When I was a young girl, maybe 4 or 5, my father decided to teach me how to play Solitaire. He and my mother often played a game as they watched t.v. or chatted at the end of the day, and this was a bit before PC’s were standard in anyone’s household, so no random game on the fly! My dad, being the great guy that he is, decided I should learn to play “real” solitaire where you partition out your game cards and then do the three-card flip. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that you can play (and enjoy) a hand of solitaire with the single card method, and why my dad felt I needed to learn the “real” way at 4, I’ll never know.
But I digress. After the first supervised games, I was left to my own devices, and I discovered something awesome. By flipping through the cards in my hand I could make a good guess at what was left hidden from my sight, and make better choices about what I should pull down and what should be left to linger in the flipping pile. How was I to know I was cheating!? (I actually don’t think it is, but you can be penalized for every flip of the deck or something. I’m still not quite sure since I still play solely for random amusement.)
Me: But Daddy, if I flip the cards, I have a better chance of winning.
Dad: Playing a game isn’t solely about winning. It’s about doing your best with the cards you’re dealt. You won’t always win, but you’ll still have fun trying.
This simple fact was repeated for me time and time again as I grew older. I was very involved in sports throughout high school, even if I wasn’t the best kid on the team. Although I’m highly competitive and I loved to win, I didn’t play sports because I had to win, I played because I enjoyed the game. Basically I walked away from all this adolescent molding with some very clear messages:
- Don’t cheat
- Play your very best
- Play for the fun, not for the victory
Those lessons have carried over into the MMO world where I continue to “compete” against myself and NPC’s (and sometimes other players!) to play the best game. I think I enjoy raiding so much because it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll fail to some extent. You have to spend time doing everything you can to be the absolute best you can be to beat the challenges placed before you. And sometimes, the victory is never achieved, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a hell of a fun fight.
However, I am conflicted over the message that I feel many players are constantly barraged with day in and day out:
If you haven’t looked at the boss/dungeon guides before a fight you’re unprepared.
To me, this just seems like rifling through that deck of cards to maximize my chances of winning. I feel strongly enough about this, that I even notify guilds that it’s my preferred method of facing new content.
This might get me burned to a crisp, but for first encounters, I don’t read strats. Once I’ve seen the encounter for the 1st time, then I’ll read anything and everything I can find.
What is more fun that facing a new foe with a sense of mystery? Is it so bad to spend a night discovering for yourself what exactly is going on in a fight instead of relying on the experience of others to guide you? I’ve often found that after an encounter, I have a pretty firm idea of what’s supposed to be happening, but you always miss stuff the first time around, and at that time a guide can be a great way to broaden my understanding (especially of what’s happening to the tank or the dps). The reason I provide raid guides isn’t to take away your fun, it’s to provide that stepping stone between “I’ve seen and know my role” to “I need to explain this fight to other people, what’s everyone supposed to be doing” or even “why isn’t this working.”
Although I do carry that highly competitive person inside me, a victory without wonder, without fun isn’t the way I want to play the game. If you’re seeking new challenges, challenge yourself first. Be willing to die, be willing to discover for yourself, be willing to be unprepared. At least for one night 🙂