Yesterday I’d written 1500 words of a very unorganised, angsty post before common sense broke out and I deleted it. Fortunately with the benefit of a decent night’s kip, I can now come to what I wanted to say yesterday with far more coherence on board. Sometimes, you see, it isn’t the game at fault, instead the player’s perception when within. This is a fact I’ve tried to address in various ways over the last few weeks, which has led to not only my mental fitness being challenged but the assertion I’m here myself for the right reasons.
That’s a question I asked myself yesterday evening as a soloed Stage Three of an Invasion on a US server.
This whole lead up to Legion has sold the idea of things being a collective effort, Alliance and Horde together. Last night I watched the counter crawl from 1-99% as I systematically eliminated every mob I could in Azshara that wasn’t an Elite Skull. I cleared camp after camp, grimly determined to get to the end, as this was the last area I needed to complete the achievement, and not once did I ask for help, because I was afraid to. No-one in my new Guild was somebody I knew, so I decided it was just easier do it alone. So, I did, and finally after an hour and the Achievement not one person in the Guild congratulated me, and then it finally registered that like it or not, I am my own worst enemy playing this game, and quite a few things need to change as a matter of priority going forward.
It could be that I’m just too old school, but that’s not the entire truth, and I need to admit this to everyone now, going forward: I cannot afford to become addicted again to this game, and already I can see that happening. Expecting congratulations is the start of that viscous cycle. Watching guides on how I must do things with Artefacts, this and this or that I need X, Y and Z done every day has ended up making me feel uncomfortable. I can see me getting sucked into obsessive playtime because I was an addict before and as I try desperately to avoid the things that make me that way, people just keep shoving them at me as the norm, because they can cope with them yet I can’t. I may yet be able to manage all this and stay objective, but right now my anxiety levels are higher than I can remember them for many years. Maintaining clarity and objectivity about this experience can only be achieved by imposing deliberate distance. That’s why text chat’s so much more comforting than voice right now. I can do it on my terms, and not listen to people telling me how great stuff is and how I’m missing out. If you’ve never recovered from an addiction, this will make no sense to you, but trust me, what I need right now is not what I’m getting, and this is an issue.
So that means, in the weeks that follow, I won’t be around in the mornings for hours on end as I have been in previous Expansions. I won’t change my routine in order to get everyone levelled ASAP. I refuse point blank to be sucked into anything and, when launch comes tonight, I will play only for a couple of hours and then go to bed. I will effectively undo all my good work and months of personal progress if I let Legion become the be all and end all of my existence, and I’m sorry if that means you lose respect for my dedication or devotion to the title, but my mental health matters more. Saying this as I watch people pile up snacks and prepare to not stop until they hit 110 makes me understand that I’ve come further than I ever thought would be possible. This game no longer controls me. I can freely admit it’s a part of my life I still want to be involved in, but not on the terms it has been since I started playing.
That means that the views you get of Legion, reviews and asides going forward, will not be the same as those that have come before. I suspect there will be increasing levels of objectivity. I may even stop myself from progressing forward until I’ve had time to reflect on each zone as I travel through it. I won’t hit 110 until way after most of the people in my Guilds, maybe all. This time, it really will be about the journey, finally on my terms.
This is the Expansion where finally, I get to do it ‘properly.’