Retrospective

If there’s one thing I would not have predicted, so many moons ago, it’s that raiding in GW2 would successfully kill my desire to blog.

Not in the usual “I hate raids” hermit-y grouch sense, mind you.

It was a combination of things:

  • Yes, there was the tension between the hypocrisy of continuing to raid…

(reasons: a) no Legendary armor alternative; b) the -need/craving- to see all content successfully completed; c) maintain network of -competent- players in one’s timezones for future content, outcasting = no more success, d) yeah, the challenge / puzzle inherent in difficult content is somewhat entertaining, even if the need for 9 other people’s schedules to coincide is not)

…while philosophically being opposed to the divide that raids create. (More on that later.)

  • There’s my chronic allergy to all things drama.

I had long ago resolved that I would never write in fine-grained detail about anything that happened (good or bad) in my raid group, or the people and personalities and politics and stories of any other raid group I heard about, for that matter.

The Oceanic/SEA community in any game is a pretty small one, and when you compress it down to people that want to raid, even -smaller-. The raid guild I’m in appears to have subsumed a fairly hefty majority of this population.

Hell, I would not be surprised to find a fair number of this group have experienced the same Age of Conan/Warhammer/Aion exodus as I, just spread across various guilds and organizations. Bottom line, this is a very tiny community. Hardcore players talk and know each other, stories can spread like wildfire.

Some people love gossip. That’s not wrong. I don’t. And I choose not to contribute to it.

This does, however, pose something of a challenge to writing when you’re consciously stifling a part of yourself and your experiences, editing before word is even laid out on the blank page, so to speak.

It may not have killed the idea muse, but it did steal some of the desire to even sit down and begin.

  • There was the lack of positive feelings about anything Guild Wars 2, or a desire to promote it by writing about it.

I don’t know if any of my readers were tired of it, but -I- was tiring -myself- with all the negativity and complaining.

So I tried the ol “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” routine, and what do you know… I ended up not saying anything at all.

Whoops?

You know, I don’t even think it’s the game at this point. I am sure many many people are discovering GW2 and playing it at different phases in their life and are having tons of fun.

-I- just seem to have boarded the down escalator to the burnout basement, and am just about treading water by raiding once or twice a week and then dropping the game like a hot potato before the burn hits the third-degree.

I was pondering why this was the case all throughout November and December, hoping to develop it into some kind of blog revelation. I did actually figure out -something- fairly revelatory, which is that…

  • The divide in GW2 has gone too deep. I can’t really relate to the current community. I don’t feel like a part of it anymore. This causes disassociation, from almost everything GW2.

In nearly every Reddit thread about GW2 lately, there is this constant conflict of “no, you’re wrong” sentiment from people in different camps.

I’m sick of it.

I don’t even care what the two camps support or hate any more. I just wish they’d stop sniping at each other all the damn time.

Except, of course, they won’t.

So the only way I’m not going to see any of their crap is to stop reading and stop participating in the community.

Hey, it works for me. It works for the argumentative guys. Maybe it doesn’t work for the devs, or maybe it does, but you know what, it’s none of my damn business.

So I’ve mostly stopped commenting on the GW2 Reddit, besides the odd craving to dispense sage advice to newbie questions or upvote-whoring sarcasm/jokes from time to time. I spread out and lurk in other friendlier Reddits and enjoy reading those posts instead.

On a less complaining but still worriedly alienating note, eavesdropping on much of my raid guild’s Telegram conversations (ie. a third party messaging app) also brought home some important thoughts to consider. Mostly, they ran along the lines of:

These are nice people, but these are not -my- people.

Let me explain. Age is a big factor. In the endless scrolling conversations of short pithy phrases, 90% of them Twitch memes or spamming of emojis (Telegram calls ’em Stickers, apparently), it is relentlessly brought home to me that I don’t get it, I don’t have the cultural context for this, we have moved from the age of the Millenials to Generation Z.

Being a cusper, I can usually get to grips with various generational tendencies without really 100% identifying with them, but you know, Gen Z has me beat. I have no idea what they’re saying half of the time. They’d rather use voice chat over the microphone than type anyway; reading is hard and text is for sticker spam.

That I can communicate enough to raid successfully with them is already a pretty hefty accomplishment, with a lot of generosity and goodwill extended across generation borders. (Hey, plenty of other groups will say, no mic=no join us, and so on.)

Then there’s time. Gen Z is in college. (Granted, half or more of my particular raid group is working, so we may be slightly older than average.) No, duh, why should we be surprised that the people with the most interest in raiding can spare (and spend) heaps of time in a game due to their real life circumstances?

I thought I played GW2 at a fairly hardcore level. The amount of time some of the people I eavesdrop on spend in-game boggles my mind. Not judging, mind you. I’ve had my heavy hardcore months in four years of GW2.

But lately, it’s just seeing other people do it that put a mirror in front of my eyes and the growing sentiment inside me is that I don’t want to spend -that- many hours in this particular game any longer, because I have other interesting priorities that would be shoved to the wayside if I did.

And there’s mindset. Challenge-seeking, continual improvement, competitiveness, optimal min-maxing, unsoweiter. Not everyone who raids is on one extreme – which is good, because otherwise I’d never get a spot.

There’s a spectrum. There’s people like me that espouse the above just long enough to break whatever necessary threshold there is to hit success before satisficing, and then there are the maximizers who never ever goddamn stop. (And those sprinkled in the middle, of course.)

Needless to say, satisficer and maximizer mindsets do not mix terribly well. I get where the maximizers are coming from, there’s a certain joy from doing what they do; it’s just that they do fail to understand now and again that others don’t share the same time or priorities as they – or perhaps they do, and they’re just willing to eliminate those others from consideration in their narrowing search to optimize further. Who knows. “Not my people”, so talk remains at a professional / acquaintance level.

For those reasons and more, November/December for me was spent in a sort of low-level gaming crisis of faith. I kept hoping for some kind of revelation to blog about, while experimenting in various directions.

Something did eventually come together, but strangely enough, I didn’t feel like I had the energy or motivation to blog about it until today, on New Year’s Eve.

It’s a combination of a few small-scale revelations, really:

  • Guild Wars 2 has become just another game among many. I don’t want it to be my life any more, aka not my “primary” game or MMO.
  • I may, in fact, give up “primary” game thoughts in order to visit more of my game backlog. Dunno. It may be just “play what I feel like” any given month and if something becomes primary that month, so be it.
  • I was getting really antsy about having too many tasks I wanted to do on my plate, and wishing that they were all magically done and complete without having to spend the time. An impatient pipe dream, yes. I needed to somehow resolve this so I could stop driving myself nuts.
  • Patient gaming is a thing. I ran into this concept idly trawling through Reddit – there’s a whole subreddit of patient gamers. They use the term mostly to describe those who lag months and years behind the wave of “new” before playing games. (Huh, I did that already. I did not know there were others like me. *subbed*)

What I’ve been doing this December is an odd foray into something beyond patient gaming – I would call it “slow gaming” except that phrase has been already snapped up by others to describe completely different things – slow-paced deliberate games, low-stakes idle interludes, a longer, sustained experience on an extended timescale.

It’s the last that comes the closest, the idea of extending the timescale of play.

You see, an inventory of tasks and projects suggested I had way too many priorities to keep in play at any one time.

I wanted to do stuff in GW2 like PvP more, learn/gear more classes for raids, collect legendary armor things, force myself to fractal, make legendary weapons, at the same time that I wanted to play Breach League in Path of Exile to death, continue with Terraria’s expert mode, re-visit Minecraft, dabble with other Steam games, not to mention catch up on some nostalgic gamebooks – digital and analog, think about solo playing some tabletop RPGs, catch up on digital magazines, read new books, explore interactive fiction, make my way through courses on Udemy and Coursera like programming and pixel art, exercise more, maybe with the help of Pokemon Go, prepare healthy lunches for work, find a new pottery teacher…

… clean house before the coming year’s super-early Chinese New Year.

Oh, and blog more.

Yeah, right. So going to happen.

I’m not a specialist. I don’t do deep-diving or seek mastery at one thing for 10,000 hours until I become an expert. Razor focus on one thing is not me.

Being a generalist, though, risks overwhelm. So here I am, idly flipping through one of Barbara Sher’s positive pep talk book for generalists with many interests, whom she calls “scanners,” looking for inspiration and advice. Then it hits me.

It’s not anything in the book per se, though there’s a lot of encouragement and cool tips and tricks that might work for some people or at different points in our lives. She suggests that certain scanners might be happy exploring different interests every month, or perhaps spending two years on one thing before going on to another.

The timeframe is too long, I think, and I have -so many things I want/need to do.-

But what if I bring it down to a week, and in that week, I don’t focus on one thing, but say, three things?

Three top priorities, in other words, and because it’s just a week, I can quickly elevate something else to be top priority the next week. The system supports fast iteration.

I can drop GW2 without too much guilt one week (beyond the bare minimum) and spend the time on other constructive pursuits; then the next week, I could PvP or catch up on Wintersday festivities without too much guilt that other things are not getting done.

Experiments in December have not been without its ups and downs (there was deliberate procrastination on one priority for at least two weeks, in part due to being plain exhausted from real life.) It’s a work in progress.

It does seem like something that might suit my particular patterns of cyclic interest fairly well, and more successfully, it has diminished the frequency of relentless restless “I wish it were all done, now” impatient thinking.

We’ll see how it goes for 2017.

In other news, I have run ManicTime (as introduced by Endgame Viable) for over a full year now.

jan-mar2016

  • Red – Guild Wars 2
  • Grey – Minecraft
  • Light Brown – Path of Exile
  • Black – Shadow of Mordor
  • Yellow – Stardew Valley

apr-jun2016

  • Dark Red-Brown – Total War: Warhammer

jul-sep2016

oct-dec2016

  • Green – Terraria

I chopped the looong graph up lazily, so there’s no more axis on three of the charts, but meh, it’s an amusing look at the games I spent the most time on this year.

There were plenty of less than 10 hour dabbling with other games, but I didn’t feel like mentioning those this post.

Big trends for me that I’ve noticed is that GW2 time stayed relatively constant across the year until it took a big hit in Nov-Dec during my little gaming crisis of the faith.

Total gaming hours also got whacked significantly in December (Nov was like a little practice run where I transferred my obsessive attention to Terraria before cutting back.)

Path of Exile is always something I can rely on to spread focus as well, played in spurts throughout the year.

Man, I want to play more Minecraft and Terraria. Maybe next year. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Retrospective

  1. bhagpuss says:

    Well it’s good to see you posting again and Happy New Year!

    I always feel at risk of sounding either unempathic (is that a word?) or even critical if I comment on posts like this. Reading a number of blogs over the years has made it very plain to me that there are quite a few people playing MMOs (and games in general) who find the whole process considerably more fraught than I ever have. It’s oversimplifying to say that I just play what I feel like when I feel like and that I stop when I don’t feel like it any more, but it’s not oversimplifying by much, not at all.

    I struggle to recall a time when I ever felt “guilt” over not playing a game – or over not reading a book or not watching a movie or tv show or over not consuming any form of entertainment. I barely feel guilt over not doing essential chores let alone over things that I don’t even need to be doing in the first place!

    That’s my innate, “natural” position, derived no doubt from my upbringing and the culture I grew up in but In a philosophical or metaphysical sense I would also say that no human being that ever lived will make more of a dent in the infinite store of what “could” be done than I could make in Mount Everest with a pin. In fact infinitely less because of, y’know, infinity. Therefore there’s literally no purpose or reason to become concerned over not doing anything on the basis that anything needs to be done because nothing does, ever. We’ll caveat that with “for purposes of entertainment, amusement and enlightenment” I think, to save slipping off the nihilist cliff Mrs Bhagpuss often tells me I’m gleefully abseiling down.

    Anyway, whatever works for you so long as it means more blog posts has to be good – for your readers, anyway! Have a great 2017!

  2. Sylow says:

    Yea. Good to have you back on blogging. 🙂

    Also, i dare to say that you seem to be where i was a few years ago. While i almost never felt guilt for not doing one or another thing in a game, i also was at the “want to achieve everything, want to achieve it soon” state. (On the “almost never”, yes i felt guilt when i gave up a game where i was forced into guild leadership as everybody wanted me to do the job, nobody else wanted to do it and i took it over. After a while i found that i couldn’t handle that stress and time Investment any more and quit guild leadership, so basically i let those down, who relied upon me. At that time i felt guilty, but now after a few years i also understand that by them basically force me into that position, it was them to blame, not me. )

    By now my usual agenda is that it’s a game and not a race. Mind you, i also still have my streaks, like over this Christmas vacations i spent way too much time in GW2 and finally brought my first character into basically (means, water weapons excluded) all ascended equipment and even also getting my warrior all ascended weapons. So yes, i played a lot the last two weeks. On the other hand, considering that i play since Launch (with breaks), i guess me now getting into ascended gear doesn’t exactly make me a fast achiever… 😀

    So from my point of view, you are making progress. Split your interests, diversify, take your time for many things. The game won’t run away, i am living evidence that even a rather slow and constant pace can get you quite far. The most important thing in games is that you enjoy whatever you do.

  3. […] becoming less and less of a home, beyond the obligatory raid night with friendly, understanding but not-my-generation people, and the lack of new and novel content is killing my interest slowly but […]

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