Monday, June 27, 2011

What Is Pride?

Recently, I was (very indirectly and not in any sense singled out) accused by a guild member of not having enough pride in raiding. We hadn't defeated an encounter prior to (what is expected to be) the next tier of raiding coming into existence tomorrow.

What made her angry was that most people (myself included) didn't choose to devote the entirety of the (anticipated) final raid night of this tier to trying to complete the encounter (we killed off our farm bosses in Blackwing Descent first). She felt that this displayed the weak nature of the raid team, a "wimping out" (my words, though I don't think it's a distortion of her feelings), if you will.

I cannot speak for anyone else on the raid team, I only know my own motivations and it led me to wonder: what is the role of pride in raiding? In what ways should one display pride?

Pride In Effort

This post will in no way be a response to that guild member. She's perfectly entitled to feel as she does and I'm not interested in changing her mind. I only mentioned the context in order to explain why I was provoked to think about this issue. I'm not going to spend any time "justifying" the event that annoyed her (because, like many things, it's only right or wrong depending on your approach) but I will mention her occasionally simply to note the differences in our outlooks that may have led to the difference in reaction (which I think is something everyone should bear in mind when evaluating others).

I can confidently say that I do feel a sense of pride in raiding. I think that any time one engages a lot in an activity that involves a skill, one tends to discover a desire to do it as well as possible. Pride, then, comes from the degree one meets that desire. I am certainly not exempt from this when it comes to raiding in the game.

When I raid, I want a few things from myself. I want to be geared well, gemmed and enchanted intelligently (no pun intended as a caster) and possessed of a talent spec that I carefully considered (both based on research and my own experiences playing the class). That's the first and most basic standard: proper preparedness. Secondly, I want to focus as deeply on the task of each encounter as possible. Finally, I want to learn (both encounter mechanics and my own role) swiftly and whenever possible.

Those are where my points of pride come from. I do believe in perseverance. I'm actually quite willing to beat my head against an encounter for days or even weeks. But this is probably the first place where my angry guild member and I part ways a bit. For me, there is no pride in perseverance. For me, perseverance is always balanced against fun.

Generally, this is not an issue that takes consideration. There have not been any raid encounters I've yet run across that I didn't enjoy. Sure, some were difficult and frustrating at first, but even that was fun in a way: trying to unlock the secret. Al'Akir was frustrating at first, because it felt far too random. I actually came to enjoy that encounter, though, as I discovered ways to ameliorate the randomness. That learning process is extremely enjoyable for me.

So, if a boss is blocking progression, I'm happy to fight him for the next ten weeks (though I'd be a little concerned if we, as a group, were taking that long to defeat an encounter). If the boss in question is not blocking progression, and the raid wants to switch to a different boss, I am fine with that, too.

Pride In Being Relevant

A further point of pride that I experience, which is unrelated to my personal performance, is feeling that what I'm doing is "relevant." That quite simply means that I'm working on, at least, the highest current tier of raiding. I don't have to be on the bleeding edge of progression, but I certainly don't want to be working on the tier behind the one that most raiders are on.

I don't, however, have much of a sense of pride in getting a certain achievement or title while it's relevant, "just to say I did." In fact, achievements are relatively unimportant to me in general. I raid for the social aspect of working as a team and the excitement of defeating a difficult boss for the first time. I don't care if I can say that I got the "Light of Dawn" title before patch 4.0.1 dropped (which is good, because I can not say that). This I know is another point of departure between myself and the guild member who felt I (we) lacked pride. I know she feels fiercely passionate about "being able to say" that she did certain things when said things were considered relevant. That's fine, it's simply not where I derive my pleasure or pride.

So Wherein Lies Pride?

I'm a healer. I'd like to heal well. I'm a raider. I'd like to raid on tier. I'm a guild member. I'd like to be considered an obliging, considerate team member.

So my points of pride essentially revolve around those fairly straightforward statements. I don't really consider my place in the greater World of Warcraft universe (world- or server-progression). I have my own views on what healing well entails, but I rarely compare myself to even my fellow healers. Foremost, I'm raiding because it's a game I greatly enjoy playing with others. Pride may goeth before a fall but it sure doesn't goeth before fun, as far as I'm concerned.

I feel badly that my guild member is unhappy about not accomplishing her (guild) goals for this tier. I understand why it upsets her. While I cannot speak for anyone else in the guild, I can say that her goals (in a general sense) diverge from mine subtly but crucially, which leads us to very different concepts of where pride comes into the game and, therefore, what issues are a matter of pride and what issues aren't.

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