Or how to survive the attack of an undead arsehole
It's frightening how much events in WoW affect my real-life moods. A good instance can put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step, but all it takes is one brief encounter with an asshat to send me into a seething, impotent rage for days.
This can not be healthy, and raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions, like 'just how seriously am I taking this game?' On the other hand, it can't be co-incidence that I immerse myself in a fantasy world for large chunks of my life. When the kind of senseless, selfish, vindictive behaviour that I deplore in real life starts invading that world, is it any wonder I react badly?
Yesterday I was on my shaman alt, Golan. There's a quest in Borean Tundra that asks you to summon some evil ghost bloke out of the mist and kill him. He sails in off the sea with a small crew and sends all four of them, one at a time, to kill you, before finally coming after you himself.
I'm stood there waiting for the first trash mob when an undead priest turns up. Note: same faction. This priest just stands there while I fight the trash. I think maybe he's waiting for his turn to summon the boss. I also think, darkly, that he might be planning to steal the kill, but I shake this off as unworthy.
But sure enough, when the trash is cleared and I roll up my first ball of thunder for the boss, the prick drops a shadow word: death. He kills, he loots, he runs off in that mocking waddle the undead have.
There was no possible way he misunderstood the situation, nor was he under the impression the mob was his. He didn't fail to see me, and he wasn't momentarily blinded by faction-based competition. He was just a twat.
At this point, he has already won. My anger has no recourse, my utter frustration no productive vent. I whisper obscenities, knowing even as I type that it will only amuse him. I am humiliated. I obsess for the rest of the day about how he is laughing and jeering at my poor, lumbering tauren.
It didn't have to be like that. For the cost of a polite whisper, we could have grouped and got the kill together. Or he could have waited patiently for his turn. He made a conscious decision to be a jerk. Or, more likely, he didn't even have to try.
The most frustrating thing about anti-social behaviour in WoW is the lack of consequences. Blizzard's very good at tackling some kinds of behaviour, but is not interested in petty squabbles over mobs. The kid screws me and moves on, smug in the knowledge that I am, at this very moment, weeping with frustration and powerless to retaliate. He's clearly the kind of guy who tortures cats for fun and would probably be out mugging grannys if he weren't so scared of what his mum would say.
I am reminded of a poem, the details of which are now sadly lost to my beer-addled memory. But the gist of it was this: a man is walking along a cold road at night. A car pulls alongside and the driver asks the man 'would you like a lift'. And when the man answers 'yes please' the driver takes off, laughing, and leaving the man shouting down curses on the driver, his family, the government and god. But if the man could laugh and wave and shout 'good luck' instead of abuse, wouldn't he feel better? Would you?
I would gladly wave that miserable, vindictive son-of-a-bitch priest good luck if I thought it would make me feel better. But I'd sooner hack his account and sell his character for 10 coppers to a gold farmer. I'd sooner sell him to the gold farmer.
With distance, I know these are futile, unproductive fantasies. They serve to fuel the fire of my fury while denying me the kind of closure they are intended to deliver. In the end, maybe I really am better off waving and wishing him good luck.