Monday, March 10, 2008

Mauling Your Computer: Not a Good Rage Dump

World of Warcraft is a game. An escape from reality. A way to let the stresses of real life disappear as you enter a fantasy world where you can vanquish anything that so much as poses a small annoyance to you. But WoW can also be a source of frustration, resentment, and anger at times, especially when dealing with other players. Bad PuGs can make you miserable. Bad experiences with guildies can make you wish you never logged in. And 6 hour wipefests when trying to learn that new raid boss can just plain make you want to gouge your eyes out with a spork!

So what do we do when the game we play causes more of the very same stresses we were hoping to get away from when we sat down at the keyboard? Well, today I present to you a list of 5 techniques I use to relieve my WoW-related rage, as well as a sixth that I have yet to use in WoW just yet. I list them here in order of stress levels, with the first relieving the most minor of stresses, and number 6 being a last-ditch move.

1: Commiserate. Sometimes, when I'm in a bad group, or stuck doing something I really don't want to do, all that I need is someone to bitch about it to. For example, this past Saturday, I was in a really, REALLY crappy mood. I logged in to attend Prophecy's first night of attempts on Leotheras the Blind, after making a quick stop at Tidewalker, who for some reason just would not die for them on Friday, and whom I was told I would be tanking that day. And while I did not expect to get to tank on Leo (despite sharing with my guild the words of Karthis, who says that is one fight you want a druid to tank), I was looking forward to tanking an add, and then showing my guildies how meleeing on him is done!

Well, not only did I not get to tank Leotheras, I got the wonderful opportunity to respec to tree form for the fight. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy healing, and have often offered to respec tree when we're a bit light on the healers (ironically, I usually get a response of "NO, we need our SuraBear!" from one or more of my fellow guild leaders). But after having been asked to tank Tidewalker, I had my hopes set on main tanking at least one raid boss (and admittedly I was secretly wishing for two), and so going tree that day was a huge letdown.

In order to make it through the 6 hour raid without completely losing my mind, I turned to my fellow feral druidess and pretty much just bitched about the situation all night. She's generally willing to lend a furry ear, and that day I needed to chew it off. So I spent much of the night complaining about how "I could have picked him up that time no problem", or "I wouldn't be having any problem whatsoever killing MY inner demons". And I made it through the night with a grimace on my face, and the bittersweet realization that my sacrifice (and the similar sacrifice made by our guild's ret paladin) made it possible for the raid to even happen, and because of it we have another notch in the raiding belt (Yep, we downed him, first night of attempts.) And just in case my guildies read this (I know a few of you do), I have nothing against that, or any of our prot warriors, he did a great job, especially for his first time main tanking on a 25-man boss.

Oh, and for the record, I was able to completely OBLITERATE my inner demons when they popped up. Of course, I did spec 19 points into balance specifically for the fight *grin*.

2: Play an Alt. Often times, just going and doing something completely different can be just what the doctor ordered. If your steamvault run ended prematurely because the DPS just couldn't be arsed to kill Thermaplugg's repairmen, maybe you need to switch to your level 35 arms warrior for a bit and smash some faces (Though you might not want to do it in Gnomeregan, in that particular case). Playing the same character your problems popped up on can simply serve as a reminder of the stresses, and if the problem was with guildies, playing on an unguilded alt can be the only way (shy of not playing WoW, of course) of distancing yourself from the situation.

3: Write about it. Sometimes writing about bad things that happen to us helps us get them out of our heads. Of course, that's easy for me to say, I have a blog that I can fill with my rants and ravings. But even if you cant publish what you write (and to be honest, sometimes I write things here and DON'T publish them because I don't actually want them to be seen by others), just writing stuff down (or typing it out) can be a great stress reliever. Of course, you'll probably have to wait until AFTER whatever you're doing to write about it, but at least that way you wont ruminate about it for days.

So, remember that Leo raid Saturday? Well, I left out one thing before. As it turned out, we didn't have any Prot paladins available for the raid. We probably could have asked one of our other pallies to tank it, but we were tight on healers as well, and Tidewalker is sketchy even with perfect raid balance for us. Now, we DID have one Prot paladin online, in fact our best geared one. But he was raiding Karazhan. With another guild. On a raid night. Which is completely AGAINST OUR GUILD'S RULES (you can raid Karazhan with whoever you wish, but if you're raiding on a progression raid night, you're raiding with us). So even if I WASN'T a tree at the time, I wouldn't have gotten to tank the fight I was asked to tank, because someone just had to spend a progression day farming badges. In the excitement of our guild first, we all kinda forgot about that paladin, and so the situation hasn't, to my knowledge, been dealt with just yet, but it will be.

And yes, in a way, this post is just an excuse to bitch a little bit about Saturday. But hey, if me disseminating useful information to the masses gives me some psychotherapy, so be it!

4: Just walk away. I've been known, once or twice, to simply walk away from a group or discussion in WoW if its really starting to piss me off. Generally, if I'm bailing on a group, I'll try to make up some excuse to leave, or will fake a disconnect, but occasionally, I play it straight and tell the offending group/guild exactly why I'm signing out. If continuing to play the game in any capacity is going to just keep stressing you out, this is probably your best option.

One time when I did this, I really did it HARDCORE. Some of you may remember me mentioning in my second blog post ever how I left one guild, Patronus Veritas, in the middle of a Molten Core run. Even back then, I was a bear-specced druid (and yes, unlike now, bear and cat specs used to be quite separated). I was THE druid tank in PV. And for the most part, I was accepted as such, allowed to bid on most druid tanking gear (against the rogues, of course), and even occasionally getting thrown a bone and allowed to tank something minor (ZG, corehounds on the packs, Garr. . . ). Keep in mind, at the time bears were rather suboptimal tanks, and popular WoW culture deemed all healing classes used only their heal buttons, especially on raids.

Well, this one MC raid REALLY pissed me off. I had been kind of down about druids being pigeonholed as healers, and once we got to Garr, I quite happily switched into my tanking set (actually, I had it on for the trash too, one of PV's tanks was rather unable to build aggro, so I often built threat on his Giants "just in case"). And. . . the raid leader told me to DPS, and one of the fury warriors to put on their tanking set! WTF? I pointed out the stupidity of that decision to my class lead and he brought up my concern to the officers, but to no avail. It made no difference that the fury warrior was not tanking specced, and I was not DPS specced (and had tanked Garr's adds just fine many times before), he was going to tank it, and I was going to DPS. Alright, fine, whatever.

Fast forward to Sulfuron Harbinger, another boss with a bunch of adds to tank. Once again, the raid leader puts the fury warrior on tanking duty, and has me go catform. That was it, the straw that broke the grizzly's back. As if I had practiced it a thousand times before, my hands glided over my keyboard. Not to curse at the raid leader. Not to berate the guild. Just seven simple keystrokes: /gquit[Enter]. Actually, I think I left the raid group and clicked my hearthstone before typing, so it kinda came out as a one-two-three punch of "Hey, Surania left the group. . . no wait, she left the instance. . . no wait, she left the GUILD." And while the way I went about things absolutely reeked of Drama Llama, I honestly never resented my decision, and ultimately feel that leaving the guild really was the best thing for me.

5: Take a WoW vacation. Yep, sometimes things get so bad you just want to leave it all behind. But don't go and close your WoW account just yet. Make a conscious decision to not play Warcraft AT ALL for a while. A day, three days, a week, maybe even a month (in which case you may actually want to cancel your account just to save a little money). And stick to whatever period of time you decide on, even when the WoW bug eventually bites you again. Time heals all wounds, distance makes the heart grow fonder, and all that crap (hey, just 'cause its crap doesn't mean its not true!)

I can think of two such vacations I've taken. And to avoid delving into guild drama crap, suffice it to say both times were due to constant and escalating guild drama. And both times, I was GM of Prophecy. I don't know if something deep inside of me thought that my disappearing due to the drama would help solve it, but I figure when someone who was as quiet and laid back of a leader as I said something to the effect of "You guys are all just starting to piss me off, so I'll be back in a week", it might at least highlight the ridiculous, unproductive nature of petty arguments and squabbles. And yes, I know that I was in effect adding to said drama, but ultimately I needed the breaks anyhow, and both times I came back with a new found desire to play.

*: Delete your characters and cancel your account. Can I have your stuff? No, but seriously, even if you do get to the point where you just don't see yourself wanting to play ever again, don't be a tool and sell all of your gear and delete your characters. If you do change your mind later on, you'll just kick yourself for it, and really what does doing that accomplish? The only possible reason I would even come CLOSE to accepting for deleting your characters is if you're leaving the game in an attempt to break yourself from WoW addiction. But if you don't have the willpower to stay away after making a conscious decision to, perhaps you need to see a professional.


Karellen said...

These aren't just good for WoW, this is good advice for life. With minimal alterations you can use techniques like this to deal with any stress, not just WoW stress. I've totally been there, too- being a guild leader and getting super stressed out about drama/raiding/whatever. And then you realize that THIS IS A GAME I PLAY FOR FUN, which almost makes the WoW stress feel worse than work stress or social stress, because while work and social stress are unavoidable WoW is something you *choose* to do.

Nothing clears my mind and puts things in perspective better than a round of disc golf. Going out into the woods and trying to throw a frisbee at a metal basket is, I don't know, it's almost meditative. You get to just leave everything behind for a few hours, enjoy the sunshine and isolation, and just focus on getting your disc to go where you want it to go. I always come back from a round feeling way better than I did going in.

Anonymous said...

If you are so frustrated that you quite the game completely than you shouldn't have been playing to begin with.

Its like when a kid commits suicide after listening to a Judas Priest album. It's not the fault of the music. That kid obviously had deep-seeded issues that drove him to taking his own life and if anything, he chose that music to send himself off with.

In short, if you are a psycho, mega-uber-depressed or in any way unstable, stay away from WoW.

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