Raiding is, in my opinion, the most fun thing you can do in World of Warcraft. You get to spend several hours per week beating up bosses and taking their loot with 9-29 of your friends. It’s a cooperative team effort toward a common goal, and when you finally earn that kill you’ve been working on for hours, weeks, or even months, the feeling is incredible.
However, with all things, you find your enthusiasm for the activity ebbs and flows. Sometimes, you just need a break.
If you need a break, take a break
Taking a break is one of the easiest things you can do to get your enthusiasm for raiding back. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, after all.
Now, when I say “take a break”, I don’t mean taking extra breaks in the middle of raid night. Doing that is disrespectful and disruptive to your team, and being absent for a pull means your team may be counting on you to perform a role that you’re no longer present to perform.
What I mean by “taking a break” is taking a day, a week, or even a month off, and communicating your intentions to your raid leader in advance. It’s okay to take some time away. You should let your raid leader know – out of simple courtesy, if not respect – that you’ll be absent, when you’ll be absent, and for how long you intend to be absent. This way, your raid leader can plan around that absence in whatever way necessary (finding someone to cover your spot, reassigning your responsibilities, etc.)
Remember that Normal and Heroic difficulty raids in Warlords of Draenor now scale boss health and damage based on how many players are in the instance. This means if you need to miss half of a raid night, you can leave early or arrive late and not kneecap your team’s momentum. They should be able to carry on with or without you.
Focus on what’s really important
The biggest rule of playing any game, especially an MMO like World of Warcraft, is that real life needs to come first. If you have real life things that need taken care of, and it means you’ll miss a raid night, take care of the real life stuff first. Have to work late tonight? Does your child have a recital or some other special event you need to attend? Is it your anniversary? Take care of these things, because neglecting them can have dire consequences, which may cause you to not be able to play the game anymore.
Be mindful of your mindset
When you think about why you need a break from raiding, it’s important to consider your own feelings in that equation. We don’t always think about why we feel the way we do, but listening to that inner voice can give you a better sense of your mindset, and if you need to make some changes to your play time, or even your real life.
I’ll give you a personal example (which is probably an extreme example of raiding burnout), without going into too much detail for fear of being completely self-serving.
Late last year, for reasons I won’t go into, I began suffering from panic attacks, and having severe bouts of depression. I was having more and more difficulty keeping all my emotions and problems straight in my head. I didn’t have any enthusiasm for raiding – it was a personal struggle to simply log in for raid every night, and there were several weeks I just didn’t show up for at least one raid. I’d spend the nights I was raiding whispering a friend, telling them how much I didn’t want to be there. At point, I applied to another raid team, without much enthusiasm (I think part of me was using my raid team as a scapegoat for my unhappiness, and I was thinking the grass was greener on the other side.) One night, I raided for 30 minutes, before abruptly leaving for the night.
I finally decided that I needed some professional help, so I sought some out, and in the meantime, I told both of my raid teams that I was taking some time off to deal with some personal issues. One team is my “relax and blow off steam” raid team, so I came back after a one week hiatus. The other, however, I missed nearly 3 weeks of raid with, because that team focuses on much more serious progression than I could get myself motivated to participate in. Thankfully, my enthusiasm returned relatively quickly, and I could get back to spending time doing an activity I love with people I like.
The point of me telling you all this is that, had I not started examining my own mindset, I would not have recognized something was wrong, and I would have probably fully burnt out on raiding, and maybe even the game, altogether. But by taking some time away, I realized that I really did enjoy spending time with the teams I was running with, and that I did want to keep being there. Going forward, I’m sticking with both teams, but I’m going to make sure I address the real-life stuff when I have to.
Burnout is a perfectly normal thing to feel with any activity, but by addressing it as it comes up, you can address it, and maybe even avoid it altogether.
Next time, I write, we’ll look at self-examining your role on your raid team, and determining if the team is a good fit for you.