online games

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 sxc.hu)

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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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My Dark Secret

World of Warcraft HobbyI have a dark secret, one certain members of my family feel should never be admitted to. It’s just too embarrassing. Too pathetic. Too geeky. It marks me as a social misfit.

Because at first I didn’t know anyone else who shared my dark secret (other than the man who’s now my husband—but that’s another story), I figured they must be right. I indulged in private, never admitting to anyone what I was doing. And I’ll never forget the patronizing looks and snickers that came whenever I was caught.

You see, on weekdays, I’m a mild-mannered writer, working on grant proposals and magazine articles and correcting grammar. On weekends, however, I don my armor, draw my sword, and become a Draenei paladin named Micaah, slaying monsters in World of Warcraft.

For me, playing means stepping into a story. I customized Micaah from her race (species) and class (what she can do in the game) to her hair, skin, and face. (I think she looks a little like Halle Barry.) Each quest is unique, whether I’m dousing fires in a village, harvesting herbs to make medicine, or killing naga. The quest givers tell you why they’re sending you on this particular mission and what they’ll reward you with if you succeed. And the graphics are incredible.

The longer I played my game, the more I started to question why this particular pastime was less worthwhile than any other. Why should I be ashamed?

It wasn’t illegal, immoral, or otherwise harmful to me or anyone else. It’s less expensive than most sports. I can play with others, giving it a social aspect, or independently, allowing for much needed “alone time.”

And everyone needs a hobby.

A hobby, by definition, is an interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. I could spend my time on something more acceptable. I could have played soccer or volleyball instead, but I don’t like sports and I find them stressful because I’m afraid of taking a ball to the face. Even if I played a sport, it couldn’t be called a hobby for me. I’m basically a hospital visit waiting to happen.

So I had to ask: Why should anyone be able to tell me that the hobby I enjoyed, that helped me relax, isn’t good enough? If I want to collect antique lunchboxes or learn to play the accordion, I should be able to do so without being afraid of what people will think.

A hobby that you’re forced into and don’t enjoy isn’t a hobby at all. Shouldn’t we each be able to choose the hobby that’s right for us?

What hobby do you hide? Do you collect coins/stamps/vintage toys? Play croquet? Are you a closet gamer like me? Why do you love your dark secret of a hobby?

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