What Gaming Taught Me About Writing

As a writer, I know I should say my number one hobby is reading, but…confession time.  It’s actually gaming.

Ever since my cousin sat me down in front of the Playstation and popped in “Star Wars: Battlefront 2”, I’ve been hooked.  After a few years on the console, I decided to make the jump to MMO gaming, and for the last ten years, that’s where I go to unwind.

Now if you’re not familiar with MMO gaming, there’s a few things you need to know:

1) You play with other gamers.  Talent can range anywhere from “U R SUCH A NOOB!   Y U NO NOTHING?????” to “Oh my word…either this person is cheating with mods or I am in the presence of greatness!”  Reality is, you learn quickly that no matter how bad you are at what you do, there’s always someone worse, but no matter how good you are, there’s always someone better.

2) You choose (typically) one of three roles.  The first role is a tank.  These are the people who are the front lines of battle and take all the hits while the others attack the bad guy (or “boss” as we call it in the gaming world).  The second role is DPS, or damage.  These are the “pew-pew” type of gamers who are the Legolas to their fellowship or the Rambo to their army.  They attack, plain and simple.  The third role is the healer, also known as the most important person in the group (ok, maybe I’m showing a little favoritism with that comment.)  The healer keeps everyone’s health up during the fight so they don’t fall over and have to start the fight over again.

Now when I first took the jump into MMO gaming, I began with a DPS.  It was easier to learn via button-mashing and running around with a bow and sword.  (I may or may not have pretended to be Legolas.)  But after getting into group quests and raids, I learned that my role was one of many.  I learned what a tank was and learned that the only reason that I didn’t end up as an orc pancake was because the healer kept me alive and kicking.  I found it intriguing that these other classes didn’t do the same things I did.  The tank did more yelling and shield-bashing and the healer barely even fought.  How was it that we managed to defeat such a big gaming monster by not all doing the same thing?

As the years passed and I got into bigger MMO’s, I decided to try my hand at other roles.  I decided to play as a healer first.  (What was I thinking?)  I learned quickly that playing a healer is VASTLY different from being a DPS player.  Instead of being Legolas, I’m now the background medic running around and watching everyone’s health.  One small mistake has huge consequences for the entire group, so there’s little room for error.  After playing as a healer, I then created a tank character.  (For some reason, I find that class the hardest.  If you are a tank in a game, I commend you!  I seriously don’t know how you do it.)  Again, it was different from being DPS or heals.  Instead of keeping people’s health up or just aiming and hope I hit the bad guy, I was now watching my surroundings.  Are my allies being attacked?  Am I taking all the hits?  Am I making sure we’re doing all the right strategies and heading in the right direction?  It was difficult, to be sure!

After ten years of gaming, and playing all three roles, I’ve come to learn something over the years.  Every time I get into a group, I’m able to adapt to whatever role I’m given.  I’ve been in some awkward situations where the healer left and I suddenly had to heal or the tank didn’t know what he/she was doing and I had to take over.  And even when I didn’t have to adapt, I found myself working with the people I’ve been grouped with better than before.  Instead of running around and not knowing my role, I’m able to work with my teammates in a quick and easy fashion.  I’m by no means a great gamer (I learned that quickly in PVP.)  What I did learn, however, is that playing all three roles has made me a better gamer than I was before.  Because I played a DPS, I know how a DPS thinks so I can keep the bad guy away from them when I tank.  Because I played a tank, I know when I need to heal the tank the most when playing a healer.  Because I played a healer, I know (as a DPS) to run and save the healer when he/she’s being attacked by an enemy the tank missed.  Had I not played all three roles, I would have never learned these things.

When it comes to writing, it’s easy to stay in the same place and not learn anything new.  We can still be great writers and continue to produce great writing, but just like in gaming, when we stretch our knowledge and learn different things, our experience begins to grow.  Though my predominant genre is romance, taking a poetry class with Blogging U a few months back taught me a new form of writing (and you’ll get to see a little poem in “When Dreams Break”.)  It made me step out of my comfort zone and discover that, through learning poetry, I was able to grow my knowledge of writing and add something new to my romance novel.  Along with the poetry, I began learning about different points of view and trying out new genres.  Now, through writing “The Adventures of Captain Patty”, I learned how to write in first person point of view and wrote in a new (and incredibly fun) genre, adventure!  All of this stretched me as a writer.  It made me grow in knowledge.  And now, after a little while of practice, I feel like I’m more experienced in my craft than I was a year ago.

Through gaming, I learned that there’s always something new to know.  Through writing, I learned that it’s not so different.  Curiosity becomes learning.  Learning becomes experience.  Experience becomes growth.  I may not be the best gamer or the best writer, but I’m better than what I was last year.  And as long as I keep learning, I hope by next year, the growth continues.

And either way, it’ll be fun!  Unless I have to play a tank.  😉