Three weeks ago, my husband and I chose to spend our “date afternoon” together participating in a Guild Wars 2 stress test. Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) based around the story of the re-emergence of Destiny’s Edge, a guild dedicated to fighting and defeating the Elder Dragons who’ve once again taken over the world.
When Guild Wars 2 publisher ArenaNet announced the stress test on the Guild Wars 2 Facebook page, they explained, “We will be actively working on the game during the event, so you might experience connectivity problems or discover features that are not working as designed. Any issues you experience are a result of the rigorous conditions of the stress test, and are in no way representative of the state of the game at launch. By participating in this stress test, you’re helping us make Guild Wars 2 a better game.”
And we did find glitches as we played. I got disconnected twice. A few quests were bugged (in other words, didn’t work as they should). We also won’t be able to keep the characters we created for the stress test once the game actually launches.
But those stress tests are essential for a good game.
Stress tests provide information ArenaNet couldn’t get without putting pressure on the game. Until they applied that pressure, flaws and problems lay hidden. Ignorance of the problems kept them from fixing them.
They wanted to catch things in advance because if they didn’t and those problems showed up post-launch, it could ruin their game’s reputation. Games are a lot like people. They have a limited time to make a good first impression, and if they’re unpleasant to deal with, no one will hang around long. Even if you eventually fix the problems, people will be wary of you because the cloud of your past trails along behind you on the Internet. It takes much longer to fix a reputation than it does to build it up and keep it healthy in the first place.
We need stress tests in our lives for the same reasons. Each smaller trial we face—the flat tire, the failed project, the broken arm, the pinching pennies, even the minor successes—shows us weaknesses in our character. Are we impatient? Are we unmerciful? Do we blame someone else for what went wrong, or do we take responsibility? Are we a sore loser, coming up with reasons why that other person shouldn’t have gotten the job or shouldn’t have won? Are we a sore winner, gloating over the people we’ve beaten? Do we panic and take our fear out on our loved ones?
Once we know our weaknesses, we can work on fixing them.
The purpose of those stress tests in our lives is to prepare us for the important events. A terminally-ill loved one. A lost job. Getting the job we’ve always dreamed off. A successful book. Parenthood.
We don’t want to be caught unawares by our weaknesses when those hit. We want to be as prepared as possible so that we can do our best when it really matters.
By facing the stress tests, you’re helping make yourself a better person.
What “stress test” have you been thankful for in hindsight because it helped prepare you for something important down the road?
(I don’t know whether to thank Samantha Warren and Melinda VanLone for introducing me to this game or not I won’t completely geek out on you right now by talking about it in detail, but if you’re looking for a seemingly fantastic MMORPG that isn’t subscription-based, check out Guild Wars 2.)