Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs, mercifully) get a bad rap for being life-sucking parallel universes. However, games like World of Warcraft are a microcosm of many real-life experiences. No, really.
For those who are unaware of how World of Warcraft works, here’s the gist: you start out mostly broke, you have no skills, very little sense of where you are in a gigantic world, and most living things are out to kill you. Kind of like real life. Between level grinding, learning virtual professions, exploring new territory, learning how your particular skill set works, and selling and trading with other players, World of Warcraft can quite unexpectedly teach us things about real life. Here’s a few things I picked up in the years I played.
The Default Way of Doing Something is Rarely the Most Efficient
The first time I fired up World of Warcraft, I was overwhelmed. There was a huge array of buttons, docks, and keyboard shortcuts that I had to learn and I didn’t know where to start.
The interface in World of Warcraft is blissfully customizable which is good because the nature of the game is complex. At any given moment, you have around a dozen or more abilities you may need to invoke at a half second’s notice. When I began playing, I could activate around four, maybe five abilities without moving a finger.
That habit of customizing layouts ended up spilling over into the rest of my work. I’d always been a fan of keyboard shortcuts. I didn’t realize it at first, but I’d transferred that skill directly over to real life.
Back to Basics: Learn to Use Keyboard Shortcuts Like a Ninja
Keyboard shortcuts are the easiest way to do things faster, but with the wide variety of software interfaces are designed for the masses, not you specifically. The instruction manual shows you the safest way to do something, but there’s typically a better way. Conventional wisdom gets you in the door, but exceptional wisdom moves you up the ladder.
Sometimes Starting Over is Easier Than You Think
Many of us have a pretty deep-seated fear of starting over. Whether it’s moving to a new city, changing careers, or starting a new unfamiliar project.
The risk of starting over in an MMO is much lower. All it costs is time, though that can be a hefty price itself. Yet, I still didn’t want to. By the time I reached level cap, I could buy just about anything, I wasn’t worried about getting one-shotted by people forty levels above me while questions, and to top it all off, I could fly. Why would I go back to hoofing it across Kalimdor on foot? I was comfortable in my experience and status even though I’d grown bored of this character and wanted something new.
There’s one very big advantage to starting over, though: now you have more experience. I spent considerably less time building a new character because I knew the ropes. It wasn’t as scary to start over as I thought because I knew how to get by now. Similarly, starting anew in real life may mean gaining new skills, but you know already how to impress clients!
Learn When to Let Go
Eventually, I stopped playing World of Warcraft. A few times, in fact. That’s not to say I would never return, but eventually, I had to stop. There was nothing wrong with it. I enjoyed the grind and I liked exploring the world. There was just one problem. The eating of precious time! Any thing can be immersive…a video game, a hobby or the endless hours spent catching up on the latest episodes on Netflix. Letting go in design is a little more difficult. People place their hearts on their sleeves when they create. It is a rewarding but painful experience. But it has to be done at times.
To sum it up, my time in the World of Warcraft has taught me a few things, not the least of which is treat those around you how you wish to be treated, and NEVER trust a rogue!