Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don’t get fooled by the additional stress demon

Do you ever feel that everybody seem to accomplish so much so quickly in the game?

They don’t only have one level 70 character, but a bunch of them; god knows where they came from. They’ve got cool titles from pvp and raid instance attunements. Their professions are perfectly well thought out, and of course maximized. The order in their bank and bags would please any tax auditor. They seem to have a huge network of friends all over the server and they’ve got a pet collection big enough to run a zoo. And on top of it they run the most awesome WoW blogs, which you could never compete with.

Everybody but you. You’re not particularly good at anything at all. You’re stuck at grinding the same bloody old nagas, you’re messing around at AH, never doing those bargains like “everyone else” does, always ending up as one of the losers, just as you would if you gambled at the real life stock market. You’re levelling and progressing at the pace of a turtle, getting nowhere at all.

Occasional attacks
Now don’t misunderstand me. Most of the time Larísa is a very happy little gnome. When I think closely about it I’ve seen and done more in the game than I ever could dream of. I guess a lot of it won’t be viewable as “accomplishments” as WotlK hits. But that doesn’t matter. I still know that I’ve learned a lot, experienced a lot, met so many cool people and had loads of fun. Whatever more could you wish for?

So thankfully I don’t constantly suffer from this feeling of inferiority. It only comes over me occasionally. Still those moments are painful as they are and I wish I could get rid of them. It’s like if there’s a little evil demon coming crawling, whispering stupid stuff in my ear just to make me feel like a failure.

Examples from the blogs
The other day I read that Part Time Druid had attended a successful ZA Bear run and I felt a little envious for a second. I never did that, and now it’s only hours before no one will be interested in giving it a try. It’s all gone.

Then Krizzlybear wrote that he’s grinding for a Frostsaber Tiger and I thought: “hey, that’s a mount that I know Larísa would be very happy with, why am I so undisciplined that I never come around to get one for myself”.

Or take Matticus who let us have a peek into his beautiful, well organized bankvault, teaming with herbs in preparation of the expansion. And I felt even more ashamed with my mess than I already am.

Not to talk about Greedy Goblin, getting richer and richer for every day, seemingly without too much trouble.

But now comes my point: the stories about the ZA bear run, the frostsaber grind, the perfect bank and the fortunate business come from four different bloggers! And so is the case with most of those achievements of others that I look at with some envy.

The perfect player who has a bunch of level 70s, cool titles, perfect professions, order in bank, network, pet collection and an awesome blog doesn’t exist in reality, only in my fantasy. I make it up when I see those things in the game I’d like to do and add it up to something totally unrealistic, unreachable.

By comparing myself to that non-existing person I make myself suffering from additional stress. It’s a stupid behaviour that comes from real life, where it’s way to common that we pick the “perfect marriage”, looking at one friend who has that, “perfect living” looking at another one, “perfect job” from a third, “perfect travelling”, “perfect body” from others until we’ve put up so high expectations that it could be enough for anyone to have a nervous breakdown.

How to fight it
So how do you fight this additional stress, if you ever get an attack from it? Well, since it’s totally irrational and emotional, it isn’t always easy. But when it comes to me I try to remind myself every now and then that WoW is a HUGE game with tons of possibilities. It’s impossible to explore all of them. We make choices all the time.

My choices aren’t the same as PTRs choices or Krizzlybear’s or Matticus’ or Gevlon’s. But that doesn’t necessarily make me a failure.

And who knows, there may be people out there who think that some of the things I’ve done in the game are pretty cool and would like to do the same.

Rejoice at the progress and accomplishments of other players. Then look at what you’ve done yourself– it probably adds up to quite a lot when you think about it. Be proud and happy! Remember that this were the choices you made, the goals you put up, and that you actually reached at least most of them.

Stop listening to the demons. They’re evil and most of all – they’re wrong.


Dragon's Den said...

I guess the critical issue is this Larisa: Are you enjoying what you do in Wow?

After all we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we play this fun and we all have different ways of extracting enjoyment from the game.

The day that stops happening we need to walk away from it either temporarily or permanently.

Anonymous said...

Again, Larisa, you manage to pinpoint my feelings and put words to my thoughts!

This was a great article to read and it actually came at the perfect time too, as I was starting to feel quite overwhelmed by how awesome everyone else seems to be.

I'm sure you have accomplished a lot of things in game that you should be proud of, but do not forget to be proud of your blogging! You are one of my absolute favourite bloggers and I am quite sure I am not the only one to feel that way :)

Anonymous said...

I'd add that you are comparing yourself to one extreme end of the WoW scale: those who blog, read blogs/forums and also play on the PTR/beta are players very likely to succeed.

So try something I did over the weekend: run a PUG, particularly on an alt at a low level like SM, and you'll find yourself a high-achiever! Seriously, when I told my PUG about things like spell damage and healing being merged into spellpower in patch 3.0, I got responses like, "what patch?"!

Dragon's Den said...

Just like to add Kanye that the phrase 'players likely to succeed' is subjective.

That is, 'success' is dependent on your own goals. A player who 'succeeds' at blogging, BETA play, multiple lvl70 chars has only hit their goals - not yours.

Calling that objective success is the very thing that Larisa is talking about and consequently can undermine those with different goals.

Love the pug idea tho

Gevlon said...

Really great post and I would make it obligatory reading to everyone who says I *must* grind this or that to not be a loser.

Of course you can't have it *all*, the endgame, the mounts, the alts, the money, the pets, the reputations etc. I just wrote about the price of my choices: http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2008/10/changes.html

Larísa killed Archimonde. 3.4% of the 10M players archived that. I don't. /salute

Anonymous said...

Great article, Larisa. I've been feeling much the same way. I definitely felt a little under prepared when I saw Matticus' bank, too!

That said, Kanye is exactly right - you're still far more prepared than most people. In the blogosphere, we're a bit more informed than the average WoW player.

I've seen people in General or Trade asking what was going on in this patch - a new dungeon or something? So you're still way ahead of the game.

krizzlybear said...

Somehow, I feel guilty for having caused a small part of Larísa's temporary grief. But the woman's definitely got her act together mage-wise, so I have high hopes for her with regards to finding more fun things to do in WoW.

Yes, wintersaber rep would definitely count as an accomplishment, but one should never feel compelled to accomplish everything that exists in the game; he or she must pick and choose based on what that individual genuinely wants. I want my wintersaber, so I find out what it takes to achieve that, and then do whatever is needed.

With a mind for goal-setting and proper preparation, one can achieve anything that they put their minds to, regardless of how big, small, or numerous those goals may be.

Anonymous said...

@Dragon's Den: I'm definitly having fun! And I guess my constant hunger for more is a part of what makes the game fun. But sometimes it just becomes too much to me. I've got to watch my competative side. A little bit of it is only healthy, but it can easily flip out.

@Aendi: thank you so much for your very kind words! Yeah, I suppose I am sort of proud of my blogging. Ofc there are things that could be improved, but this blog has lived far longer and given me far more pleasure than I could ever have imagined. It's an important part of my gameplay, even though it will never show in an achievement window.

@Kanye: you're definitly right. Since I hardly ever mix with those people who don't care much and know even less, I never see that I've actually done and learned a lot. I only compare myself to the elite sort of, because those are the ones that I follow and try to learn from.

@Isisxotic: thank you for your kind words. It really feels better to know that I'm not the only one. I hesitated a little doing this confession since it sounds so silly... Additional stress in RL - OK, that's a known phenomena. But in a GAME... come on! Still it exists.

@Gevlon and Krizzlybear: I agree so much with you. You have to make your choices and then stick to them, not anxiously watching what goals and choices other players have done. Be focused. Be proud and happy with what you do. Keep it simple. And still that's what i so hard sometimes. There are SO many things that seem equally fun in the game but when it comes to an end you have to make a choice since your game time is limited.

Not making any choice at all is definitly the worst choice however, if you go that way you're pretty doomed to end up frustrated.

krizzlybear said...

Larísa, I couldn't have said it better myself. I find it a bit weird to be mentioned alongside the likeness of PTD and Matticus. They're such esteemed company!

Anonymous said...

arrrrghhh... my current wish list of achievements goes like this...

1) Find a new spec.

That's it..I can live without everything else...