I found myself installing Warcraft III this weekend. Meaghan and I have been playing through the Wrath of the Lich King together for this past week and it made me feel nostalgiac for the lore on which the new game is based. I got through the purging of Stratholme last night and am already enjoying myself. However, it’s not just nostalgia for lore that has drawn me back to Warcarft III over WoW for a few hours. Our guild on WoW is going through some odd waves lately, and I’m finding that drama is creeping up much more often than I’d like. We’re still solid as a group and I think a lot of it is due to the fact that the new expansion came out. However, I can’t help feeling that in many ways we’re just trying too hard to control the direction of the guild right now and that is leading to a lot of tension. Meaghs and I just like to play for fun, but have found ourselves increasingly surrounded by situations that escalate into one or more parties being unhappy with another set of parties. There appear to be two major categories of unrest:
One is that some people feel the new expansion pack is being spoiled for them by others who are further advanced in the game sharing details about what they are discovering. While I understand that discovering things for yourself in games is half of the fun, I also recognize that a lot of the point of massive multiplayer online games is sharing the discoveries you make with others. I try to use judgement where I can with this but it seems that no matter what, someone is upset about some detail that is being shared. The end result for me is that I’m playing with my DnD (do not disturb) flag up and most of the chat channels turned off most of the time. This isn’t because I don’t want people sharing things about the game. I was in the beta after all and really don’t care that much about people sharing stuff. The game is so ultra massive that I’ll still be discovering new things in nine months time. Rather it is because the last few times I’ve logged on my play time has been soured by the fact that drama erupts between one or more people offended at others sharing details or not sharing or complaining about sharing. I don’t much care either way, but I try to respect the wishes of others where I can and decided simply to plug my ears up and say lalalalala (or rather put up my DnD flag and turn off the chat channels). I just want to wander around, get lost in a fantasy world and have fun.
The other main source of upset is whether people from the guild are helping each other out enough. This is a melting pot of drama. Most people are so focused upon leveling their characters that they aren’t wanting to take the usual detours through other content either as part of a fun run or to help out a lower level character with quests or dungeons that require multiple people. Having played my character up to 70 almost entirely solo, I can certainly understand the frustration of not being able to find a group. However, I don’t really have an answer for it either. I’ve found that many of the players I meet in online games like this are more than willing to go on runs or join groups that they can benefit from OR if they are bored and can completely overpower a place to show off how high level they are. This isn’t a new problem. However, the noise around “nobody helps anyone anymore” is just causing even more drama to surface.
The result of it all is that if the game isn’t an enjoyable experience then people either leave the guild or leave the game. I’m hoping to do neither but I recognize when drama is leeching fun and even if I’m not directly involved, watching friends of mine duke things out across a shared chat channel just isn’t pleasant. Massively multiplayer online games derive a large part of their fun from the social aspect. However, it unfortunately means that all of the drama and unrest pleasant in large social situations comes along for the ride as well.
I’m considering stepping down as an officer of Relentless. It’s something I’m weighing up very carefully and not something I want to do lightly. However, I’m finding that I’m increasingly unavailable in the fashion that I would like to be in that role. Furthermore, I’m under a lot of pressure at my job right now and need for Warcraft to take second place for a while. I just don’t have the energy to duke out matters of state online in a game that I play with Meaghan for fun and relaxation. I’ve put a truckload of energy into Relentless over the last few months and feel confident that they are a solid group of people who have a lot of fun playing together. However, I’m finding that involvement is taking away from my enjoyment of playing the game.
I’m not sure what to do yet and I’m continuing for now to just think things over and see if the situation stabilizes. I’m having fun playing the new expansion but I’m finding that all of the politics currently present are taking away from that fun, which isn’t what any of us should be feeling. Hopefully the situation will calm down enough before Christmas for us to all just enjoy ourselves, relax, and remember that this is just a game after all.
Wow, if that didn’t come out like me just thinking out loud, then I don’t know what would!