Cash Shop Fodder
With the impending launch of the Wildstar free to play model, I thought I would talk this morning about one of my problems with cash shops in general. One of the most popular items in any MMO cash shop is the “experience potion” for lack of a better generic term. These are items that grant a limited duration buff and increase the aquisition of something. These sometimes apply to experience but also pvp systems and token currencies. They seem to be fairly ubiquitous when it comes to MMOs and they often times hand them out like candy in your introductory packs. My theory is that they want to get players hooked on these early so they keep coming back to the cash shop anytime they run out. Now if you had boomboxes in Wildstar you already have a few of these more than likely. My problem is… I never spend them. I just logged into my Rift account to take a quick census and I am currently sitting on somewhere between 150 and 200 of these in various forms. They are generally locked from you selling them on the auction house… and since I am not using them they just take up inventory space.
The problem I have with them is that I feel like there is a value associated with them. They cost money, and I want to make sure I get my most out of them. So when a game gives me one.. I hold onto it forever never quite finding the right time to spend it. If the potion is an hour long, it feels like I need to find the perfect time to use it when I will have an hour of uninterrupted time at the keyboard. Even more so it feels like I have to figure out the optimal way to spend my bonus experience time. I do a lot of running around aimlessly in video games, and when I have used an experience potion it feels like I am “on the clock”. I have to get the most out of my time and need to do whatever I am doing with minimal downtime. As a result I just end up crushed with indecision and so they sit in my inventory unspent collecting dust. I end up resenting them being there, because they are taking up space that I could be using for other things. I didn’t want them in the first place, and the game keeps handing them to me like they are important and special… and something that SHOULD be desired.
This just highlights a bigger problem I have in games, that I will call performance anxiety for lack of a better term. It is like there are times when I have to be super focused on the game and take it more seriously than I really want to. When I sign up to raid I accept the fact that once the raid starts it is “go time”. The rest of my game time however I want to be able to stop and smell the roses. The problem is when I group with another living person… I feel like I am also “on the clock” and responsible for making the most of that time grouped together. So instead other than dungeons and raids I actively avoid grouping with anyone. That way I am only responsible for my own enjoyment and won’t feel guilty when I need to step away from the screen because my wife needs me, or the animals have knocked something over and I have to go investigate what they just broke. The worst is when I am in an MMO and there are quest objectives to be done. I feel like I not only have to be aware of my own needs… but the needs of everyone in my party and assure that they also accomplish whatever they need to get done before moving on myself.
I realize all of this is irrational, but this is the sort of mental struggle I go through each time I accept someone else’s group invite. Most of the time I can steel myself against the anxiety and just push forward, but there are other times… when I just cannot risk taking responsibility for others. I talked some yesterday about my current desire to “hide out” and as such I thought I would talk a bit this morning about the other side of the coin. Grouping with other people is often times a draining experience for me. I shift into responsible adult mode, and step up to the plate like I know what I am doing. I am willing to take on this mantle for my friends and my guild… but I am rarely willing to take on this mantle for strangers. I realize most other people don’t quite have the hang up I do with grouping with strangers. So when someone asks me to tank something, or dps something… I always feel strange asking if it is a guild only group. The worst of these experiences so far has been when it comes to partially queuing for raid content. The anxiety that comes with tanking for strangers in a dungeon… is nothing compared to the anxiety of tanking for a raid group full of strangers. For me at least it ranks among the least comfortable experiences, and I would rather simply do nothing… than queue with a bunch of people I don’t know.
Opening The Curtain
I get the impression sometimes that folks seem to think I have my act together. The truth is I am just as strange and vulnerable as the next person. I put on a really good front sometimes, and I do a fairly good job of pushing down my own insecurities. You might ask yourself… why in the world would I be opening up like this? Well the truth is that I know there are lots of people out there with their own quirks, that think they are somehow lesser for them. My theory is that by showing the weak points in my own armor, that others might be more comfortable with themselves as a result. Once this down cycle finishes I will be back to my normal self again, and the armor will go back up. In the mean time I am talking about the things I am struggling with, in hopes that it might help someone out there. We all have our own hang-ups and we learn to deal with them however we can. My coping mechanism tends to be disappearing for a bit while my shields recharge. Tonight I will be submitting myself to a raid group where I assume that we are ultimately going to have to PUG people… even though every fiber of my being tells me to run screaming into the night. There is a certain power in knowing your own limitations and forcing yourself to face them. I’ve learned over the years that everyone is broken inside… just most are better at hiding it than others.