Friday, February 24, 2012

The duty of leisure

Warning! This is post is as long and pompous as the title implies - read at peril of falling asleep and/or rolling your eyes right out of their sockets!

Thank you to Hugh over at the Melting Pot for finding something I can write about. He picked up on an essay Bravetank wrote about feeling guilty for playing WoW. He then also links to an essay by a developer about why downtime is necessary. I don't think the second piece was written in response to the first, but it's pretty clearly applicable.

As far as these things go, I don't really disagree with Psychochild's position. It seems clearly true to me that a human expected only to work, sleep, and eat is going to go mad or die. Further, the only work such a person would be capable of doing would be the most rote drudgery you can imagine. They wouldn't have the energy to do anything else. Something like digging ditches would probably be your best bet. You wouldn't even be able to have them do something physically less demanding, such as standing guard, because a guard shift in a legitimately hostile or dangerous area requires real concentration and attention.

So he makes a good argument, but I honestly don't think that he even needs to appeal to a need for downtime to "justify" hobbies. Especially a hobby like gaming.

I recently said on twitter that "culture is collaborative," which isn't a new sentiment at all, much less one that originated with me. At the time I was saying it in response to complaints about the film adaptation of Lord of the Rings (the films are not the books, that's the point, deal), but I feel that it's a much broader truth.

The culture we live in is a huge, goopy mess of currents and masses and deformations and eddies. We are affected by it and we shape it in turn. It reaches into every aspect of our lives. Gaming is a part of culture, as is reality TV, literature, film, advertising, the nauseating Republican debates, fanfiction, folk art: everything. When we game, we're taking part in that grand project.

It's tough to talk about stuff like this because it's so nebulous, and to be frank it begins to sound pretty silly. Like someone logging in to camp for Loque has some kind of mystical bearing on the Greek debt crisis. Of course I wouldn't go that far. Amongst the analogies that I would use to illuminate my understanding of culture is one of gravity. All of us little gamers are tiny little specks of matter out there in the void. We have gravitational fields, and we do a lot of jostling between each other. No particular individual will have noticeable pull any of the big elements in the system, but in the aggregate we shape the way things look in the future.

The games we play today and the ways we play them determine the games that get made tomorrow. Games, films, books, visual arts, music, and conversation all impact each other. Mass Effect 3 is going to introduce gay male romance options, and that fact did not occur in a vacuum. Nor is the fact of gay marriage in six states in the union.

What games we play and how we play them are important. Not only is downtime necessary, but how we spend it shapes the society we live in, and it is also a part of shaping ourselves. Quite apart from the enormous, impossible to grasp nebula of "culture," I think that humans have responsibilities to ourselves. I guess I take an almost Aristotelian view of virtue, in some ways. I would say that we should always strive to be the best version of ourselves possible. Work can be and is a part of that, but for me personally I feel that I grow into a better self by the consumption of media.

This goes beyond games, of course! I am a voracious devourer of the written word (fiction, non-fiction, prose and poetry), some varieties of TV and movies, and lots of different games. In fact recently I've felt guilty because I've been doing so little gaming, to an extent that I think I've been failing a duty to myself.

Obviously, everything in moderation! But the mere act of playing WoW should not trigger a feeling of guilt. When you engage with a facet of culture, as you're doing when you play the game, you're doing the collaborative work of shaping culture at the same time that you're advancing yourself as a fully realized person. Take pride in your work!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Oh, since I've reached a point where I'm pretty happy with my transmogrification set, I thought I could let people see what it looks like:

Click for bigger!
Hat: disabled
Shoulders: Fortified Spaulders
Chest: Val'kyr Vestments
Back: Cloak of Fiends (no longer available, sorry!)
Gloves: Silvered Bronze Gauntlets
Belt: Ironspine Belt
Pants: Cormorant Leggings
Boots: Southfury Greaves
Polearm: Lotrafen, Spear of the Damned (oh how I wish I could turn off enchantments!)
Ranged: Bristleblitz Striker

I think she looks pretty freakin' huntery!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Words with friends

This past week, my boyfriend and myself celebrated our fifth anniversary together (aww) with a week-long trip to Chicago. I tweeted about our destination on the way down and it turned out that Apple Cider was nearby! So we had dinner with her on the way down, and then on Thursday we hung out with her and O! It was a lot of fun - they're both lovely people - and of course we did a lot of talking about WoW and WoW blogging. I think my boyfriend might even pick up blogging again, which is pretty neat because he's probably one of the smarter people about the game out there.

Of course, in all this talking about the game and blog community stuff, I couldn't really escape thinking about the fact that I haven't posted anything since January. The problem is that this blog is so class- and game-mechanics oriented that in the absence of big patches, it's tough to have very much to talk about. I'm also really bad about talking about stuff from upcoming expansions (such as the impending Pandatimes) because it changes so much and everything is changing around it such that it's difficult to have any sort of sensible opinion about things.

For example, I took a look at the most recent Panda talents, and there were some changes that (on the face of things) seem sensible to me. Removing the stacking DoT from auto-shot: great choice. Making people choose between Fervor, Readiness, and Thrill of the Hunt: awesome. Same with having to choose between the interrupt, instant sleep, or pet stun. That's all really good stuff. The way they're thinking about things gives me a lot of hope.

I do think that it's going to be tough to really make that final tier an interesting choice for PvE hunters. I would suspect that either the boringly-named Power Shot or the Binding Shot (really, why not Arrow of Binding? Come on guys) will come out on top for DPS. I don't see this is as a criticism of the devs or anything - I honestly don't think it's realistic to try to come up with talents that directly affect damage done without having a mathematically best option. Overall, though, I remain excited for the way the changes are shaping up. I don't really get why someone leveling an MM hunter doesn't get Chimera Shot until 60 while their Survival and Beast siblings get their respective signature abilities at 10, but whatever, that's not a big deal.

On a totally different front: I should also mention that Apple Cider tagged me for a post-thing! The idea is that you go into your images folder, go to the 6th sub-folder, and then pick the 6th image from there and post it and talk about it.

Unfortunately that doesn't really work for me!

My raw screens folder is just a directory with screens. The 6th image there is of the skybox in the Eye of Eternity, which I took for the background for the guild site.

In my images directory, the 6th folder is an empty one that gets made whenever I plug my phone in to my computer (argh!).

The 6th image in the base directory is an old version of my blog banner.

In my WoW images directory, the 6th one is a super-boring picture of a small bug from Wrath, where hunter pets appeared to be their original size inside one of the tents on the Argent Tourney grounds. There's a big devilsaur in it.

I guess I'll just post a picture of my guild having fun with Potions of Illusion:

Probably the best name/title combination up there is Crusader Liecrusader.

As for picking other people to do it, good lord. I don't know if I can, really! Who would I tag? How would they know it had happened? The whole endeavor seems fraught with peril. I think we'll stick with the dancing chorus line and leave it at that.