Life as a Casual Raider
I was listening to the Double O podcast today (Episode 15: “Breakup to Makeup.”) This is relevant because while there are no guests, O2 does spend some time talking about a trend in the blogosphere for people to leave the game, switch to another game, or in our case, just take a step back. I can’t really respond to Ophelie’s statement that Voss and I were anything other than regular raiders. (i.e. quintessential raiders or something, her words, certainly not mine). I mean, I’m flustered to think that anybody “looks up” to me. But that sense of obligation was a part of what kept me going for so long, because I find it hard to let anybody down.
Something that Oestrus said hit me even more, though. She remarked that a tendency when responding to goodbye/I’m leaving or changing type posts is for people to be sad or regretful. And it IS natural to feel sad about it, but at the same time she made a great point: That you also have to be happy for the person, because clearly this is something they need, and she’s absolutely right. When I wrote my last post, I was still somewhat reeling from the events that had happened. It’s true, the straw that tipped it for me was not big. It was pretty miniscule, but the cumulative effect of carrying the straws was what broke me. It wasn’t a feather’s weight, it was that feather on top of everything else. Now that it’s been a few weeks of casual raiding, let me tell you about it.
I am drunk on the sensation of free time. I really am. I have an underlying health condition that I haven’t written about because it’s not relevant to a WoW blog, and my health is closely tied to my diet and exercise. It always felt like a huge struggle before. I’d try to cook healthy meals (I love cooking) but I’d have to start them really early so we could walk the dog as soon as Voss came home and even then we’d have to eat our food really quickly and bolt. That was on a good day. On a bad day, it was more like both of us were too tired to cook so we’d end up ordering in or picking something up, eating that and not walking the dog at all. That was before. Now, a delirious array of possibilities has opened up before me. I’ve cooked so many awesome meals. If I’m missing an ingredient, Voss swings by the store on his way home and then I cook it. We walk the dog a bit later (during what would have formerly been a raid time). There’ve been Former Raid Nights where I went downstairs and worked out while watching a movie at my leisure, then laid back and read a book, or worked on From Draenor With Love, or whatever. After just a few weeks of raiding casually (only once a week) I’ve lost six pounds and gained energy I didn’t even know I had. I feel amazing. I can’t believe I put this off for so long, but I can say absolutely and unequivocally that it was the right decision for Voss and I.
I’ve experienced slight pangs of guilt (like when a guildie tells me they’d still wish to raid every night) and that’s hard, but for me to have kept on the way we were going would have been wrong. Voss and I started playing Warcraft because we’re that annoying couple that is inseparable. We are best friends and we do everything together. The raiding situation was putting a strain on us we didn’t even realize. He didn’t want to do it, I felt obligated to do it, he was doing it grudgingly to keep the peace – it was just bad. I told him, “If you tell me that this [game] is affecting our relationship, it’s over, without a second thought. You are 100% my priority.” But he never felt right asking that of me, so it had to come from me, but I see now how it WAS affecting our relationship negatively. Now, he can stay at work late if he needs to without worrying. He doesn’t always have to rush home. We have more time to go on date night whenever, not only on Tuesdays. I’m rediscovering what it’s like to play because and when I want to, and I hadn’t realized how far I’d strayed from that.
That is the key here, for anyone in any situation. Hardcore raider, partcore raider, 5 nights a week, one night a week. If it’s what you want to be doing then it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing! A number of people have linked to my post or commented that it made them evaluate their own relationship with WoW. (To borrow from Double O again, it IS like a relationship). We don’t all have the same experience, drives or motivations. For me, I knew that I was neglecting my health in favour of the game, and so I can’t be apologetic about my decision. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve had so much fun with our raids since we “went casual.” I think last week they cleared DS in about two hours and then ended early. My only concern is that it can’t last because some people will get bored of the limited schedule and seek something more intense – but I can’t and wouldn’t change what they want to suit what I want, so that’s something we’ll have to face when we get there. I’m not going to worry about it prematurely or borrow trouble. Everyone has to do what makes them happy and will be best for them.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t had pangs. Every time I see a heroic kill announcement, a part of me inside has a pang. When I realize that I won’t get the achievements for heroic kills – another pang. I thought about seeing if anybody would be willing to go back into Firelands with me to try to keep building a Dragonwrath, and then I thought – you know what, I don’t want to spend the time it would take to do that, when I could spend that time on something in my real life. So I’m able to login for one raid a week, the overhead is very low – one roster, one schedule, one night, it takes about twenty minutes – and otherwise I login if I really feel like playing and hanging out. When I’m done, I logout again. This game has been part of my life too long (four years!) to just say “I’m done with it,” but I have definitely eased off the throttle. It feels great. I am doing great. Can I say “great” again? Except for the fact that the fire mage nerf landed today. That is somewhat less great. In fact, the opposite of great.
Let’s all have a moment of silence for the burning that was. We’ll still be singeing our enemies, just about 6% less. Every good thing has its time, right?