I need to remind myself that this is a notebook. Things don’t have to be complete or finished.
I spent time on Durotan tonight, cleaning out my banker’s guild bank, organizing crap. It’s not a bad thing to do, if not terribly interesting. I was trying to stay awake so that I wouldn’t miss a phone call.
The call came in, I was chatting a bit, when I noticed an Ashes flapping around in front of the SW AH. (My normal banking takes place in the Dwarven District, but I moved my banker back to the Trade District because she needed access to the enchanting/inscription trainers.)
I looked at it for a few seconds, noted the similarities to the Dark Phoenix (Ashes of Al’ar is still much nicer looking), then moved on to shuttling some Thick Bronze Necklaces out of the bank and on to the open market. The Trade District has a very different feel from the Dwarven District; busier, with more people rushing about, but also less purposeful. DD is for efficiency. TD is for mingling.
A little while later, I snapped the screenshot of the gnome mage above, AFK on his rated battleground mount wearing T12, his Field Marshall title proudly displayed, goggles on.
Wait a minute. I know goggles, what are those? Is he really wearing Green Tinted Goggles? Wait, no, those aren’t GTG, those are Safety Goggles – that’s a quest reward, looks like it’s another pair of non-engineer goggles.
Wait, the goggles, they’re there for … eye protection? On top of T12? Carefully posed?
AFK preening in front of the AH?
Does it get more cliched than this?
I grinned a little behind the screen and moved on, but I thought about what I’d seen there.
See, I can really respect the effort it takes to get these titles, and these mounts. And the feeling of accomplishment that goes with them is real and valid and the major reason so many people play this game.
But when you AFK in front of the AH, you’re trying too hard. It changes the motivation behind the accomplishment from personal achievement, to seeking the approval of others. Walking around SW with your titles and achievements and mounts is actually different, socially, than picking the highest traffic spot and parking there to let people gawk at them. And while I would extend a “major grats, man!” to someone in the first situation, in the second, I start going… wait, do you really need my approval? Congrats and all that, but you’re being silly. And a little insecure. (It’s okay, we’re all insecure like that.)
I honestly don’t want this to come off like I’m picking on this gnome, or that I’m rabidly jealous and trying to tear him down. I’m not. Well, that’s not true, I probably am a little jealous, I’d like the fancy mount and the RBG experience and be in HM FL, but I also like being married and being a good parent, and for me, right now, these are mutually exclusive propositions. So I’m okay with it, if a little wistful.
But I do think there’s something here, something that I can’t quite let go of yet. It’s … it’s like the achievement point thing. Why is that number important? Why can it be used as a measurement of how “good” a character is, when really it’s a measurement of something very different, and more specific (how good they are at getting achievements). They’re related, but not tied together. Going back and killing Akumai might get you the BFD points, but if you don’t do them at level, they don’t have the same value.
Related: I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with my spouse about mental illnesses, especially anxiety disorders, and involvement in things on the internet. We’ve both seen that a lot of people turn to the internet during periods of mental stress and issues – be it playing a video game, working on a wiki, writing a blog, setting up a website, getting involved in a forum – internet activities can provide a healthy outlet for people with anxiety or depression. It also helps with a lot of PhD students, too. There’s something HUGELY satisfying about working on a wiki page or blog post and being able to complete a task – any task – when you’re depressed. I may have trouble getting out of bed today, but god damnit, I got *something* done. It might have just been leveling JC, but I made progress. I don’t think you need to be depressed, btw, to get that feeling. I got shit done! It might be virtual shit, but the emotions are real.
Sometimes, those small victories are very, very important.
So there are two threads running around my head tonight. Warcraft, and internet stuff in general, allows people to both socially interact in a non-threatening way, as well as provide a set of achievable goals and projects with a solid, reinforcing positive feedback loop.
The other thread is that you can preen in front of the AH and just look… well, you look like you need the approval of other folks.
(I believe this is called stroking the e-peen.)
Why does it matter that we have all the achievements? I say this as someone who struggles with this, mind you – but are the accomplishments meaningful? Were they fun? Or did you do them for the points? And if you did them for the points, why, exactly? Is it for you, or for other people?
I wrestle with this a lot. I’m by no means perfect, or even close. I’d like a higher number. I’d like ALL THE THINGS on Cynwise.
But is that drive for me, or is it to show off to others?
I have a feeling that if I look at it too deeply, my desire – for more cheesy points – is really more akin to standing in front of the AH than I might care to admit. That chasing after titles and mounts might make you feel accomplished, but is that for me, or for people’s around you?
I don’t know.
There’s a line here, a line between preening in SW/Org and doing things because they make you feel good (and getting public accolades for them). I don’t know which side I’m even on anymore.
Why do we set the goals we set?
Notebook post. I’m probably going to regret this post in the morning. Night, folks.