My wife’s paladin: All this and brains, too.
I have a tendency to take my games seriously. Like James T. Kirk, I don’t like to lose. I tend to find being on the wrong side of a die roll or an enemy stratagem to be very frustrating. But rather than taking the opportunity to learn from my mistakes, my habits lean towards venting those frustrations in an immediate, vocal manner. I’ve been making efforts not to do that, and have been successful when it comes to board games or Magic duels. However, one place that saw me continuing this bad habit was World of Warcraft.
Thankfully, Wil Wheaton‘s around to show us how it’s done.
A little background information: Not only did my wife and I meet on World of Warcraft, she is also better at it than I am. She’s shown me how to theorycraft, the ways to look for new gear and telltale signs to be wary of when grouping with people. Just like her editorial skills can improve my writing (if I can ever get up the gumption to let her tear what I write to shreds), her high standards help me be a better player than the ‘bads’ with which neither of us wishes to associate.
I’m a hunter. My ability to do damage and, by extension, contribute to the group revolves around my ranged weapon. I’ve been in need of a new one for some time now, and the most viable way to get one is in defeating a creature called Ick in the dungeon known as the Pit of Saron – abbreviated PoS, insert obvious metaphorical joke here. The system by which WoW generates random numbers determines what loot drops from its creatures, and after 16 attempts at this lumbering monstrosity on heroic difficulty, that system had yet to come up with the result linking to the crossbow I’ve been after.
My wife’s been very patient. I, less so. It got to the point that she was reluctant to be in certain situations in-game with me for fear of a display that’d put the Angry German Kid to shame. After her admission of this and Wil’s pep talk, I’ve resolved to change my ways. In a sense, I wanted attempt #17 on Ick to fail. I wanted to make sure I could do this – to prove I could take my losses in stride with my successes because a) it’s just a game and b) I’m spending time with my wife doing something we both love. Not every couple can claim that.
I also wanted to be honest about my feelings. My wife (along with many others I suspect) has an internal bullshit detector, and even if I didn’t feel entirely okay with the likely outcome of another encounter with Ick and the random number generator, I wanted to at least convey the sentiment with enough honesty to avoid a scathing look. My goal was to be within a tolerable range of at least two or three decibecks*.
So after waiting around 15 minutes in the queue for a tank to show up, we entered the PoS. Skip the first group of mobs, take out the workers and a proto-drake rider, drop the first boss. Head around the quarry, don’t fall in, don’t stand in the toxic waste. Once the trash was clear, we were staring at him, the pustule-decorated lunk with an annoying spikey-haired gnome on his shoulder telling him what to do. It was a somewhat disorganized fight, a bit moreso than usual, but like sixteen previous attempts, eventually Ick succumbed to my comrade’s blades and my bullets.
And like sixteen attempts before, my crossbow did not drop.
I heard my wife apologize. I didn’t say much. I’m not sure what she expected, if anything. The first chance I got, I got up from my computer, walked over to her desk, and kissed her. I thanked her for being patient with me and told her I love her.
Later, I ran another dungeon, the Halls of Reflection on normal difficulty. There was a bow available at the end, and while it’s not as high a quality as the crossbow Ick is hoarding, it’s still a better weapon than my hand-made epic rifle. Breezing through a normal difficulty dungeon was actually kind of refreshing, and much to my delighted surprise, the bow dropped on the first try.
I’m going to do my utmost to practice this good habit. I want to do more with my wife. We’ve discussed story ideas and means to continue playing that maintain our now-mutually high standards, and I want to prove that I’m a partner upon whom she can rely, not just in Azeroth, but in the real world as well. So I’ll keep my temper in check, laugh at our mutual misfortune, point out the bads and praise her when she saves the group with her fantastic healing prowess. We’re in this together, after all, and we play to enjoy it, not to get worked up over the electronic equivalent of a toss of the dice. Maybe I can keep that in mind from now on.
And maybe that stubborn Ick will drop that crossbow someday.
*decibeck (n): A measure of falsehood within a statement, based on the notion that one out of every ten syllables spoken by Glenn Beck is absolutely false.