Absence Makes the Heart Grow Moldy
I am a perpetual burnout. It's a side effect of being overly focused. When I was in college, I minored in Classical Civilization, and I read all the prose about philosophies revolving around the concept of moderation, and I have a great amount of respect for moderate lifestyles. Unfortunately, I'm completely incapable of following such rules.

You know that annoying person who finds a song he or she likes, and then plays it, on repeat, for six weeks straight? That's me. Or the chick who falls in love with a certain drink, and will drink nothing but that, and copious amounts of it, for possibly years on end. Me. Or the gamer who gets wrapped up in a game, and can't pay attention to anything else for hours, days, a week or more. Me again!

One of the (many) problems with having an overly focused brain is that I get so wrapped up in something, that one day I just snap and lose any and all interest in it. The past couple of months have been that way for me in WoW. I hated going downstairs on Monday nights to raid for two hours, and that was the only time every week I would play. I dreaded Monday nights.

The burnout started building pretty slowly. When we started our ICC raiding team, I was completely focused, and very excited. I was blogging every day, and spending hours putting together my posts. I was running our raids and doing research and write ups for our strategies. I was building SAN with Tam. I was reading hundreds of blogs and getting very connected to everyone in the community.

Then little things started to grow into big things. Small arguments within our ten man raid grew into bigger ones. Some were petty, some weren't. But, as the person who put the team together, and as someone who is generally fairly approachable, all complaints came to me. It got to the point where it felt like everyone just came to me to complain about everyone else, and there was nothing I could do about it. There was drama in the blogosphere as well, and administrative problems in SAN. I spent entire days fielding complaints and strategy conversations on google chat and even the pleasant twitter chatter started to become overwhelming for me. I'd try to make light hearted wow-conversation with guildies in gchat, and it would get twisted under the assumption that I must have some agenda for our raiding team.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time. It's not because I'm "such a nice person" and therefore always a victim, woe is me. It's because I am a control freak, and try to take on too much at the same time. I'm a perpetual diplomat, trying to make peace between multiple opposing parties. I accept full responsibility for it. At the same time, I don't want people to be mad at me. I'm a wimp at heart, and therefore it makes it very difficult to be a raid leader when you can't just tell everyone to shut up, grow up, and either have fun or GTFO. But since everyone on my raiding team is someone I have seen face to face, and someone I intend to have in my life for the next 20 years, long after WoW has faded away, I fear burning bridges.

So, I gave my fiance the reins of the raiding group. It's a lot messier now. We used to have a sign up every week, and everything was carefully planned to maximize raid buffs and efficiency. But that is simply not how my fiance rolls. But despite the fact that everything is not planned out on one of my famous spreadsheets... the raid goes on, and it's working just fine.

I very rarely speak in vent these days, and to be completely honest, once we started using the buff full-time, I no longer had any interest in running ICC anymore - it just felt pointless to me***. However, I was unable to find someone to replace my priest, so I grudgingly remained. Whenever someone tries to talk to me about raid strategies, or complain about someone in the group, I completely shut down. Nope. Sorry. I don't want to hear it or talk about it anymore.

I guess you could call it unfortunate that I burned out so badly. The truth is, it's not the first time. I burned out from 25 man raiding for nearly identical reasons. I get too involved, too invested, and then I crash. After I crash, I play the avoidance game... I avoid people who I know will want to talk about the subject. I avoid emails related to the topic. I even avoid my dearly beloved twitterati. And I should add to that last statement that twitter is pure frivolous fun. For all my friends on twitter, I'm sorry I just sort of disappeared for awhile - I really needed a break.

So that's the story of Miss Medicina's nearly 2 month absence. In addition to all my tumultuous feelings about WoW related business, I also had the job on which I was completely focused. All the energy I had put into WoW I redirected into my job, no matter how temporary I knew it to be. And I think it was really good for me, I do.

As I'm slowly starting to ease my way back into the wowniverse, I'm going to try and be a little more careful about it this time. If someone starts raising a ruckus about something in the game, I'm just going to walk away, instead of getting so emotionally invested that I burn myself out again.

It comes down to that same old phrase that we all love and hate: It's just a game. And yes, it is just a game, but yes, the people within it are real. However, I'm not going to ruin relationships with real people over a fantasy game. I'm not going to get into fights and arguments with people that will do nothing but upset me over a giant mass of pixels. I have to keep things in perspective or I will simply go insane. In the past, I've had very good real life friends who have used the game to hurt me - and that is a direct result of us putting too much emphasis on the game, and not enough emphasis on the people who are playing it.

We are all victims of the desensitizing that can happen when you are interacting with people in an abstract space instead of face to face. We do things to one another's avatars that we would never do in real life (Trust me, I've never licked anyone at a dinner party). We all simply have to keep enough perspective to remember where to draw the line.

***I've given my thoughts on the buff before, and I've had my fair share of criticism about my perceived elitist attitude about it, so let me clear it up now and just say that I have nothing against people using the buff. I don't look down on people who do. It's just not something I enjoy. It's a very prominent aspect of my personality that has surfaced in many other ways in this game and outside of it. Maybe I'll get around to explaining it in better detail one day, but for now, just know that if you are in favor of the buff, I have no problem with that. It just sucks a lot of the fun out of it for me, specifically. Trust me, I'm well aware of how annoying it is that I always want to take the hard way!
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3 Responses
  1. Grimmtooth Says:

    I'm sure you know how I feel RE burnout if you've caught me in my more emo phases (yes, plural). So yeah, I can relate.

    I realize "it's just a game" grates on some, but the implication is that it's supposed to be FUN. If your current idiom isn't fun, you need to remember what you found in the game that WAS fun, and pursue it. Or at least give it a try*.

    I hope you can; we** miss you around here. :)

    * A fine one to talk, am I, but I *AM* trying to find the handle.

    ** For some value of "we", real or imaginary.

  2. Grimmtooth Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Keeva Says:

    I'm going to cut and paste this into my blog, and change the names.


    I'm partway through piecing together a post on why I feel like a terrible GM because I've burned out and started avoiding the game, raiding, my guild etc - but I feel obliged to stay, out of loyalty. I just need a break, basically, but it's a bad time to do it.

    I can definitely relate!

    I also have famous spreadsheets!

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