Last night as I was winding down for the evening I ended up getting pulled into a discussion about positivity and the Warcraft community. I’ve long been a proponent of doing whatever I can to try and make MMO gaming environments better for other players. I am what I would call a “world tank” meaning that I permanently run around in tanky stance while questing and often times go out of my way to “tank” things that don’t even matter to me. If I am riding through a zone and I see a squishy player fighting a boss mob… then nine times out of ten I am going to hop off my mount and charge over to help out. I don’t even care about factional boundaries here, and I am one of those players that is just as likely to help out the Horde as I am the Alliance when it comes to taking the threat onto myself and letting people kill their monsters in peace. I’ve been graced with a class that simply cannot die under most circumstances… and I sort of feel like it is my duty to help other people out whenever I can. I cannot count the number of times I have been doing a quest and had someone roll up late… and then continued to pull packs of elites just to make sure they finished their quest. They always seem sorta surprised when I send them a tell asking them “how many more” they need for the quest. Growing up I was in scouting, and even managed to get my Eagle… and there was a rule of camping that went a little something like “leave the campsite in as good of condition if not better”. I sort of have this same view towards MMOs or the world in general honestly… if I can improve the world by my presence I am going to shoot for that.
Prior to the launch of Legion, I had gotten used to some of the cultural norms in Final Fantasy XIV. Namely people talk during dungeon runs… at least enough to give a friendly introduction at the beginning and at the end. In part this is because there is a system in place over there that allows you to give a single commendation each run, to whatever player for whatever criteria you feel fit the situation. I give them out for all sorts of reasons… glorious outfits, extremely competent dps, or just someone being jovial and friendly. In part this friendly atmosphere exists… because they reward you being nice to other players, and will straight up ban you for talking about damage meters in game. It creates this weird bubble where things don’t work there the way they work in any other MMO community. Knowing this… with the launch of Legion and as we started queuing up for content… I started trying to apply the same logic the World of Warcraft and shockingly more often than not it worked. Just breaking the ice at the beginning of a run with a “Hey Folks!” seemed to go an awfully long way in improving the experience as a whole. I noticed my usual silent runs become perforated with discussion, as it was like one person saying something broke down whatever dam was there preventing conversation.
Another thing I have done this expansion cycle that seems to have helped my own attitude is that I am just not dissecting the game and tearing it apart like I used to. I am trying really hard to just take things at face value, and more often than not completely ignore the patch note cycle until I am ready for something. Sure this means I have not exactly been on top of the ball on a lot of things… like Broken Shore, and have been doing things in a grossly inefficient manner. However it also means that I am not exposing myself to a lot of external stimuli until I am actually ready to consume it. More than this however… I just haven’t shared my doubts publicly because I haven’t felt the need to. A few weeks into the Nighthold raid cycle I disappeared from the game, and faded away quietly. I just felt like I wasn’t enjoying myself nearly as much as I was when doing other things. So I simply walked away and did other things for awhile. There was a moment where I could make a clean break, and my raid had a tank to step in and take over for me. In the past I would have felt the need to explain to my readers why I did this. Instead I just left and eventually put some thoughts together in my big “regularly playing” post, but even that probably wasn’t needed other than I was catching up my sidebar… which is already completely out of date again. However because I didn’t really make a big deal about it… it was so much easier to just slide back into the game a few months later when the mood hit me again.
While it might sound odd, I think for me not writing about World of Warcraft and its failings… helped me to feel better about the game for the long term. It also kept some negative vibes out of the community. Sure I currently have a laundry list of things that bug me about the game, but I have come to a point of acceptance that World of Warcraft will never actually be the “one true game” for me. I know that I will keep venturing off to play other games because it is in my nature, and that it will still feel enjoyable to keep coming back and revisiting all of my friends in the WoW. In part this is why I am so excited that Destiny 2 is now going to be entering this same realm. For well over a decade I have cultivated a community in the Blizzard games, and it seems like it is going to be awesome to be able to take all of these people with me into another love of mine when it launches on the PC. While I would love to see Blizzard as a company make an attempt to instill a positive attitude in its players by introducing systems that reward the good apples… more than systems that punish the bad, I largely accept that it is going to be up to me and players like me to be the agent of change in the world. I know we all keep returning to the MMO space to decompress from our days out in the real world… but there is nothing keeping us from being a little nicer to one another in our adopted second home. Games tend to develop a culture of support or toxicity… and maybe I am naive but I feel like a game can change. I feel like we can slowly erase the toxic nature that has developed over the years and put back in its place one that is largely supporting of others. Now this doesn’t just apply to WoW, but is I think an admirable goal in any game you play.