The Woodshed

Behind here, no one can hear you scream

Rough Raidin'

Since 2005. Sometimes.

Ever since a game called EverQuest came out in 1999, the raid has been a popular—but notoriously demanding—activity for adults who play video games. The essential principle is a large group of players join forces to defeat a dragon (or some such). As the genre has evolved, doing this requires an increasing amount of organization, commitment, and coordination between these players. It is a team “sport” where your teammates may live on the other side of the country (or the world), and you can “compete” regardless of physical prowess, age, or gender.

I was a successful “raider” when I played EverQuest in high school, but since then, depression (and whatever other defects) have impaired my ability to do so (as they have impaired most all aspects of my life in general). Thus, although I’ve tried raiding in World of Warcraft several times in recent years, I’ve generally with varying levels of failure. This is certainly just a drop in the bucket when compared to other areas of life wherein I’ve dropped the ball, but it has helped provide an important insight: my case is perhaps somewhat different from the individual who neglects responsibilities he doesn’t enjoy but devotes himself to hobbies he enjoys. I’ve tended to neglect everything, without “enjoyment discrimination.”

Nevertheless, during those times in which I’m feeling a bit better, attempting to raid has become an interesting barometer of sorts. It requires commitments in a number of legitimate areas that are difficult for me, but the consequences of failure aren’t on the same magnitude as the big “real life” responsibilities.

Non-exhaustively, raiding requires:

  • Schedule commitment (so, reliability, one of my biggest concerns)
  • Time commitment (ability to work on something for 2-3 consecutive hours)
  • Focus commitment (ability to sustain a challenging activity without frustration or fatigue)
  • Self-evaluation commitment (another of my biggest concerns—dealing with personal imperfections without beating myself up)
  • Social commitment (raids are done with anywhere from 10 to 30 people; there is constant communication/interaction [often via voice, like a big conference call]. Even if they are nice people, putting myself out there has always been a big source of anxiety)
  • Attitude commitment (staying positive and open-minded, if not necessarily cheerful, despite the toll that all those other commitments may take)

My last attempt was early in the spring, so it’s been almost a year now. I picked the game up again around Thanksgiving, and met some nice folks who convinced me to give raiding another go. Theirs is a friendly team with a non-judgmental atmosphere, which is good. It’s only been a week, but I can already see marked improvements in most of the aforementioned areas compared to previous forays. Perhaps I’m making some progress after all…