The closest I ever came to quit playing World of Warcraft was during last year’s Brewfest. Chris spent the morning of the first day gleefully breezing through quests, exclaiming every five minutes ‘This is so easy’ whilst I sat staring at my screen in tears. The quests require timing and coordination and I had neither. But I’m stubborn and wouldn’t give up. I got the reins for Now this is Ram Racing… Almost and couldn’t get it trot, canter or gallop for 8 seconds at a time. My timing was off and although I understood exactly what I had to do, I just couldn’t do it, but I kept trying until my wrist was clicking in and out so much that it wore through the surrounding tissue from the inside out and started bleeding and bruising rather badly. I was too upset to notice. I wanted to play like everybody else.
Chris noticed. He fixed it up whilst I sobbed, made me hot tea, logged out his toon and came to sit next to me to try and work out what the issues were. I eventually managed to finish it with a little help from Chris. He placed his hand over mine and whenever I called out the key number, he’d push down my finger to push the button. It felt a little like cheating, I wanted to do it by myself, but I couldn’t and so help was finally allowed. It was great to get the quest completed, but that just lead to more quests and the rest didn’t go any better. I couldn’t hit anything with a beer mug, I couldn’t at the time communicate with any other players as I couldn’t type and didn’t have Dragon yet and trying to steer a super-charged ram around Ironforge kept landing me in the lava. Chris was itching to get back to his game and so I gave up and watched him group and chat and get smashingly drunk and then I got up, left the room and curled up in bed with a book instead.
This year has been easier, but not easy. My head still hurts, but I want my Violet Proto-Drake and I only have two festivals left to go. I want my Brewfest Prize Tokens. And so against my better judgement I’ve logged in today with a pounding head and it didn’t take long before I saw flashy lights, felt dizzy, had to throw up and resignedly crawl back to bed. Chris came home from work and offered to help. I’ve gotten better at compensating for my poor coordination. I have good timing and I now know what my internal lag does to the game. I press the button a second or two before it should be pressed and I start thinking about pressing the button a few seconds before that. I play very consciously and deliberately, but it works for me and although the trot, canter and gallop for 8 seconds was still difficult and took a long long time, I managed it, this time without any help.
I cheated a bit on the throwing of the beer mug (see screenshot) and although control is still a bit of an issue particularly when turning corners on a speeding ram, Chris’ guiding hand was only occasionally required to help. My headset is plugged in and the most I said today was along the lines of ‘I’ve got a headache, go away’ just in a much nicer and politer way, well, slightly nicer and politer way, I could talk if I wanted to. There were plenty of healer spots open for the mount run, but I decided that it would be a bad idea. I didn’t feel excluded or left out. I abstained by choice. I played for a very short while and although I still detest how much work it requires and how the drunken tilting screen screws royally with my head, it was a nice feeling to know that I could. I could do anything I wanted to do. As soon as it really wasn’t fun, I logged out.
It’s been a better day than yesterday and if I lie still in a quiet and dark room, the pain is blissfully tolerable, the dizziness is like being on a gentle rocking boat and the nausea like mild seasickness. I can close my eyes and almost imagine I’m on holiday somewhere nice and warm. I would’ve liked to play more, but I couldn’t, I had to go back to bed. But that’s okay, it’s just a game. Life gets better and although my coordination is still as crappy as ever and my joints are creating little mountains of hell most days and I hurt and its not fun, I get better at coping and better at dealing and better at accepting. And on the not so good days, I just have to find small pockets of time to squeeze in the things that are important, like throwing empty beer mugs at Dwarves and riding a ram in circles. And although I do want my speedy proto-drake, the most fun part was snuggling into Chris whilst we ran a ram around Ironforge together.