Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I wish I was in it for the loot

Wouldn’t the game be so much easier if gear was all that mattered? Especially considering the New Deal Policy of Blizzard let the purples rain over everyone.

Gear up. Shine. Smile. Be done. Log out.

Sometimes I wish I was in it for the loot and that I could look upon other players as NPCs, replaceable tools which just happened to be working towards the same goals this very moment. Easy come, easy go.

Nothing could hurt me. There would be no losses, no pain, no disappointment. I would play WoW the same way I would play Lemmings. Happy and confident in my loneliness.

Another farewell
I came to think about it when I found one of those farewell letters in my mail the other day. It was a guildie of mine who has been on a break for a couple of month to focus on his studies. Now he had been caught by the “Real Life bug”, as he said, and decided not to come back to the game.

He tried to comfort me: “maybe another time somewhere we will see each other again in a MMO”.

But of course he knew as well as I did that it was a lie. This friendship has come to its end, just like the other friendships I’ve had in the game.

Or wait, that came out wrong. It sounds as if I’m one of those people that have a friend list that is about to explode, with a ton of friends coming and going, and that is not the case. They’re not overwhelmingly many. But the few there are matter to me. The chat window feels a bit gloomy if all you see is the pale, colourless talking going on in general or the green conversation in the guild chat. To occasionally get a pink whisper brightens up my night, even if it’s only a cheerful greeting when I come online or a silly remark about nothing in particular.

Not getting attached
In his farewell post on the guild forum, my departing friend commented on the gear mechanism of an MMO, which bugged him:

“I miss the good times raiding with you lot, that was and always will be fun times that I will miss a lot, but the whole, pray to the loot gods for upgrading gear to the next level, only to have to do it again every time a new expansion comes out...lets say I won't miss that anymore”

To be honest, replacing gear has never bothered me that much. You just can’t get too attached to it. It will all replaced at some point, sooner or later. But when I think closer about it, isn’t it the same with most of the people you meet in the game, or for that sake, your favourite WoW bloggers?

They’re just as likely to disappear in the next patch as your old gear is. Thinking anything else is to ask for sorrows. Don’t get too attached.

This is of course easier said than done. It’s hard to fight your nature. I’ll probably keep investing myself more emotionally into this game than I should. And it will keep causing me pain. On the other hand I don’t think that the opposite is necessarily a good thing either. If I would always keep a sound distance, meeting the world behind a protecting shield, telling myself that “nothing of this matters”, watching it all from the sideline rather than participating it, don’t you think I would miss out an important aspect of the game?

I guess the answer lies somewhere in between. Make friends, because without any friendship, WoW will feel as empty as the Barrens. But in the same manner you should always be prepared to see them take off. It can happen any minute, any day. There will be new shiny epic loot. And there will be new players that you can get to know, who suddenly will brighten up your chat log with pink colour.

It’s in the nature of MMOs. You just have to get used to it.


Stabs said...

Well, at least you still have us :-)


Klepsacovic said...

You wish you spent hours and hours of the brief lives we are given chasing possessions, ones which you cannot even pass on to your children in order to make their lives a little bit more comfortable? I don't believe that for a second. You aren't stupid enough to think that.

I have some loot. I sometimes look at it and think of how it's kinda cool. Some of it I look at and it reminds me of the people I played with. That loot is much better.

B_Dragon said...

The next time you come into the Inn, grab a cup of Honeymint Tea and savor the companionship that's there in the game.

Purple epics may come and go (and those that don't get stashed in the bank) but friendship is the only loot in WoW worth treasuring. /hug

Keeva said...

I feel exactly the same.

I see people that only care about loot and about themselves, they don't care about the relationships or strategy or anything else, just gear gear gear. And I think.. wouldn't it be nice and uncomplicated to play like that, all wrapped up in yourself and your one goal - to get stuff?

But then, I feel like that in real life, often. Sometimes I think I "care too much"... if I was the centre of the universe and nobody and nothing else mattered, wouldn't it be a simple life?

Simple, maybe.. but horrible, in my mind. I never want to be like that.

Sweetcherrie said...

Those people that really do matter will be back, and they will not go away. Not because they've left the game.

And loot...well yeah, loot is just a tool. And all that is happening is that the tools are getting less durable, so they need to be replaced more often. It's a consumption society after all, and the game is simply reflecting what is happening in real life.

People don't repair holes in socks anymore. They throw them away and buy a new pair. The same is happening with gear replacements.

I have to say I find it pleasant that way. It might finally make it clear to people that loot is not the goal of the game. And hopefully it might make for less loot drama.

Fish said...

Gear in MMO's takes the concept of planned obsolesence to the extreme. Pretty much from the moment you get something it is either already obsolete or will become so by the next expansion.

My point with this is that obsessing over gear seems rather pointless. Anything past getting the job done is wasted effort. If thats why you play, great, but lets be honest, thats definately not why YOU play.

River said...

Saying goodbye to friends in an online game is rough. Probably the toughest thing of MMOs

Ferrel said...

Life would be a lot easier if it was just about the gear. I, like you, have never really seen it as more than a tool to get the next job done.

When I was assigning it I did use it to reward players but that isn't why they were there. They were there to win.

Raiding has always been about being in the trench with your friends and achieving what seems impossible. Gear comes and goes but the bonds last far longer.

Darraxus said...

I never get too bent out of shape about replacing gear. Gear is just a tool. A tool that is meant to be replaced with new ones.

Hatch said...

This patch definitely makes me have a sarcastic "wish" that I was in it just for the loot, because then I'd feel like this patch has something in it for me. Shiny epics raining from the sky is the main feature of this patch, the rest is a lot less consequential.

And I've been having an experience like you Larisa, where the game becomes bittersweet when people leaving the game means that friendships end. While it's an extraordinary boon that we can meet people in game that geographically we never would have met (and perhaps in person would have prejudged) and become friends, it comes at the price of how easily those friendships get broken when the vehicle that brought us together no longer fits in that person's life. It tempts me to become detached despite the meaningful friendships I've made in-game. For me, that was what your post was about.

The Rokk said...

People put some kind of silly value on purple pixels. They rejoice when they get it, but find it is easily replaced once the novelty has worn off.

The pain you feel means that you had a real connection, or as real as things get on the Interwebs. You can put a price on Purples, but friends are more precious than Gold.

Copernicus said...

I've always held people at a distance. I have many acquaintances, but few that I consider friends. Still, I feel a twinge when one of them leaves.

People come and people go. Enjoy them while they are here, and cherish their memory when they are gone. Just do not become cynical and try to wall yourself off from others to prevent yourself from being hurt when they leave.

Larísa said...

@Stabs & B Dragon. Indeed I have my dear guests at the inn. Even an innkeeper needs a hug sometimes. Thanks!

@Klepsacovic: nah... Don't take me literally. This is just a long and complicated way to tell Cy that I miss him. :(

@Keeva: no, as I said, it's hard to change how you are. But still... sometimes I wonder if the gear oriented people aren't happier in their own insane little world.

@Shy: actually I think that some people that have left the game and that I don't keep in touch with really mattered in their own way. I still think about them sometimes. The way I can think about other people I've encountered at different stages in my real life. Just because you don't keep a friendship active your whole life it doesn't mean that it was pointless while it lasted.

@Fish: no, you're quite right. I play for many different reasons, but definitely not for character progression gearwise. Tobold wrote a post about it the other day and I must say that I didn't quite recognize myself in it. Maybe I'll comment on it some day.

@River. Yeah. We do it over and over again. Still I never see it commented very much.

@Ferrel & Darraxus & TheRokk. /agree. Everyone doesn't though, I'm afraid.

@Hatch: that was exactly what I meant. This post wasn't really about loot and gear. I'm glad that it came through at least to you.

@Copernicus: sounds like a wise balance. Still it's harder than you think to obtain it.

Fitz said...

It's the same in real life, if you think about it. If you shelter yourself from most other people and don't take risks that could be dangerous (it could be as silly as riding a roller coaster or skydiving), you will give up what makes life so grand. Come to think of it, loving anything is like that. Sure, you could be and will be hurt at times...but the payoff for opening those doors and taking those risks is a life well lived.

I only have a few blogs on my blogroll, but I'd rather get attched to Gevlon/Matticus/Larisa and enjoy them while they are here than never get attached at all.

Firespirit said...

The saddest moments are not the friends you have lost because of RL issues, but rather, friends you have lost because they are no longer with us.

My guild lost a member back in February or so due to complications arising from diabetes. It was sad for all of those who knew her.

What did we do?

Our first Naxx accomplishment was dedicated to her (on guildwatch none-the-less), and many of our guildmates donated money to her charity - the diabetes research foundation.

Yes, some people think it would be nice to be one of those people who only care about the loot. But you know what? I don't. WoW is full of so many interesting people, like you larisa, to just be about animated pixels.

It just goes to show you, those who are in it only for the leet purpz don't really get the game.

Stormcloud said...

I personally rank an item look over its stats.

Which is why I am really disgruntled the s1/s2 slicer quickblade got removed before my rogue was able to get one.

Why Blizz!!!

candy said...

When I leave a night of our jint 25-man, dispirited thanks to watching a bunch of folks roll on every item they can equip, regardless of if it is a true upgrade for them, or how many things they have already scooped up, I also sigh to myself and think I wish I were in it only for the loot. Because if that were all that mattered, each raid would be like a potential all-you-can-eat buffet of goodies.

But that's not how I am. I have all these silly ideas about wanting to see my guild progress. I want to see my guildies and friends be successful-- improving their playing, attaining their side goals. And when I make friends, I am right there to celebrate their achievements and commiserate when their third day of grinding for a whelp is still not fruitful.

It used to bum me out that my thoughtfulness and kindness were not always reciprocated in kind. But that's who I am. And if all it took was a video game to change that, how sad would that be?

Anonymous said...

Why is sadness an enemy? It's just another mode of feeling. Are feelings the enemy? I don't think so.

Parting is such sweet sorrow said Shakespeare. That's right, there's a sweetness in sorrow if you let yourself feel it.

Larísa said...

@Fitz: Yeah, you’re quite right. Still I have to think aloud sometimes, arguing to myself that it’s worth it. The joy of friendship > the pain of losing it.

@Firespirit: I’ve never experienced that, but I imagine it must be really sad, a strange feeling… If you ever get to know about it that will say. Some people who just disappear may have died without you knowing about it. Their relatives don’t care or understand gaming enough to let their online friends know about it.

@stormcloud: haha… yeah… I would SO understand the rogue who would prefer to do trivial stuff using their Illidan warglaves to putting on Northrend gear with better stats.

@Candy: I think we just have to accept that we have very different motivations in the game and value gear and friendship differently. The thing is to find harmony and happiness in your own approach and not worry so much about the one of others.

@Elnia: yeah… It’s like the saying about the weather. There isn’t really any bad weather. Only different kinds of weather. Maybe it’s the same with feelings. If you approach it from a different angle than you do by default.

Beth said...

I think it's a misconception that only caring about loot would keep you from getting hurt. Every time you lost a roll on something, you'd feel like you were losing a friend. We had a younger member take a break from the game this last week because he realized he got depressed every time he lost a roll on something he wanted, and he knew it wasn't healthy.

/hugs I've found that most of my guildmates come back after they've handled Real Life. I won't promise yours will because I don't know this fellow. I also don't know your guild policies, but mine has a rule that if someone is leaving for RL (not leaving the guild itself), they can stay on the forums and vent and participate verbally in order to keep in touch.

<3 I've found that while some friends have gone, new ones come in and the sadness doesn't stay. Just keep an eye out for new potential whisper-pals to keep your friends list healthy. <3 <3 <3