The Power of the Mind

This has been ticking at the back of my mind ever since The Grumpy Elf said something about approach a few weeks ago. He said that the players that just didn’t care, the Donald’s of the world if you will, actually had a lot more fun, than those that try their best.

I haven’t been playing much Warcraft lately. I’ve still been turning up to raid night, I’ve done a bit of the new holiday, I’ve tended my farm and done my research occasionally. However, I haven’t really been playing it. This will be the second week in a row that I haven’t valor capped. I haven’t gone and farmed for a Primal Egg lately, I haven’t done any mount farming lately despite only needing 4 more to hit 200. There’s things to do in game and I just haven’t been doing them. Why?

The lure
My last few games posts have been about Marvel Heroes. I’ve also pulled Swtor out of mothballs, and levelled my Jedi Knight another 10 levels. I’m still avoiding my Bounty Hunter as I’ve quite frankly forgotten how to play it. I downloaded Star Trek Online and promptly deleted it due to it, in my opinion, being absolutely terrible. I’ve been playing other games but Warcraft.

So why have I been playing Marvel Heroes? It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Marvel IP. I’m a bad fan in as much as I’m a fan of the movies, I don’t think I’ve even seen a comic, they aren’t very big in Britain, no comic book stores like in the US. However, I am a fan, The Avengers is one of my favourite movies, if not my favourite. So playing inside my favourite movie is a nice bit of escapism. I’ve been critical about the gameplay but it’s not that bad, it is what it is and the responses from the devs give me hope that improvements are on the horizon. It’s a game worth watching, and still one worth spending a few hours in even now.

Why have I been playing Swtor? I gave up this game a few short months after I started playing it. Next to Warcraft it just couldn’t measure up and I couldn’t justify a sub for something I rarely played. I tried it out right after it went f2p and some of the restrictions annoyed me enough that I haven’t touched it since – until recently. It’s been a nice change of pace, the voice acted quests which can take annoyingly long are once more amusing. Playing a new character rather than my forgotten Bounty Hunter has made it fresh rather than frustrating. Plus it’s the Star Wars universe, who doesn’t like waving a lightsaber about?

However, the individual draws of each game isn’t what has made me play them. It’s what has made me choose them over any other game on the market. It is not why I’m choosing now to play them instead of Warcraft.

What you give is what you get
Warcraft is my main game. It was the first game that I played really, and for a long time it was the only game I ever played. I never wanted to play anything else. It was where my gaming friends were, and there was always so much to do in game. In joining, and now subsequently leading, a raid team, I turned a casual hobby into something more serious. I cared about my performance, about my characters gear, about all the preparations that have to be done in order to do my best. I joined a team and I never wanted to let them down by not doing my best.

That is the lure that Marvel Heroes and Swtor both have over me now. It’s not just the lure of their respective cool IP’s, it’s the lure of something casual, of just being able to play the game and have fun. Everytime I log into Warcraft I’m aware of what I should be doing. I should be capping my valor, I should be researching my professions, I should be running for legendary mats, I should be working on x or y achievement (that’s supposed to be the ‘fun’ should), I should be dealing with guild matters, I should be trying to fix the ever increasingly broken raid team, I should be gearing my alts, I should be levelling alts, I should be doing so many different things. It’s overwhelming, it’s such a long list and some of it feels like a heavy weight of responsibility.

I read the forums for Marvel Heroes sometimes. Some of what people are complaining about I agree with, there is a lot that isn’t right about the game, there’s a lot that I quietly grumble about too. I don’t read Swtor’s forums but I grumble to myself there as well. The thing is though I don’t care about the faults the same way as I don’t see them as impediments. People are complaining about Marvel Heroes about getting to level cap, about the gear drops being worse at level 40 than at level 30. I don’t care about that as I’m not trying to get to level cap, I am not chasing gear, I am not chasing completion, I am not chasing anything. I choose to play the game for the act of playing the game, not for some mythical reward or end goal, just for the activity of the journey.

That is what I mean by power of the mind. Through my thinking about certain games my perception of them changes. I don’t take Marvel Heroes or Swtor seriously so the way I play them is completely different, the way I perceive their faults is completely different. I choose to not worry about these games, to not even think on endgame or anything else because it just does not matter. In Warcraft it does matter, so I do worry and I have to say that over time it has affected my enjoyment. I don’t login to Warcraft anymore without some feeling of trepidation about “what might go wrong now” or “what I’ll be expected to do”, I don’t login to just play and have fun, I always have an agenda, a list I’m working on, a goal in mind, something that I have to do.

I have never been very good at dealing with things that I ‘have’ to do. When I was a child I quite liked playing an instrument, wasn’t much good but that didn’t matter, it was something that I just liked messing about with. The second I started lessons I didn’t want to practice anymore, I barely picked up the instrument and I haven’t touched it since. Perhaps I have a problem with authority and just don’t like being told what to do. Regardless the point stands, it’s easier to have fun if you are just having fun, rather than doing what you should be doing.

I comment on The Grumpy Elf’s blog a fair bit and he moans about LFR (a subject which I am in full agreement on) and I told him, “if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it”. I stopped running LFR a long time ago as it just wasn’t worth making myself that miserable over. Now I’m not going to stop playing Warcraft, despite everything I still love the game, and I’d never walk away from my friends or from my team. However, I think that I need to do something to make it fun again. I’m not sure what but I need to somehow throw off some of the shackles that I’ve put on myself, the “I should do” and just find out what I would like to do.

I can’t change my perception of Warcraft as I can’t take it less seriously, I need to do my best as you do when you play with others. I solo play in Marvel Heroes and Swtor and it is a lot less stressful. I guess the point of this post is to say how much I agree with that Dark Legacy sketch, that really resonated with me. Sometimes it’s not the actual game that is at fault, it’s how we are approaching it. Think about it, are you doing x in game because you should, or because you want to? Power of the mind, power of perception, approach is everything.