WoW Wednesday: Managing Stuff

As you play WoW, you collect gear, but you also collect a lot of stuff, cramming it into your virtual bags as you go along. Everything from weeds to boots to flowers to drinks and so much more. Some of that stuff is useful to you. You can wear it or eat it or drink it or use it to make things with. But a lot of it just isn’t. And it doesn’t take before you have bags full of things that you just don’t need. It’s a lot like real life, really. We had a garage sale this past weekend, putting out a lot of the stuff we’d accumulated in our lives, trying to make a buck or two off it. And we did, but we had a good deal left over, some of which we hauled away to charity and some of which we posted on Freecycle. I’ll say one thing, though, it’s a lot easier to get rid of virtual stuff than real stuff. No right-clicking on an old sofa to sell it to a vendor in real life.

So, back to WoW and organizing stuff. Like managing your time in WoW, managing your stuff can help you enjoy the game more and spend less time figuring out where that thing is that you need and more time doing what you really want to do (kind of like real life). The default in WoW is to throw everything into your bags willy nilly, not organized at all. And there’s not an easy way to sort through things. I can’t tell you how many times when I first started playing that I got to a quest area and needed to use a specific item and couldn’t find it. So annoying! Not only that, but you need to know what to get rid of and what to keep, and what might be worth selling on the Auction House and what can just be sold to a vendor. I have accidentally thrown out things that I needed and vended things that I could have gotten 10 times the gold for on the AH. Also annoying.

Luckily, there are a couple of addons that help. And sorry, there are no addons for real life. If there were, though, I’d totally get them. I use an addon called ArkInventory for managing my stuff. Instead of displaying your bags separately, it displays everything all in one big bag, organized into sections determined by how you configure it. So, I can put all my food in one area, jewelcrafting items in another, ore in another, and equipment somewhere else. I have never lost anything. ArkInventory also organizes your bank this way. Your bank is like the attic or the junk room in your house, where you store stuff you don’t need to use that often.

There are other addons out there that I haven’t tried, some of which tell you when you have all the materials to make things or what you’re lacking, etc. If anyone has opinions on those, please feel free to comment.

Another way I manage my stuff is by periodically going through it and ditching things I don’t need. But how to know what to sell where and for what price? For that, I use Auctioneer. I use this addon much more simplistically than I know some people do. You can track all kinds of things via this tool and price things very specifically. Mostly I use it as an easier and faster interface for selling things off. There’s an Appraiser tab that shows up when you’re at the Auction House and through that one can click on an item and Auctioneer will price it. If you have more than one of the item, with the click of a single button, you can post all those items for sale, even if they have to be posted one at a time and not in stacks of 5 or 10 or 20. That makes it really easy to clean out your bank and your bags. Auctioneer will also make recommendations about whether to post an item to the AH or sell it to a vendor. I’ve found that you have to take these with a grain of salt. It takes time, for example, to keep reposting an item to the AH, and if it’s a common item or something without much of a markup, sometimes it just makes sense to sell it off quickly to a vendor. I’ve gotten to the point now where I can usually take 10 or 15 minutes and get everything sold off.

Now if only I could be this organized in real life.

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WoW Wednesday: Learning Time Management

This is actually not about managing time in terms of managing play time, but about managing time within the game. When your WoW time is limited, you have to make decisions about what to spend time doing. There are literally thousands of things one could do in game: quests, dungeons, raids, achievements, gathering materials and crafting things from those materials. All those things take time but have certain rewards.

I now have 3 characters to play with. The one at the left is my main character, the one who’s at the top of her game (though she can always use more gear). Her skills are maxed out. Many of her faction reps are maxed out. With the exception of one top-level raid, she can pretty much do whatever she wants. What I’ve been doing with her lately is simply running her through a few dailies. When a good dungeon run opportunity crops up and I have the time, I will run that as well, since the rewards are tokens for good gear. On any given day, I can spend less than an hour on her and she won’t really suffer much if I don’t play her at all.

My other max level character is Zamar, who I just moved from another server and who has such bad gear that what she can do is limited. She needs to run dungeons, but she’s not geared enough for some of them. She needs faction rep to obtain gear and that requires quests (some daily, some long series of quests), which can be quite time consuming. And then I have another low-level character that obviously needs a lot of work. So, if I only have an hour or two to play, I have to prioritize what I do, especially with these lower level characters. This occurred to me the other day as I was standing in the middle of a city, trying to decide which direction to go. And then, I thought, hmm, this is a dilemma most people have in real life. How can this transfer?

When I log into WoW, sometimes of course, I’m just planning to goof around. I play as a respite from work. But sometimes, I have goals, just like I do in my work. I go through a series of questions as I try to determine what to do. And I think this series of decisions might be a good thought process for any decision. So, here it is:

1. What is most important for this character right now? What is he/she most lacking?
2. If the character is not lacking anything, what is a good reward for him/her right now?
3. What task will get the character closer to the need/reward?
4. How much time will that task take?
5. If the task time > allowed game time, what is the next priority or can a part of the task be completed in the allotted time? (Then jump to 4).
6. If the task time < allowed game time, go do task. This is pretty much the same decision tree I use in real life. I often have a list of priorities and I simply decide which one gives me the most bang for my buck in the time I have at hand. The hardest decision is the first one, deciding what’s most important. In the game, it doesn’t much matter. In life, there can be some unpleasant consequences. For example, if I were to prioritize gameplay . . . .

WoW Wednesday: Gear

A friend wanted me to title this “Still Not Def Capped.” For you non-WoW’ers, let me explain. Each type of player needs a certain level of stats to do well in higher level dungeons and raids. Stats include things like defense, spell power, attack power, hit rating, etc. Players who mostly deal damage strive for a hit rating cap. Tanks strive for def (defense) cap. The way to achieve these stats is through a) leveling/talents and b) gear. I’m going to ignore a) for now, but suffice it to say that as you level, you can select talents that increase certain stats. Once you reach 80 (currently the highest level), gear becomes more important. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was slightly undergeared for tanking. Where I’m undergeared is in my defense stats. I’m not def capped. And here I am, two weeks later, sitting in the exact same spot. As my guildies told me last night, I have no excuse. All I need to do is slap the right trinket on, put a couple of jewels on it and I’d be golden. Which is true, really.

I have a strange relationship to gear in the game. I’m probably not alone in this. A lot of people research what gear they need, find out where to get it and then set out to acquire it. Gear can be obtained in two main ways: dropping from a boss in a dungeon and purchasing with currency that drops from bosses in dungeons.* So, getting good gear requires going through dungeons. So a lot of people figure out what they want, which boss drops it, and then start running that dungeon until they get what they want. All good. I like going through dungeons, but I don’t like being that prescriptive about my adventures. I’ve been in dungeons with people where they say at the very beginning, “I want the boots that drop in here.” And I’ll be like, boots? what boots? Which I don’t say out loud because then I’d be declaring myself a noob. Basically, I like to be surprised. Whatever drops after we kill a boss I consider a gift. And I don’t like to open my gifts before it’s time. I get a little thrill from the unexpected. If I knew what I was likely to get ahead of time, I’d lose that thrill. My kids laugh at me all the time because I get giddy over getting new stuff. But usually only when it’s a surprise (or, in some cases, I’ve worked hard for it). “Look at this cool new sword I got!” Not too many moms who say that I’m guessing.

All that said, I do take advice. So, if someone says to me, you should get those boots that are in such and such dungeon, I am willing to go get the boots, especially if my adviser is going to go with me. Gearing up is more than just slapping on whatever falls on the ground after a kill. Once I figured that out, I think I became a better player. But I still can’t bring myself to obsess over it, running dungeons over and over just to get one pair of pants (well, okay, I have done that once or twice, but it’s not my usual mode). I also don’t do this in real life. Shopping for clothes wears me out. But I promise to be def capped by next week. Really.

*I should note that gear can also be made by blacksmiths and some relatively good gear can be purchased with gold from special vendors.

WoW Wednesday: Taking a Break

Day 137: About to save the worldImage by lorda via Flickr

I’m on vacation this week, without my computer and without much access to any kind of network, so I’m away from WoW. Which is a good thing. WoW can get pretty intense at times. A few weeks ago, they released a new patch which added some new features to the game. Many people jumped in and played pretty intensely, collecting the new stuff and trying out the new areas. I was among them and thanks to some rainy days, I spent a few hours in a row doing everything from collecting ore to running heroic dungeons. While that’s paid off in new gear, it’s also made me feel like I’m spending way too much time at this thing. So the vacation timing was good.

My guild in theory treats WoW playing like bowling. We have regularly scheduled times twice a week to play together and there are people who do simply pop in to play during those times. I’m still trying to find my equilibrium. I mostly play at night and weekend mornings. I probably play up to 20 hours/week (average 3 hours/day, 7 days/week). That’s a lot and just typing that number out is a bit depressing. What am I not doing during that time? I’m nto watching tv, which isn’t such a bad thing, but I’m also not reading, not hanging with the family, not doing housework (which, eh, who cares). I do tend to play in waves. One week, I’m playing 20 hours, the next, I’m playing only 5.

I think ideally, I’d figure out a way to get that number down, either by playing only 2 or 3 days/week. Or playing less in any given day. Once the school year begins, I have a feeling this will happen naturally. The dog days of summer have made us all a little lazy and we’ve gravitated toward the computer for solace (when we’re not at the pool). In other words, we’ve had time to fill and I’ve filled it with WoW. In the fall, I’m going to work on filling it with other stuff, relegating WoW to the recreation it should be.

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WoW Wednesday: Tanking

Tauren Tank CrossingImage by antifuse via Flickr

So, many of you know I’m a gamer, my most-often played game being WoW. I don’t write about it much, but I’ve decided if it’s a regular part of my life, it needs to be a regular part of my blog. Although I will write about the game as it’s played, what I find most interesting about playing are the personal lessons I learn and the social dynamics of the game. So, even if you’re not a gamer, you’ll get something out of these posts.

I’m currently playing a level 80 Death Knight. I’ve been playing her as a damage-oriented player, but she has the capability of playing what’s called a tank. A tank is a player that puts herself between the bad things trying to kill the players and the rest of the group. They generally have heavy-duty armor and the ability to keep the mobs focused on them rather than the rest of the group. Tanks also tend to set the pace of the dungeon and often set the strategy if they know a dungeon well. It took me a while to get decent enough gear (and I still need better gear), but recently I announced to the guild that I was ready to try tanking and would love some lessons and/or the opportunity to try it out on willing groups of people.

It wasn’t until our regular tanks were all gone that I finally got the opportunity to tank, and let me just say, it’s harder than it looks. Although I’d read up on strategies for tanking and what moves to use, theory is often far away from practice. First, because I’m slightly undergeared, I take more damage than I should, meaning I need someone to be able to heal the crap out of me. Second, we have a lot of really good players in the guild who have good attacks that anger mobs and then they get attacked and so I have to scramble a bit to recapture the errant mob. And third, let’s face facts, I’m not a 15 year old boy. I’ve had a few good runs that went smoothly and successfully, but I’ve had just as many where the entire group has died over and over again. This is a frustrating situation to be in as a tank since it’s often a tank’s weaknesses that can cause this to happen. While this hasn’t always been the case in my situations, as a new tank, I’m guessing it is the problem 95% of the time.

I find being a tank rather nerve-wracking as I’m learning. It’s a lot of responsibility. And the learning curve seems to be fairly large. My guild is patient with me, however, so there is that. I’ve learned that support goes a long way in making me feel comfortable trying this new thing out and trying it out under not so ideal conditions. I decided to try it, in fact, because I wanted to help out the guild since we seem to be short on tanks. Hopefully, I’ll get better at it so that I’m a bit more reliable and don’t get everyone killed so often.

Bonus: Read Sins of a Gaming Father.

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Random Weekend Thoughts: Soccer, Gardening, and WoW

It was a pretty lazy weekend at the Geeky household, but we did manage a few activities.

First, soccer season started on Saturday. Because we signed up late, we had no idea who the coach was or what he looked like. When we arrived at the designated field (and there are 3 at this location), there was a lot of hubbub because there were ambulance and police. We quickly realized a kid on the adjacent field had been hurt. It was a bit disconcerting because she was lying face down on the ground. Turns out, she’d dislocated her shoulder, not terribly serious, but painful I’m sure. We finally found the team and the coach and then realized that Geeky Girl had forgotten her shin guards. Mr. Geeky zoomed back home to find them. Meanwhile, she had to sit out. Once she got to play, though, she was her usual speedy and well-rounded team player. She made a few excellent passes. The coach and the team were immediately impressed. Although she’s probably the smallest on the team, she’s also the oldest and has the longest amount of time playing.

After soccer, we made a trip to Home Depot for light bulbs and for plants to replace ones I’d allowed to die over the last cold snap. I replanted them and planted a couple of other plants, but held off on major gardening until Sunday morning. I weeded and generally cleaned things out, which took quite a while. Then I planted a rose bush. I have no idea how this will do, but it’s something I’ve wanted to try. I also got some summer bulbs, but was too exhausted to plant them after all the weeding. I’m going slowly on the garden.

And then there was the WoW playing. I was in a groove this weekend, so I spent a fair amount of time playing. An incident yesterday, however, is still sticking with me. If you’re not a gamer, you can skip this, but this is kind of about human behavior. So, over the weekend, I managed to run a couple of dungeons by grouping up with complete strangers. The first run, done fairly early in the morning, went really well, largely, I think because I’m pretty sure the whole group was made up of grown-ups. The second one went well until the end. The hard-to-kill dungeon bosses, of which there are 3-5 usually per dungeon, drop really good loot (weapons, armor, etc.) and the group generally rolls for them (this happens automatically). This loot is usually bound to you when you pick it up, so that you can’t give it away or sell it for a price at the auction house. There are two types of rolls, greed and need. Need trumps greed rolls and generally people ask before rolling need. So, for example, if 4 people roll greed, and 1 rolls need, even if the need roll is a 1, that person will win the item. People tend to pass on items they don’t need. I can’t use wands, for example, so I usually don’t roll on those. In this particular run, I’d passed on a few things and I’d rolled and won one thing. On on boss, a guy (who I decided was younger than 18 based on this and the incident I’m about to describe) asked if he could need roll on something, and we all hesitatingly said yes. On the final boss, a good piece of armor that I could use dropped and the same guy asked to need roll again, and I said no, you’ve already need rolled once and besides, there are two other people who could use that. I felt kind of bad about being jerky about the whole thing, but I still maintain a sense of fairness even in the game, and I felt the guy wasn’t being fair. He ended up calling me a loser and complaining that he really needed that item. I didn’t win it, and in fact, couldn’t have won it even before he’d asked for it because my roll was lower than the other guy’s. In retrospect, I wish I’d checked on that and just let him need roll for it. After all, it’s just a game. And part of my anger after he called me a loser was toward a guy I saw as taking the game too seriously. After all, when you’re not at the highest level, you tend to out level your items pretty quickly. And does anyone really *need* virtual items at all? But here I was, taking the game pretty seriously, at least the part about a game needing to be fair. So, I was kind of a hyppocrite and that didn’t make me feel too good.

What I also thought about this incident was the way the guy called me loser–in public for all to “hear”, and I wondered if he knew how old I was and that I’m a mom if he would have done that. I suspect he would have chalked it up to my being an old fogey and a girl to boot who didn’t know what she was doing and might have just shrugged and moved on. On the other hand, he might still have called me a loser to his friends privately. On still another hand, I must have been a good enough player for him to think that calling me a loser was okay. On the Internet, no one has to know you’re a mom.

It’s just a game

Yesterday, I spent more time than I have a while playing World of Warcraft. More than anything about playing the game itself, I’m fascinated by the way people behave in the game. I myself play WoW the same way other people participate in other leisurely activities. I play a few hours a week, about as much as other people watch tv. For me, it’s a nice way to focus on something completely unimportant and take my mind off any work or life stresses. I’m not the key demographic playing WoW. Many WoW players are aged 15-25 and mostly male. Many, I suspect, have few responsibilities. Though many, I also suspect, have stresses in their lives.

It never ceases to amaze me how seriously some people take the game. The fact that I’m paying about as much attention to the game as to tv reflects in the way I’m geared. The really good gear is in dungeons and dungeons take a long time to go through–on the order of a few hours. I just don’t have that kind of time to commit to playing something I don’t take that seriously. So I have less powerful gear than those who commit the time and energy to running dungeons. I also don’t like going into dungeons over and over again once I’ve figured out a strategy to go through it. People who take the game more seriously will go through some dungeons over and over in order to get every possible item that drops. For me, once the challenge wears off, I’m done. I also don’t do a lot of PvP (player vs. player) though there are some versions of it that I like. Again, PvP is an area that gains you good gear if you’re willing to put the time in to acquire it.

The thing is, those that take the game seriously often give those of us that don’t a hard time. I’ve been in PvP battlegrounds where people have asked me to leave cause I’m going to bring the rest of the “team” down. They’ve yelled at everyone for “sucking.” I’ve called people out for this behavior before, reminding them specifically that they’re playing a video game and to chill out. If someone wants to run a battleground before their character is ready and die all the time, who cares? Does it really matter that much? Isn’t it just about having fun? I’ve also seen people so focused on getting the right gear that they pretty much ignore other parts of the game. Of course, the things I focus on–exploring new areas, raising my professions–are things that would immediately get called “gay” (that’s the most common epithet I’ve seen for disapproval of gameplay).

The incident that prompted this post was a favor I did for someone yesterday. I am a level 70 warrior, the highest level one can get (so far). A much lower level character asked me to run him through a dungeon. This is common practice, a practice I understand but find bizarre because it takes the challenge out of running a dungeon. At any rate, we got to the first boss, a boss that I have never beaten and I almost died. I beat it and I was doing almost all the work. The boss is hard because it spawns a bunch of mini versions of itself throughout the battle that you have to kill in addition to the main boss. So anyway, the guy I was running died in the process, and he said to me, “WTF!? That should have been easy for you. Aren’t you taking this seriously?” At the time I was pissed because I thought, hell, I could spend my time in any number of ways in or out of game and I’m spending it helping someone I don’t know do something in a virtual world. I told him so at the time. Now that I look back on it, I think how funny it is that he wanted to know if I was taking a game seriously. Really.

What I’ve Learned from Playing WoW

I know it’s been forever since I’ve blogged and the title is some indication of where I’ve been, but not all. Last week was a busy week in the Geeky household. I traveled. Mr. Geeky traveled. I’m taking a week off this week, so there were lots of loose ends to tie up. I’m using this next week to do a serious GTD-style review of my household stuff, which feels largely out of control at this point. I’ll also be doing some reading and thinking for my upcoming Gender and Technology course (suggestions welcome!), working on an article, and working on a book proposal. We’ll see where I get.

So, the list of what I’ve learned from WoW, which I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

What I’ve learned about myself:

  • I like having concrete goals.
  • I enjoy being part of a team, but I almost equally enjoy working alone.
  • I’m reluctant to take a leadership role in a completely new situation. As I’m learning more about how the game works, this is less true as I can rely on my experience in similar situations to get through.
  • I like helping others, even if there’s no direct reward for doing so.
  • I’m willing to do boring tasks in order to be successful.
  • I probably should have become a sociologist.

What I’ve learned about others or society in general:

  • Some people are just mean and selfish and stupid and there’s nothing you can say or do to change that. It’s best to avoid them or reduce their impact on the situation.
  • Gaming is one of the few social arenas where there’s some age diversity and there’s a lot to learn from that. For example, I was in a dungeon with a kid whom I’d place (on hearing his voice) at around 11 and another kid (based on his text msgs) at around 16 or so. The 16-year old was annoyed that the 11 year old was running around trying everything. He sent me a private message saying he was leaving cause this guy was being stupid. I told him that that’s just the way 11 year olds are and that he doesn’t know any better unless you tell him. In general I’ve found that older people learn patience with younger people and how to take more risks and younger people learn to be less selfish, overly confident, and rash. I find interesting examples of what different age groups learn from each other all the time.
  • Communication is important.
  • People are mostly generous.
  • People can form real friendships in virtual worlds.
  • People behave in game much as they would in real life.

There’s probably more, but I think part of my addiction to the game is not just about the fun of the game itself, but what it’s revealing to me about my fellow human beings and myself. I find it fascinating. There’ll be more blogging this week, I’m sure, as I have a number of posts stored up in my head.