I’ve learned a lot of things throughout the years I’ve played WoW. Many of the skills are fairly game-specific. For instance, I was very excited when I figured out how to strafe on my hunter, but I’d fall on my ass trying that in real life. It’d make an amusing youtube video, but that’s about it. But there are many other skills that I thought were game-specific until something came up in real life, and I realized I was applying the wisdom of Azeroth to real life problems. And that it was working. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been surprised by how often those seemingly game-specific skills overlap with my real life and give me an edge in dealing with very real, day-to-day situations, or even emergencies.
One example is trolling. I used to be really terrible about letting people get to me. I really didn’t know what a troll was, as it would never occur to me to act that way myself, and so I was troll-bait, getting into ridiculous arguments with people who were probably laughing out loud at my outrage. Attempting to respond to someone making troll arguments is a fool’s errand, but hey, I’m a fool, and once upon a time I took the bait. But the problem is that the person on the other end of the internet doesn’t really believe what they are saying, so they’ll just keep arguing more and more outrageous things to get a rise out of you.
Back to real life, where I deal with teenagers daily at my job. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the kids I work with – they are smart, hilarious, and amazingly talented. But they do like to test the limits of what the adults around them will allow. In essence, they want to troll you – they want to see how far they can push you. Will you really punish them as you threatened? Will you back off in the face of a real confrontation? Can they get an emotional rise out of you? Poke, poke, poke!
Sound familiar? By the time I had a few kids try this with me, I’d had plenty of experience with trolls in WoW. Experience that taught me when to engage someone in a real conversation and when to refuse to do so. So I look at this particular young person and call their bluff. That might mean I punish them for doing foolish things. It might just mean I don’t fetch whatever it is we both know they want from me unless they ask explicitly and politely. But buddy, I’ve dealt with far worse than whatever you can dish out, so bring it on.
Had I not had the experience with extreme trolls in WoW, those kids would have walked all over me. I’m really nice, I really like to help out the kids I work with, so I’ll bend over backwards for them until they give me a reason not to do so. But they are teenagers, exploring their autonomy and testing the adults around them. Sometimes the best thing to do to a troll, on the internet or otherwise, is to stand smiling nicely while they dig themselves into a verbal hole they can’t get out of, then carry on with your life. The nice thing about real life trolls? Sometimes they actually learn something from the encounter.
Soloing content has its real life counterpart as well. For my relatively young age, my health is quite poor. It’s tough to go do normal things with my children, or with friends, but if I’m careful, I do have things I can do to temporarily bolster my health. I often pay for it later in pain, but for that day, I’m well enough to run around an amusement park with my kids. Sound familiar? It’s like saving up all of your cooldowns, then blowing them all at once to survive, allowing me to do something that is otherwise impossible for me to do. Thinking of it that way lets me manage myself better than if I didn’t see those health-bolstering methods as limited cooldowns that I have to time correctly for the maximum benefit.
My experiences with tanking have similar real life corollaries – being in charge without being a power-hungry pain in the ass, communicating with my spouse/healer in a way that is essentially work-related, because even fun tank/healer combos take good communication and work to maintain. When my partner and I are both totally worn down but realize we have another five hours of taking care of the kids before we can crash for the night, he gives me a look and says, “You tank, I’ll heal.” And there is something poetic about it. Just a few words can say so very much.
What about you? Have you found the lessons WoW has taught you coming into play outside of Azeroth?