Posted tagged ‘gaming’

It’s a Cata Party!

December 7, 2010

I was going to take a nap before the expansion goes live at 4:30 am (there are advantages to living in a weird timezone!), but I’m too excited to sleep.

My original plan was just to download the digital version and have an easy night. But then I discovered that a bunch of my classmates were getting together for a midnight release party. Oooooh yeah!

It was so much fun! Us Newfoundland gamers don’t have many opportunities to get together. Plus, our “island in the middle of the Atlantic” status makes it difficult to attend conventions or other large scale gaming events. So it felt like a mini Blizzcon in the mall, with about 150-200 of us chilling on the floor, listening to each others’ epic kills, guild drama and pet collecting habits.

I don’t think EB Games was quite expecting such a huge crowd. After all, it was the smallest store out of the 4 in the area that were having midnight releases (I actually had no idea WoW was so popular here, St. John’s is a very small city and way more artsy than geeky). But I suppose the fact that we were in the mall (Newfoundland this time of year is snowy/rainy/coldy and waiting outside is near impossible) added to the fact that we don’t get the chance to congregate often convinced us all to step out into the night. Even though I was 30ish or so in line and near the front, I still didn’t get my copy until well after 1 am.

But it was worth it, so totally worth it. I love hanging out with other WoW fans, strangers or no. And there’s nothing like bonding with classmates over tales of geekness.

I’m already looking forward to the next expansion!


Finding that Balance

October 1, 2010

I don’t talk about my health much beyond the occasional bitching and whining about how tired I am. Which is the entire reason I don’t talk about it much: there’s not a whole lot to add to the QQ. I’ve been more emo than usual on twitter and a few comments I’ve left on other blogs have been delightfully cringe worthy. I must say, you’ve all very kind in humoring me and I really appreciate it. Say what you will about WoW players, those of you I’ve had the honour of interacting with have almost always been far too nice to me.

Anyway, since I’m sore and tired and feel like chatting about it (Light help us all), I’ll talk a bit. I’ve had crappy health since I was 16. Before that I was super athletic (but I hated team sports, so I didn’t know I was athletic) and ran around and climbed walls all the time and stuff. Then, in early January, I woke up on the floor one morning after a party and noticed that whenever I moved my head, it felt like my legs were getting electrocuted. I could even hear the buzzing. Yep, I party that hard.

Actually it was just coincidence. After spending the rest of the year getting shipped from hospital to hospital and spending thousends of dollars on MRIs (I could have gotten them done for free, but the first neurologist I ended up with was a crazy bitch- I’m not exaggerating, even other doctors roll their eyes when they hear her name- who wouldn’t let me go through the public system so I had to go private), I ended up with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Unusual for a kid my age, but then again, I’ve never been one to abide to statistical rules. I’ll be that lady getting pregnant at 70.

Before you all go “oooo poor you“, I want to point out that the extreme shyness that has plagued me my entire life has cost me more friendships, more scholarships and more opportunities, caused more arguments and has made me miss more social events and classes at school than my physical limitations ever have.

Everyone feels for the girl who has trouble walking for a few months here and there. The shy girl, however, has many memories of being forgotten at random locations during school trips as a child. If I have a desperate fear of being left out or being left behind somewhere, it’s because it happened way, like way, too often. I’m sure that many of you reading this have had similar experiences. Us shy and/or introverted people tend to slide under the radar of even the most attentive individuals.

And before you all go “oooo poor you” this time, I want to point out that I actually live a pretty good life. School is a struggle and I hate it (I like what I’m studying, it’s the concept of classrooms and stuff that doesn’t work for me) but somehow I survived and after 10 years of college, I’m finally graduating this May, on condition that this constant feeling of tiredness doesn’t make me miss too much class. I’ve had fantastic jobs. I travel all the time, going to wherever my whims take me. When my body cooperates, I’m still fairly active, I walk at least an hour a day and I’ve done dancing, cheerleading, surfing, kayaking, rock climbing, canoe camping and the list goes on. As for being a quiet person, it’s taught me to listen and to be observant, two skills that have saved my arse countless times.

Escapism: A Friend or…?

Oh yes, this is a WoW blog, so I have to plug in WoW somewhere.

It’s no secret that escapism, and MMOs in particular, is used by many to cope with the limitations life has thrown at them.

Sometimes it’s a good thing. I’ve even had one of the therapists at school send me home with a prescription of emergency WoW time. (I must have looked pretty messy that day!) I’m no expert on the manner so don’t quote me on this, but rumor has it that gaming causes some dopamine (a brain chemical) release which triggers the brain’s reward pathways. An activated reward pathway is what you feel when you do something you’re proud of, when you have an orgasm, when you eat really good food or when you do drugs. That’s the main feeling behind psychological dependence, or addiction- the terms are more or less interchangeable. No, not all of these stroke the reward pathway as intensely as others. Obviously, it’s lot easier to become addicted to meth than it is to get addicted to spaghetti.

Anyway, I know firsthand that gaming can work as a painkiller (that’s actually what I do for that time of the month cramps when my prescription meds don’t work. WoW works better for me AND doesn’t put me at risk for stomach bleeds and kidney failure!) . For anyone, it’s a distraction from the tedium of every day life. For those who, for whatever reason, can’t leave the house as often as they’d like, MMOs serve as a gentle portal to the rest of the world.

But like anything, there’s got to be some sort of balance. While all of us here will swear on the Light that we’re not addicted, somewhere, out there, certain individuals lost that balance.

DENIAL is an acronym for Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying

When this fatigue wave first hit me, my thoughts immediately went to WoW. Am I playing too much? Is that why I’m exhausted?

I still don’t know for sure. I limit my gaming as much as possible to weekend evenings and raid times. I raid late at night: 10:30 pm to 1:30 am, but it’s only 3 nights a week and I nap 2 to 4 hours on most raid days. Yet, I usually (but not always) do feel better on the days after offnights. To which my reaction is OMG I COULDNT RAID ALL SUMMER I DONT WANT TO HAVE TO GIVE IT ALL UP AGAIN.

And what about the social?

There was an article in our school newspaper where the author spoke a bit about her internet addiction. Except she was addicted to news sites which is clearly more educational and socially acceptable than playing video games too much. Her criteria for addiction was “you’re late or no-showing to parties because of your online activity“. (Note, that has nothing to do with the real criteria for addiction/dependence)

Oh no! I thought in a panic. I no-show to parties more often than not! Then I consoled myself with the fact that I always show to parties held by people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. And when I do go to rare social-chore parties, I spend most of the evening hiding in the bathroom which is an embarrassing and relatively unpleasant experience, much, much less fun than playing video games.

I was feeling really relieved about that until I had my latest lecture (as in school lecture, not someone lecturing me) on addiction. The speaker, a former user in recovery, was explaining how, at the peak of her addiction, she didn’t care for a social life because the drugs did that for her. I asked my classmate if she thought that maybe WoW made me not like parties. She gave me a classic “how do you even come up with these things” looks.

A Caution about Judging Others

I don’t show many offline people my blog. And I go to great lengths to hide it from my mother. Not because I’m ashamed of my gaming, but because I love to stretch and abuse gamer stereotypes when talking about myself. Other WoW players recognize the exaggeration and distinct lack of seriousness. My mother, however, upon reading my blog, would panic and not sleep for about a week, then drag me by my ear to the nearest detox center.

I wouldn’t blame her for it: how I talk about the game just isn’t something that can be understood without some background.

But same goes for each other. Whenever a larger gaming site features an article about gamers who play a lot as a way to cope with mental or physical limitations, there’s always a debate between readers. Some say it’s great that MMOs can fill in the gaps caused by the player’s conditions, others say that such a huge amount of gaming would slow down or even prevent that person’s recovery.

Who’s right?

Either could be right, but there’s no way of knowing which. None of us know this person, none of us are this person and none of us have any idea of what they person is really experiencing. So none of us have any right to play doctor and pass judgment.

Yes, sometimes it’s a little hard. I’ll admit I once had a guildie I nicknamed Clara (from The Guild) because she played 20 hours a day and kept typing things like “my kids r so funny lol they thikn i no wat theyre saying wen they us babytak lol“. But still, not knowing her or what was going on behind the computer screen, it wasn’t right for me to make assumptions.

The Current Energy Budget

I wish I could pull off the 3 posts a week schedule I had last year. I wish I could play on the PTR and come back with armfuls of news. I wish I could play more hours outside of raid time. I was sure I’d be able to once I started school again because I finally have a lot of time to myself. Unfortunately, almost all of that time is spent asleep.

I’ve also picked up this annoying habit of being extremely long winded, so a single blog posts takes at least 4 hours to write. I have lots and lots and lots of post ideas, but I’m running low on ideas for posts that can be done in 1000 words or less. Yes, QQ moar.

Despite it all, though, I still want to blog and I still want to raid. I’m also determined to graduate this May no matter what. So I’m walking on that tightrope and I really hope that I keep my balance.

On Expanding Gaming Horizons

September 25, 2010

When I first moved out of my parents’ house, I was paranoid about spending money. I mean, I’ve always been a relatively frugal person (which is how, on my student loan income, I afford to randomly hop on planes as whims call), but I was really, really scared about spending back then. So to cook, I bought a single seasoning: one bottle of teriyaki sauce.

For just about every meal, for several months, I used nothing but that bottle of teriyaki sauce on everything. I ate teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, teriyaki seafood…also teriyaki rice, teriyaki eggs, teriyaki bread…you get the picture. I eventually polished off the whole bottle and I haven’t been able to eat anything teriyaki since.

And that, friends, is the story of my life. Gaming is no different. I buy a game, I play it, play it, play it, play it until I’m finished. I rarely play more than one game at time, all my free time and energy is channeled into a single obsession of the season. I play the fuck out of my games. Go through my gaming collection and you won’t find any fuck left in there, it’s all been played out.

Then along came WoW. I’ve been playing WoW for, what, four? Five years? I can’t remember. All I know is that I’ve never reached the end. I keep playing and playing and it keeps getting longer. As a result, I’ve been very cut off from the rest of the gaming world. Why play a new game when you can spend every night in Dire Maul grinding goblin rep for no other reason than grinding goblin rep? I mean, really!

Lately, listening to friends, listening to podcasts, just listening in general, has made me itchy to try something new. But there’s always the excuses of “not enough time, not enough money, need to do all this Old Azeroth stuff before Cataclysm comes out!”

Then Hurricane Igor stepped in and stole my internet for 2 days. (Also, the picture in that link was taken from the hospital where I go to school. As you can see, it was a very wet time)

It was rough…withdrawal…the goosebumps, the sweating, the shaking, the panic…

Just kidding.

Besides my guild getting All You Can Eat (25 Player) without me (they ALWAYS do things like that, meanies!), it was awesome. My room is the cleanest it’s been since I moved in, I did four loads of laundry and I was able to go to all my classes because, without WoW, I had gone to bed at a decent hour.

But was even more awesome was that it took away my excuse of “I NEED TO FINISH VANILLA WOW CONTENT RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW!” I had no internet so I had to dig through the games I had.

I sort of regretted not having set up Starcraft II for offline play. And not having downloaded those games my guildies recommended for me. And not having an emulator on hand to fire up Final Fantasy Tactics (which one reader will be happy to hear that I did discover among my games here).

The first game I popped into my CD drive was The Sims 2. I had wanted that game so badly when it first came out! Back in the day, I had played a lot of the original Sims. From what I read about the game, it had all the good stuff from the original and fixed all the annoying stuff . Unfortunately, it was going for more than I was willing to pay (that was the bottle of teriyaki era). Years later, I came across it in a second hand store in San Francisco for 10$. Yay! Only problem? The friend traveling with me also wanted the game. I think he ended up buying it, but I ended up bringing it home. Yet, because of WoW, I had never played.

What’s the verdict after installing and playing the Sims 2?

Eh. Was very disappointed. I didn’t like any of the pre-made stories. All my Sims wanted to do was flirt with each other. I have a rather large aversion for emotional dependencies so I was quickly disgusted. I tried designing my own neighborhood but got annoyed when I couldn’t make my houses look the way I wanted.

In frustration, I gave up and went back to my pile of games. I pulled out FFVII, an old favourite that I’d been dying to play again. Now, while I’m not very technical (I’m not sure what a motherboard is, only that it sometimes catches fire and that’s bad), I’m somewhat of a genius when it comes to making stuff work. Comes from being very clumsy and breaking a lot of things in my life. Try as I may, though, no combination of compatibility mode options would get the game running.

Saddened, I put FFVII away. The next game I found was Myst. A game I’d played a lot as a child, but, being a child, I didn’t understand it and didn’t get very far.

You can probably guess, though, that if FFVII didn’t want to be played on my computer, Myst, a way older game, just laughed at me.

I eventually settled on Beyond Atlantis. It’s from the same era as FFVII, but unlike FFVII, it actually works on modern computers. It’s another one of those games that I played extensively but was too young to beat. It’s no Myst, but it’s a fun puzzle adventure game and I do quite enjoy fun puzzle adventure games. I’m also proud to announce that I managed to beat one of the levels entirely on my own, without looking up a walk-through. It was frustrating- one thing WoW has killed for me is my ability to figure things out without reading a guide, but so worth it in the end.

I’m not quite finished the game yet, but I hope to finally beat it so I can move on to other, more recent forms of video game entertainment.

Somehow this rambling post reached 1000 words. This is why I don’t update often anymore. All these words come out of nowhere. Anyway, as of this morning my internet is back up and running. I haven’t played WoW yet, but despite my vows to play other games and finish Beyond Atlantis, I somehow expect myself to be back in Dire Maul at the next opportunity. It’s in my nature.

Just Because They’re Video Game Characters Doesn’t Mean They’re Not YOURS

July 30, 2010

I know this video is old news, but earlier this week, a discussion with Deyndor on Twitter about domestic violence reminded me of it. Ignore the really, um, silly, article containing the video. For those who didn’t watch the video (I’ll confess I didn’t have the heart to watch it either), it’s a girl deleting her boyfriend’s WoW characters. Anyone who enjoys dramatic threads in the customer service forum knows this kind of thing happens all the time and isn’t overly shocking.

What weirds me out is how the perception people have of this.

Oh, she must not have known how much characters can mean to a person.

It’s true, World of Warcraft can be very addicting.

It’s not a big deal, characters can be restored.

Maybe the story needs to be told in a different way:

This girl went uninvited into her boyfriend’s personal space and broke his stuff in an effort to control him.

Sure, it’s not as spectacular or as sickening as pushing a pregnant woman down the stairs, but it’s still a form of violence. It’s disrespecting your partner’s personal space, it’s trying to control someone and it’s putting yourself in a position of power over them. A romantic relationship isn’t a parent-child relationship. Neither person has authority to “confiscate” anything from the other.

Maybe the abuse in that video’s relationship will stay at the deleting WoW characters level, maybe it’ll escalate, who knows? I sure as heck wouldn’t stick around to find out.

Would I be upset if a boyfriend deleted my WoW characters?

I’d be devastated. Not over of the missing pixels on my screen (after all, those can be restored easily), but over losing the trust I had in that person. Over realizing that this person has no regard for me or my personal space. Over discovering that someone I cared about would want me to be distressed.

I’ve dumped boys over less. I’d rather curl up with the vibrator every night for the rest of my life than have to put up with that kind of bullshit. (Vibrators are much lower maintenance anyway.)

On Having a Partner that Plays Too Much

I’m not disregarding the frustration that comes from disagreeing on “how much is too much” when it comes to gaming. Even though I’m a gamer too, I’ve seen been in the “ITS NOT FAIR THAT I HAVE TO WORK MY ARSE OFF AND ALL YOU DO IS SIT AROUND AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES” camp many, many times. (I’m sure I’ve been in the opposite camp as well, but guys don’t complain about that stuff much.)

The thing is, when we’re not talking about video game addiction (I’ll get into that later), it’s up to both partners to find an acceptable solution. Trying to control the other person doesn’t work, or, at least, it doesn’t work in a very satisfying way.

There are plenty of ways to go about it. I had a guildie who was fine with raiding only one night a week. Another reserved Friday and Saturday evenings for elaborate date nights. Another had a wife who actually encouraged his gaming so she could get dibs on to the TV remote control. And Honorshammer once wrote a beautiful post about being a gamer in a healthy, happy relationship. (Even if the religious context doesn’t strike a chord with you, what he says is still applicable to non-Christians.)

Just like any other aspect of a relationship, communication is key. And if you can’t come to an agreement, you’re either not compatible, or one of you isn’t in the right state of mind for a serious relationship. You probably notice it other aspects of your relationship too (whether you admit it or not) and character deletion isn’t going to change that.

When Addiction Comes to Play

There are entire books written on gaming addiction, and I’m no addiction specialist, so this is going to be short and superficial.

Any type of addiction is a sad occurrence. It’s devastating for the addicted person and it’s devastating the friends and families losing the person they love. Unfortunately, though, it’s up to the addicted person to realize they’re out of control and to take the measures needed to rebuilt their lives. Sometimes it takes losing everything. Oh, from the outside we can let our friend know where they can find us when they’re better and be supportive and encouraging when they’ve decided to get a grip back on their lives. But ultimately, it’s their lives and they’re the ones who have what it takes stop the downward spiral. We can’t try to drag them back up, or cling to them as they pull us down with them.

Again, character deletion isn’t going to fix anything. Unless you’re in a position of authority (hint: in a relationship, you’re not), taking the object of addiction away from an addicted person accomplishes nothing but turning them against you. (And when you are in a position of authority, you still turn them against you.)

It’s Not About the Game

The bottom line is, invading a partner’s space, betraying their trust and trying to control them without their consent is wrong and not conducive to a happy relationship. True, video game characters don’t cost anything, aren’t essential to your day to day life and are easily restored. So what? They’re still your belongings and if having your stuff destroyed is your idea of a happy relationship, well… I got nothing.

On the flipside of the coin, as a gamer, if you’re not interested in investing yourself in a relationship and putting your partner’s needs first, then don’t. Society tries to drive into our heads that two-manning life ALL THE TIME is the only acceptable way to live, but that’s a load of crap. There’s nothing wrong with being single if you feel like being single. And there’s everything wrong with making commitments you’re not interested in keeping.