. Like role playing… it doesn’t come natural to me at all, I’d feel rather uncomfortable doing it. But I can imagine that if I only gave it time and overcame my shyness I’d like it.

@Anonymous: yeah, and chewing more carefully. Talking more and longer at the dinner table… Honestly I’m probably not QUITE as bad as I suggested. I do exaggerate a little bit from time to time in my posts. But there is a core of truth – I really have to pay attention to how I eat or I’ll be finished long, long, long before anyone else.

@Highlatencylife: you’re so right. This is exactly what I’m trying to tell myself. I’ve got a split personality in some aspects.

@Fish: Not a bad suggestion actually. The flash on the screen that you’ve gotten an achievement speaks to the silly part of me that cares about such. And still you have the slower pace and an incentive to see some yet unexplored places…

@Krizzlybear: yeah, what if I turned off Lightheaded and Tomtom and refused to fall for the instinct to go and check out wowhead… Questing would definitely be like eating food with chop sticks. I wonder if I’d like it or if I’d just feel frustrated and in distress because it would be so slow…

@Kromus: “one night stand with a game” – lol! Yeah, WoW is another sort of relationship, isn’t it?

@Carra: funny enough I did the Bartle test about a year ago. And wrote about it. At that point I seemed to be more of an Explorer and Socializer than an Achiever, even though I had that pretty strong too. However it’s possible that I’ve changed a bit, as I’ve become more of a veteran player. Being in a raiding guild for such a long time may have affected me, getting me accustomed to a more achiever oriented playing style. I’ve always been slightly competitive in real life. I wasn’t so much in game, but as time has passed I guess I’ve lost a bit of my noobish innocence and become more interested in first kills and such.

@Anonymous: haha, well from THAT aspect my gaming surely is slow. I’ve got really bad fps problems at times. And yeah, it really drives me angry – and worried and sad. Probably my constant lag is what eventually will force me to stop playing.

Anonymous said...

@ Larisa

Thank you for your comments :) Nice to know my writing is appreciated.

You inspired me to do this, hope it can help you