Achievement, participation and a little self revelation

A little more than six weeks ago I wrote about the accessibility of end-game content. I mentioned a few obstacles with accessing the end-game content. The joystick that has replaced my mouse has removed the substantial first obstacle, despite the fact that I am still using both at times. I have had decades of practice using a mouse and this is my first joystick. Moving my character is rapidly improving with practice, but moving the cursor for mouseover heals in raids are still not an option. I don’t know if it will ever be an option, but for now any reduction in mouse usage is an improvement and I remain hopeful that practice will make perfect..

Battlegrounds have become the perfect place to practice. PvP require a level of character movement unprecedented anywhere else in the game. If I can move well enough to pvp, I’m ready to throw out the mouse. As a resto druid, the pressure is off when it comes to healing a group through combat. It’s a given that your group of players will wipe multiple times during a battle and so there’s no pressure to keep anyone alive and I don’t feel as responsible for their welfare. The pressure is on to rapidly shapeshift and switch to offensive casting, but with a 11/0/61 build, that’s not going to happen. I haven’t had any derisive comments thrown at me, in fact, pvp has taken on a certain charm as most players do not expect any healing and are resto druids are warmly welcomed wherever we go. I still haven’t entered the arenas and have decided to wait until the next big patch when dual specs will become available. Until then, Lake Wintergrasp is still waiting.

The second large obstacle have been other players. Until recently, I haven’t had the courage to venture into group play. The general player base attitude towards disability as seen in the wow community has created an image of people who tend to be rather scathing, sceptical and lack significantly in the empathy department. I don’t ask for special treatment, but derision isn’t pleasant either. It has shaped my attitude of ‘less is more’ or maybe it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, for better or for worse. I decided a long time ago that I will not ask for any favours. I will carry my own weight. I’m with President Truman, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

The first problem with that attitude arises from lack of experience. I don’t know what issues may arise until I do something. I know that using a mouse excessively dislocates joints in my hands. I also know that using a mouse occasionally doesn’t. Defining ‘excessive’ and ‘occassional’ in practical terms can only be done on an individual basis. I can’t solo a raid to see where game play will place excessive strain on my wrists and fingers. I can only plan as well as I can and resolve issues as they arise or usually, after the fact. Unfortunately, this means that there’s always room for error. Something bad will happen when I try something new, but I refuse to let that govern my life. I try new things all the time, I just tend to stick to solitary pursuits. I don’t like flying blind, but it’s infinitely worse when other people are on the plane with me.

I started playing a year ago after Chris gently nudged me into it with a bundle of carrots. One of these were youtube video’s of raids that instantly appealed. I never thought I’d actually get to see any end-game content, but questing was such a huge improvement over staring at a blank ceiling when I was too unwell to do anything else, that I didn’t really care. We’ve been continuously improving my gaming set-up and after we both hit 80, Chris decided to find us a guild where we might participate in end-game content. I held him off. We assembled a few PUGs over Christmas for the Merrymake title and when that went reasonably well, Chris overruled my hesitation and went off into the land of chat channels. I have considered joining a total of three guilds in the past – a leveling guild, a pvp guild and a casual raiding guild that turned out to define casual as everybody will raid five days a week rather than seven. Chris chose the fourth and he couldn’t have made a better decision.

On joining, we were instantly invited on a Nexus run. I had killed the first boss four times in a PUG over Christmas, but it was both nerve wrecking and exhilarating to successfully run the whole instance. I dislocated a couple of fingers, but nobody seemed to notice. I have now healed  VoA and Sarth twice and Warcraft has never been this much fun. It’s difficult to do something new, knowing that something will go wrong, but not what, when or where. I have struggled with the idea of bowing out gracefully before I take other players down with me, but Chris has been adamant that I progress through the new content rather than quit. And I know from experience that I take life too seriously and should learn to relax aobout things a little more. It’s been a difficult learning curve.

VoA went off without a hitch, but the first Obsidian Sanctum run resulted in four pretty awful dislocations. The first dislocation was my right middle finger that I use for mouse scroll (ie zooming in and out), so hardly any real problem was caused and I could continue until we were out of combat and play on a set zoom the rest of the night. The second was my left little finger as I had regrowth set on key 5 and had to use it more often than I realized I could. No big problem there either as I could easily move it to be somewhere else for the duration of the fight. My right thumb popped out as I was playing without the joystick and holding the mouse became too much. I had expected that much and Chris was ready to take over any out of combat movement. The fourth was unforeseen. I didn’t realize that avoiding the lava waves in the Sartharion fight would dislocate my ulnar at the wrist until I did it the first time. It happened on the last attempt, I didn’t die, I didn’t need to interrupt any heals and nobody seemed to notice. A quick reduction followed by a week of periodic splinting, battleground practice runs and reworking all my macros whilst adjusting my keybindings and I was as prepared as I’d ever be for a second go.

Chris brought Vaedry, so I didn’t have the human backup, but the joystick was doing the out-of-combat moving and I was convinced that would solve the issue. New marcos and new keybindings meant no finger dislocations. However, my wrist fully dislocated early in the Sartharion fight as I was running to avoid the lava wave. I died. Chris kept playing, we successfully downed the boss and I still had a dislocated wrist. I couldn’t reduce it myself. Whilst looting and rolling for two, Chris relocated it and as Chris travelled two characters to VoA, I took industrial strength painkillers, taped and splinted it up. VoA was painful, but doable. I decided then that it wasn’t fair to not tell someone that playing can be a little tricky for me at times.

I really don’t want special treatment, but I also don’t want to pretend to be something I am not. It doesn’t matter that Wacraft is ‘just a game’, it doesn’t matter that the anonymity of the internet provides the perfect platform for omission. I don’t want to be that kind of person. If something is worth my time, it’s as important as anything else I do and just because I can disappear my health issues behind the screen of pixels doesn’t make them disappear.

Virtual life has changed significantly since I wrote my last blog on the accessibility of end-game content. It no longer seems as inaccessible as it did before. Ironically, it wasn’t the hardware or software or any other adaptations I have made that is lifting that barrior in the end, although those are the things that gets me through the door. End-game content can’t be solo’ed. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to play well enough to be accepted into a group of players. However, other players seem to disagree with me on this.  I’m still not convinced as I struggle through the newness of dungeon and raid content that I’ll ever completely overcome the problems my genes create, but I am now again feeling the glow of possibility. And for now, that’s good enough.