Can’t believe I still feel anxious before a dungeon. I have to pluck up the courage to get in there. I tell myself I’ll just do the one, no pressure, they can’t really hurt me, what doesn’t kill me (which is “virtually literal” in WoW if there is such a thing) makes me stronger and face the fear & do it anyway. I’ve even profoundly told myself a crooked river flows uphill and and the mountain always hides in the face of the sun. Can you tell I am a graduate from both the school of self help books and the IChing. But then I also get a feeling of euphoria when it goes well. Throughout the experience in fact I usually have the whole adrenaline rush that in another lifetime would be helping me escape from wild animals by shinning up a tree. In this lifetime it is channeled at getting through a pixellated world unscathed without anyone hurting my feelings.
The group I had in today’s grand tanking fest was really nice though. Quiet, methodical and efficient. It felt like a day at the office. I did make a tiny little error and killed the mobs in Dire Maul the wrong way round. Apparently that meant I hadn’t done something with a crystal. I know- my attention to detail is astounding. This is what you get for just following people around as a dps killing what they tell me to kill. It’s not an excuse in a war trial though and it shouldn’t be an excuse here. As a tank I am expected to know what I’m doing. Luckily this group was lovely and one of them just gently pointed out our error (we took collective responsibility – or at least in my head we did) and we sorted it out. The rest of the run was smooth. I held aggro and only lost faith in healer husband and healed self once – although I totally overreacted on this one oocasion and used my own Lay on of Hands on myself even though I’d only lost about a quarter of my health bar!! And me a professional healer (aka I have a healing alt a bit higher than my tank!). It’s because I feel totally out of control seeing my green bar go down and trusting someone else (not just anyone else- my own husband) to heal me. I’m even putting sneaky divine protections on myself when he’s not looking and feeling all guilty afterwards.
The control thing is definitely interesting,. I have been pondering why tanks are so hard to come by and my first thought was it’s the responsibility and the leadership role. Not everyone wants that in a game. Then there’s the question of the numbers of women who tank versus the numbers of men. Still don’t know if the lower female numbers cited are as a result of less women playing than men in general (& so it’s all relative) but certainly its oft quoted that women are less likely to be tanks. The strong female lead in me baulks at the idea that this could be because women don’t want leadership responsibilities. No way. Not only do we want them and have them, we demand the right to possess them, to wield them, to abstain from them, to escape them and to misspell them. Basically they are our’s to do with what we will. As is everything in life and this world. Universe hear me roar! There – I’ve done my bit for womanhood. Solidarity sisters. Now for how I feel. I actually reject any attempt to differentiate people’s inclinations towards or away from such things based on gender. I feel we are beyond all that in our understanding of human nature. Social and political circumstances, contexts and opportunities have a huge influence of course, but intrinsically as humans I do not believe the gender difference plays a part. But the control thing keeps coming back to me. Maybe it’s not the leadership and responsibility issue (for either men or women) that puts people off. Maybe it’s the fact it comes with a lack of control. I mean leadership and responsibility are all very well when you have the tools and resources to use it (wisely of course – this is not where the thin WoW veil of this blog falls away and my dictatorship leanings finally reveal themselves). But if you have leadership responsibilities without the means to really deliver on them you are placed in an impossible situation. What can we as tanks really do in a dungeon when things start to go haywire? Let’s say the group starts playing up. There is no dungeon naughty step you can send a misbehaving warlock to (Blizzard please implement!). Frosty glances and disappointed shakes of the head don’t work in dungeons (yes I had dinner with my mother yesterday). Irate typing in party chat is ineffectual and normally comes out (in my case) with so many typos they think I’ve defaulted to my mother tongue (yes I’m Welsh-whoohoo- bore da all). You can of course do your best to be the best. That alone can often win out. If determined and conscientious you can learn all the details of your class, use all the right abilities in the right order (on the right character too- it is ineffectual as a pally to try and blink away from a mob no matter how many times you hit the same key) and you can read up on the fights beforehand . Or you can do as I do and wear the best armor I can loot that at least has a nodding aquaintance with the stats I need and try to find out my way around the dungeon without looking too clueless. I even tried turning mobs round today – we had quite the little waltz. Felt like Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice with a rather hostile group of Darcys. All of that can really help. But still only if the group work together. But without the team cooperation and without their suppport – basically without their willingness to be “controlled” (and not in the “we can have a safe word” kind of way of course) the expected leadership and responsibility of the tank can be a thankless and impossible task. And for so many who have jobs with leadership responsibilities and diminishing autonomy the frustrating lack of control felt in the game as well can leave them impotently raging. But all that’s really needed is cooperation. I remember learning about that on Sesame Street and if Big Bird said it I believe it. It can make the hardest of things in both real and virtual life easy. We really do need people as Barbra Streisand said (or was that Big Bird too?). But as a tank leading a group I can only take about one a day.