Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In or Out: Cognitive Therapy for MMO Players

Last week a girlfriend posted some photos of her and other friends at a mini-vacation, one they take twice a year, and have for over 15 years. I have been to two of these events: the inaugural one, and one a few years later. I teased her on the comments asking, "Sob, why am I not there!?" The three women looked beautiful, and I have often wondered if my path had kept me there (these are high school friends) would I look and be the same? She sent me back a private email saying I was always welcome, etc., and it struck me that her guilt was completely unwarranted. After all, I could just as easily make sure I keep in touch more, and plan ahead. I know she assumed, and correctly, that my work schedule does not allow for just picking up and jetting off any ol' time I please. It has its perks, but that is not one. (I also can't eat a decent lunch, and any time I get the opportunity to enjoy my lunch for over fifteen minutes feels like heaven). Bottom line: I needed to take responsibility for my own fun. I know I'm always welcome, and need to be more proactive to see if I can join them, maybe the one this summer.

Coincidentally, a few days ago, was reading one of my favorite blogs, and came across his post of exclusion and inclusion, called Fair Enough:

In a larger sense, I would assert that what we value as a society is freedom from arbitrary exclusion, such as that based upon things like religion, skin color, gender, and, increasingly, sexual orientation, while we all also have the right to exclude people who hurt us, who damage our property, who will not play by the agreed upon rules, and engage other "anti-social" behaviors. But even within that there is so much gray area that it's difficult to talk about, especially when we consider that we also value our right to freely associate with whom we choose. One person's righteous rebellion is another person's crime against society. Some see great value in, say, a "women only" club, while others see it as discriminatory. Some find unity through associations based on religion or ethnicity, while others see these same affiliations as nefarious. I have my opinions about these things, and you have yours, but whatever the case we all know that it's an ongoing discussion that, at bottom, is about fairness.

We do this all the time to each other in Azeroth, intentionally or not. There are structures around dungeon and raid compositions, and rewards and big shinies are given to those who run in groups of 3, 8, or more. When we continually feel left out, no matter the context, it is depressing, no question. I have been on both sides of this conversation--I have felt like I had to push and nose my way in to a group, and then sometimes wish I could put on a stealth button so no one would see I've logged on. 

The only fix I know of, though, is this--just keep trying. To have a friend, you gotta be a friend. Plan guild events, and structure them as you feel, or throw out an invite in guild chat for runs, etc. At this point, I would wager most players have enough alts to suit most roles. But--and here is the responsibility of the "grown up," just as I needed to take responsibility for not being actively invited to my friends' yearly vacation ritual, don't criticize others' attempts at trying to do something or have an event. It's their party and they'll call out loot if they want to.

Cognitive therapy comes from trying to gain control over one's thinking. To me, it's really about looking at things from another perspective. That player who didn't invite you? Maybe their long-time running buddy logged on and they're catching up. Didn't go on a guild run? Maybe they're having a party in vent, or role playing, or trying out a new strategy and don't want to derp publicly. Remember, three to five year olds get this, and navigate it. I'm sure we Draeneis and Goblins can, too.

Jordan Pruitt/Outside Looking In (for your teeny-bopper pop fix)

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