This past weekend I was complaining in guild chat about how much I really dislike my job, and miss the days when I was just a lowly cashier at the home depot. One of my longest WoW friends piped in and told me something she learned a long time ago that has helped her get through a bad day in the office, and develop a healthy attitude at work.
Before I divulge the secrets of her genius, I'd actually like to start by pointing out why I like RPGs in the first place, and some of the ways I'm different than many other players.
I have a lot of respect for hard work and long efforts that may only reward small payoff. I've always felt the joy is in the journey, and as feel-good and hippieish as that philosophy may sounds, it's how I play. It's why I don't mind long reputation grinds. It's why I like leveling my toons "the right way". It's why I think people ought to be polite to one another. It's why I enjoy healing, and helping others - but it's also why I dislike giving people gold for no reason, or running lowbies through dungeons on principle. I translate my values from the real world into my game universe. I did this long before I ever started playing WoW, but WoW has definitely been the best reflection of my personal values. Think of it like Gevlon-gone-nicey-nice. After all, even Gevlon's action in game reflect his own personal values.
So in a strange twist, my friend-who-is-like-a-sister told me that she gets into a gaming mindset for work. It sounds kinda backwards, it may even sound like one of those things that gamers get harassed for all the time, the uber geek mentality. But it makes sense to me.
She gears up to go to work. She grinds faction reputation with her coworkers, clients, and bosses. She does her daily quests every day, and pursues various different achievements. Much like WoW is something she plays in a way to enjoy her life, work is a "game" she plays that enables her to enjoy her non-work life. All that reputation and daily grinding can be exhausting and tedious, but it enables her to pursue the other things she truly enjoys. Perhaps she can buy a fancy new mount. She needs a certain steady level of gold for repairs for raiding, and consumables of course. When she meets people that are rude and thoughtless, she reminds herself that she does not have to deal with these people outside of that realm if she does not want to. Much like rude people online, who you will inevitably have to deal with online, perhaps if we're lucky, we only have to deal with the work-jerks while in the office.
I asked her if that meant if I ran over my boss I would get ten achievement points and a few epics, and she said I might, but then I might also get banned. Damn, there goes that idea.
So I started thinking about this in terms of my current hateful work situation. I am currently employed as an intern - stuffing envelopes, fetching coffee, that kind of crap. So I've decided to think of it like Naxx, or heroics. I strongly dislike both, to be honest, but in this analogy, I need them both to gear up for something better... like Icecrown. Maybe if I run enough stupid heroics and starter-raids (aka internships), I will be better prepared for the real fun, the real goal, Arthas (oh and a job at the US Census Bureau plzkthx).
The idea of going from someone who brings her real world values into a game changing into someone who brings her in-game values into the real world is something of a frightening transformation. Have I gone off the edge of gamer extremism and fantasy world inundation? Am I going to wake up tomorrow, single, unemployed, undateable, living in my mom's basement? No, I don't think so (and it's not just because my Texan parents don't have a basement). Perhaps it's just a coping mechanism. I'm not sure how healthy it is, but surely it's not healthy to go into work and leave work utterly miserable with your life because you hate your job so much, either.
So I think I'll give it a shot. What do you think? Have I gone off the edge? Is this the crowning moment of my avoidant personality disorder? Will the non-gaming faction of the world soon come with the whitecoats and toss me into a padded cell? Am I distorting my real life to accomodate a mere hobby?