Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ignorance Sucks - Power is Bliss

Should players have the freedom to play their character any way they see fit? Should a Hunter be allowed to be a melee fighter? Should players feel free to spec 71/0/0 (for example)? What of the guy or gal who wants to wear PvP gear in heroics or PvE raids? That player is paying his/her hard earned money each month to play a game, should not that person have the freedom to play the game in the manner in which he/she deems most fun?

The simple answer is yes. In many ways I completely support this theory because I am a very stubborn person who does not enjoy being told what to do or how to do it. I enjoy the thrill of learning my class/spec myself. However, what makes me fall short of completely accepting this point of view is my desire to perform my very best.

So the question is, aside from those people who don’t care how well they perform in WoW, i.e. those who don’t care about anything except frolicking all day without regard to consequence (btw, I’m all for Frolicking, but as a means of cooling off, not a lifestyle), is if you do care then can you afford to be ignorant? Will you be happy and have fun playing a game where your level of ignorance exceeds the game’s max character level?

Is there a middle ground? I don’t know, but will attempt to answer these and other questions that have tormented me over the past few hours. J

It’s important to know that the term ‘Ignorance is bliss’ specifically came from Thomas Gray’s poem, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” (1742): “Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.” Generally speaking, however, the concept is evidenced in many ancient cultures and writings. With all due respect to the dulcet poetry of Thomas Gray, the term itself is stupid and a bit of an oxy moron.

To be ignorant is to lack knowledge. It has nothing to do with intelligence, thankfully, simply level of knowledge of X, Y, or Z. Bliss, on the other hand is “complete happiness”. How can one feel complete happiness while concurrently in a state of incompleteness?

'But you’ve taken the saying completely out of context. It’s meant only to describe the desire one has to NOT know everything so they don’t need to concern themselves with all the stressors of life. The absence of pain and suffering = a more blissful state.'

Oh shut up! Knowingly wanting to remain ignorant of somebody else’s pain and suffering doesn’t add to your happiness, it only adds to that person’s pain and suffering. Think of any scenario in the world where people oppressed had been freed by a nation or civilization who sought to liberate them from such oppression. Now prove to me that if the liberating nation said “We’d rather not know of their afflictions so that we don’t have to do anything about it” is a nation that would be living in a state of complete happiness? Can they be completely happy while knowingly living is a state of incompleteness?

I am assuming that you wish to perform well in your raids with your guild or even in a pug. I assume that if you enter an arena or battleground that you wish to defeat your enemy. I am also assuming, since you are still reading, that you may just be the kind of person who (if you play the AH and economy game) wishes to run profitable virtual businesses and make loads of gold. Maybe you enjoy the leveling and questing part of the game and you want to be able to do it successfully (admittedly it’s not that hard, but we’re in assumption mode so go with me).

Using these assumptions it must then be said that if you find yourself ignorant of the necessary mechanics and knowledge to help you succeed at whatever game activity you choose you will inevitably fall short of achieving a truly happy play experience. In other words, you ain’t gonna have much fun.

I am not saying that if you don’t reach your end goal, i.e. “WIN”, that you can’t have fun in the process. I am not of the opinion that winning is everything and you can ONLY have fun and be happy if you kill the Lich King (end goal for all serious or semi-serious raiders). If that were the case there would be a lot of unhappy campers out there, and I just don’t see that. That’s not to say that there aren’t a fair share of disgruntled people, no, what I mean is that people log in every day and try to do better in an attempt to achieve their goal. And they must be experiences some level of enjoyment or they may consider all their work to that end goal worthless and stop playing.

I believe in middle ground, and that is that there can be happy and fun moment while learning. The obtaining of knowledge can be as exciting as the application to achieve your goals. Learning new things is exciting, there is a thrill that comes with it when you imagination takes what you are learning and visualizes how these improvements will assist you in your goals. The state of learning isn’t bliss because learning, by nature, means that your knowledge is incomplete. But you can still enjoy the ride.

Learning, or growing in knowledge and skill of your character, is much like a roller coaster. The best part isn’t when it comes to a stop, the best part is the ride up the first hill, the first turn that pulls 2 G’s, the first, second and last loop…it’s the whole freakin’ ride, baby. The end is the realization that you have achieved many great things, that all the twists and turns have proven to come together to provide you with bliss. But without learning a good DPS rotation, proper healing mechanics, and developing good tanking skills the end of the ride will somehow just feel like a kiddy ride – because that’s all you’ll be qualified to ride.

When I say that Power is Bliss I mean that ‘Knowledge is Power’ and therefore ‘Knowledge is Bliss’. I know that when I finally learned how to heal on my Shaman I started to enjoy it more. But when I first tried it I failed so often I just wanted to quit. But I kept learning, kept gaining a better understanding of my talents and skills of not only my character but others as well.

I didn’t know how awesome an Unholy DK is in a group with a Shadow Priest until I fully understood that the DK’s can buff the Priest’s Disease damage. Knowing which class provides which buff and abilities helps when leading a raid group. You wouldn’t want to be a raid leader and tell the Paladin to use his/her Cone of Cold to knock back the blood beasts, would you? You’d feel stupid and your total “fun” for that fight would drop considerably due to your embarrassment.

If you notice that someone is ignorant, there is a good way and a bad way to help that person gain the knowledge they need. Insulting, in my experience, is a bad way. Providing suggestions to web sites so that they can read up on gearing strats, etc or even asking permission to help them with their talent build is a better way to cure the ignorance than insulting them.

To give yourself and others knowledge is to give power where it’s needed, where it’s wanted. It helps (not solves, but helps) the player enjoy the game more. Can you have fun wiping? Yes. If you have the right attitude towards the purpose and you understand that when the roller coaster stops is only the final part of the journey. Those twists and turns and loops and g-forces that pulled you this way and that for 80 levels through arenas, BG’s, dungeons, raids, or other is where you can have your fun. It’s where you can be happy. But, I argue, only if you don’t demand ignorance.

Confucious said: “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

None of us are complete players, I’m sure there is still something we can all learn to be better. There are those who don’t care, but I really don’t care about them. I think they are a minority and are most likely trolling and therefore not worthy of attention. But I care, you probably care, and therefore you shouldn’t settle for ignorance or think that you can be happy in such a state.

Know, do, know more, do more. You’ll have more fun and the ride – the whole ride, not just the end – will be a lot more rewarding. Perhaps not perfectly complete, but a heck of a lot better than wallowing in ignorance…that would suck.

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