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Every time I log the L100 Warlock into game, as part of Operation Pattern Backlog the ‘You have unspent Talent Points’ thing blinks at me from my character bar. Every single time I ignore it, because I don’t need to be outputting maximum DPS when all that happens is farming. Then, as has happened today, I find myself wondering what is the best spec these days. Old habits die hard, after all. When you have been taught that games play a certain way, it becomes difficult to ignore what is asked of you. Like my son right now, who is learning how to play Hearthstone, there is a basic understanding of what is needed to win, the process of producing something from raw materials provided that can create what is desired.

Except, for a long time, he was never interested in the winning, just taking part.

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Rewards are strange things: I watch people desperate for validation and acknowledgement almost daily scream their desires into the void of Social media, hoping that at that moment they can find someone, anyone who will justify their existence. People invent them and then hand the things out like sweets, in the hope that this will somehow make their personal disquiet assuage in the face of generosity. I have discovered that the best rewards inevitably appear when you don’t ask and often never notice. Now, all I crave is to be a part of a whole that is often confusing to understand. It isn’t as if that’s happened overnight either: there was before never a real comprehension of why winning mattered. Now that’s understood, and the desire to take part assuaged…

Where does the challenge come if ‘beating’ a game is removed?

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For me, inevitably, it is random moments of brilliance. I needed a L25 Battle Stone for my Celestial Tournament aspirations this morning, and so sent the Shaman off to do the Menagerie quest in her Garrison, wearing Burgy Blackheart’s disguise and BOOM, I’m never taking this toy off if it gives me Ghost Wolf with a hat. I don’t care if this isn’t news to everyone else, it made me smile this morning, and I’ll take that on a day when humour is in short supply. I’ve often wondered what it is that makes people continue to level their alts when the time it takes and the effort involved often seems quite contrary to what could be construed as enjoyable. Then comes the reminder: there is no right way to play. I should get a poster of that made and pinned up somewhere, so I don’t forget.

Maybe if I had a better memory a lot of my issues would vanish too.

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For now, it is about understanding there’s no fun in beating Trainers with only one type of pet, but there is enjoyment in grinding out 5000 battles, because while I may not win at strategy my stamina is amazing. I know that eventually I will get the Blue Drake from Skadi, but only if I keep banging my head against the Instance. Reward is only as important as the significance you place upon it. Sometimes, it is just better to play and forget that there’s something extra to be gained.

Inevitably it is better just to take part than to ever win.

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