Hearthstone, Anxiety And Me

I still love that Blizzard released a soundtrack disc called "Taverns Of Azeroth".

I still love that Blizzard released a soundtrack disc called “Taverns Of Azeroth”.

Hearthstone is my favourite multiplayer game right now, and it has almost nothing to do with the game itself. The game is great, which definitely helps, but CCGs have never really been my thing before and I doubt they ever will be again particularly. Never say never, but things like deck building and worrying about the metagame of it aren’t really my idea of a great time and the added complexities that excite others in things like Magic aren’t things that particularly excite or interest. Though unlike football, I can see why others would enjoy them.

Instead, what keeps me hooked on Blizzard’s game is that it’s one of the few multiplayer games I can both drop into on a whim, and play to relax and feel good. That’s something I don’t get very often, and a big reason why I tend to prefer single-player games. Making the world virtual doesn’t make the aching social anxiety any less real.

Every game has its trolls who love to taunt. Hearthstone just made their leader useful.

Every game has its trolls who love to taunt. Hearthstone just made them useful.

To be clear, social anxiety isn’t the same as ‘shy’, not specifically anyway. It’s a whole bundle of insecurity, self-esteem issues, intense feelings of fear and worry and avoidance, often tied to severe depression issues. Trust me on this one. It’s not the basic nerves or cold feet of “I don’t know what to say to this girl/boy.” It’s the internalised belief that it’s not going to matter what you say, because there is no way anyone could like you anyway, that if anyone does spend time with you it’s out of dutiful politeness with a timer ticking, and that the best thing you can bring to any table is your absence. And of course, it tends to be a self-fulfilling kind of prophecy. Antisocial and socially anxious look very similar, and it’s not as if anyone can see into your head. People see that you never, say, invite them to do things. They don’t see that the reason is because you can’t imagine, or at least act on the idea that they might actually want to do that thing with you. Why would they? Nobody would.

(And no, being aware of the irrationality of this makes it no better. Worse, really, because it doesn’t help and just makes you feel bad for being so stupid about it. At least being unaware allows for a certain ‘against the world’ sense of rebellion. The best you can say about aware depression is that there can be a certain soporific comfort to it. To quote a song that popped up on Spotify’s Radio a while back with a line I thought apt, “Depression’s like a big fur coat. It’s made of dead things, but it keeps me warm.” One of the best descriptions of it I’ve heard.)

Hearthstone, always pumping you up even when you secretly suck.

Hearthstone, always pumping you up even when you secretly suck.

I say “you” of course. But I’m obviously talking about myself, a guy who can confidently give a speech without any real preparation, has done things like acting and debating, and is absolutely fine behind a megaphone, but usually has to spend several minutes pacing nervously before so much as having dinner with friends and frets for a week before going to a party. Luckily… to some vague degree of ‘luck’… the aforementioned antisocial vs. anxious thing tends to mean that these ‘problems’ don’t tend to come up very much. Suffice it to say that there’s reasons why I have thousands of followers on Twitter, but only about six numbers on my iPhone. And not just the discovery after going freelance a few years back that when you work from home, bathing is entirely optional.

You’d think that these issues would be gone online, but far from it. Personally I find them every bit as bad, not least because of the added aggression and expectation that goes into things. Team Fortress 2 was a long-time favourite of mine for the fact that unlike every other shooter out there, it was a game that almost nobody took seriously enough to care. Win, lose, no problem. It was enough fun to simply dive into that either the jerks were diluted or decided to take a bit of a holiday. Playing something like a public Dota 2 game though is painful, and the mere idea of jumping into a game like DayZ fills me with sheer horror. To most people, voice chat is a feature. To me it’s a curse; a direct line to vast amounts of shit-talking and pressure that I just do not want to deal with.

But it doesn’t take that much to trigger it. My heart pounds uncomfortably when I get so much as a friendly request-to-group in an MMO, where the only expectation is to click on a thing and make it a dead thing and then go swap its corpse for a little gold and XP. I don’t find this kind of thing fun. I find it intensely stressful, and that’s when there are no stakes involved. Never mind when it’s something that’s meant to be a challenge, there’s something on the line, emotions are jacked high and the unblinking spotlight has a heat bulb in it.

With my mage Seneschal, I've played WoW and its expansions... but get so nervous about groups, I've barely seen any of the endgame content.

Played World of Warcraft to Level 90. So nervous of groups, barely seen any expansion’s endgame.

Now, none of this is to say that I never play multiplayer games. I’ve got over 50 hours of Dota 2 on record at this point, which I’m aware is the equivalent of 5 minutes to a real player (especially since most of it is in Limited Draft and I still favour Drow). I’ve got a Level 90 World of Warcraft character sitting around waiting to see if I can be bothered to take her to Draenor later this year. But I tend to play them all more or less as solo games. I don’t have a circle of people I play with. I’m not part of a Dota 2 team. I find the idea of inviting someone to group in something like World of Warcraft just as intimidating as trying to have small-talk with them. And I really, really hate the likes of raiding, where the social challenge is coupled with such an easy ability to be the weak link in a chain.

If it was with a group of friends or something then it might be different, feeling like a group challenge rather than a challenge to simply be part of the group. It never really has been though, much to my chagrin. I tend to gravitate to going it solo, alternately enjoying and envying and fearing the other people around. And in games too.

(Randomly, while I blame absolutely nobody else for this, this is at least a bit of an unspoken problem of having a social circle made up of games journalists, many of whom live together or work in the same office. While everyone you know might be into games, that also means that there’s nothing special about you being into them, and you’re always going to play fifth fiddle to someone who can just fire up a game over lunch or whatever. My best multiplayer experiences took place after joining Future, when the internal network wasn’t allowed to connect to the wider world and so everyone stuck around after work to play Counterstrike on the LAN. That fizzled the second we got a dedicated review network though, and those on non-games mags weren’t needed for numbers.)

But at least you took part, and helped other people achieve their goals. So it's okay!

But at least you took part, and helped other people achieve their goals. So it’s okay!

Hearthstone however is a game I can always slip into as easily as I’ve heard other people slip into one of those ‘bath’ things. It’s everything I want a PUG online gaming experience to be, really. It’s a duel, so there’s nobody else to let down. It’s quick, wasting nobody’s time. The lack of text chat means that you know going in that the worst any opponent can do is say “Ooops” in a slightly sarcastic way. Even if you’re the absolute worst player in the entire world, you’re going to get cheers and explosions and rounds of applause often enough to count.

The whole experience is just so beautifully handled. It’s such a small thing, and I’m aware how ridiculous this is probably going to sound, but I adore that from the very first second it feels inclusive. “Welcome to my inn!” “Look who it is!” “Pull up a chair!” “It’s good ta see you again!” It hits right at the thing I detest most in online games – the way that other players so often try to act like you shouldn’t be there with their cries of “Noob” and whatever, as if they emerged from the womb knowing how to juggle with Sand King. Hearthstone instead carries… on a micro-scale, naturally… the thing that I loved most about the Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon books – that no matter what your problem, or how broken or fucked up you might feel, that you can always hope to find a Place.

But it goes beyond that. Hearthstone is super-careful to never do anything that might make you feel bad. It charts your wins, completely forgets your losses. Even if you fail miserably in the Arena, you’re rewarded and the record of your humiliating zero wins pushed off the screen as fast as the interface can update itself. Every loss is treated as a step on the path to being a winner, with a little XP to mark it. The closest thing to a downer is that it makes you endure far too many rounds with the different heroes but without the cards that actually make them playable, leading to the first hour or so being a frustrating case of not having Combo cards for Valeera or being comprehensively beaten up by a Jaina whose cards you can’t hope to counter with basic abilities.

Real anxiety is Gul'dan asking "HOW ABOUT WE MAKE THIS... INTERESTING?"

Real anxiety is Gul’dan asking “HOW ABOUT WE MAKE THIS… INTERESTING?”

Over time though, I’ve decided that one of its smartest decisions is one that I originally didn’t like – the use of heroes with personality, with the other player’s identity largely pushed off to the side. The downside of things like the lack of chat in most games would be how quickly every round bled into the others – stripped of that personality that reinforces that you’re playing with another human being, most multiplayer games don’t do so great. Nobody plays botmatches any more, even though the level of play to at least the average player is arguably going to be very similar to jumping into an online server for a PUG match. It’s just not the same.

Hearthstone though has its double-whammy. You know that there’s another player there… though I think it would be hilarious if Blizzard ultimately admitted that some 50% of players were actually AI and they just wanted to see if anyone noticed… but all character is pushed through the characters. I don’t just mean the portraits, though that helps. Everything comes together so that playing against, say, Jaina isn’t simply playing against someone with the Mage deck, but going up against the mindset of a mage. It’s the abstraction to keep the focus on the game and world rather than having to think about the other human being involved, with the scope for a shifting metagame that keeps things interesting. I really like that. Even ignoring the anxiety thing, I hate being pulled out of the fiction of my games, whether by having to team up with the mighty hero SockGobbler or having a chat window full of attempted Game of Thrones spoilers. (Spoilers: I’ve read the books, so nyah. Fear my power of literacy!)

Damn, is this going to hurt next turn...

Damn, this is really going to suck…

How long will this love affair with Hearthstone last? I have no idea, though I don’t think it’ll hurt that I’ll soon be able to play it on my iPad. (And could now, if I could be bothered to create a New Zealand iTunes store account). I rarely get super-hooked on games for that long, not least because I always have a pile that I need to get to and don’t have the time to devote to individual ones all that often. This month alone, it feels like 10 years worth of adventure games are all hitting at once. Not complaining. But wow, is sleep not likely.

For now though, I love that I have a multiplayer game that I can drop into as easily as most people drop into a pub, where winning and losing matters not even a little and the only hostility comes from wanting to repeatedly punch Anduin Wrynn in his punchable face. I totally understand why other people might not find it the game for them, with its simplicity, heavy reliance on card draw and all that, or might find the same kind of experience in something else entirely. For me though, because I can’t really talk for anyone else, Blizzard made a multiplayer game that just feels good in a way that honestly nobody else has done in a very long time. I kinda wish Heroes Of The Storm was following the same path, but still have hope that it might be able to pull off more of a Team Fortress 2 than a Dota 2 vibe when it finally lands. (I’ve played it, at Blizzcon, but don’t have access to the alpha yet.)

Anyway. I have a wall I should probably get back to supporting. Wouldn’t want it to fall and hurt someone.

No, it’s okay. No thanks needed. Sigh. All part of the social anxiety service.

18 Comments On This Post

  1. Dog Pants says:

    Online anxiety might be more common than you think. I certainly recognise the symptoms, if not to the same degree. I’ve played hundreds of games of Dota 2, of which I could probably count the number of pub matches on one hand. I raided in Wrath of the Lich King, but only when I was with at least half a dozen friends and the rest of the party were from a friendly group, and I got to level 80 having only done two or three dungeons. I find myself gravitating to Planetside 2 because it’s so big nobody can single me out, and even then I mostly play solo. It could be that this is why World of Warcraft is so successful – you can play a huge multiplayer game without actually having to interact with anyone.

    I wonder if it’s exacerbated by being trapped with potentially abusive people. You can quit Team Fortress 2 any time you like, there’s no social pressure or game mechanism to stop you. In a raid, or a Dota 2 match, you’re actively discouraged from quitting, so if you get in with a bunch of dicks you’re stuck with them for up to an hour while they disapprove of you.

    Fortunately I have a friendly and supportive group of friends for my online gaming, because if I hadn’t then I probably wouldn’t play half the games I do. I know a number of them are the same way, and it’s unconsciously driven by a desire to create a non-hostile gaming environment.

    Even now though I’m conscious that I look like I’m trying to promote my gaming group though. Or that I’ve just written three paragraphs about myself and look self absorbed. I deleted two comments last night on a gaming blog before I posted them because I just didn’t think they were worth saying, and the only reason this comment isn’t only the second paragraph is because I’m forcing myself to leave everything in to prove a point.

    Huh. Well I started off trying to be supportive, but maybe I’ve achieved a little solidarity instead. It’s been therapeutic at least.

  2. Richard says:

    Oh, it’s very common. But like a lot of things, not often discussed because there’s a lot of misunderstanding over it and similar things, like people who hear the word “depression” and think it means ‘a bit down’ or that the answer is ‘to cheer up’. Which it really, really isn’t, and that kind of glib response can be extremely harmful. Whether medical or psychological in origin, things go way deeper and are way more complicated. It shouldn’t be seen as a shameful thing, but often is, not least because of the “What do you have to feel sorry for yourself about?” factor. Which is bullshit, whether it’s coming from someone else or rattling around in your head as another thing to feel bad about.

    World of Warcraft is great for solo-MMOing; of feeling at least the fringes of a community and being able to dip in and out. At least for most of it. It’s a persistent annoyance of mine that they still do solo quests leading into dungeons that are meant to finish the story rather than keeping them as separate things, and I’d love to see them add a mode (say, in the expansion pack after the content comes out) where solo players can get their chance to fight guys like Arthas and Garrosh in a single-player tuned fight that still ends that bit of story without the need for a whole raid group*. Not for great loot or anything like that, just the satisfaction that the campaign you’ve been playing actually came to an end and that you can move on with a sense of closure and clean To-Do list.

    (* Especially as a typical Blizzard final boss involves loads of other characters to actually land and getting credit for the kill in some form anyway, whether it’s Bolvar or the dragons. It’s not even as though the ending cut-scene would have to be tweaked if it was just you.)

  3. Moraven says:

    Heroes of the Storm so far right now is hit or miss. You end up in a lot of games where people are taking the game a bit to serious much like in LoL or Dota. There is less stuff to “screw up” with, since you do not have to worry about runes or items. Alas people 1 week into the Alpha are screaming and rage quitting 5 minutes into a bad start.

    HearthStone is a lot easier to get into for a quick game and not care so much about a loss vs say Starcraft. Lots of players have ladder anxiety in getting to play 1v1 ranked. There is usually no hostility from the other player and everything is on you only on how the game turns out. But its a world of difference of anxiety between playing HS and Starcraft.

  4. Richard says:

    Kinda hoping that HotS ends up losing a lot of the hardcore when they decide to stick with Dota 2 or League of Legends or whatever rather than play gimmick maps.

  5. Moraven says:

    Looking for Raid does give that easier access to see that storyline. Although it is only smooth after 2 months after the raid has been out. First 4 weeks of a new raid is like everyone has a trigger to a bomb. Only takes one person for the LFR to implode and go all rage mode. Sadly most LFR go smoothly when people actually communicate. Letting the raid know you never been there before. Asking how to do the fight. Taking 2 minutes to arrange for the bare mechanics LFR still has. Taking 2-5 minutes prevents a bomb from going off.

    So many are in a rush, have done it, expect everyone to know what to do and do not wish to communicate makes LFR feel like a solo raid with 24 people fighting against you while you try to kill the boss.

    In a way most older raid content is solo/duo at some point. Makes mount farming easier. :)

  6. Moraven says:

    Here is hoping. If people do not rage over a bad start come backs are possible.

    I think games like TF2 work well since you are not tallying Wins or tied to some reward system that gives you more for winning. I hope in Heroes they do not emphasize winning rewards as much. Right now some quests are Win counters and you get exp bonus for winning. Dota2 you are not even earning any currency to unlock champions, but people rage even in unranked games.

  7. Richard says:

    Looking For Anything is a great way to have a dreadful time as everyone around you races like a cruise missile to the boxes of loot, ignoring the story, not being willing to take a moment to look at the often really cool world design and details put in, and distils the social element to having someone bark “mage food” or “tank wtf” or being told to play better as if that ever helped anyone.

    Not quite the experience I want after investing so much time, really :-) It’s a great system for getting in, getting loot and getting out, but not for appreciating the journey. I think for that you really need friends who are also doing it for the first time, or haven’t done it often enough to be blasé.

    (Man, my first time running through Karazhan was so painful, purely because the tank had already seen it once and kept launching into the next battle without even looking back to make sure Team DPS had finished recharging. So much cool design wasted in the name of loot for loot’s sake.)

  8. Richard says:

    I understand why people get cross in Dota 2, but I genuinely *do not get* the ones who are dicks in Limited Draft. What’s that? No, no I’m not very good with melee characters, I prefer ranged. Ah, you seem to be under the misunderstanding that I’m feeding just to annoy you. Not so, sir! It’s simply that I have three choices – do nothing and fall behind, do my best and try to improve for later games, or ask for backup that won’t come because you’re too busy- Your cries of noob offend me, sir. Why, if I was a noob, I’d probably be playing in Limited Draft mode in a concerted attempt to OH WAIT.

  9. Moraven says:

    Even with friends, Diablo 3 was a painful experience for people on “Cruise Missile” mode. Maybe it should be dubbed Tomahawk speed, mode. Joins our game and just wants to cruise through it all. No stopping to explore all parts of the map. No stopping to read any dialogue despite being their first time seeing it.

    The easy Heroics of Cata were dreadful since it put everyone on Tomahawk overdrive. I miss the dungeon experience from vanilla and Burning Crusade. I miss Shadow Labs where one bad pull and engagement was easily a wipe. You always had the easy dungeons like Ramparts.

    Once I transitioned to casual raiding it was nice to slowly progress through Karazhan and ZG on a new server. Halls of Origination is a good example of a place full of lore and looks, but you will never get that chance to experience it in a pug.

  10. DrScuttles says:

    My problem with Dota 2 and L4D2 is the relatively few player slots in a game which coupled with being terrible at them leads to a vicious circle of freezing up and reacting poorly when snarky chat comments point out that I’m doing the wrong thing. Hell, sometimes I even blush. At a bloody computer screen.
    At least L4D2 has bots, boring as that may be. Dota 2 I’ve played enough to know it and me are fundamentally compatible.
    Dark Souls has a multiplayer that works though. And you can, to a point, pick and choose how and if to engage with other humans. Reducing communication to a handful of gestures is a great leveller for everyone; having to use GFWL to actually send text to one another puts most people off from even bothering in my experience.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences of social anxiety like this though. I can relate in having slowly alienated the vast majority of my friends. The stupid thing is that my job can see me facing and interacting with members of the public, real, living humans, for up to 50 hours in a week but somehow that’s compartmentalised as being work. And a colleague invites me over to play Dark Souls 2 and I end up bailing.

  11. Richard says:

    I think many people have a split between ‘performance’ and ‘social’. The first has a focus, which can usually be measured and put against external rules and criteria and I think importantly puts the emphasis on that, whereas the second is more freeform and the emphasis put on you. Or at the very least, the rules are harder to grasp if you don’t instinctively engage with them that well.

  12. Dirk says:

    This ticks so many boxes it’s frightening. I think a big part to blame is the strange belief that people (for whatever reason) expect an inordinate amount from you. Which in turn leads to the good old “Am I good enough for this? If not, should I even continue?” thought process. Any game in which you feel inferior to others is not much fun to start with. That can and will change once you get the hang of it of course, but the path leading there can be excessively thorny with people being less than helpful and downright offensive.
    I haven’t played many MMOs or multi-player games in general, but I have seen the best and the worst of communities in various games. It really depends on the individual. I have seen immensely helpful strangers, essentially nursing me from pistol only user to fully fledged, buy-script using mass murderer in Counter Strike, to the typical bad loser accusing me of being an aimbot user, calling me names and so forth. It seems the better you get at certain games, the more often you get a kick/ban. (Just to clarify: If I aim at your chest and fire, you then stop and duck to aim at me, it results in a wonderful headshot. If you aim at my head and I duck, you will hit thin air. Some people just can’t take it. ;) )
    But that was text chat only. I’m not really interested in listening to raving and ranting people, so since voice chat has become so popular I stopped playing CS. I have nothing to prove, just trying to have a good time, and single player games can give me exactly that. Nobody expects me to play/perform in a certain way. No expectations, no pressure, no anxiety. I’m a sightseer! I found all bobble heads in Fallout 3 without using a wiki. Try doing that with somebody yelling “HURRY UP, f**k’n N00b!!!” in your neck.
    But all social aspects aside, the main problem I faced in multi-player games is a very simple but often overlooked thing: the inability to pause the game. It’s such a convenient thing. In certain MMOs (looking at you EVE Online!) just zipping into the kitchen to turn the oven off can lead to quite a disaster. Said disaster normally caused by “other people”…also known as hell.
    Really the only pressure free multi-player gaming experience for me was only possible with friends in a LAN where friendly banter was all you would hear. There’d be winners and losers, fair enough, but it’s all part of the fun. Knowing exactly who the sore loser in the group is makes it even more fun, especially when everybody starts playing his mp3 collection on his hdd over the network, slowing his rig down to a crawl. ;)

  13. JC Phoenix says:

    I’ve had social anxiety pretty much all my life, it got worse as I got older; including 3 years of nearly complete isolation. It’s a bit better now: I work, have a few friends, try to go out and do things, but…. I still have a lot of trouble with small talk, meeting new people, and talking about myself. Basically with strangers I struggle and sweat just saying more than 2 words to them, and if they try to get to know me and ask like: “what games do you play” I just completely shut down and go into that ” uhh I dunno, just whatever” mode.

    Personally I’ve been a little obsessed with DayZ at the moment. It’s very stressing sure, but the social aspect really excites me and interests me. It’s like how I heard that “second life” was some kind of outlet for people that don’t have very good social lives in real life, but the core idea and mechanics of it were just lame. DayZ however is interesting to me, and has a mix of social and antisocial elements. You can walk around for hours on end only to be shot by someone without a word being spoken, or be offered help by one guy, robbed/tortured by another, and then be healed by another. It’s very tense and anxiety provoking, but in a sense it’s almost comforting to know that the guy you just saw running by is probably freaking out just like you.

    So far it’s been a hit and miss experience for me. First few people that talked to me and were nice, I immediatly logged out on because the pressure to talk was too much. Many jerk encounters, but they don’t bother me as much as the nice people oddly enough, probably because I know the jerks are just jerks, so I don’t have to worry about what they think or try to talk to them. I made one friend in game by healing his legs for him and then text chatting back and forth, eventually working up the nerve to voice chat after about 4 days playing together. I even been thinking of joining one of the medic groups, but that involves a lot of teamspeak.

    I want more though, I was even thinkin of collecting all the social anxiety players and making an anxiety guild like the one in WoW. That’s how I found this article, and your twitter post about DayZ, lol… I’ve been googling “dayz social anxiety” looking for similar people to play with, and see if it can be a possibility…it’d be funny if all those people that shoot on sight and don’t say anything were actually nice people with social anxiety, afraid that you were going to talk to them.

  14. Brendan Davis says:

    This was beautiful. I know I’m not the only one who has social anxiety, but I felt like I was the only one who had it with online video games. Thank you.

  15. lylebot says:

    Great description of social anxiety. I don’t like multiplayer games, for the most part, but I always chalked it up to just my preference to play solo. Thinking of it as a consequence of social anxiety makes a lot of sense though.

    I tried to avoid any kind of multiplayer interaction in Demon’s/Dark Souls for a long time–I didn’t engage with it purposefully at all, only when I was forced to deal with an invader. When I finally decided to try co-opping in Dark Souls (which wasn’t until after I had Platinumed it solo), I had a blast. The lack of voice chat helps, as does the fact that it’s really hard to look incompetent when the bosses go down relatively easy against a party of three.

    Just want to reply to JC above too. He/she sounds a lot like me in high school and college. Obviously I only know what they wrote here, so take this as appropriate, but I wanted to say that medication and therapy really helped me a lot. I still have social anxiety, but it is much, much less that it used to be. Therapy helped me realize that my anxiety was so strong that I was barely even breathing during the day–which made it even harder to talk, since I didn’t have any air in my lungs to spare on speaking! And medication just helped fix the imbalance in brain chemicals that was causing it.

    I’ve been off medication and out of therapy for nearly 15 years now, and my life is so much better because of that year or two that I spent on it. Wife, two kids, a great job (that involves a lot of public speaking, incidentally, and which, like Richard, I have no problem with)–I never would’ve thought any of it possible 15 years ago.

  16. SF says:

    Thank you for writing this post, Richard. I can relate to a lot of the things you wrote about, as well as what others mentioned in the comments.

    I love MMOs, particularly WoW – I think it’s the feeling that the world is alive and I’m surrounded by real people – but I don’t like interacting with others regularly. My first few guilds that most of my friends belonged to insisted I go raiding and join them in dungeons. I had some fun times, but I hated that feeling of letting people down if I said no when they were short on players, or letting them down if I said yes and wasn’t good enough. I read about a guild for players with social anxieties called Swords for Everyone on the Wyrmrest Accord (US) that I think would be a good fit for someone like me, if I played on that server or had alts I wanted to make. I’m happy enough with the guild I’m in right now, but sometimes I get the thought in my head that I don’t belong with others that are far more talkative than I am and I worry that one day they’ll decide to kick me out. I don’t want to feel like I’m being rejected by people I like.

    Regarding Hearthstone, I am so relieved it doesn’t have chat. I’ve been able to win a few rounds and I lose quite frequently too, but it doesn’t make me feel ridiculed when I do. I haven’t felt confident enough to try out Arena yet because I think it’s a sure-fire thing that I’ll lose, but I hope to give it a go soon. The upcoming Adventures sounds like it will be something I will feel comfortable diving straight into. As for Heroes of the Storm, well it definitely intrigues me, but I can’t imagine playing it with others. I heard it will let players try out characters on their own which is something that I can imagine doing, even if it’s a fairly limited mode of play.

  17. Richard says:

    Totally agree on the alive feeling of the world. It’s something I really dug in Guild Wars 2, in the short-term at least, that there was so much focus on slipping into groups to do something. Over time it got a bit dull because either everything went horribly or the objective got absolutely steamrollered with no real middle point (until the endgame wars, anyway) but it was really cool to have that zero-pressure teamwork making what were mechanically usually fairly dull things that much more interesting.

  18. Dys says:

    It’s fascinating that my own mental health issues give me a diametrically opposite view of Hearthstone. I’m autistic, with secondary depression and anxiety, and the thought of losing in Hearthstone fills me with this raw, powerful self loathing which makes the idea of loading it up unbearable.

    My experience of being Asperger in a world of neurotypical people is in essence about the desperate need to fit in, to appear normal. I fear the judgement of those around me, and failing to succeed in any competitive arena means I have also failed in pretending to be the person I need people to believe I am. It opens the door to questions about my competence not just as a player but as a human.

    The idea that losing doesn’t matter is completely foreign, though I recognise it’s probably much healthier than the alternative.

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