Friday, August 17, 2012

aloha / sayonara

In less than twelve hours, I shall be winging away once again.  For seven days and six nights, AnCe and I will be sharking, surfing and shopping in Hawa'i.  Possibly, it will be the most relaxed trip I've ever taken, with pre-booked tours and road trips of less than 120 kilometres.  Then, we jet off to Narita International, where we spend a couple of days in Nikko, before meeting Nish in Tokyo.  Yes, Tokyo.  Three days there, a day for Fuji-san, then four day in Kyoto (with trips to Nara, Kobe, Himeji castle and, maybe Osaka).  We all part ways in Tokyo, with Nish going back to the 'Scar-via-Bangkok, AnCe heading to SFO and I going home via Washington.  I'm sure I'll have many stories upon my return.  Ciao, for now, poppets!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

WoW: things i learned from my raid leader

When asked about leadership styles during job interviews, I’m always a little stumped. How can I explain that some of my best lessons were learned while gutting imaginary beasts and demons in some alternate dimension? It’s true.
Before Warcraft, here’s how I dealt with group dynamics:
  1. assess strengths and weaknesses of team members
  2. divide the work among the capable
  3. dismiss those I didn’t see contributing
  4. take all presentation responsibilities in order to ensure effective communication of end result
…If there was any dissension amongst the group, I’d just bulldoze over it, because I had no time to try out stupid ideas destined for failure. And Goddess help you if you had to ask the same question twice. See #3.
Raiding in Warcraft is a serious team effort. One person cannot slack or it results in, well, death. Everyone has to come prepared (repaired, stocked up and forged for maximum efficiency) and everyone has to trust in their party to put forth their best effort. It takes a special kind of person to be able to lead a group of people, of differing skill levels and with unique skills to contribute, in the pursuit of one goal.

Having had the privilege of reporting to an amazing Raid Leader, Magnus, here are the things he taught me:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WoW: enough about me

Once I pique my colleague’s curiosity, she’s full of questions about Warcraft and my character. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since it came out over seven years ago. I’m not very good at it, it’s true, but I do like it. I like that I can be a six foot tall purple elf, with foot-long ears and face tattoos and I’m still considered the “sexy” race. I like that I can pretend to have agility +140, while sneaking up on an enemy and do my best work from behind.

She asks me what my name in the game is. Marpesia. A dagger-winged butterfly named for an Amazon warrior who specialised in poison-tipped arrows. Because, nobody ever suspects the butterfly. Also helps that my weapons of choice are two daggers and throwing knives. Remembering there are different classes, she asks whether I tank or heal, and I say no. I do damage; lots and lots of up-close damage. My skills are things like: garrotte, eviscerate, slice and dice, killing spree and fan of knives. She’s a little shocked by the bloodthirsty nature of it all. I shrug. That’s my class. If I don’t do a lot of damage, my tanks will die over time and my healers will be next. It’s my job to take that boss down as soon as I can, as cleanly as I can. I feel that responsibility keenly.

Is it stressful? It can be. There are times when so many things are happening at once (fire, arrows, steep edges) that one mis-step causes the entire raid to die. It’s important to be alert, committed and patient. So very patient. She laughs and says I must be in-charge; I say no. Emphatically.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

WoW: in the beginning...

It’s hard to talk about World of Warcraft to non-WoW people. It’s a little better with other gamers, but non-gamers? Almost a non-starter.

About a year ago, when asked about covering shifts, I said I’d like to avoid Tuesday and Wednesday nights; when pressed, I said it was my Raid Night and I didn’t want to let my guild down. Commence crickets and owl blinks. Later, one of my colleagues, an almost-older adult asked what a “raid” is exactly. I joked whether she had an hour; she very seriously replied that she had 45 minutes, would that do? So, over coffee, I explained it as such:
Warcraft is an MMORPG, massive multiplayer online role playing game. It’s played in real time, it continues playing even when your character is not logged on and it takes place in a fantasy universe. For the most part, you play solo, doing quests for rewards (like weapons, armour or gold). In some instances, you have a hard boss to defeat and you need more than one person. Sometimes you have REALLY hard bosses and you need ten people. These instances are called “raids” and your party must work together. So far, so good.
My party consists of people from my guild. A guild is a group of people who like playing together and help each other out (with bosses or rewards). So, my party has decided that we will raid together on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. People in my guild are from all over the world: Toronto, Texas, Edinburgh, etc. Our party consists of three type of players: tanks, healers and damage-dealers (DPS, further broken into melee and ranged groups). Tanks wear heavy armour so they take a lot of damage and keep the focus of the boss, but they do very little damage themselves. Healers do almost no damage, wear flimsy armour, can take no hits, but heal everyone else. DPS classes wear light armour, do mega damage from far away (ranged) or right up close (melee), but can’t take more than a hit or two. Together, as a team, they work together to taken down bosses that can take and deal a LOT of damage. The rewards are especially good weapons, armour, gems, etc.
I won’t say she understood all of it, but she did understand that it was a little more than just a game, that if I’m late or don’t show, I let a bunch of people down all around the world. I feel like I did my bit for bridging the generational gap.