Reading one of the Guardian blogs the other night (I like my news presented to me in a nicely summarised fashion with a bitter slant) I came across some recent research that happier people respond more strongly to positive things in life – without in any way ignoring the negative – and this is apparently what makes them happier. They did brain scans and everything – not the Guardian by the way – I know the phone hacking scandals have shown us how low some of the media have now sunk but thank heavens brain scanning technology currently alludes them (and even if they had it most current celebs at least would be unable to produce the brain part of that exchange).
Anyway I was thinking about how this could apply to our WoW experience. None of us can really ignore the negative. I’ve tried in dungeons but I’m only human (or dwarf or draenei, never gnome). It annoys and frustrates. But are we getting the most from the positive experiences in the game? Are we focusing on them sufficiently for them to work their magic on us and turn us into much happier people?
I have come up with 5 positive …ish experiences in game that I think we need to focus on in a much stronger way to get our amygdalas quivering (and no that is not yet another Bravetank euphemism – it’s the amygdala part of our brain that responds to the positive experience apparently by getting bigger – visit my Bravetank Does Science blog for more information on this – soon to be followed by Bravetank Does Art, Bravetank Does Fashion and Bravetank Solves Crime -personal favourite). Now it’s important to note this isn’t about seeing the positive in negative experiences – it’s about really emphatically seeing more positive in already positive experiences – in other words bleeding them dry of every ounce of their positivity so they’re reduced to an empty shriven husk. Lovely.
1. Ok – number 1 – you’re out questing near a mine node. You’re a miner (this is important). You need to clear some mobs before you can get to the node. You do so and then get the ore. This is good. This is more than good in fact – this is great! At this point emote falling down on your knees, hands raised & clenched and give thanks to the WoW god/goddess of your choice that no one was around to steal that ore from you. Sit back in your seat. Smile. Maybe go and get yourself a chocolate. Then return to questing. And it won’t matter that it now takes you ten times as long to level nor that all the other nodes will now be gone because of the sneaky little gnome miner you didn’t see in the grass – no – it’s all good here.
2. You’re in busy Stormwind or any captial city of your choice (except for Silvermoon – there’s no positive to be found there). You see the mailbox. You know you have mail (you’re a clever little thing and you’ve become adept at noticing the little envelope in the top right hand corner of your screen). You go to the mail box and click on it, take the mail and move away. Job done. But you don’t stop there. Now you need to yell, “I’ve got mail” in chat so everyone knows (spread the joy). Follow it up with, “I’m so happy” and maybe even (if appropriate), “The auction house loves me!”. Or shout out your thanks to the people who have bought something from you. Each and every one. A poem about how beautiful the mail box is would not go amiss at this point. Now you know why people dance on it. Don’t get down by some of the responses you get – remember your amygdala is bigger than theirs and would win in a fight any day.
3. You’re running to the boat and you catch it just before it pulls out. Don’t just tune out now and read a book while you sail across the ocean. No ring your mother or best friend. They’re probably worried that you don’t seem yourself these days, you hardly go out, you’re obsessed with that bloody game. This will reassure them. Tell them in detail how you caught the boat just before it pulled out. Describe to them the anxiety you felt on the approach- would you make it, could you do it? You could even exaggerate how big your leap onto the boat was. They’ll never know. Milk it dry for all it’s worth. They will be so proud.
4. You’re in a dungeon. You say hello and someone says hello back. This is one of the biggies. Enjoy it for all it’s worth. In WoW terms you now have a new BFF. To really get the most out of this you need to share your joy with the group. Tell them “X just said hello, I love X!”. Announce you will never forget this moment in all your life and take lots of screenshots. Also don’t forget to whisper to X what you’re doing – they will really appreciate it. When you’re booted (as you might well be) remember they have amygdalas the size of bedbugs and you will be the one smiling yourself to sleep (early night after getting booted from 10 consecutive dungeons).
5. You roll greed on an item and win it. This is the best one of all. Really think about this. YOU’VE WON SOMETHING!! How many competitions in your daily life do you win (I’d be grateful if Michael Phelps for once refrains from posting a response – no one likes a show off). You’ve actually won something. This is huge. People have parties for less. In fact that’s what you should do. Go knock up the neighbours. Bring them in. Show them your screen. Look the item up for them on Wowhead. Put it on your toon. Model it for them in close up. Then crack open the bubbly (that will halt anyone already at the door on the way out i.e. all of them). You are a winner (ignore any accusations of ninjaring as well – cloth is perfectly acceptable on a warrior- it mops up the blood since they can’t heal themselves).
So there you have it – just five simple things to get more joy out of the already positive experiences we have in WoW. And just think- by acting in this fashion you will in turn be enriching the gaming experience of anyone who crosses your path – or at least that should be your response when Blizzard gets in touch.