Do You Ever Wish You Were Someone Else?

World of WarcraftBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I used to wish I was more like other people. I wanted to be funny like my brother. Smart like the people on Jeopardy. I wanted the fashion sense of my cousins, and the patience of my grandma. Basically, I wished I was like everyone but me.

What I forgot was how terrible it would actually be if the world was full of identical people.

When my husband first interested me in playing World of Warcraft, an MMORPG (massively multi-player online role playing games), my first lesson was that I’d have to choose a role to play.

Many MMORPGs have what they call the “holy trinity” of three roles—tanks, healers, and DPSs. My character could only play one role at a time.

Tanks, as their name suggests, take the heavy damage. They get up close and allow the bad guy to beat on them, distracting his attention from their teammates.

DPS, short for damage per second, are the high damage dealers. They’re often unable to take a lot of damage themselves, but the tank and healers in the group depend on them to kill the bad guy.

Healers (obviously) heal. Without them, the evil mobs would kill the rest of the group before they could get the job done. Keeping everyone alive requires a sharp eye and a good sense of balance.

Most people who play prefer one role over the others because each comes with a specific play style. And just because you’re good at one role doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at the others. Healers often make terrible DPS, DPS often make terrible tanks, and tanks often make terrible healers.

But if you want to clear a dungeon or beat a raid boss, your group needs all three classes because each role brings something unique.

In life, like in World of Warcraft, we each bring something unique to the table, something not everyone else can do.

And it wasn’t until my wedding, when my maid of honor gave her speech, that I realized other people were wishing they were like me in the same way I was wishing I was like someone else.

Perhaps I didn’t have my brother’s sense of humor, but I have an ability to notice and organize details that he doesn’t. Perhaps I’ll never have my cousins’ fashion sense, but I can write and play the flute. I don’t have the saint-like patience of my grandma, but I do have a knack for seeing the best in people, even when they can’t see it in themselves.

And the world needs those things too. Just like it needs your unique talents.

What talent, ability, or quality do you wish you had? What are you really good at that you sometimes take for granted?

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Are You A Jerk Without Realizing It?

Are You A Jerk Without Realizing It?By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

How do you react to someone who’s not as good at something as you are?

As I’ve mentioned in a previous posts on “My Dark Secret” and “Why Every Couple Should Play Video Games Together” my husband and I play World of Warcraft, a massively multi-player online role playing game.

I love playing WoW. It’s relaxing and fun to escape into a story you participate in while completing quests.

But I have to miss a large chunk of the content because I won’t play with strangers. Whenever a quest requires a group, I have to wait for my husband rather than asking in the chat box if anyone else nearby is already working on the same quest chain. I never use the random dungeon finder, which would add me to a group of people to run a dungeon. I’ve never been a member of a raiding guild.

You see, I’m a casual player. I don’t have the time to study stats, crunch numbers, and do the theory building of a hard core player. It’s a game. Life takes precedence. And that means I’m not as good a player as many others even though I try.

In other words, I’m jerk-bait.

Jerks pop up enough in random groups that I’ve learned to keep my distance. They’re the people who verbally attack another player because they aren’t doing enough damage per second, they miss a heal, or they lose threat as a tank (the class that’s supposed to distract the bad guy from beating on the squishier players).

These people assume you aren’t trying and that you suck because you’re unwilling to learn. They refuse to play with you anymore, and they try to get you booted from the group.

It happens on the forums too when someone like me asks a question. The jerks assume the person asking the question is lazy rather than that they just don’t know what they don’t know.

It makes me stop and think now before I react to people in life, people who aren’t yet as good at something as I am or who don’t catch on to a new concept as quickly as I do.

Do I want to be the jerk who berates someone who’s struggling? Or do I want to be the person who takes a little extra time to teach them and help them be better?

I want to be the latter.

I want to be the one who goes out of my way to help a newbie learn. I want to be the one who keeps helping them find a new way to understand a concept that’s evading them. I want to show them mercy and grace and kindness.

I’m not always good at that yet. We all have a tendency to assume that if something is easy for us, it’s inherently easy, and anyone who doesn’t get it isn’t trying hard enough.

But I think it’s about every day trying to grow a little closer to the kind of person we want to be.

Do you get impatient with people who are struggling to figure something out? Have you ever dealt with a jerk when you were struggling to learn something?

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Photo Credit: Gabriella Fabbri (via

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Why I’m Thankful for the Stress Tests in Life

Guild Wars 2 Stress TestI’m thankful for the stress tests of life.

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.)

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Why Every Couple Should Play Video Games Together

Marcy Kennedy World of WarcraftBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Video and computer games are some of the most underrated relationship-building tools.

My husband and I had a long-distance relationship from the time we met until we got married (and even after we got married as we waited on immigration). Many people wonder how we could possibly know each other well enough to get married if we’d never lived near each other. Alongside long hours spent talking on the phone and webcams and all-too-brief visits, we were also able to learn about each other through playing online games.

Put your skepticism on hold—I’m about to tell you three things you can learn about the person you’re with simply by playing a game together, plus why I think every couple can benefit from it.

Do they know how to share, and will they make sacrifices for you?

In World of Warcraft, the game my husband and I started playing as a long-distance dating couple, bag space is at a premium. You start with one bag (out of a possible five), and you don’t have the money to buy any more. So what? Well, if you don’t have enough bag space, you’ll waste a lot of time running back to a vendor to empty your bags rather than being able to complete all the quests in an area at once. And until you reach level 20 and get riding training and a mount, all travel is slow and on foot.

You also start out broke, with not a single coin in your purse. You have to earn money by completing quests and selling what drops from the monsters you fight. This can make buying new gear, buying bags, or getting the training you need slow at first.

Unless your significant other has a higher-level character and is willing to send your baby toon (a way of saying “low-level character”) four 16-slot bags and 250 gold. They just showed that they value helping you over advancing their own character.

Any game where two players can share items, ammo, money, or information can tell you a lot about the character of the person you’re playing with.

How do you function as a team?

In WoW, you can play cooperatively with someone else by joining a group and going on quests together. (A lot of games have this team element to them, so, again, this point isn’t confined to WoW.)

My husband and I play as a damage-dealer/healer pair. He has to have my back and protect me from mobs that would rip through my flimsy cloth “armor,” and I have to make sure I don’t let his health drop to critical levels. Does the person you’re with watch out for you, or do they run off and let you die?

Other quests and dungeons require a certain amount of strategy. In other words, you need to develop good communication skills if you expect to succeed.

And when you fail, do they blame it all on you? Or do you both accept responsibility and figure out a new plan together?

How patient will your partner be with your shortcomings (or what they consider shortcomings)?

According to my husband, I’m a slow player with limited situational awareness. I locate quests slower, choose my rewards slower, empty my bags slower—you get the idea. It’s a difference in our play styles. I’m living the fantasy and savoring the experience. He just wants to level because he’s already played the content multiple times before.

I also tend to accidentally attract bad guys because I don’t see them. I prefer to play with my view zoomed in closer, while my husband plays with his zoomed out as far as it will go. Neither of us can understand how the other plays the way they do.

So we work to find a compromise between our play styles, we try to be patient, and we continue to play together because the fun we have far outweighs our frustrations.

Have you played video or computer games with your loved one? Is there anything else you would consider an underrated relationship-building tool?

For another great post on the value of gaming in life and relationships, check out Kristen Lamb’s post “Gears of War—Playtime, Obsession, Foundation of a Happy Marriage.”

Image Credit: Jer Wilcocks Photography (That’s my husband and I from our engagement photo shoot in the picture.)

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