Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dive and Rise

Sometimes I just feel like the game is a sink for me.

Sometimes it turns into a black void like a gravity well and I can't escape the pull of anxiety, anger and frustration that sucks me in and leaves me feeling trapped and helpless. Last night was one of those nights. My pessimistic streak is pretty long and well documented, but I've been trying to stay on the up-side of optimism lately, but it seems like a fragile thing.

The slightest imbalance can throw it off, the tiniest imperfection in execution of a plan becomes a glaring sore that I can't help noticing and the whole thing collapses after that. The performance of raids affects me more than it should. I take my time investment far too seriously, and I think when I perceive a lack of respect for that time from even one or two members, it really galls on me. However, I know not everyone playing this game has a boatload of issues like me, and for most of my guildies, the game is, as they say, "fun." Still, my enjoyment comes from perfect execution and tight, controlled play. I know it's ridiculous, but I'm the guy who loved beating himself over failing add-tank duties on Nefarian.

Last night was one of those nights where things just didn't gel and my healing was part of the reason, but our strategy kept changing as we tried to find something that worked and it just... wasn't. Two hours passed and we gave up on it and moved on... and then wiped to a farm boss which just broke my resolve.

There are a lot of reasons why I'm frustrated. Lack of expectations of performance, a slight tilt away from the kind of hard-mode progression we used to do, a general disagreement about the level of dedication required to get things done... and a lot of it is communication that just doesn't happen. People don't talk or voice their concerns in a civil way, in a neutral environment and the frustration erupts at the worst possible time. None of this is helpful and there were other factors to influence this lovely event.

Part of it was my own failure to count and I hold myself to a far, far higher standard than anyone else, so my anger for the wipe was primarily focused on myself and yet, I still managed to get into a snarling and unfiltered conversation in OChat. After I logged out, I couldn't even sleep, anger and anxiety over a dozen other Real Life things rose up, mixed with the emotions of failure and frustration, and by the morning, I was a barely coherent mess on the verge of tears all day long after I dropped off my son.

Thankfully a couple of friends intervened, both virtually and in person, the meetings I was dreading in the afternoon actually pulled me out of my funk and I feel okay now, but goddamn. Sometimes I let this game get to me too much. I know it's just a game. But it's also a 6 hour a week plus hours spent farming mats and doing other things in game commitment - and I like get a return on my investments.

My RoI in Warcraft is raid progression and a higher Personal PvP rating than the week before.

I'm putting my time into Warcraft to hang out with friends, to gain silly achievements, to level alts and professions, to just enjoy the world, yes... but also to gain some kind of personal, tangible satisfaction in the form of continuous progression, step by step. I guess my frustration level was just getting higher than I realized and it all just erupted in a mess last night.

If the game is a sink of frustration sometimes, I have lifelines out of the mire. Friends who e-mail me to check in, or take me out to lunch to talk about movies and video games, I have my son who'll laugh and run off to roll in the rain-wet grass on the way to daycare, my wife telling me we're going to sit on the couch tonight, eat ice-cream and watch hours of archived shows...

I'm lucky to have so many people to help me out of these pits. It might be all tar and feathers in Azeroth but it's lovely in New York (not really, the weather is just rain rain rain lately, but it's okay, I love the rain.)

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