Sorry Earth Mother, I Was an Inadequate Child

I stopped playing World of Warcraft years ago, and always feel a bit strange when I hear about it now. On a more emotional day I end up shaking my head in disbelief. What do you mean they are killing off my chieftain? And they are trying to make the game easier? Just how stupid do they want their player base to be, anyway?

And then I remember something important. So, story time then, in which I am partially an old tauren woman sitting by the campfire and talking about the past to anyone who will listen.

Back in my day I had to walk ten miles through the raid dungeon, and then run a damage simulation programme just to work out my gear upgrades. In some ways, I wish I were joking about running statistical simulations -- it honestly got to the point where it was the only way to work out if I wanted any particular loot drop.

Other elements of my class were complicated too, and sometimes really not intuitive. In one case it was possible to decrease damage by using a damage-buffing spell if you didn't understand how the game mechanics worked. This was all fairly ridiculous. But it's also a badge of honour, to have been one of those rare Enhancement Shaman who actually knew what she was doing in those days.

My own class/spec was the most extreme example of complexity in World of Warcraft I ever encountered, and I gather it has since become much simpler -- it needed to be. I get the impression it wasn't really intended complexity, more the result of continually building on things. Rather like how evolution creates complexity, now I come to think about it.

It got silly, but for Chakwaina sitting by the fire, that's just the way things work. Honestly, I thrived on being part of a system where knowledge was such a powerful currency. After spending most of my spare time on the game (or reading up on the game) I became an expert on a lot of things, and Chakwaina became someone worthy of fear.

I used to complain to myself about people who asked for help instead of using the abundant internet resources available. I used to complain even more about people who did not read up on how to play their class well. I didn't want a group I was part of to be dragged down by idiots.

Yeah, I never said this was a story about me being nice. As Chakwaina I had overcome pain and adversity, and become powerful in many ways, but I still lacked wisdom.

Despite my mean streak, I did spend some time helping other people. I had a guild to help run, and could answer just about any question put to me (and if I couldn't, I could find out quickly). In my own small tribe, then, I did become a respected elder.

I raided on weekends for quite some time, with another, bigger guild. Progression raiding happened through the week while I was at work, but I spent a lot of time running the lower tiered raids. At first this was an honour -- to be allowed a raid spot at all was a big deal, especially as an outsider to their guild. But over time it became more of a service to others, as different raid members cycled through, and we taught them the fights and helped them gear up for the bigger raids.

It was kind of nifty actually, to watch people come in fresh, benefit from the group's experience, and leave better equipped and more skilled players. My own guild tried to provide a similar experience for players still leveling.

One day a new Enhancement Shaman joined our raid group. The raid leader whispered at me that her damage wasn't up to scratch and could I help her out? I certainly should have been able to help her, right? I was an expert on Shaman ways. Just from looking at her gear and choice of talents I had a lot to suggest to her. Too much to get across in the middle of a raid, and afterwards time-zone differences were a problem, but we exchanged e-mail adresses and I began to put together some information for her. She seemed eager to learn rather than getting defensive about advice, which helps a lot.

Putting together the relevant knowledge took several pages, but I was rather proud of my efforts. I happily sent it off. But in the end it didn't go as well as I had hoped. I hadn't counted on what I assume was a form of intellectual disability. I'd had no sense of that from our limited conversation beforehand, and I'd piled on far too much information too fast. Some elements had been latched onto, many had been missed, and some were misinterpreted. So much for my communication skills.

I tried to make up for this as much as I could, and keep things slower and simpler. But in many ways I had already lost my chance to help. Everything was now extra confusing. I have a tendency to provide the options, weigh things up and leave people room for individual style and choices. It is great if you can understand it, but it probably reads like gibberish to some.

So, one of my biggest regrets, as a Shaman and a Warcraft player, is that I let my tribes (and an individual) down thanks to my crappy assumptions. And when I complain about changes to the game, that's me basking in my own arrogance again and forgetting what I could have learnt by now.

I'm a self-motivated learner. I'm also highly visual and text-based person, so sometimes I struggle a bit with lectures or group discussion, but give me an essay or a decent instruction booklet and I'll be happy. Probably part of the reason I still read game manuals.

WoW has been well set up for my kind. It let me find my own way, and didn't treat me like an idiot. But if you expected the game to hand you all the information you needed then, yes, you were out of luck. Without thinking about it, I have been scoffing at all the people with different learning styles, and the people who, for whatever reason, were not capable of what I personally expected from a skilled player.

I have heard a lot recently about WoW being made more accessible for new players. I regret complaining about this, because really it did need better tooltips and tutorials, even if I didn't need them for myself.

Chakwaina has always been a bit variable, as she deals with demons considerably worse than my own. As an old woman she has become quite melancholy, and weighs up her choices in life. We could have been a better leader, and a better friend in many cases. We were the best fighter we could be, and the best knowledge base, but it doesn't count for as much any more.