People make less of an effort when working in a group than when working alone unless certain working conditions are met. These include knowing that everybody are pulling their weight, that the goal matter, that the other group members matter, that the task is challenging, that individuals are held accountable within their role in the group and/or that the reward is important enough. I think social loafing is a rare occurrence in WoW for me. In my guild, the team matters, the goal usually matters quite a bit, raiding in Ulduar is still a challenge for most (even though the challenge for some is tolerating other people’s mistakes), the rewards at the moment are enticing and recount if nothing else holds individuals to their actions.
Monday night’s raiding was both exhilarating and a little gruesome. After last week’s tumble down a flight of stairs, the side I landed on is mostly mush. I have been dislocating my ankle and knee walking and if you’ve ever dislocated your hip, you’ll know how little fun that is. My shoulder is in a constant state of partially in and partially out and where I struggle to get posterior shoulder dislocations in by myself, Chris has become the expert. I’ve even partially dislocated my elbow during the raid on Monday, now that really wasn’t cool at all. Although I’ve kept my wrist braced up, rotating my arm still dislocates it. And as I have been using my left hand whilst the right recovers, my left wrist and hand has given up under the additional workload.
I wasn’t sure about signing up for raiding on Monday. It’s been a week since the last 3-hour Ulduar session and a week of not playing much wow and not doing something for that long is never good. The ideal place to be is having a good routine with regular intervals that can be slightly adjusted as required. Raiding at weekly intervals is not a routine. Two to three times dropping down to once or picking up to four is a routine. And so after having a long conversation with Chris, I signed up. It was time to get back into the swing of things. A use it or loose it kind of moment.
I get asked quite a bit why I raid when it’s obviously such a challenge. I wish I could say something noble like it’s all about overcoming challenges and experiencing the sense of achievement I get from it. But it’s not that glamorous. Everything is a challenge. I dislocate my wrist picking up a book or a plate or a cup of coffee. I dislocate my ankle/knee/hip joints when I try to walk too far or too long, which is to say more than a few minutes without a break or support. I have dislocated my shoulder washing my hair in the shower and after I almost drowned the last time we went swimming, I forget that hot water and tired muscles is a bad combination, we re-evaluated my hobbies. I used to go hiking, cycling, swimming, running, shopping and really loved riding an off-road motorbike. Yes, things have gotten worse since then, but not that much worse. I have the horror stories to remind me that life has never been easy. It’s all about endurance and pushing on and then it’s also about careful choosing what you do and how you do it. Raiding is fun. It’s about the safest fun activity we have been able to come up with. I do enjoy the challenge and the sense of achievement, but mostly I enjoy the distraction. When you’re typing and your wrist/finger dislocates, it’s very painful, when you’re in combat when that happens, your attention is at least partially elsewhere. I can’t make it stop and certain things are going to stress my joints, but sometimes its not about preventing it from happening but learning how to accept that it’s going to happen no matter what you do.
Monday night was one of those nights that started off really well. The Ulduar encounter I fear the most is the first. I don’t do well with vehicles and I didn’t do well on Monday. But I tried and we got the boss down easily enough and that’s always reassuring. There was room for me fumbling about without messing it up. Razorscale was harder. It requires a lot of healing and I know that my fingers can’t do it. And then there is also the blue flames that requires extra special situational awareness. I don’t have the reflexes to move out of it, so I have to see it coming and move before it even hits me. DBM has not warning as of yet so it’s all up to me. When I’m struggling with pain and instability more than usual, paying attention to multiple things on my screen becomes that much harder. XT-002 is a predictable encounter by now. I know that unless I constantly visualize the route I need to follow when I get hit by the light or gravity bombs, I’m going to blow up more of the raid than just myself. It’s a challenge to listen to vent, learn the encounter, think about where I may need to go and heal. But not an impossible challenge.
Kologarn felt impossible. The encounter itself is interesting, but the 2-hours+ timer on the raid clock combined with a new boss I haven’t seen, combined with already having dislocated more than a dozen things in the preceding two hours, combined with an encounter that requires running and casting and pretty aggressive healing, my heart sank into my shoes when we got there. It’s always the point where I begin to doubt whether I should be there at all. When I am having a reasonable to good night, I feel that I can almost keep up with everybody else. When I am having a bad night, I know I fall behind. When I am having an absolutely awful night, I start to think about minimizing the damage I can do rather than how I can contribute. Before the first attempt, I could already envision running through the raid whilst being targeted by the focused eyebeam, killing team members as I ran. I put that on the top of my ‘to be avoided at all costs’ list.
By 11 p.m. server time and a few wipes later, I was thinking about bowing out gracefully and even entertaining the thought of quitting. I can’t only play on my very good days. Mostly because I can’t remember the last time I had one of those, it was a while ago. The consideration for me is not how I feel the last 30 minutes of a raid, but how I perform in those 30 minutes. Feelings are subjective and pain is just another emotion. Pushing myself to the limit of what I can do and slightly over is good for me both emotionally and physically and I will keep at it for a while longer.
The phrase I hear the most in-game is that WoW is just a game. I get that. But when you’re part of a team, it’s no longer just about the game, it’s also about the people. I want to do my part. I think David Shore as House gets the sentiment just right: “Like I always say, there’s no ‘I’ in “team”. There is a ‘me’, though, if you jumble it up.” My goal has always been to do what everybody else does as well as most. The thought is starting to dawn on me that that ship may have sailed a long time ago. I will never be consistent as much as it’s the one quality I would do almost anything to possess. I like routine, I like being reliable and dependable and I like things to be predictable and solid and safe. Not knowing when things are going to go wrong are challenging, but even more challenging is knowing that they will go wrong and there will be nothing that I can do to stop it from happening. Do I sign up for raiding? Not tonight. Maybe tomorrow.
This is my first experience with progression content and although the problems arising are not the ones I expected, there has to be a way around this. Or through it. Or a different approach that yields better results. I’m not sure that I can do this, or maybe, I’m just not sure that I can do this without a little help. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The needing of help. Maybe it’s as simple as just keep at it and stop worrying about it. And ask for help if you need it, even if it means throwing stuff at Chris’ head when he’s engrossed in raiding at his computer across the room. Note to self: stock up on squishy things to throw.