Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love what you do – do what you love

This post was inspired by the final angry rant from Angry Raid Leader, a blog where you over the years have been able to enjoy some charming, angry posts, written on a very irregular basis.

Now the former raid leader has left the blogging scene, but before doing so he decided to make a final fist punch. For once it wasn’t directed towards raiders who die in fire and do other stupid things just to annoy raid leaders. This time he was targeting his colleagues. I’ll quote you the juicy part:

I’m so damn sick of whiny ass raid leaders, that bitch about how hard their job is. It’s so stressful! I put in so much time! I don’t get anything back! No one listens to me! Boo fucking hoo! Man up, it’s a goddamn game. No one made you play it. Complaining about being a raid leader is like complaining about being too pretty. A bunch of people wanted to spend time with you, admired your skills, gave you first pick of loot, helped you pretty much every time you needed it, included you in every group, hung out and talked with you when your real life friends had given up on you ever coming out of your cave and hanging out with them. You had it made! You were in nerdvana! So stop yer bitchin, fuckin pansy!
Making a choice
It’s a damned good rant, don’t you think? Personally I’m not quite as disturbed as the author about raid leaders who let out some steam from time to time. I can understand that they need to do that, especially when they’re among colleagues. But there was one point that caught me especially: “You had it made”.

Exactly. No one has forced you to become or remain a raidleader. It’s your choice and you should take responsibility for it. Love it – or leave it.

And this leads us over to an important – and possibly disturbing – question I’d like to put:

Do you ever reflect over why you’re playing WoW?

Is it a habit? Addiction maybe? (Nooo, of course not :)) Or is it something that you actively choose over other available divertissements such as watching a movie, taking a walk in the park, making love with your second half or reading a book? In the best of worlds it’s the latter.
Ideally I think you should spend a few seconds before logging in, asking yourself if this is really is what you’d like to do in this very moment.

If the answer is “yes”, also reflect over exactly what in the game that makes you want to play it. And as your login screen is replaced by the view of the back of your toon – make sure to act accordingly.

If the answer is: “no”, you might still want to log in, since you have commitments to people that are waiting for you to come online, if you’ve for instance signed up for a raid. Do whatever you can to make the night pleasant even though you’d rather do something else. Putting up a smile can be a good start.

I can hear the objections coming already as I’m writing this. “Smile?” “Why so, I didn’t even want to play in the first place?”

Yeah. Smile. Just as in the song. Even fake smiles work pretty much as intended. They are contagious. Before you know it the smile that initially felt forced and artificial will have turned into an authentic one. It will help you and the people around you to get through the night.

But once you’re done with whatever your obligation in the game was, don’t forget take some time to reflect over your initial resistance to come online. What does it tell you? Maybe it’s time to reconsider your priorities – inside or outside the game.

The mustard factory
It’s time for a little bit of storytelling. Take a seat and make yourself comfortable in front of the fire!

Real life has taught me a few things over the years. One lesson that particularly has formed my way of thinking was my first encounter with a blue collar job. I was 19 years old and hired to join the extra seasonal crew at a mustard factory. The consumption of mustard always peaks at Christmas, so this factory brought in some extras to fill their barns. It was a traditional conveyer belt job, where I was doing the same movements over and over again, packing mustard and cleaning up the mess whenever a glass tin broke. The stench of mustard was impossible to describe. And it was a shock to this spoiled little middleclass girl never ever before had put her step in such an environment. I cried every morning before I went to work. And I cried every night as I went home. It only lasted a couple of months, but I couldn’t eat mustard for years.

But what I brought with me from that job wasn’t just the distaste for mustard. What stuck in my mind were the conversations I had with the small steady crew that worked at this plant all-year-long. It consisted of a bunch of ladies in their 60-s who all had worked there for 40 years or more. I just couldn’t understand it. How came that they kept working in this horrible environment with this tedious job, which gave them little money and aching bodies?

The answer I got was: “It just happened. Once upon a time I was young and I was just like you. I thought that this job would only be something temporary, that I would get a “real” and more interesting job later on. But the years passed and it just happened. I got left. It was nothing I had planned to do.”

This conversation filled me with terror and I decided at that moment to never let life “just happen” to me, to never give up my right and responsibility to take command of my own life.

That’s why I’ve done a few rather abrupt career changes and moves in my real life – as well as in Azeroth. Rather than whining and cursing my destiny I try to make something about it.

So returning to WoW, this is my conclusion:

Do what you love doing in WoW. Make those things happen. Love the things you do. Smile. And stop wearing yourself down with activities that you just don’t enjoy anymore.

As simple as that. And yet so difficult.


Ixobelle said...

omfg, that line about "complaining about being too pretty" made me die.

I know a girl, let's just call her Ayse (the names haven't been changed to protect the innocent, but I doubt she reads WoW blogs), but going out clubbing with her was such a hassle. Every guy in the club was magnetically drawn to her from across the room (I'm a dude, for those that have no idea, btw), and afterwards she would complain about how difficult her life was. Yeah, Ayse, every single person of the opposite sex would DIE to take you home, and here I was working up the nerve to say Hi to the bartender. Cry me a river.

That was a while ago (happily married now with a 14 month old), but YOW. That little paragraph made me roll over for a sec. Carry on.

Kromus said...

lmao ixobelle :)

I'm not addicted, I, I can- I can stop whenever I like.

CAN'T I? Nah just kidding, you know I'm not since I gave up raiding for a fucked up omnomnomnom.

Anyway, this is something I've been thinking about ALOT but not to do with WoW.

I have 5 weeks left to choose my university course, something to do for the rest of your life- its scary.

So should I do what I love? randomly making up game ideas and leaving them un-noticed, or do I keep it as a hobby, because I wouldn't want to make it a chore.

By the by I think I've decided on Game Design, I orignally wanted to do Programming but I can't handle maths past a certain level, for whatever reason. \o/

Anyway, this is totally none WoW related, but since its "love what you do, do what you love" Its the first thing that came to my headsince its a present problem of mine ;).

I love WoW, let me work on WoW, Blizz? I promise not to give Warlocks Lasers and plate armour with cloth repair prices.

krizzlybear said...

WoW is easy to quit. If you don't like it, just take some time off until you like it again. You're in no real hurry. I like the lesson being taught here. Do what you love, be passionate, and show the fire in your work.

One of my favourite posts in a long while Larisa. Keep it up.

Tyben said...

I couldn't agree more. Life (and WoW) is what you make it.

zetter said...

I think for me now one of the major things that keeps me coming back to wow is the people on line I know. I think if a lot of those people ever move to another game (Old Republic is coming drool) I would probably end up there as for me its the people now more than the game.


Rem said...

I am a gamer. It took me years to arrive (back) at this statement, years of hiding behind fancy terms like "eSports" (yes-yes, different genre. Not WoW) and explaining what should not need an explanation. But here I am again, and I am a gamer. I love gaming. Ever since Super Mario Bros, I do.

I went from single-, to multi-, to massively multi-player. I quit numerous times, for any time period ranging from half an hour to half a year. I always ended up coming back, because that's who I am, that's what I love doing. There are runners, skaters, ballers, clubbers - I am a gamer.

Gaming is my best way to express myself. Gaming is my best way to connect with people. Gaming is the fertile ground on which friendships grow. Gaming is what puts a smile on my face when I go to sleep. Or, at times, an angry grimace, but, well, that's just part of the deal, like hangovers are part of partying, like injuries are part of sports.

Am I addicted? Who knows. Depends on the definition, I guess. I know I can quit, because I quit before. When a game consistently stops being fun, I'm going to quit it. But as long as there's fun, I want to have it. Because I am a gamer. Gaming is what I do.

Also, totally unrelated, and honestly not intending to diminish your story in any way, but "I was 19 years old and hired to join the extra seasonal crew at a mustard factory." made me giggle inanely, because I couldn't help to imagine the factory being located on a hill (as was undoubtedly your house!), with a standing regulation of only being reachable barefoot, and things taking place around Christmas in Sweden, there were undoubtedly snow storms! But other than that, it's a good and instructive story - you're making your point very clearly, and I shall remember it very well.

Mister K said...

This is a very great lesson and something I had to remind myself of just recently when deciding whether or not to change servers. I had to decide if I was going to keep playing I needed to do what was fun and I am so glad I did, because my new guild has been great and I am really enjoying the game. I know its not as important as real life stuff but still, you spend the time and money to do this you might as well enjoy it. I mean is it still a game if your not having fun?

Stabs said...

I have a lot of sympathy for the frustrated guild leaders.

I'm one who left it. I did enjoy it but it frustrated me that so many expected a free ride. In the end there were just too many to carry.

If I ever come back to WoW I plan to raid while guildless. Seems like 3.3 is implementing this in the game.

Larísa said...

@Ixobelle: credits go to Angry Raid Leader. But yeah, his complaints really go beyond wow.

@Kromus: good luck on whatever you do. And don't be so scared about not making the right choice from the beginning. You can always change track later on if the game design ones turns out to be more of a hobby than a profession for you. You're young. You SHOULD have dreams.

@Krizzlybear: thanks!

@Tyben: /agree

@Zetter: I think you share that reason with more and more players. Once a lot of people decide to move it could resault in an exodus - due to social reasons, not necessarily what people think about the game.

@Rem: wonderfully well put. You seem to have thought a lot about this. I think we all need to. We deserve that to ourselves, spending so much time on it.
About the mustard factory: actually it was situated in the middle of the city where I live. Not on a hill. And the mustard was produced in the months BEFORE the season. When Christmas arrived we were at home. (Disgusted at the mustard served to us.) Actually the shut down that factory some years later, blew it up and built some houses on it. I rejoiced.

@Mister K: yeah, major changes in game such as switching servers may be frightening, but my experience is that it always pays off. I've never ever regretted any of the changes I've done in WoW.

Larísa said...

@Stabs: you really thought this over. And did the right thing - you took the consequences, rather than staying, whining, burn out from everything. It will be interesting to see how the guildless raid pugging will turn out. I often miss our 10 man raids, so I'm likely to use it quite a bit for offnights when I normally come online very late.

Hatch said...

Larisa, awesome post. The story about the mustard factory is now added to the list of things that remind me to go after the career I want and not let my current career continue to "just happen" to me (which I often fear it is!) I like my current job, and it's a good job, but it's not the path I want to be on 5 years from now, and your story bolstered my confidence. :)

Elnia said...

I agree with Larisa but I do think that it's important to have a reality check. Let's be honest. Some people just love to lounge around the house all day. Unless they can find someone who is willing to support that lifestyle, they are not going to be doing what they love.

The another thing I have discovered in my own life is that sometimes comprehending what you love most is the hard part. Sometimes you can love two careers or two people and you can't follow both, then what do you do.

Finally, there is the issue that sometimes what we love we have no talent for. That too can create a lot of stress.

So while I agree that in theory one should do what they love, life isn't always that simple. If it were, most people would be happy and the world would be a different place.

Tesh said...

I touched on this a little with my Work and Play article. If "playing" WoW has become a chore or obligation, it's time to step back and question why you do what you do.

It's a much-needed bit of introspection that applies to many activities, come to think of it.

Oh, and tangentially, Elnia? I've come to believe that the age-old "find a career in what you love" platitudes are dangerous. Find a career in something you *like* to do and can meet your lifestyle obligations with, and keep your hobbies optional. Trying to make a career out of a hobby only compromises the beauty of the hobby (that it's optional, not obligational), and all too often destroys the love that fuels the interest. That's the cold, hard reality of needing to work for a living. You *must* do it to stay alive, whether or not you feel like it at the moment. That obligation can all too easily turn to resentment, and then you've sullied not only your career but your hobby as well.

Anonymous said...

That was an excellent article.

I agree with Tesh; it's a little dangerous to seek to make a living out of one's hobbies. Sometimes that'll work out for the best, and in that case, more power to you! Sometimes though one can find that what one really loves doing (or at least ONE of the things) pays terribly and has horrible working conditions. I do think it's important to enjoy one's job, and to feel good about it, but I think few of us are lucky enough to make the living they wish for from the things they most enjoy.

As for hobbies though, the advice in the OP is excellent. It's easy to either become outright addicted to hobbies (especially ones predicated on treadmills and grinds), or to simply get into a rut. In the past, I've found myself playing games for some time after I stopped really enjoying them, out of nostalgia, or attachment to people I played with, or inertia, or the hopes that it'd become fun again, or more likely all of the above.

It's a cliche that life's too short, but it's nonetheless true... and it's important to find a way to lead a rich life, filled with meaning and happiness. For those of us that enjoy gaming, it's good to watch for the warning signs that it's time to move on, because gaming can suck us in and become all-absorbing.

Online games can become one's primary (or even only) social circle, which is frankly a bit dangerous... I think that's one of the main reasons people remain in online games that they don't enjoy anymore. It's one thing to walk away from your character(s) and the game world, but another thing entirely to leave your friends. I know from my own experience that the times I felt the most pressure to play was when I had the greatest ties to other players, as a guild leader or raid leader especially. There were a lot of days, back when, that I'd find I really didn't want to play, but I played anyhow because I had obligations of one sort or another. I came to realize that it's healthiest to watch out for this and if it happens, to drop the obligations, step away from the responsibility, and see how that changes my experience of the game. Sometimes I'd then find I really enjoyed the freedom; sometimes I'd decide I missed being up to my eyebrows in the game; sometimes I'd realize I was bored with the game and needed to move on.

I'm not saying socializing is bad, nor that taking positions of responsibility can't be very rewarding... but these social bonds can at times tie us down to things we'd really be better off without. My sister is a marathon runner, and she's been unhappy with the team she belongs to (and assists in coaching) for over a year now. She's been unwilling to quit despite the fact that it sucks up all her free time and she objectively accepts that she'd be happier with a different team - she stays because of the social ties and obligations. It's not just gamers that do this!

Kristi said...

@Kromus: Take it easy friend, your university course does not define what you do for the rest of your life - only for about the first 2 years after you graduate. So, no need to panic! University is just where you start to figure out what it is that you want to do.

Love what you do, do what you love. I totally agree: but playing games is not the same as making games.
Give it a go regardless, otherwise you'll never find out if it is right for you.

Bronte said...

I feel like I could straddle the fence on this one. I was a guild and raid leader for a WoW endgame raiding guild for over three years. We killed everything from General Drakkinsath (when you could kill him with 40 people if you wanted), to Rag, Ony, Nef, C'Thun and most bosses in vanilla Naxx. It is, indeed, a thankless job. You can never make anyone truly happy. Everyone bickers over loot or strategy and it takes a lot of patience, planning and flawless execution to establish yourself as a worthy tactician.

That being said, now that I am on the casual side of things, I can see that despite all the drawbacks, it was a delight to be able to fulfill that role, have 40+ people look to you for strategy and leadership, be the favored son who gets invited to every group, and enjoy the privilege of loot being passed on for you despite being in an 'equal-opportunity' guild.

Larísa said...

@Hatch: thanks! I can’t say that I ALWAYS do the right thing either. Sometimes I also just let time pass, without reflecting or making an effort to change stuff for the better. But it definitely was a lesson for life, an image that has followed me through the years.

@Elnia: back to reality. You bring me down to Earth my dear bartender. Ofc you’re quite right.

@Tesh: oh don’t tell me about it. I loved to write and became first a journalist and later on an information officer. And developing the kind of efficient language you use in those roles sort of killed my appetite for it. Actually PPI has helped me to get back my passion for creative writing – funny enough not in my mother tongue. So yeah, it can be wise to think twice about if you really want to work professionally with things you have a passion for or keep it as a hobby.

@Foolsage: excellent comment! You really speak out of long experience and have thought a lot about this. Your approach seems very wise.

@Kristi: yeah, my opinion as well. When you’re 18-20 years old you think that all choices you make are for life. They aren’t. There will be plenty of opportunities to make your life take a new turn.

@Bronte: yeah, it’s my impression too. The ones who are in those positions talk a lot about the hassles of it, but how often do you hear them talk about the good stuff, what keeps them going? I bet there is some benefit in it, but they sort of “forget” it, so occupied talking about the bad things.