Ladder Anxiety

Since Warlords of Draenor I’ve been playing World of Warcraft once again. For the expansion I made a paladin, got it to level 90 with the free boost and started leveling on Draenor. Now, I’m somewhat of a lore-geek so I decided to do all quests (including reading them all, so I knew what was going on), while not doing any dungeons. My thought process behind this was that doing a dungeon would mess with my leveling curve and cause me to eventually outlevel the zones before finishing them. I figured I could always do the dungeons later at level 100, either in normal or heroic.

Ladder anxiety
No, not that kind of ladder, you sillyhead :3

The basic idea worked pretty well. I didn’t outlevel the zones much, even though I did some bonus objectives (until I realised just how much experience they gave ^_~). But there was one major flaw in that plan: I had no idea of how to do any of the new dungeons. I didn’t know where to go once inside a dungeon, I didn’t know any trash mechanics, and I didn’t know any boss tactics 🙁

I reached level 100, still having fun questing in Nagrand and managing my garrison, and I didn’t feel any need to go into a dungeon. However, this couldn’t go on forever, and soon enough things got kinda boring. Then these thoughts hit me. I didn’t know my way around any of the dungeons. I felt like a burden, even though I hadn’t played with any other players yet. I didn’t want to go through the dungeons because of this… And that’s when it hit me: Once again, I had ladder anxiety 🙁

What is ladder anxiety?

Ladder anxiety is a condition that cause people to be hesitant toward playing parts of a game where there’s competition and a ranking system. Because of the ranking system, such as a ladder, people can become very anxious when playing a game such as StarCraft II or League of Legends. The anxiety can occur if, for example, a person is afraid to lose his/her rank.

Okay, so it might not be the best term for how I felt, because there’s not a ladder or ranking system coming into play when talking about dungeons in WoW. However, I’m using the term because I have diagnosed myself with it before and the feelings were about same.

I used to play League of Legends at a good enough level to get Gold-rank and stopped whenever I reached that rank. Gold meant that I was more skilled than the majority of players, and I could get the end-of-season skin reward. But why did I stop the minute I reached gold? Well, whenever I queued up for a ranked match in LoL I would start to shake a bit and sweat heavily. It wasn’t very pleasant, even when things were going great and I won games. But I wanted to prove to myself and others that I was good enough for gold.

League of Legends, gold rank
I haven’t played LoL in a while, so this is the only proof of my glorious ranked career 😛

The connection to WoW

Why do I get these bad feelings? After all, it’s just games. Games that are meant to be fun and this is where my problems lie. I’m playing games to have fun and when things get too serious, I’m (usually) out.

Then there is the internet, which we all know to be a place of happy fun times where magic happens 😀 And jerks 🙁 Because people are behind a screen, and not facing any real consequences of the way they act, a lot of people tend to go out of their way to tell others how they suck.

Because of this internet mentality, things get pretty serious rather quickly. In LoL, people want to win games and anyone who might make a mistake gets told. In WoW, people want to finish dungeons quickly and anybody who slows them down gets pointed out. And guess what, the last category was me :/

Dying to Target Dummies in World of Wacraft
I had a lot of fun just managing my garrison… Until the new Training Dummies wanted me out of there 🙁

My own “cure” to ladder anxiety

I thought that I had cured myself from ladder anxiety by playing Hearthstone. I almost never play “casual” in that game, only ranked and arena. I don’t know what it is, if it’s the fact that I’m alone and/or the games are over fairly quickly and/or the chat restrictions, but in Hearthstone I just jump in and play ranked. This got me to do the same thing the last time I played LoL ranked. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. If I had a bad game, I would play Hearthstone until I won match and then go straight back into LoL ranked (this was at the end of a season, so I only just reached gold – But I felt pretty good doing it this way).

As a reader, you might think something along the lines of “well, why not just jump in, without thinking, and learn the dungeons as you play them?” Sure, I could do that and I also tried. I queued up, got into a dungeon and started off by telling everyone that I was new to the things and needed some guidance. Now, I should probably tell you that I leveled as a tank, so I naturally queued for the dungeon as tank. The combination of the two, being a tank and telling people that I didn’t know my way around, turned out to be horrible :<

I got into three dungeons that fateful day, and every one ended within the first 10 minutes. There were pulls of epic fails (by me), ninja pulls (not by me), death and carnage: I got blamed for every single thing that went wrong, and why wouldn’t I be blamed? I was the tank and therefore I apparently had the most responsibility <.< Well, each time this happened I would apologise for wasting people’s time, even though I probably shouldn’t have, and leave.

Does this post ever end?

Yes, just hang on tight a little longer 😉

So, it took me quite a while to get back into the dungeons of WoD. I think it only happened because of two things: I switched to DPS and my girlfriend played along side of me (my girlfriend is both a better WoW-player than me and she doesn’t have any ladder anxiety). This really helped as now I had a person next to me who didn’t mind telling me about tactics/mechanics, and when I messed up, there was a person to “defend” me :p

I mean, I could probably have managed it on my own by just changing from tank spec to DPS, but it was just really nice to have her with me, as stupid and pathetic as that may sound 🙂 As a bonus, it was also some great and fun quality time for us 😀

So, what am I trying to say with this post? Well, one thing is that ladder anxiety is a real thing and can even happen in games without a ranking system… Or at least that’s what happened to me, even though I thought I had myself “cured”.

Secondly, I think a nice way of curing ladder anxiety is to 1: Jump into it, and 2: Play ranked in a quick and easy-to-learn game like Hearthstone. This post isn’t supposed to be an advertisement for Hearthstone, but the ranked format of the game really helped me before 🙂

Almost dead in Hearthstone
Hearthstone is a quick, fun and relaxing experience… Right? 😮

And thirdly, chill out and play video games for fun – Because that’s what they’re for. And if a person is new and/or is in need of help, help that person, for god’s sake, and don’t bash him/her for it. I know that this might not reach a lot for people, especially not those who needs to read it, but I will make it my mission to help others have fun and call those out who ruins it 😉

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