The last several days I have spent a good chunk of my time idling on this riverbank out in the Western Plaguelands… while often roaming around a completely different Plaguelands over in Destiny. However that is not what I am going to talk about this morning, I simply needed a screenshot to post and grabbed this one. What I am going to talk about is the 7.1 patch in World of Warcraft, or at least a small part of it. I acknowledge ahead of time that this post is probably not going to make a lot of sense to many of you, because you have to really suffer with anxiety brain to get it. Yesterday as part of 7.1 a new feature called “Quick Join” was patched into the game. To quote the page announcing this feature on the World of Warcraft site…
So whether it’s your guildmate, your Battle.net friend, or your Real ID friend, you’ll be able to find each other and take part in a variety of game aspects without the need to ask the age old questions of– “What are you doing?” “Any room in your group?” “Can my other friend join?” You’ll just be able to see all of your friends, see what they’re up to, and ask to join with just a couple of clicks. It’s so easy, a drogbar can do it!
It is hard for me to adequately explain how much anxiety this causes me. In Diablo 3 there is a similar Quick Join feature that is designed to let you easily get into games with your friends. How it works in practice is that folks randomly join into your game usually without actually talking to you first. After the generally jarring experience this causes, I wound up going into the settings and flipping myself to private so that I would not show up in the Quick Join list. My fear with the World of Warcraft feature is that it would work like this, but I guess fortunately that is not the case. What it does instead is whenever you are queued for content, you show up in the Quick Join list allowing folks to request to join your queue. From there you have to accept or deny that request, so no ninja joining. Unfortunately it still makes me deal with the guilt of turning down friends, and the possible social ramifications. What I really wanted to see was a sort of “opt out” private mode built into the system, or maybe this would have been the perfect time to roll in the much requested “Appear Offline” or “Invisible” mode to Battle.net.
I am generally a fairly gregarious person, and I try and go out of my way to welcome folks when playing the guild cruise director role. I am also known for driving a van full of candy… that gathers people up and convinces them to join whatever guild I happen to be a part of. This is absolutely one side of me and I love being that person whenever I can. That said there is another part of me that comes out when I am overly stressed or just simply worn out from having to “act normal” at work or day to day societal constraints. This part of me just needs to duck my head into my turtle shell and hide from the world… and these are the moments when Battle.net scares the shit out of me. I love having easy access to my friends, but sometimes I cannot handle appearing to follow basic social norms. There are times I need to fade into the background and pretend that the rest of the world exists. Essentially I need my alone time, and it is important for me to recharge my batteries so I have the strength to confront those times when I need to be around others. The thought that at any moment someone could ask to join me in whatever I happen to be doing… and that there is now a system to make that easier… is completely terrifying.
Yesterday a friend who I know was not getting this equated this to “you’d rather group with strangers?” and that is not entirely it either. There are times that I queue to be an anonymous blip in someone else’s radar so I don’t have to think… or be concerned about anyone other than myself. There are times where I simply need to complete an activity, and I am not necessarily up for the burden that comes from grouping with people I know. When I group with people I care about… I feel responsible for their safety, happiness and enjoyment. Maybe this is just the gut reaction from playing tanks all of these years, but I feel like when I am in group mode I need to be fully there for the folks who are with me. Essentially I have to psyche myself up to be able to take on this mantle of responsibility and do the things I need to do to make a group happen. Having that whole thing thrust upon me, is just jarring and abrupt… and how exactly do I explain to someone who I legitimately care for… why I am going to click that deny button?
Ultimately I am going to deny a lot of group invites that happen through this system, and I apologize ahead of time. Sometimes when you say “It’s not you, It’s me” it really means “nope it is absolutely you”. However this is not one of those cases because in all seriousness there are just times when I cannot handle being a responsible adult. In theory I could start deleting people from my Battle.net friends list until I only had the people who understood exactly what this means, but that is also a bad solution. I use that thing for grouping, and especially lately I have been pinging folks to try and find a fifth for mythics or keystones. My Battle.net list is largely there for cross realm grouping options, and I shouldn’t have to give that up just because I cannot handle the thought of getting randomly grouped with people when I am not prepared for it. Of note… this isn’t even an issue yet because all last night I didn’t see a single item show up on my quick join list. That unfortunately is not the way runaway anxiety works… instead I am stuck thinking through all of the possible things that COULD go wrong… before they actually have. There are so many times I get mired in the feedback loops of “what is the worst possible thing that could happen” and I am certain this is one of them. I just find it frustrating that after all these years of asking for an invisible mode we still don’t have it. I know all of this is “all in my head” but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less valid either.