|“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”|
Every generation has a movie or two they grew up with and that was particularly influential to them as kids or teenagers, echoing the vibe of their time, inspiring them to adventure and pushing the boundaries of the society they live in. For the 60ies it was The Graduate, for the 70ies it was films like Grease. I’m not sure what it was for today’s generation of teens, but if I am to believe my students, it’s movies like American Pie or Clueless…them poor souls!
The 80ies were good times: we had films like Stand by Me, The Goonies or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986, to kindle our impressionable imagination. If you’ve never watched Ferris Bueller, then I really suggest you do – it’s not only a great laugh and 80ies flashback with memorable acting and quotes, but a hyperbolic metaphor on getting more out of life if only you dare to “stop and look around every once in a while“. Ferris is one of the big movie cult figures of the 80ies generation because of this.
Taking a day off from the race
Looking back on several topics and bottom lines players are currently drawing for WoW, while turning their eyes on Cataclysm, I feel a little gloomy about the rushed pace the game’s been taking since its latest installment. There’s been an increased pressure to optimize and increase gaming “efficiency” in WoW which has been documented and discussed over many a blog. Tesh struggles with his inner demon, driving him to catch up and optimize in one of his latest blog posts, where he forces himself to take it easy because “efficiency is a natural enemy of exploration and experimentation”. Shintar has written a very thoughtful comparison between applying for a WoW guild and going to a job interview. And there’s been various other posts discussing cookie cutter specs in WoW and the pressure all players feel to min/max and optimize, debating various solutions.
Personally I doubt this trend of efficiency will stop in Cataclysm and I think it’s going to be very hard to stay away from it, even for the more laid-back players. Blizzard’s continued endeavor to make everything as transparent as possible in the game, via combat data, armory or achievements, is furthering the obsession to perfect and optimize every aspect in the game – for no better reason than because you can.
And whether you like it or not, you will find yourself facing situations in pugging as much as guild raiding, where you will be measured by these standards and hence feel pressured to meet them. It’s impossible to turn back the wheel of time.
My new expansion’s resolution: the Ferris Bueller Way
I know that in Cataclysm I don’t want to play the game like that. I want to stop worrying about optimization and explore my own way through the new expansion, making the “newbie feeling” last as long as possible. I want to experiment with gear and specs without reading up beforehand. I won’t join groups or raids that require me to cookie-cut everything or show my achievements. A game shouldn’t feel like a job – it should be an escapism. I don’t want to feel pressured to follow the dogma of efficiency in a game that doesn’t actually require you to optimize in order to experience 98% of its content.
I will take off a Ferris Bueller day, only I’ll make it weeks. I will skip school and create my own adventure, generate my own quests and challenges, exploring at my own leisure and enjoying the little secrets that make a game so much more special.
I know it will take a lot of mental effort and all of my inner Zen to achieve this – I am a very perfectionist, driven and calculating person. It’s been the only way of playing WoW for me the past 5 years. But I do refuse to enter the competition this time around: yes, I will quench my inner demon! When Cataclysm hits, I will ignore everyone and everything around me (lalala!), take a deep breath and do exactly this: play the game like a game. I hope I’ll succeed.