A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Discussion – My Burgeoning Lack of Self-Preservation


I believe that we’re constantly developing… as individuals and participants, as thinkers and conceptualizers, as gamers and creators, as introverts and extroverts. We’re an amalgamation of attributes with a little of this and a lot of that (or maybe it’s the other way around for you).

In my early days of Star Wars Galaxies, I couldn’t stand it when my character died. It wasn’t just the inconvenience of cloning or the death penalties or even the detriment to my equipment’s quality. No, it was, I think in retrospect, the break of my immersion in the game that ticked me off the most. It made little sense to me for me to die in combat in Star Wars. I don’t rightly know how else to put it, but it certainly rubbed me the wrong way.

This feeling of wrongness has extended to other games in recent and not so recent history: Guild Wars, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Splinter Cell: Conviction, X-COM: Terror from the Deep, and there’s a few others I can’t really think of right now. Is it always a break of immersion? No, sometimes it’s just out and out frustration with the game crushing me or putting something in front of me that I try to deal with and am quickly shown incapable of handling or whatever. Essentially it’s when the game slaps me in the face saying, “Hey idiot, you’re doing it wrong,” when all I’m trying to do is do it right the way I know how. It’s this sense of personal failure at something I KNOW I should be good at handling or doing.

Recently I’ve been noticing this sensation slipping away bit by bit. It’s where I’m sitting with my friends and I tell them, “Hey, I went for a run into Angmar and knocked out Book 7 all by myself. It’s easy enough to solo, you just have to get up to Gath Forthnir…” and then I go on about how I have a bunch of the difficult “Fellowship Recommended” or “Small Fellowship Recommended” quests. By the way, when I say “recommended”, I really mean “REQUIRED”.

It’s not just there, I think it was slipping away as I was working on Eregion last week. I knocked out all but ONE quest there in just a couple of days. I just… WENT. I didn’t worry about difficulty, I just jumped into every quest and tackled it with everything I had at my disposal. The other night when I was running through a portion of Eregion, I stupidly attacked a level 49 Rare Elite Warg that had about 9k hit points… I got it about halfway down and it killed me, but my thoughts afterwards? “Meh, I was stupid to think I could take it on without a buddy to help. Oh well. What’s next?” In the very recent past, I’d have gotten pissed and probably rage-quit in the process somewhere.

Is this the development of apathy or is it just the maturation of my character? Somewhere in my thought processes, I can dimly recognize some sort of “picking battles” where I try to limit stress and strain through… well… picking my battles. I mean, sure, it’s inconvenient to die in LOTRO and sure, I have to spend a lot of money on equipment repair as a result of “retreating” and yes, I’ve got a 2 hour cooldown on the Revive so I can’t afford to die a lot and still expect to make progress, but it’s almost like it’s losing its meaning for me. In-game deaths are offending me less and less and are becoming an “Oh well” moment or even a “well, crap, guess I’ll do something else then”. It’s a sign I’m overreaching somewhere or that I need to compensate for something elsewhere.

It’s a fascinating experience, developing like this. Will I ever be completely over the sense of personal failure that accompanies loss in these circumstances? Probably not, but it’s interesting to sit back and notice this shift in perspective, however minor. It’s a big deal for me!

Until next time, stay calm and respawn.

– Elorfin

P.S. “Growth is exciting; growth is alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind. ” – Vita Sackville-West

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