“Let’s get down to business
To defeat the Scourge
Did they send me Murlocs
When I asked for Horde?
You’re the saddest bunch I’ve ever met
But you can bet, before we’re through,
Mister, I’ll make a raider out of you…”
What do you know, I think I found my voice. I never know how to begin a blog post, I’m no good at a preamble that leads into my topics, so let’s just jump right in. I can’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say, so I’ll just talk about what I want to say.
I believe that in raiding, I have become a better person. I don’t mean that raiding makes me a better person than you, I mean that it has made me better than I was before. It demands, at least of me, certain skills which I have had to develop and to leverage to achieve the success I have and to believe I can achieve the successes I will get later. Skills that translate absolutely outside the game. My accomplishments in WoW should be able to go onto my resume.
I play my classes well. Why? Because I put thought into them, and because I seek out education. I gather extra information, and bring it together. I use tools, be they spreadsheets, or forum discussions, or math, or guides. But I don’t just blindly consume this information: I read the discussions and watch the objective science (or, at least, math) behind a lot of it, and from there formulate my ideas of what I’m going to do. And then, with all that information, I think I execute it… fairly well.
I raid well. Why? I pay attention to my surroundings and can juggle multiple task-components while still thinking about what’s going on and keeping my mind on something like my rotation. This is a skill that has developed as I played the game – I started out oblivious, but then I learned not to stand in bad, and then to keep moving out of bad while still doing what needed to be done. Going from dps to star dps in heroics to a raider, then a raid tank, and now working on heroic healing, it has all made me more aware and able to collate, process, and act upon, more and more information. As I move into tanking and healing, I am developing a cooler head even as things go pear-shaped.
But at the same time, raiding is a group effort at-level. I cannot succeed alone, and other cannot succeed if I am slacking off or performing poorly, both from an individual-component standpoint and from a group membership standpoint. And speaking of group membership, let us not forget that WoW is a social game, one we play with other people.
In raiding, I have developed greater skills to work as a member of a unit, both in a set group set to a purpose, and also a unit that has members rotate in and out of a bigger set. A lot of people, I find in life and in raids, cannot do this. This isn’t just working together by doing it, but two things that transcend merely being in the same zone and slamming on the same boss. Functioning with team happens on two factors: in the gestalt operation of a truly well-oiled group, which has worked well together, where they come together to play at a higher level than normal, to draw out the best and truly ‘work as one raid”… but also to function, socially, with people who I don’t necessarily always like – we are still able to focus on our task and to get it done. Skills that, again, I didn’t have as much as I did before I started raiding.
And what is a raid, especially in a group? It is a commitment of time and of energy. Dedication. As an accomplished, reliable, and skill raider, I have demonstrated my ability to dedicate my resources to a group effort that is both bigger me and, sometimes, not entirely perfectly reflective of what I want – but I still do my best to help it accomplish its goals. I can even set aside time out of my life fairly regularly to make a committment and to contribute.
There are more skills or ways of thinking that I already had, and that in raiding the way I do become apparent.
I have to be adaptable. And I have been flexible, as how to play my classes has changed, as I’ve needed to adapt to new fights, or to changes in a current fight either built-in or due to something going wrong or different. If I wasn’t already, I would have had to develop it, and if I wasn’t or didn’t, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.
I believe that being good enough to do something is not, usually, good enough. A sloppy kill is a bad kill, and it should be tightened up and cleaned up next time. A raid plan that eventually kills the boss but does so slower or at greater risk of failure or with artificially stricter fault tolerances is not a good plan. Even if we kill the boss and get loot. Even if I stay alive as a tank and hold agro. Even if bosses die to my arrows or players live via my heals, there is probably some way I could have done it better, made the raid go smoother. I actively look for ways to improve my performance above mere necessary thresholds of “good enough.” The ongoing process of this motivation is, surely, a factor that contributes largely to my skill now.
I have failed many times. I have failed personally. I have failed on the whole as part of a unit, even when it was nothing within my control or influence. It is frustrating, yes, but my response to these failures is not to get frustrated, or find something discouraging on its own. No: what I do is I believe that it is still something I can do. We can do. And so I ask: “why did we fail?” I seek those answers, and I use them to then answer the question, “how can we not fail next time?” When I fail, I learn why, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When the group fails, I don’t try to blame or give up or get discouraged (until it seems a break must be taken, but it’s just a rest period, nto a surrender) – I try to figure out what to try differently (assuming it’s not bad RNG) so that next time it goes better. And better. And better. And then we will achieve victory. And then we will do it better. And better. And then we will achieve farm status.
Within WoW, I am a finely wrought sword. I have gone from a lump of newb ore to bars through the smelting proccess, and then come from the hammers and the temper of the forge, sharp and deadly and serving my purposes well. There has been fire and there has been blows, it has been forces from outside acting upon me and forces from within. Even outside of the game, what I have done and learned, I see how to generalize.
I leave this with two final notes: I believe these are all valuable tools. I said I would make a raider out of newbs, and this is part of how. I am not giving anyone a hand out. There are no handouts that will make you less a newb, only ones that will make you a newb with a high gear score. There ‘welfare epics’ and there is all the BoEs and crafteds you can buy and you know what? None of it teaches you not to stand in Defile or hug Spores or switch targets as the kill priority changes or how to deal with the grind of Progression. But this is a hand up: nothing I have done or do is really unique to me. Put my data together and figure out how to use it. Although this, I think, is wasted on many of my readers as most people who know about and follow this blog are as good or, even, better, than me.
Ultimately: there is one final component to being a good raider, that I keep taking to heart, and that I feel is, if not essential to a successful raid, or something proven by my personal ability as a player and raider, at least is vital to all of it: remember that everyone who plays WoW is a person. From my friends in my long list of guilds I’ve been in, to even the trade-trolls. Everyone I raid with, from the awesome people I meet in the random pug to the ninja looters, ninja loggers, jackasses, elitsits, and newbs both chill and angry, everyone is a person.
When I group with people, I don’t want my time wasted and my efforts to be put to naught, and as such, I also don’t want to waste their time and effort. When I raid, it’s anywhere from seven to twenty-four other people, and we’re all here to have fun. And to accomplish a shared goal. Part of dedicating myself to it is being mindful and dedicated to not fucking it up by being inconsiderate or stupid or wasting their time. When I show up, I bring it to win it, yes: but I also view the whole thing as a group of effort by people who depend, in part, on me, and do not want to let them down, or to make it an awful firestorm of anti-humanistic badness.
This game has made me a better person, and I rock at it because I am a good person.
This game has made me good friends outside of it, and beyond the context of playing a game.
Isn’t that cool?