GW2: Resolving Cognitive Dissonance (Gee, thanks, raids.)

The advantage of it not being Blaugust is that I have some thinking time in between posts.

The disadvantage is, of course, being too lazy to actually sit down and post anything.

I’d like to thank everyone who weighed in on my previous post, as hearing multiple viewpoints really helped to nudge me over to a place of slightly more clarity than sitting around utterly blocked by cognitive dissonance.

One of the conclusions I came to was that I should try to avoid worrying so much about what other people thought or were feeling, in more ways than one.

Whether they like GW2 or no; whether they like HoT or no; whether they like raids or no, everyone will have a different opinion on this and it is up to them to react however they want and I should basically stop taking it so much to heart – which is a little tricky when you care about a game and would like everyone to share and enjoy it and delight in other people liking it too.

(In the last year or so, I’ve gotten way better at not freaking out and leaving a comment for people who say they don’t like GW2, even if they’ve obviously missed something in their first post about it. Ironically, it seems they come back to it months or years later and -then- suddenly grok the point that they had blinders on to a while back. Whatever. It’s not my business, right?)

In the same way, I’m working on trying not to grit my teeth when someone goes on and on about how they’d love for X content to be -harder- or more challenging than thou. Or vice versa, when someone puts up a big whine thread about how they got utterly destroyed by Y and plz nerf because they appear to be incapable of adapting to whatever Y was.

Whatever. They’re both entitled to that opinion. I’m entitled to give my own opinion on how I felt about it, but less so about trying to shout them down or somehow ‘convert’ them to my point of view. (Which is a pretty difficult perspective to hold on to when someone else who has no qualms about the latter tries to indulge in it,  but yeah, probably best for everybody’s blood pressure to attempt to ignore it.)

As for GW2’s introduction of raids, it seems like for every person that feels like raids pose an insurmountable obstacle and feel encouraged to quit, there’s another person who looks upon the raid as a barely achievable goal that can be held in view and thus encouraged to strive on, even before we come to the nitty gritty of who is actually capable of crossing whatever threshold or bar the raids are going to set.

The only way to tell whose opinion makes more sense, in terms of GW2’s continuing success and profit, is by actually somehow measuring the numbers that feel like the former versus the numbers that espouse the latter viewpoint.

Since the only people that actually have a metric like that is Anet, I may as well just leave them to monitor it (just like SAB) and mind my own bloody business.

Which brings my worrying down to just -me- alone, a cognitive puzzle that’s already problematic enough to deal with.

In my comments with Aywren, I realized that I was having some considerable difficulty resolving my raid reaction issues because multiple values were busy having a mad hatter conflict tea party in my brain.

Value 1: Positive, social experiences

It is important to me to play a game that does not celebrate competition and vertical progression over cooperation and horizontal progression. (This is why I avoid games like WoW or Wildstar or Rift or pretty much every other standard MMO out there on the market.)

Why?

Because it’s important to me to have positive, social experiences in a game and feel good about my gameplay time, rather than feel bad about any negative behavior (drama, toxicity, griefing, exclusion, etc.) that I encounter. (If the game doesn’t make me feel happy when I play it, why am I wasting precious leisure time on it?)

Value 2: Keep on playing GW2

It is important to me to keep playing GW2.

Why?

Because I really enjoy the lore and story of GW2 and want to see what’s going to happen next, because I love the art style and the non-holy trinity action combat and because there’s really nothing better that suits me on the market at the moment, long-term MMO-wise.

Value 3: Complete all content

It is important to me to keep trying to experience all the content when playing a game that I have chosen to devote long-term to. It is important to me to advance as far as humanly possible in a game, so that I can feel skillful and competent.

Why?

No real clue. It’s just how my brain is wired, I guess, for completist, collectionist, achiever type tendencies. Though to be honest, I think the primary motivator is Exploration – in the sense that I feel like I’ve got to see -everything- the game has to offer, and then the secondary Achiever comes around and tidies up, joins the dots because the dots are there, when the Explorer is sated and/or bored.

So therein lies the rub, the belief that if I prioritize value 2 and 3, chances are likely that value 1 is going to, at best, occasionally, and at worst, often, get shot in the foot and dragged around in the dirt.

Over-prioritizing values 2 and 3 lead to a sort of grim obsession when I keep on doing something of which I’m no longer deriving any enjoyment out of, and yet remain clueless for a long time that I’m not actually happy. Been there, done that, been burned quite a few times. So I’m kinda more wary about the situation occurring, and yet still equally clueless when it comes to actually identifying when I’m in the hole.

Neither do I find myself able to just drop one value completely, at this current point in time. (Others probably can, which makes their lives a whole lot easier.)

According to a random website I googled up, there are a couple of ways to resolve cognitive dissonance. (Other websites mostly suggest changing behavior or changing beliefs/attitudes as the two general big categories.)

1a) Minimize/Avoid – The “Who Cares” Approach

1b) Rationalization

1c) Acceptance

I’m pretty much using approach 1a for the cognitive dissonance involving other people part. I’m not really interested in rationalizing anything for other people, and I don’t think I’m Zen enough to manage dealing with the tension generated by realizing that person A can suck horribly at the same mob encounter that person B is calling a cakewalk and demanding something even tougher (yes, I know it happens all the time, no, I’m not sure that I would want to group with either person A or B, because they’re at a completely different skill level from me and somebody is liable to let the other person down at some point.)

Nope, not dealing with it.

When it comes to myself though, I’m hoping to find something a little more constructive than keeping the inconsistent values causing cognitive dissonance in place and having it jangle around my head every so often.

2a) Change the beliefs or actions

2b) Integration

I’m still working on a unified theory of everything here, so no neat answers just yet.

One belief I can modify, of course, is the somewhat fatalistic view that raids and any sort of group content that allows people to exclude others will automatically cause and inspire negative behavior.

(It probably still will, for the huge subset of somewhat brainless people who feel free to kick anyone that don’t fit their strict definitions for how an encounter should be solved, while not being able to adapt to new situations. Ok, no one said changing a belief was easy.)

But with some effort, it’s probably possible to find guilds who still believe in positive, social experiences, even while raiding, even if timezone issues and scheduling will be a massive bitch.

And given the complete spectrum of PUGs, it is probably still potentially possible to find PUGs that don’t indulge in the kind of behavior I deplore.

I’ll probably have to keep rough records of positive encounters, neutral ones and negative ones to work on changing this belief, I suppose.

(As for what other people are encountering, at any given point in time, I will leave that for someone else – like maybe the people paid to worry about their overall game community – to determine if there’s a problem and figure out solutions if necessary.)

The other thing that I’ve been idly considering is how exactly to modify my own part in creating positive, social experiences. After all, while I’m not outright spewing toxic crap on mapchat or kicking people from groups, I’m not exactly contributing much positivity either.

One possibility that idly occurred to me was to go around roleplaying a snarky, if friendly-ish, asura in my group content and/or start more PUG groups on the LFG more often. For whatever reason, when I’m on the charr, I tend to be a not very chatty strong-and-silent type. It’s just easier to wisecrack on an asura somehow.

Two little obstacles stand in the way of the good intentions. One is time. It’s just easier to be friendly when one actually has time to spare, which is not that available these days. (The perennial problem of having too little time when one has money, aka employed, and having zero money but plenty of time when one isn’t.)

And the second is gear and inventory issues. All my Agony Resistance is on one character at the moment and that’s a charr warrior. While it is perfectly possible to transfer account-bound Ascended gear onto the asura warrior, the logistics involved (both inventories have to be tidy, and there needs to be enough room in the bank) make me cringe and more liable to hit “join” on an already formed group and silently and smoothly get the objective done – to hell with positive, social experiences, I’ll settle for not-negative and efficient.

We’ll see.

I’m rezzing a bit more often, anyway. Maybe 50% of the time.

Value 2 is a given at the moment. I’m just not ready to give GW2 up yet. Ask me again a year later and maybe I’ll give a different answer. But for now, not ready.

Then I can also keep on going with the modified version of value 3 that I’ve pretty much been applying since I burned out from MUDs, which is at least -try- to experience all content and evaluate if the necessary effort is worth it on a case-by-case basis.

Whether GW2 raids fall into that category is going to be mostly up to fate, I suspect. The big problem is cat-herding logistics and timezones.

The good news is that raid rewards have a weekly lock-out, so it -may- be conceivable to find an NA raid that does stuff over the Fri/Sat overlap that is Oceanic Sat/Sun, IF one can’t find a suitable group in one’s timezone.

As much as I’d actually -like- to be in a daily group that does the experimental figuring out bit (because that’s personally the most fun to me, being able to adapt builds and try new strats, as opposed to just running it painlessly for the reward), well, *sighs*, let’s leave that bit to fate.

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2 thoughts on “GW2: Resolving Cognitive Dissonance (Gee, thanks, raids.)

  1. wolfyseyes says:

    The issue with opinions is that most people can’t line them out without making them sound like fact. It also doesn’t help that people who have a negative opinion of the game tend to direct that upon the players instead of the game itself, which lets the whole thing devolve in to a crapstorm.

    Of course, I say that with clarity because I have a clear mind and am not under any sort of personal static right now. When it happens again–and it will–it’s a bit harder to take those lessons to heart sometimes.

    But that’s okay too. Because we’re all human, yo. As long as one can step back and re-center. ❤

  2. […] hey, look, it’s that cognitive dissonance thing Jeromai was talking about. I want to be maximally effective and prepared – no, I must […]

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