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So in the spirit of the Cycle of Burnout, I’ve moved from the “Sight of the Log-In Screen Makes me Burn Like the Sun with Resentment” Phase to the “Life is So Much Better Without WoW” Phase, and am currently entering the “Hmmm, I Wonder what my Warlock’s Doing Now” Phase.

I’m not quite ready to jump back into the fray entirely, but I’m getting there. More importantly, I miss my blog. Yes I do. Who’s a cute little bloggie? Who’s my cute little blog? You are! Yes you are!

/pet Blog

Anyway…

I half-took the very good advice of those of you who posted on my last Burn-Out Post (and though I’ve epic failed at responding to comments like I said I would, I read them all and they all helped me sort out my brain quite a bit). Probably should have taken it in full, but taking good advice is like eating healthy. I know I should do it, I know I will feel better for it in the long run, but God damn I want that burger.

In the end I wound up pretty much cutting out all WoW with the exception of the pre-committed raid/group nights (roughly three a week), and put certain plans in motion that will free me of the majority of those commitments at some point in the next few weeks. Knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel has done wonders for relieving the stress it was causing me.

Specifically, I took the advice of the lovely Tamarind, acknowledged that I am not the only tank in the village, and shacked up with Garrus for a while. It has been a much needed break from the grind.

Aside: if you haven’t played the Mass Effect games yet, you probably should. Like, for real. Even if you don’t like sci-fi/games where you shoot people instead of stab them. It has been a very long time indeed since a game absorbed me quite so completely as that one did. Also, it’s got Garrus. Garrus is win.

Though now that I’m starting to consider playing WoW as my main game again, I’m facing an intriguing conundrum – when I finally get back up to my computer room, load up the log-in screen, and hit “Enter World”…what do I do with myself? If I actually manage to extricate myself from the world of raiding and pre-determined commitments, and having to grind various resources in order to even play, what is there to do?

What did I do before I raided? What did I do before I heavily engaged in large-group play? Has it honestly been so long that I have trouble remembering?

I played alts, I know that much. But I was to the point where I’d look at my alts and see nothing but potential subs for our raids, possible buffs, useful professions – not a class, not a character.

What were my goals for them before they became little more than tools? When I first rolled them?

Did I ever really just play this game for shits and giggles?

Looking at my character screen kinda feels like I’ve just woken up. I blink and stare blearily at the list and go: Oh! Oh my God! That’s a Shaman! Not a melee-DPS slot, healer in a pinch. And holy shit! I’ve actually GOT a hunter there! Not just a ranged-DPS/kiter when required. And even the multitude of various tank-specced characters inhabiting that list have gone from being “alt-tanks for other raid groups if required” to being “my pally, my warrior, my druid, my DK”.

I’ve got my babies back.

The timing couldn’t be better, either. Last speculated date I heard for Cataclysm was September/October. That means I’ve got the summer to make whatever preparations I need to in order to be ready to jump right into Cataclysm at the points I want to – and I can enjoy the ride while I’m at it. I want to make sure I’ve got a few options at 80, on the Alliance and the Horde (one more 80 should do it. Maybe I could get my priest up…), a few options around level 40ish, and a few slots open for alts because while 90% of the rest of the game is running from 80 to 85 I fully intend to be picking Peacebloom in Elwynn or mining copper in Durotar and seeing what changes Blizzard’s made to the 1-60 game (which has long been my favourite part, no matter how stale it got after making the run 2 347 439 times).

Oh yeah, and I want a Worgen and a Goblin, because I have some kind of Pokemon complex.

I think I’d like to get either my rogue or my warlock into the 60 bracket a minimum, because I’ve never actually gotten either one past 20 under my own power. My rogue currently sits in the 40 bracket, but levels 20-35 were basically one big boost which means I don’t understand how to play him and that’s bad. They remain the two classes I’ve never gelled to in terms of playability.

I’d also like to get my mage into the 70 bracket. I don’t know if I have enough time for that, though. She’s in the 60 bracket, so not far off, but as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I spend a lot of time dead as a mage.

And the best part is, whatever I manage to achieve from that list, I won’t be doing it for the group. I won’t be doing it for the raid. I won’t be doing it for the guild. I’ll be doing it for me. And as selfish as that may be, I think it’s a lot of what I’ve been missing lately.

Oh Shits and Giggles, how I’ve missed you!

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What do you mean there’s been more days with no posts than posts the last two weeks?! I don’t know what you’re talking about! Stop spreading such vicious lies…

*Cough*

Right, well…allow me to just mumble something about real life and Mass Effect 2 and move on with the post.

Do you ever take breaks from Warcraft? Like, not just from an aspect of the game (raiding, guild, server, blogging, whatever), but the game itself? And I don’t mean the between-expansions-break. I mean just…general burn-out. Getting bored, however temporarily. Suddenly blinking in the harsh light of day and looking away from the computer screen for a few seconds and wondering what else you could be doing (even if in the end you’re just looking at a pile of other games).

I know some people who have what appears, for all intents and purposes, to be an insatiable appetite for WoW. No matter the time of day, or what else is going on in their life, if they have the time for it, they could happily play it (they don’t always – please note I’m not talking about a full-blown addict here. Just someone who never gets bored of it). Or, at the very least, has a much less satiable appetite than my own.

World of Warcraft is, hands down, my favourite game. I wouldn’t feel right not qualifying it as such, given the sheer amount of time and, I am reluctant to admit, cash I’ve put into it. No other game has managed to commandeer my play time so insistently. I do legitimately enjoy the time I’ve spent in Azeroth.

But sometimes I just want to do something else. And what’s probably a bit sad is that I feel like a heretic for it. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that much of my real life social circle also plays WoW, and never do we all get bored at the same time. That would be incredibly convenient. If we could sync our burn-out life would be good.

I have been, I think, burned out on WoW for a while, but as usual have continued to play through it. Too many in-game obligations to be able to afford burn-out. Too many people I’ve committed to playing with. This is further worsened by the fact that I’m a tank. So if I told them I’d play, changing my mind involves the guilt of reneging on my promise and leaving them in the lurch with no tank and staring down the LFG/D like the rabid beast it is. This is a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (well…maybe my worst). Plus, most of these commitments aren’t one-offs – like, “Hey, did you want to run Heroics tomorrow?” They’re regular guild commitments – raid nights and so on. It’s not a request I can just turn down, it’s a standing agreement I have to withdraw from, which has a guilt all its own.

The upsides of playing through burnout are that things continue on at the status quo and there’s no catch-up or work to be done when the burnout is over and I actually want to play again. Plus, no guilt because me withdrawing puts the recreation of others at risk. Keep in mind that although it’s exacerbated by the fact that I’m tank, we’re a very small guild. If anyone is missing, we feel it.

The downsides of playing through burnout are that the burnout lasts longer and gets much worse before it gets better. If I force myself to play through it for too long, the sight of the login screen will eventually make me want to cry. My care-factor goes down more each time I hit “Enter World.” I’m sure my performance suffers on some level, and I know my patience does. I already don’t really want to be here, so it takes a lot less to hit my shit-I’m-willing-to-take quota for the night (which is, admittedly, pretty low on a good day).

And it’s not that I’ve spontaneously decided that I don’t like Warcraft, or I’m no longer interested in raiding or my guild or what have you. It’s just that I’m momentarily bored. I’ve been through it before. Played WoW just a bit too much, put too much time into it, and I need a break. Once upon a time, this was very easy to do. Things have now evolved such that it’s no longer easy. It’s actually extremely complicated (and, before someone points it out, yes I’m aware it’s technically as simple as announcing that I’m taking a break. The complications are in my head and my reactions to other people’s reactions (I am very easy to guilt-trip), but the fact remains they’re there and they’re complicated).

Without going into details, recent events in my real life have severely limited my time and ability to play for a few weeks. Whatever other negatives these events have brought, I have been extremely grateful for the excuse they presented. I haven’t raided in weeks. I haven’t even logged on to my main server except to check mail. I’ve been able to play other games (Mass Effect, mostly. Mmmmm…Garrus…). The few times I’ve logged in to actually play I’ve done it on SAN on my no-strings-attached lowbies. I’ve been able to steal a break from Warcraft and my main Guild and raiding and all the other things I was starting to severely resent.

Things are resolving themselves now and my excuse is fast approaching its best-before date. I’ll have to log back on eventually, and though I think I could still use another couple weeks off, at the very least I will have recharged a bit. Maybe even enough to get me through to when the next person in line burns-out and we need to revisit our schedule.

It’s not that the break solves any of the problems that were present before I burned out. It’s not that the burn-out created them. But I do think the burn-out feeds into my reactions to the problems (you may have been able to determine by now that I count as a Person B and I can probably honestly trace 90% of my problems in-game to that tendency. Sometimes I wonder if Person A isn’t happier overall, dickheads or no. Some twist on Ignorance is Bliss, only they’re not ignorant, they just have a much higher tolerance level than I, even when I’m not burnt out). I’d be happy if I could get back to the point where I can make it to the last quarter of the night before I let someone get under my skin.

So, since fifteen minutes of fruitless staring at the screen have failed to yield a clever, funny, or insightful closing though to tie this rambling together, let me throw it out there. What do you do when you need a break? Do you just up and take one? Cut back on in-game commitments? Suspend your account? Do you play through it?

And on a different note, how do you know you’re burning out? What are your warning signs? I’m curious.

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