I made a comment on Twitter today that has surprised a fair few people, and I feel that this is probably the next place to go with my retrospectives.
Once upon a time, raiding really was everything for me. It would take pretty much all of a Sunday to complete, for rewards that were often pitiful at best. I’d like to lie at this point and try to state that the gear didn’t matter but that’s what it would be, untrue and frankly dishonest. At least half the reason I did this in the beginning were the personal rewards, especially when I wasn’t in charge. Then, something changed, and when I was the one picking and choosing teams? The gear stopped being the reward. Then there was a fairly glorious period where it was all about progress and hoping other people turned up and worked as hard as you could. Sometimes they did, often they didn’t, but when everyone brought an A Game, beating bosses was glorious and mattered far more than the rewards would ever manage.
However, after a while, even this wasn’t enough.
When you ask people what matters in game, many will tell you that completion is everything. They’re lying to you, at least in part. The rewards have significance, or you wouldn’t get so much grief about them and arguments when they don’t drop or disagreements when players don’t get the ones they want or need. All of it is wrapped around the notion that once you buy into the competitive ‘model’ you’ll then make at least basic effort in order to succeed. It grasps the concept that this game, like it or not, is all about winning. That’s why the eSports matter, why people get upset when others don’t make an effort. The entire concept revolves around you, wanting more. On top of that gets piled the secondary level of ‘well if you don’t want to compete how can you possibly be a part of my peer group/Guild/Community’ and suddenly there’s a whole second layer of issue to be considered. When all is said and done, the RTS model remains both relevant and dangerously compelling.
It also dooms those of us who only want to compete with ourselves.
Once I started with my concerted weight loss and health regime, a number of things became immediately apparent. Being healthy isn’t a contest, or a competition, thought various institutions such as Slimming World or Weight Watchers will try to use that as motivation. Hell, that’s what Fitbit and My Fitness Pal do too, but this isn’t about who gets the most steps or completes the largest number of goals. It isn’t about weight either, as I am finally beginning to grasp. What true progression means for me now is just staying consistent, and becoming stronger. I don’t need to be ranked in anybody’s top ten lists, or become the aspirational goal. Effectively, if I am only competing with myself, honestly, there is nothing else that matters except the benchmarks I set. When that is more important than appearing on someone else’s list of ‘People you’d Like to Play With’? Many, many things shift in relevance.
Somewhere along the way I stopped caring about the group-based notion of progression.
The problem for Activision Blizzard, of course, is that I’m not alone. An increasing number of players simply have no desire or inclination to accept what is, like it or not, the originally designed point of End Game. That’s why, in Legion, you’re seeing the notion of progress being quite radically redefined. Mythic Plus, World Quests, PvP redux… You name it, Activision Blizzard don’t want you in legacy content any more. You can’t be making money in Stormwind or a Class Order Hall. This is about getting people like me to try and integrate. Except, of course, the harder you push certain people to conform, the faster they’ll run. That is because, like it or not, some of us just want to do it our way and not yours. It isn’t because you’re boring, or conformist, and often it has nothing to do with competition or achievement. A lot of the time, it’s all to do with priorities.
I used to play, but now I just enjoy things more when I don’t.
It has a lot to do, when all is said and done, with not needing competition. The problem then occurs when people know that’s not true in the Real World. Of course I’m still stupidly competitive, or else I wouldn’t be pushing so hard to get fit. However, when you try and transcribe that to the virtual world? Not going to play now, sorry. Yes, I may have raided and pushed and cajoled in the past but I have different priorities now. I want to write, need to communicate without the desire to prove I’m better at it than anyone else. That’s because I know full well how much there is to learn, even in my late fourties. When that’s apparent, trying to dress anything up as a contest becomes pointless. That’s where I am. I’m done with raiding, and with other people deciding I need to be a certain way, because life is too short when I get to play only a fraction of the hours I used to. Now all that matters is being happy, and raiding ultimately destroyed a lot of my love for people. As a result, I’m not going there again.
There you have it. I might well try Mythic Plus when Legion rolls around, but I sure as fuck won’t be doing anything above LFR, however sweet you make the carrots. In the end, I never wanted a Moose to prove I’d done raiding, and that is not going to change with the new Expansion. I no longer need to show off how good I am, because I’m not. I don’t play that game any more, and if you try and make me?
The chances are I’ll just walk away.