Burnout Achieved

I mainly blame the dungeon finder.  Yes, it is an amazing feature of the game and I could not get enough of it when it first came out.  Unfortunately, I overindulged, and now I cannot stomach those same old heroics anymore. “Daily random anyone?” a guildmate says, and I get an overwhelmingly weary feeling.  I can’t even be arsed to collect my 2 frost emblems per day any more.

I am not enjoying raiding anymore either.  There are a lot of reasons behind this one and I won’t bother to go into details here.  This is easily the most depressing development in my WoW career and I’ve been tempted to unsub and disappear because of the circumstances surrounding it.  I always loved raiding  — it was my favorite part of the game.  Now, I’m always hoping my husband will want to do something else on raid nights, so we’ll have an excuse not to go.  The team I’m currently raiding with is pretty fun, so I do enjoy myself when I go, but I have a suspicion I wouldn’t miss it if I quit.

I’m still working on achievements, but somewhat half-heartedly.  I’ve had the top achievement totals in the guild for a while now (thanks to one of our achievement hounds taking a long hiatus and someone with an uncatchable score quitting the guild, hehe), but there are a couple of people nipping at my heels now.  I confess I look forward to them overtaking me so that I don’t have to worry about staying on top any more.  I’ve always made it a point not to be too competitive about achievements, but I expect a lot of smack talk when I fall to the #2 position.

The Cure

I don’t know that there is one.  I do still care a lot about many of the people in the guild.  I’m proud of the community that we have.  I want to stick around, so I’m going to try.

One thing that’s helped is getting back into pvp a bit.  The random battleground finder might be a great thing if the guild were to reinstitute “drunken pvp night,” too.  I’d love to see that happen.

I have also rolled a sekrit shaman for when I do not feel like dealing with specific people in the guild.  It’s totally felt like a vacation and not just for the lack of interpersonal garbage.  There’s no pressure to gear up, run heroics, nothing like that… it’s just me running around with a big stick and smacking peons.  I miss that carefree phase of the game.

And Then There Was Balance

This is all part of the natural order of things, I realize. All these symptoms point firmly to burnout, down to every detail on Nick Yee’s chart.  I’m finally there.

I suppose one could say that a bit of the depression I’m feeling is remorse for time ill-spent, slack-jawed at my computer screen while my husband and cats try to get my attention.  I’m sure that’s part of it, though I’m sure if I hadn’t been playing WoW, I’d have been sitting slack-jawed elsewhere, not using my time any more wisely.  I’m not, by nature, an extraordinarily productive person. 🙂

Unless Cataclysm hits by beginning of summer (fat chance), I can’t see how I’ll last much longer than that unless something miraculous happens or I make some major changes in how I play.  There is just not that much left to do and if it’s not fun, why do it?

The good part of burnout is that I do feel like some balance has been restored in my life.  I don’t feel the compulsion to log into WoW every spare moment.  I have still play several hours per week, but I have gone back to playing other games on the side.  (I had a long Civ IV session yesterday — it was so awesome!)  My husband and I have started watching movies again, plus a couple of tv series on DVD.  I have finally gotten around to cleaning out our office closet and have some other similar projects on the horizon.  So, it’s not all bad.  This is more similar to what “normal” people, even normal MMO players do, I suspect.


On Leadership and Hobbies

Whenever I enter a new hobby that involves dealing with other people, I generally go in feeling like I just want to be a part of the group, not in charge of anything. I’m in charge of enough at work that for my free time activities, I’m happy to let someone lead the way. I will just be a little cog in the machine, I always tell myself… But if I’m associated with the hobby for some length of time, I inevitably end up in charge of something. I don’t know how it happens, but it happens every time.

About ten years ago (wow *creaks bones*), during my aspiring novelist phase, I was part of several online writing communities. A friend and I got an idea for a new kind of community and collaborated to get it going, and we ended up working as co-moderators of this writing group for something like four years. It was surprisingly successful, and my energy for it was seemingly limitless. I thought about it any spare moment I had, planning things for the group, and sneaking in computer time at my job to work on it during the day. We got a write-up in a popular ISP’s monthly publication for its users, and found ourselves inundated with hundreds of new writers within the first year. When the co-moderator and I finally decided to close the group down, we were more than 500 writers strong.

Part of the reason we decided to dissolve the group and retire was that all the administrative stuff left little time for us to do any writing ourselves. That was why we got into the hobby (and the group) in the first place: to write more. But, we didn’t. We wrote less and less until we were writing nothing. The extent of our participation in the group was to run in, do what was required of us for that particular day, douse any flames, make sure everyone was happy, and then go someplace else to relax. Somewhere in there, it had ceased to be a relaxing hobby. It was more like a job.

Same thing happened with my most recent hobby (that shall remain nameless, since I’m still casually involved with it and WoW is sort of my dirty little secret, the reason I’m absent from it so much — my escape!). I went into it thinking that I could just be part of it, but the longer I stayed, the more responsibilities I found myself with. At first it was great… there was enough to occupy me for hours and hours when I got home every night. It was a little like I was coming home to a second job that I didn’t get paid for, but it was a job that I loved even more than my real job. I constantly fantasized about making this hobby my real job.

Now I’m totally burnt out on it. I’m relieved I didn’t swerve off my path and make a big career change, because I’m ready to leave it all behind. It feels like a job in a stressful way now, and when I go visit the forums of the community, there’s a noticible spike in my blood pressure. Definitely not a relaxing way to spend my precious free time. Running around Azeroth and hitting things with a stick is much better for my soul. So far, anyway…

I read a lot of blogs by folks who’ve hit level 70 or have taken on a lot of guild responsibilities, and I see them burning out on WoW the same way I burned out on my last hobby. I don’t want this to happen for me, so I find myself actively avoiding in-game responsibilities. I would never want to run a guild, or even be an officer in one. That previous hobby still has so many tentacles on me, so many reasons I could never just quit if I wanted to, not without a lot of guilt, anyway. I want WoW to be a flexible hobby. If I am obsessed and feel like I have to log in and check my auctions once a day, that’s one thing. Ultimately, I’m in control of that, and there will be no repurcussions if I don’t do this. If I decide I want to quit tomorrow, I want to be able to quit tomorrow, and not feel like there are still a hundred things I need to take care of first or a hundred people depending on me to do things for them. I’m happy to help folks in my guild — I’m thrilled to help them — I just don’t want to be the single point of failure for any particular responsibility.

I’m sure it’s inevitable. It’s a cycle. One day, one way or another, I will find myself done with WoW. I will do (and not do) what I can to postpone that, however, and enjoy the game as long as I can. Now that I’m conscious of this habit of mine, of accepting lots of responsibilities, maybe I can avoid this particular reason for ultimately quitting.