If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever be interested in playing an MMO, I would have looked at you as if you were in the process of growing a second head. One of my favorite things about the video games I was most drawn to was being able to do things my own way. If a game would let me build my own class? I was going to do that. And if my cloth-wearing, bow-wielding, alchemist character concept failed horribly? Well, then no one was suffering but me.
(and incidentally? I was rarely suffering. I was mostly laughing my ass off.)
Since then, obviously, a lot has changed. The community aspect of MMO gaming really drew me in at a time in my life where I really needed that, and I’ll admit playing around in a couple of MMOs that I direly wanted to be single player experiences (The Secret World, I am looking SO HARD at you right now). But the thing that hasn’t changed? I still want to do it my way.
Playing World of Warcraft, provided you didn’t want to be a “hard mode” raider, you could get by with a pretty serious amount of sub-optimal as far as class or specialization was concerned, as long as you put in some effort to gear and enchant and reforge (y’know when that was a thing) in an appropriate manner for what you wanted to do. I played an elemental shaman when it was in a downright dire place, and my friends still let me play with them – it’s possible that the bright shiny heroism button had something to do with that, but I think they would have taken me regardless. And I did work hard to make sure I got every single iota of oomph I could out of my character, but I wasn’t willing to play a spec (or class) that just wasn’t fun for me to play.
Since then, it’s become kind of a running joke in our house about any game we play. If there’s a spec that absolutely terrible to the point of being non-viable? That’s the one I’m drawn to. If there’s a talent tree that has a must-have talent for end-game content? I hate it. I hate it vehemently.
Now my husband? When we start a game, he’s eyeball deep in guides before we leave the starting area, and he gets frustrated with me that I never want to look things up. I just want to push buttons and see what happens, and if it’s not fun, I want to find new buttons to push until it is. Because I suspect there’s a whole lot more people out there like him than like me, it makes the whole idea of playing with strangers downright TERRIFYING. So I mostly avoid instanced group content while leveling, and usually continue to do so even if I manage to make it all the way to level cap.
This is why I have always pushed so hard for Stands in Bad to be a place where you have to take your gaming seriously enough that you know what you’re doing if you want to do challenging group content, but not so seriously that it sometimes feels like going to a job that you really kind of don’t like. For some people, the only way to have fun is to be the best. And then, for people like me? The only way for me to be my best is to be having fun.