GW2: The Psychology of Self-Motivation

The more I keep thinking about it, over the course of one work day, the more I think that Anet quite possibly got it right (or at least, more things right than wrong) with this latest patch.

To make sense of this, a little homework is necessary with this TedX talk on self-motivation.

In it, Geller talks about the factors that contribute to feeling empowered and motivated – competency, consequences, choices and community.

We can see that the feeling of competency took a hit with the original HoT difficulty levels, adding up to feelings of apathy and learned helplessness across a fairly wide swathe of the population, who walked straight into HoT zones or raids and got pasted on the ground.

The new patch adjusts quite a lot of this across the board, from making Adventures and waypoints slightly more friendly and accessible, reviving renewed interests in dungeons (which can serve as a stepping stone and training ground of difficulty) and coming up with a fairly creative solution to dps meters by adding an in-game one in conjunction with test dummies in a private instance off a raid lobby. 

(Given the growing need for one, this seems a fairly good compromise that tries to avoid as much potential toxicity as possible. One can use it in private as a personal yardstick for improvement; static raid groups can use it to train their members – that is, it’s consensual if you step into said instance with other people with the intent to measure dps, and way better than a random PUG just spamming Recount numbers out of nowhere. 

Speaking of which, it’s also inconvenient enough that it’ll be a -really- motivated PUG who would hound someone into displaying their dps (by the time they test everybody’s stuff, they’d probably have been better off just using the oodles of Legendary Insights “elitist” shortcut.))

Anet has also spread a very lavish hand where -positive- consequences are concerned, aka the “Is it worth it?” part of the self-motivational question.

In many cases, yes, it’s certainly much more worth it than before. Which has quite the inspirational effect on many people.

The part that’s been sneakily growing on me the most is the -choices- part of the equation.

With a broad sweep of the patch brush, many aspects of the game feel either more -doable- (aka competency) or more -worth-doing (aka consequences).

This leads to a sudden surplus of choices for what one might want to do in a game session.

With choice, comes more of a feeling of autonomy and control. 

Suddenly, I’m playing a dungeon or raiding because I want to be, rather than because there ain’t enough critical mass for a HoT zone meta or there’s no point trying to do an Adventure that is impossible to get to and has ridiculous NA-calibrated target times anyway or because there’s no new content or story available -except- inside a stupid raid instance. (Ok, the last is still a little hopeful, presumably Anet is finally revving up for actual new content now.)

Lastly, community. As much as I’m fairly disconnected at the moment, I see quite a lot of opportunities for community to occur in this latest patch (though I’m not sure how much was intended by design or just a happy coincidence.)

Introducing daily jumping puzzles or mini-dungeons is BIG. This is so totally what the GW2 community needed, the opportunity for small groups of randoms to encounter each other in a small area, help and be helped.

The raid lobby is a clever way to group the niche community of raiders together in one place. I presume it’s going to be similar to the PvP lobby, or a more compact Lion’s Arch pre-megaserver. It’s likely raiders will keep seeing similar names hanging out there, and that familiarity is what builds solidarity and community (which is motivational to many.)

Reviving dungeon interest is yet another source for strangers or guildies to encounter each other and potentially bond. Especially if some are motivated by the thought of building some kind of static arrangement to speedrun their 8 dungeons.

The impending attention to WvW is another potential spot for community building as well.

I’m not sure just how much effect all the above will have on me, presently existing in a sort of externalized MMO geological time scale. 

The latest self-inspirational idea to hit me is the possibility of reviving solo fractal or dungeon attempts. I avoided five man group content for a really long time, but a few days ago, I attempted some low-AR daily fractals with my raid necro and it was both doable (with a few repeated tribulation-style deaths here and there) and satisfying.

Of couse, any damn fractal with a mechanic that requires more than one person (dredge pressure plates, Old Tom in uncategorized) is an impossible problem… Or is it? Apparently playing two accounts at the same time is not verboten, as long as one keypress does not control multiple things at once. 

The idle thought arose of having a client open in each screen, and quick swapping windows to position supporting secondary characters, whose main purpose would be perform the necessary mechanic and not die, during the crucial time, while I mainly soloed the fight on the primary character.

So far, laziness and lack of time to experiment stands in the way. I’d need to figure out how to bypass the restriction on having multiple clients open (there are programs for that, but I’m not the trusting sort and would rather kill processes by hand.) I’d need to ressurect my second account and actually level up and gear a character. I might need a third free-to-play account if two characters aren’t enough for the mechanics…

… But it is a tempting thought nonetheless. 

Or I could work on finishing one collection or another.

Or I could work on a second map complete so I can build a third Legendary someday.

Or Fractals. Or dungeons. Or HoT zone metas. Or HoT zone solo exploration and adventures. Or WvW.

Or I could just not get so attached to the idea of various GW2 goals and work on other real life ones instead, which are also pressing for attention lately. (I haven’t caught up with half a year’s worth of hobby magazines, for example, and I’ve been buying a bunch of sci-fi books and anthologies off Humble Bundle with the intent to actually get around to reading them.)

They all sound like good ideas. Bottom line, I don’t feel like I’m in any particular hurry. Just gonna continue on in geologic time and squeeze in a bit of progress here and there.

6 thoughts on “GW2: The Psychology of Self-Motivation

  1. The WvW changes have been received very positively by what seems like most people who were already playing WvW. There’s a lot of “these are changes we told you were needed three years ago and/or in HoT beta” but the sentiment seems to be more “better late than never” than “too little, too late” for once.

    As with the huge nerf to almost all expansion content (and it really is a much bigger set of nerfs than you’re suggesting, I would say) this is an absolutely unprecedented climb-down. It’s tantamount to admitting the entire last year and more of development and the whole direction and approach taken in the expansion were very wrong indeed. I don’t think there can be the slightest doubt now that Colin’s sudden and unexpected departure was a direct consequence of the complete failure of his approach (not just the disastrous expansion and the almost-complete destruction of WvW but also the flailing around for direction almost for the whole post-launch period).

    I’m really looking forward to the next expansion now. If they have learned the lessons the hard way, as it appears they may have done, it could be much closer to what the original game promised and which, I would suggest, many of us thought had been lost for good.


    1. If they have some killer deal on Hot (like $10) I will try it just to give gliding a shot. Otherwise, will just enjoy reading posts such yours to gauge GW2’s current status. Still frustrated (Thanks Colin?) Anet didn’t stick with the story-as-mission playstyle of GW1. Personal stories and raids and fractals just fragment the player base too much. They shouldnt have tried to be everything to everyone.

      I’ve been waiting for your opinion post on these changes Bhagpuss.


      1. Work week means its either play them or post about them so it will have to wait til the weekend. By then it may seem too much like old news though…

        Sorry for the thread hijack, Jeromai!


        1. Given the glacial speed of patches with changes lately, we’ll have until mid-June to post about them as “new” news!

          (No problem, hijack away.)


  2. I might boost another staff Elementalist to 80 and hang out in WvW for those reward tracks. Extrinsic motivation!


  3. It works for me enough to make me log in for the first time in months which has more to do with the change in direction the patch represents and the future direction the game as a whole is heading in, more so than the individual, all be it sweeping changes, they have made in this patch.

    More than anything the patch represents a statement of intent.

    My main issue was always the allocation of the most precious resource a gamer has, time. As such I was’nt prepared to waste this resource on a game that was so clearly going in a direction I was not into or enjoying. Obviously that has now changed and the game is slowly but surely returning to what I always thought it was going to be.

    If this stays on course I’ll happily give up my resources to jump on in.


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