Letting go of Healing

Don’t worry friends, I’ll be talking about Winterfest very very soon! First, though, I have something I need to get off my chest.

My flavor of healing in FFXIV.

My flavor of healing in FFXIV.

My mental image of myself as a gamer includes the idea that I am a healer. It is something that is deeply tied to my gaming identity, but it wasn’t always that way. In the olden times when I played Dungeons and Dragons I stayed pretty far away from cleric types. I loved being a wizard or a ranger or even a fighter. The closest I came to healing was when I played a druid, but even then I always focused on shapeshifting into fuzzy animals and hugging things to death. My few healing spells were just backups in case something happened to our real healer.

Fast forward to my early days in World of Warcraft. I initially leveled a paladin and really wanted to tank. Unfortunately for me this was during BC when “pally” and “tank” didn’t fit too well together in a sentence. I got frustrated by my guild’s requests that I go healing on that toon, and gave up on her. Ironically, I ended up leveling a priest, and eventually fell in love with healing with her.

As I wandered through other MMOs over the years I still gravitated toward classes that had a healing option. Even in the ones where I didn’t have a guild or friends playing with me, like TSW, I still unlocked healing options just in case. But I have noticed a trend over time, where I am less inclined to heal random group content. There was a time when I would cheerfully throw myself at healing random pugs in WoW. When I played RIFT I was excited about the group finder. In SWTOR I had a reputation for constantly pugging, against everyone’s better judgement. More recently I’ve become wary. I still pugged as a healer in FFXIV, but usually only after I had learned the dungeon. In WildStar I’ve only run vet and raid content as a DPS. During my recent return to WoW I’ve been doing LFR a bit…but only on my mage.

I wish I could pinpoint exactly when this change began, or exactly why. I do have some ideas though. Healing is definitely more stressful, which is part of the reason why I love it so much. It is more of a challenge to me than maintaining a DPS rotation. However, it feels like lately people just want to speed run though dungeons. This leads to giant pulls, tanks that can’t aggro everything, and groups that chain pull and don’t stop moving for the entire instance. Frankly I hate it. As a healer, especially one with “casual grade” gear, it is challenging enough for me to keep everyone topped off on a normal run. The “gogogo” mentality makes things a thousand times worse. Dungeons go from an entertaining diversion to more stress than I want to deal with.

I think the other key piece for me is that because healing is such a big part of my gamer identity, I take a lot of pride in my ability. This means that when people speed run and things go wrong I get double frustrated. Once by the horror of chain pulls etc., and once by my inability to cope with it. I’m a good healer! I should be able to handle it! When I can’t handle it I feel awful. Am I getting bad at games? Probably not. But I can tell you I took it super personally when I got kicked out of a random group for my “shitty heals” this weekend. Even though not one person had died that run.

Unchecking that button makes me sad.

Unchecking that button makes me sad.

Queuing as a DPS is a huge breath of fresh air, and not just because I have to spend more time outside in the world waiting for the queue to pop. It is no longer my problem if the tank chain pulls, as long as I do my best to kill everything. I know for a fact that my skills as a damage dealer are far below my healing reflexes, but I couldn’t care less. I can feel good when I out DPS the tank. I’ve never even been kicked as a DPS, even though I know I’m awful. Nobody seems to notice you if you keep your head down and don’t act like an ass. It’s so freeing! As you know I love expeditions in WildStar, and one of the great things about them is they can easily be done with no tank or healer at all. Just what I need right now.

I know I’ll probably never really let go of the healing mantle. Especially when I actually have a guild or group of friends to run with it will always be my preferred role. As a solo player, though, I’ll be pew pew pewing for the time being. My game time is too precious to spend it stressed out and unhappy.

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5 thoughts on “Letting go of Healing

  1. We’ve all been through that, Gracie. You’re not the problem here. Playing with a group of random people lends itself quite easily to people being jerks simply because they can, and the good people in the groups often won’t speak up because they just want to get through it and move on.

    You’re awesome,and so are your heals. Don’t let some random jerk on the internet try to tell you differently.

    • Aww thank you! I know deep down there’s nothing wrong with me or my heals, but I guess the collective weight of so many years of pugging has finally taken its toll.

  2. Pingback: Letting go of Healing | 7 Days a Week

  3. I seem to hae been the same as well – enjoying and often sticking with the healing role but slowly branching out to more damage, front line orientated roles. Its a very different experience which is nice, and it’s good not to be in an area of so much responsibility. Although, when i don’t heal i tend to tank haha

  4. Being a tanker player primarily, I am intimately connected to this feeling–when you’re derided for your performance by some random person, you suddenly pause for a moment and think you’re not cut out for the job that you’ve always done. It’s like you’re a clock gear suddenly missing a tooth and the whole damn watch stops.

    I can at least say, though, that most of the time its purely perceptual and not factual. How many times do you hear or read someone complaining about how everyone BUT THEMSELVES were the problem? It happens to literally all of us, self included.

    In the end, though, it’s about enjoying yourself. Regardless of what one considers their identity, if you’re having fun then you’re “doing your job”.

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