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Ramblings of a Computer Geek, Social Freak, Gamer, WoW Nerd, Hacker, Maker...

Don't sweat the small stuff, a few notes on burnout and how to help avoid it

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What is burnout? Burnout is what most gamers have come to call the drop in interest or desire to play a certain game. It could be a multitude of reasons and honestly, everyone has their own reasons. What personally keeps me playing WoW is that there is so much to do. I have leveled 11 characters to 85. I have spent a lot of time on 3 individual characters and there is always something new to discover, or something new to achieve.

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Games are a time sink. Games are the Antichrist of the church of productivity. Games are also entertaining. I've been a gamer all my life. However I'm not a very diverse gamer. I typically succumb to one or two franchises at a time and may not ever really finish them, let alone be any good at them. It's always the escape for me. This is probably why I'm rather resistant to burn out. I remember sitting at home and playing NHL 95 on my Sega Genesis console. I spent so many hours on that game I could literally play it without thinking about it. I had figured out the trick to score a goal every shot I took, so it was more of an mental exercise to see what else I could think about while still beating the AI. I used to problem solve while playing this game so much that when I would get stuck on a homework assignment or a project I would simply go play this game and work out the logic problems. This is likely my concentration method because it helped me focus on the problem. Maybe there's some ADD and focus issues there, who knows. My point here is that I've always had a game that devoured my time. I've always enjoyed these games.

I swear I'm not addicted...

Addiction is a real thing. Despite what anyone thinks about people claiming gaming addiction, addiction itself is a very real and very dangerous thing. I'm not an expert so I'm not here to say what you can and cannot be addicted to. I will say that I'm not addicted to anything outside of my paycheck, house, and cats. (you can tell I'm not addicted to WoW because I say I'm not, and I can quit anytime, which oddly enough is what an addict says about their addiction right?) I guess you'll have to take my word for it. Maybe my full time job, my part time job, my involvement in the local hackerspace, and my wife will be enough to justify that I'm telling the truth. However if you are reading this and you do have an addiction to something you can't control, get help. I've seen the damage addiction can do. Most people I've played games with, WoW or otherwise, typically realize they spend a lot of time on the game and they don't classify themselves as addicted. What I'm getting at is while I do acknowledge addiction, it's not what drives my gaming. I'm not skipping work to play games. I'm not on the corner trying to hustle someone for a game time card. I'm a somewhat productive member of society that may resemble socially awkward penguin.

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The common complaint I hear or read about from people is that "WoW is boring", "Questing is boring", X "is boring". If it's boring, stop bitching about it and go do something else. Games are supposed to be fun and entertaining, why are you playing a game that isn't? I like all aspects of WoW. Everything from PvE to PvP to questing. For some reason I really like questing, more than I probably should. I've never been bored of WoW. Despite my army of alts (which small to most multiboxers) I still find something to do in game that occupies my free time.

How I avoid burnout and learned to set small goals to keep me busy

I like to set small, reachable, short term goals for myself. It helps me measure and plan overall progress. I don't simply say "I'm going to paint the house". I say "The house could use painting, I'm going to split it up and attack it room by room". Each room becomes a zone achievement (pardon the blatant association). Any big project I've done I've always had greater success breaking it down into parts and taking my time with each part. I'm not known for my patience however this allows me to focus on a small part of the bigger picture without worrying and stressing out about step 15 of a 25 step project when I'm on step 4.

For example, gearing a new character. I wouldn't jump into a fresh alt and say "I'm going to be geared in 12 hours of farming". (not without a lot of alcohol at least) It's much easier to focus on the smaller parts. "I'm going to farm these dungeons for these upgrades." or "I'm going to farm X honor so I can buy Y pieces today". When gearing it is always about which upgrade is the biggest upgrade possible. Typically I always go for the largest upgrade regardless of PvP or PvE content. The biggest upgrades make the smaller upgrades seem easier to reach, and not all that bad to have a lower level item.

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When I raid a raiding team, or when I was apart of raiding teams I tried to keep the same philosophy. If you set your expectations too high, you're only hurting yourself more if you don't meet them. So many raid teams I was apart of ended up splitting up because people were "bad" or just didn't show up. You can replace people that didn't show up. You can mentor the people that are "bad". It's just a matter how much patience you have with a group. I had very little patience with the 25 man hardcore team because the team overall had very little patience. That guild has reformed 3 or 4 times since then. They're still one the better guilds on a server that is in the bottom 25% of all WoW progression. They're happy though, they have fun. That's what it's all about. You have to find what makes you happy, in game and in real life. If you're not happy, why are you doing it?
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WoW , Life


  1. Poyzon's Avatar
    Good read. My own expectations are that I can turn off the game at any time and come back to it later. That's probably the main reason that I never got into raiding (well, that and my wife/kids deserve a lot of my time).
  2. MiRai's Avatar
    For some reason I really like questing, more than I probably should.
    I don't mind questing either, that is, until I hit Cataclysm content. Then I'm stuck in this linear bore-fest where I'm constantly being tossed 1 or 2 quests at a time only to come back to be sent back to the same are of the map to do something else. (In my best Mick Dundee accent) That's not questing. This is questing:

  3. Crum1515's Avatar
    Real men put on their asian glasses and grind all the way!
  4. Khatovar's Avatar
    ^ What MiRai said. I want to get a bunch of quests and not see town or the questhub again for hours. Well, maybe it's not that long with 5 toons beating the snot out of everything in the zone, but the majority of quest time should not be traveling to the quest location and back.

    Since I'm a housewife, I have a lot of time to waste in games, but only if I'm actually doing something. If I don't have something to do, I quit and know I can go back at any time. The wisdom of age is knowing that keeping up with the Joneses is BS.
  5. Ughmahedhurtz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MiRai
    I don't mind questing either, that is, until I hit Cataclysm content. Then I'm stuck in this linear bore-fest where I'm constantly being tossed 1 or 2 quests at a time only to come back to be sent back to the same are of the map to do something else. (In my best Mick Dundee accent) That's not questing. This is questing:

  6. Mickthathick's Avatar
    The best cure for burnout is simple, just unsub for a while and play other games. I hit a huge wall when we cleared DS (normal) recently, and have been playing SWTOR and EVE for the last 3 months.

    I resubbed the 3 accounts last week, moved some toons around, downloaded ISBoxer, and have been having fun doing dailies and dungeons with my new 4 man team

    As soon as WoW stops being fun I drop it for something else, in the 3 years I have played WoW I have done this 3 or 4 times.