Why does this game upset people so much?

I know my current problems with Azeroth, and I’ve spent the last few weeks explaining them at length. However, when I push hard enough into my psyche to check, this is not worth my soul any more. Once upon a time I was in that place, and I’ve discussed that at length too. When your life isn’t really hugely exciting and you don’t have a lot of real life friends or distractions to pull away from the obsessive nature of gaming… and before one of my friends pokes me, I’m not talking about compulsion today. I know the difference between that and full on addictions, because speaking as an ex-addict of a fair few things. When all you have is Azeroth, things can go south very quickly.


It gets worse when someone decides to tell you what you’re doing wrong in game, that your assessment of what is there either a) isn’t the truth as they see it or b) fails to point out the issues they see so clearly as flawed. I get this a lot too, because when you decide to pin your colours to a flag that’s visible by anybody else, there will be inevitable consequences. Often viewpoints don’t mesh, and that this makes others angry. I’m an equal opportunities annoyance when I point out disparity. It means, like it or not, I’m doing the right thing. The truth remains a complex combination of a great many variables. If it wasn’t, there’d be nobody else here playing to begin with. My blog and social media only tell a portion of the real story.


There’s also another important truth that needs to be grasped when understanding why people are so passionate about this place: it isn’t just them that matters. For many, it is group mentality, the team aspect that matters so much. Those of you in Guild families, part of a larger whole which gives your life a meaning and significance beyond both pixels and into the Real World… it matters that you pull together, that the game gives what is required to make you feel you’re contributing. There’s a fine line to tread if you’re unable to get that Legendary DPS upgrade… but, as was pointed out by the designers themselves, if your team are holding you back because you don’t have the right gear? That’s not the real problem. Similarly, if you truly believe it is design choices that’s ruining your class, I’d argue you need to move back more than a few inches from your screen. Find the raid team that meets you halfway.

Understand that this game is just that, and approach the relationship appropriately.


I no longer have people to impress or encourage, and there remains a part of me that does still yearn for those times, but it doesn’t last long. My desires and passions now exist well outside the sphere of gaming superiority, because that is in many cases exactly what it is. I gave up doing content at level just after Warlords launched, because of a group of people who made me realise that this game is just that, something to be played, but never at the expense of your own life. I needed an escape and now I have it and sit happily on the fringes of the place that remains home, but isn’t a prison. There were days when I wondered how I’d get out, and that was the point when I stopped being angry and began being free. That’s the way it is now: I dictate the terms, not others. I am able to speak my mind, and not stay quiet.

The day this game made me angry enough to see my own failings was the day I finally understood.

People get upset when life doesn’t do what they want. They are unhappy when they seem unable to change the environment around them. Once you grasp the thing you want to change won’t, then there’s a choice: live with it or leave. Right now, yet again, lots of people appear to be doing the latter, as is always the case, but they come back. That means that in truth, they’ve already discovered the best way to play and have a life. They’re not the people doing this wrong, nope, they’re the sane and sensible ones. That joke about Warcraft being the Hotel California? It’s not on the people who are criticised for walking away and then coming back. The last laugh’s theirs, because when those leavers turn round, it’s always the same people bringing up the gag, stuck in the same spot. You only understand when there’s enough space between the MMO and you to stop laughing.


Once you reconcile all the variables, it doesn’t stop being any less frustrating or annoying. I won’t get my Leatherworking Moose, for instance, because there are far better things to do with my time than a quest that’s just beyond my technical capacity. I’ll happily grind stuff and I’ll do LFR tonight, and hopefully there’ll be upgrades once 7.2 hits, but truthfully it isn’t coming at the expense of anything any more. I used to relax playing this game but now I have found other ways to do so, and as a result I’m lighter and fitter than I’ve ever been. However, I can’t take this game out of me completely, because deep down I’m a gamer girl and have been since my early teens. That’s not about to change any time soon, the only thing that has altered is the way I deal with the negative feelings that inevitably occur when I fail. Once I learnt to cope with those? Everybody’s life got a whole lot better.


I know why this game causes such extremes of emotion. It is because so many people invest varying levels of feeling into it. If stuff doesn’t go the way you want? There are ways of dealing with this that don’t involve getting angry. It takes considerable time and effort to find them, but I would say, from where I stand, that is a process that is utterly worthwhile.

If it matters enough, there is always a way.

One thought on “Tears in Rain

  1. Great post!

    I also think that gaming taps into the deeper parts of our psyche and that causes a lot of issues. It is addicting, it is feeding into the problems that you have in your day to day life. Sometimes gaming’s a sort of a solution, a help, but sometimes it only compounds the issues. To relax and to escape are two different things for instance. I believe, sometimes when you’re gaming all you’re doing is stressing out about the thing you’re escaping from. And when it finds it’s way into a game, you flip. Inevitably it will find this way, because if it was that easy to escape from a problem, it wouldn’t have been a problem in the first place. Like it or not, players are RL people, designers are RL people, the game is made in RL environment and follows its rules. It’s an illusion you can truly separate yourself from RL in a virtual environment. The moment you realise there are other people in this game, that, say, social phobia you’ve been nursing might come back to haunt you. And if all your stakes are here, the whole thing collapses. There is a thin line between escapism and denial.

    That’s why people are so passionate. Because it is their complexes, hidden desires, their feelings of self-worth, and so forth, that are at stake here. It’s not all “just games”. MMOs especially.

    The problem is, of course, that designers are not your friends. It’s an industry, and in the end, what they’re doing here on some level is dealing drugs. And we might not yet know the whole chemistry behind it. But the more you’re addicted, the more you’re passionate, the more you leave your sanity behind, the more the industry profits. Until everything implodes.

    So. Play responsibly.


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