Through the Looking Glass
Apart from these two broad classes of skills that people mentioned, some players described stumbling-blocks in their personalities that their game experiences allowed them to move past. These are probably more accurately described as personal growth. This first anecdote is a good example.
I was raised to be self-sufficient. For instance, if I asked my Mom how to spell something, she would tell me to look it up in the dictionary. The message I got was that I shouldn't ever ask for help. When I started playing EQ, I quickly learned that I could be more effective if I had buffs from other players in the group, but I also found that it was really hard for me to ask for buffs, even from group members, because it went against my childhood 'programming' of not asking for help. In time, I learned that it was not only better for me, but better for the whole group if I just went ahead and asked for the buffs I needed anyway. It became much easier for me to ask for buffs, and I found this behavior spilling over into my real life as well. Now I find it much easier to ask for help in real life when I need it. It has without a doubt had a positive effect on my perspective of the world to know that it's perfectly okay to ask for help when I need it. [EQ2, F, 42]
Another kind of growth that several players mentioned was learning how to stay calm and not be bothered by the small stuff in life.
I used to think myself a fairly angry person, merely being killed in PvP in World of Warcraft would spark off angry insult-throwing tantrums from myself, even though the only person who would hear it would be me. I've realized how much of an angry person I am through this, and have been fighting to control it ever since I realized. If a rogue jumps me and beats the ever-living crap out of me without me being able to do anything, I try to shrug and tell myself it happens. If I die repeatedly in an encounter ... I just fight the urge to rage about it. I don't particularly want to be an angry person, especially in real life - it raises blood pressure and stress and tension levels. It makes you insult people for no good reason and gives you intent to cause the same anger (and depression really) in other people. It's nothing I want to be a part of, and playing World of Warcraft and controlling these emotions has taught me some aspects of Anger Management, I find myself feeling less tense in real life now and I'm thankful for it. [WoW, M, 19]
I think the way in which I've grown the most through playing MMOs is that I no longer get as angry or offended easily by people with obviously stupid or bigoted viewpoints. I find myself seeing comments on the forums or in chat and just thinking, 'It's not worth it.' [WoW, M, 26]
These final two examples are interesting in that they show more clearly how an MMO can reveal an area for potential growth and facilitate that transition.
I am very ambitious in RL. When I was active in Star Wars Galaxies I suddenly realized that I spent all my in game time trying to improve my character. I was always grinding, earning money or questing. The things I really wanted to do like exploring or decorating my house were not high enough on my priority list. They seemed so futile in comparison to gaining another level. Even in a virtual world I wanted to be successful. This mirrored exactly the way I handle work/hobbies in my life. The game helped me to reflect myself. I was really amused when I found out that my toon was indeed a Mini Me. When I thought it through I changed my behavior. Instead of gaming I went shopping and finally found the time to decorate my apartment ... [GW, F, 27]
Often, during raids, I would make jokes in guild chat based on comments that were made on Ventrilo. In general, a lot of my energy was (I do this less now) focused on getting as many people to laugh at those jokes as possible. The downside of this was that very few people ever took me seriously. As a result, I actively decided to change the way I was perceived by others, and started focusing more on keeping the jokes in /whisper with a few friends. Combined with adding more serious commentary in guild chat and in our guild forums, I feel that more people take me seriously, which I prefer to being the 'class clown' who gets very little respect. [WoW, M, 20]
Tags: boundary play (17) , leadership (14) , learning social skills (5) , online identity (3) , personal growth (3) , transfer offline (9)
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