I haven’t been playing as much as I used to or as much as I’d like. Ulduar isn’t Naxx, progression raiding isn’t farming and on a personal note, summer is the worst season, my left wrist is causing significant issues and after two seizures and recurrent, remitting neurological symptoms related to migraine has taken over the last week, I’m scared of the flashy graphics. Fear, or more precisely, the apprehension of knowing what is still to come and how much I will not be liking it, is still a daily struggle. Putting your foot down and shifting weight onto it not knowing if it is going to dislocate is beyond faith, it’s simply accepting that the inevitable will win and I have the nerve to survive it.
I vividly recall what it was like when I started playing WoW. I couldn’t look at the screen for a very long time, movement affected my eyes and sense of balance badly, flashy graphics, which at the time included anything more than auto-attack triggered a migraine aura, the noise was unbearable, I couldn’t control my character or move it or hit more two or three buttons a minute for a maximum of two or three minutes before I was utterly and completely exhausted. A year later and I was in Naxx with a level 80 druid raiding for three hours a night a couple of nights a week. What changed? I adapted. I customised the game to the extreme. I learned to put up with the bad parts so I could get to the good parts. I found weird and creative ways to compensate for things I’ll never have, like fast reaction times and high tolerance levels. Most of the addons I use are there to take things out rather than add things in. I have my graphic settings set pretty weirdly as I try to minimize the impact it has on my brain rather than try and create a particular visual effect. Less is definitely more. I logged in for a while whilst Chris was raiding last night to see how it goes. It didn’t go well. The vertigo is back, the hypersensitivity is back, my coordination is not half what it was a week ago and I was too tired to play after a few minutes and afk’ed hovering above Icecrown and chatted instead. thank goodness dragon is still working with WoW . Or I wouldn’t have been able to even do that.
It is difficult not to get apathetic. When everything requires constant effort and no matter how hard you work, one silly event, five hours later, and you have lost all the accomplishments of the work put in over six months, a year, sometimes a lifetime. However, I haven’t lost it all or lost it permanently. I am not back at the beginning and progression forwards will be much faster this time round. It’s just a matter of perception. I remember my first day playing, I remember my best day playing and compare both to today. But my best game days were not at the end of a seamless journey without setbacks. It’s always been a constant up and down, forwards and backwards and everything is shinier in the rear view mirror. I have been here before. I will be here again. This place that feels like rock bottom but really isn’t. It’s a ledge and although I cannot see how far I’ve actually fallen, both up and down are infinite distances and I am lucky to have landed in one piece with no permanent damage done.
I have today, now. And gaming is just like everything else in life. I do what I can, I work at getting better at it, I invent new ways to make it easier and I learn how to deal better with the pain, the inevitable by-product of everything. But most of all I find ways to make it fun. I play responsibly rather than with reckless abandon. I no longer set in-game goals. I simply aim for that middle where playing improves my coordination, stamina and tolerance of external stimuli without causing any major setbacks like serious dislocations or migraines. Not surprisingly, approaching the game with the atttidue of ‘what do I want to do today’ rather than ‘what should I do today’ is actually allowing for more fun. I’m becoming less of a perfectionist and of all the things WoW has added to my life, that single life lesson is one of the biggest. It’s acceptable to screw up, to make stupid mistakes, as long as you learn from them. And sometimes, stupid mistakes just happen and there is no lesson to be learned and you were just stupid, just ’cause. And that’s okay too. As long as it doesn’t happen all the time. I haven’t been playing as much as I used to or as much as I’d like, but I’m still playing and that in itself is quite an accomplisment for me.