Why do I like to heal?

Spinks made a post a couple of days ago in which she outlined, to put it simply, why playing a healer in World of Warcraft sucks (at least in raids). I found myself nodding in agreement at every single point - until it suddenly hit me: If I agree that there are so many problems with healing, why do I enjoy it so much anyway? After all I have two high-level priests who are both holy; my paladin's dual spec is prot/holy, my druid's feral/resto, and I'm also levelling a shaman who's currently "only" enhancement but I'd rather like to heal with her later on as well. Am I really that much of a masochist?

According to Spinks, "a lot of people play support classes because they like feeling wanted", but I don't think it's quite that simple for me. Don't get me wrong, I do like being popular. While daily random whispers from strangers asking me to join their raid are something I could do without, it's still preferable to having to jump through three different kinds of hoops to get a group spot as dps. One observation I made on my very first day of playing WoW was that while questing and exploring had been very engaging and fun so far, I could easily see it becoming boring if I wasn't going to start interacting with other people soon. I'm quite happy to go off and do things on my own, but just having the choice between grouping or soloing is a very powerful factor when it comes to my overall enjoyment of the game. "Well, I guess I'll grind some more leather because nobody needs a hunter for any heroics" is not a lot of fun.

However, I wanted to be a healer in WoW right from the start, before I even knew that they were needed for group content and hard to find. I had never played an MMO or an RPG before, so I had no idea about the "holy trinity" or anything of the like. I had just read the manual and the introductions on the official website, and thought to myself: Okay, there are classes that can heal themselves and others, and classes that can't. Why in the world would anyone want to play a class that can't heal? I couldn't help picturing my character stumbling through the woods, heavily wounded by a fight against evil monsters and desperate for some help. In my naivety I didn't think there would be other options to regenerate health on your own, such as food, potions or bandages.

As I started to level up I was gradually eased into what it actually meant to be a healer. I didn't mind standing at the back in my sissy robe; that's what healers do, isn't it? I didn't mind that I wasn't the best at killing monsters; that's not what healers do. I only ever started to feel bad about playing a healer when I got it rubbed into my face that I was somehow inferior - because I couldn't solo an elite or take on so many mobs at once, basically whenever people tried to turn things into an unneeded (and unfair) competition. Why does everything have to be a competition?

I think it really comes down to having a peculiar preferred playstyle. In real life I'm a very mellow person and I think it shows in the way I play. I much prefer the process of creation over destruction; defending and protecting is more fun for me than crushing enemies. Before I started to play WoW I was heavily into The Sims 2, which is really all about creating and building - if you were just looking for ways to kill your Sims, you'd get bored quickly. When I was mostly into real-time strategy games I'd also always prefer to slowly build up a big base with lots of defenses, create lots of units and then see what happens - even though that strategy is usually inferior to attempting a quick rush, I always found it much more fun.

Hell, it works for non-computer games as well! For several years I casually played floorball once or twice a week, and my favourite position was that of goalie. A goalie is actually a lot like a healer, because while you definitely need one, people rarely want to be the one. Most of my fellow players seemed to perceive it as un-fun to be mentally leashed to the goal posts and to have to watch helplessly when the game moved to the other half of the field. And if you let the ball through you'd feel guilty, even if it was due to utter fail on the defense's part. (Sound familiar?) Nonetheless it still felt satisfying to me.

The things I like most about WoW are exploring, having fun with friends and making my characters progress. "Pwning" NPCs or other players is not high on my list of priorities at all. Maybe that's why I never really managed to get into PvP. I like dungeons and raids because they provide a lot of the three things I really like about WoW. The fact that there are big bad monsters in the way that need to be stabbed to death is more of a side effect really, and I'm quite happy to let other people take care of the task of disposing of them. And I think that's why I like to heal.

(Cue comments from healers who feel completely differently about their job but are no less into it. But hey, this is my view.)

1 comment:

  1. i play a resto shaman...what i like about healing is there is no face rolling, i cant set up my action bar so that all i need to do is 1,2,3,4,2,3,4, etc etc...sure at times i'm stood at the back twiddling my thumbs due to an insanely geared tank tanking no damage and losing no agro...easy money :P...most of the time tho i'm hopping about at the back cracking off chain heals as if my life depended on it (it doesnt...not only can i self rez i'm usually closest to the door too :P) miss click, heal the wrong person it could be over, constantly engaging...imo never a dull moment...