Regardless of how badly we want to, most of us do not get to spend the majority of our lives logged into WoW. Between the normal stuff like family and work, there are also other things such as social obligations, unforeseen emergencies and that stupid thing they call sleep which force us to hop out of Azeroth and back into the real world from time to time. But don’t despair, fellow nerds. It is possible to utilize this time away from the game in such a manner as to improve your quality of play when next you get to log in.
My strategies; let me show you them
1. Read Blogs– The number one, most valuable way to stay on top of your game is to be informed. No matter what faction, race, class or style of play… you should be able to easily find several blogs that have information specific to you and several that are chock full of general news and information about the game. Read them daily, or at least several times a week. The easiest way to do that would be to subscribe to them through Google Reader (or any similar service). The reason is because feed readers almost always make it through the filter at work or school so you can read them on your breaks or between classes. Feed readers also automatically grab the newest posts and keep all your blogs in one place on one page, saving you time by not having to look up bookmarks and flip back and forth between pages. Google Reader is the one I prefer for several reasons: It stays logged in for me because I’m already logged into Gmail and Gtalk AND because it’s a free app on my Android based smart phone, so I can read all my blogs on the go. Finding well-written, regularly updated blogs on WoW topics of interest to you will keep you abreast of any changes that have been made, the newest techniques that have been discovered, etc.
2. Listen to Podcasts – I have to admit, I only recently discovered the value of podcasts. I hadn’t been snubbing them on purpose, I just hadn’t taken the time to notice all of the amazing options they had to offer. Podcasts are one of the most flexible mediums available to us these days. I became instantly addicted to them just a few weeks ago when on a whim, I downloaded a few episodes of Matticast to my iPod and took it to the gym with me. I had always listened to music while working out in the past and at times I would find myself having to adjust the volume level when different songs came on that had been downloaded at different levels, skip past songs I wasn’t in the mood for or just generally tuning the music out until it was just a gentle roar in the background while I miserably counted every step on the treadmill waiting for my torture to be over. But the day I listened to Matticast at the gym was an amazing experience. Because it was people talking, I had to focus in on it more to actually comprehend what was being said. Focusing on the podcast instead of my workout meant that I walked a solid 23 minutes on the treadmill before I ever once glanced down to look at my time or distance. As a fat ass, that is absolutely amazing for me. But that wasn’t the only advantage. Podcasts are almost always recorded with at least 2 or 3 people giving input. That means they are bouncing ideas off of each other, giving thoughts and opinions on the suggestions the other make. It’s a real conversation with opposing or agreeing points of view. That really intensifies the informational value. I now subscribe to a handful of podcasts and I was recently listening to a podcast about how to make gold in-game. The first speaker talked about constantly scanning the AH for a few particular items and learning how to run the market on those items. But his podcast partner had a few counter opinions on why he didn’t think that was the best method. I was totally absorbed. Because of their exchange, I developed my own theories on what may work best for me and in the past week I’ve made about 15k gold with minimal effort.
Podcasts are easy to find, just do a google search for WoW podcasts (you can even specify it to druid podcasts or money-making podcasts, etc.) and start listening. It’s a very flexible way of getting information. You can find dozens and dozens of WoW ones in the iTunes store and subscribe to most of them for free. Then you can set them up to automatically download each new episode as it’s recorded. Once you have a few new ones available, throw them on your iPod or even burn them on cd to listen to in the car… if your car is retarded like mine and still doesn’t have an iPod jack even though it’s only 4 years old. A third option for podcasts is just to simply listen to them through their home webpage. Most of them include an in-page player that is useable through the web filter (at least where I work). Just try to remember you’re not actually listening to a live chat because when you start laughing out loud and talking back to no one, people give you weird looks.
3. Stay in touch with your guildies and other WoW friends – Do you have any idea how huge WoW is on Twitter? HUGE! Once again I am going to have to admit I’m fairly new to the Twitter world; I’ve only been using it for WoW purposes for the past 3 or 4 months. I’ve had an account for over a year, I had just never figured out why I had an account. It wasn’t until I started following my GM (at the time) @KissMyAlas that I realized how cool Twitter could actually be. I immediately downloaded the TweetDeck app on my smart phone and followed people I could see in Alas’ feed. Even though I don’t seem to ever say anything important on my tweets, reading everyone else’s is a constant source of enlightenment and entertainment.
But I’m not just talking about Twitter here. Stay in touch with the people who share your interests. Start a Facebook group page for your guild where you guys can be silly and get to know each other better. Use an instant messaging service to
bother your friends stay in touch with friends you’ve made in-game. I prefer GTalk and my handle is roseykrh at gmail dot com. Hit me up. I suck at talking face to face (I’m quite shy) but online I’m awesome. At least in my opinion. Creating bonds like this with people who have the same hobby as you will also strengthen your ties to the game.
4. Jot down notes or to-do lists – This one’s easy. Most of us use this method to make all sorts of things easier in our lives. The less time you spend standing around trying to remember what you needed to do, the more time you spend actually being productive. We write out grocery lists, chore schedules, whose turn it is to pick up the kids at school, etc. It makes perfect sense we should use this same method of efficiency in our WoW lives. If you got new gear in a heroic last night and then immediately logged out, jot down a list of what enchants or gems you need to look for to enhance that new item. If you’re into playing the AH for money, use your free minutes at work to keep track of what exactly you want to buy when you get home. If you have several alts and need to fit in dailies on all of them along with a heroic on your main, write down which dailies are the most important for each character and do them in order of proximity to maximize your time and get the most out of your efforts. It sucks to fly out of Stormwind on your way to Eastern Plaguelands only to realize you forgot to stop by the bank for an important item. It’s a waste of your valuable time to go back and forth multiple times. Write it down and get it all done right the first time.
5. Exercise and nutrition – As I mentioned earlier in this post, I am a fat ass. I am not trying to preach to anyone about exercise and nutrition. I just want to point out a few quick things. For one, the better your diet is the more alert and focused you are. This is a proven fact and it applies to all areas of your life, not just gaming – but it can be extremely important if you are signed up for a raid that may easily last 3 or 4 hours. There are all sorts of discussions on the interwebz about the best raid foods. They need to be quick and easy to pick up and pop in your mouth while at the same time not leaving crumbs or a juice on your fingers or your keyboard. I just want to encourage you all to remember that apples and cheese is an excellent option. Or baby carrots, celery sticks, raw cauliflower, etc. These things are tasty and can make you a better raider. True story.
Now, for the exercise part, let me embarrass myself and tell you the story about why exercise now directly affects my WoW playing. About 10 days ago, I was diagnosed with Patellar Tracking Disorder in both knees. That’s just a technical name for dislocated kneecaps. They are not grossly dislocated and I have not suffered any injuries that have caused this. Both of my kneecaps are being pulled out of the center of my joints and off to the outside of my knees. This is because everyone has two tendons that hold their kneecap in place. One goes from the kneecap to the outside of the knee, the other goes from the kneecap to the inside of the knee. In my case, the outside tendon is way stronger than the inside tendon and as a result is winning an unwanted “tug-o-war” battle resulting in it pulling my kneecap over towards the outside while stretching my weak inner tendon towards it. This causes several things to happen. One being that my inner tendon is being stretched farther than it was meant to go and it hurts. Not only does it hurt when it’s physically bumped or touched, but it hurts anytime my knee is flexed. Try walking, sitting or getting up out of a chair without flexing your knee. The other thing that happens is because my kneecap isn’t sitting in the center of the joint, where a nice little grooved-out channel exists to help it move along the joint smoothly, when my knee is flexed the kneecap is gliding along my bone instead. Sounds awesome, huh? Well it’s not as horrible as it sounds, I guess. I mean I do experience pain and stiffness and tenderness, but it’s not excruciating and can be managed with Aleve, ice packs and keeping my legs straight as much as possible.
The interesting part is what causes this type of disorder. It’s generally seen in two types of people (and no, it’s not fat people Mom!). Athletes sometimes get this condition because their movements may cause the outside of their leg to get over-used, resulting in the outside tendon being too strong. Or, it can happen to people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. I’ll let you figure out for yourself which of these two categories I fall into. I’ve had a desk job for the past 5 years, but since October I have been working 3rd shift so my schedule doesn’t line up with my friends and family as easily anymore and my social life (going shopping with my sister, babysitting my nephew, etc.) has become non-existent; which means I don’t leave my chair at home much. The desk job I currently have is NOT the same job I’ve had for the past 4 years and this new company doesn’t have an exercise room like my last job did. In fact, it’s such a small area there’s nowhere for me to go on my breaks and my 3rd shift schedule is a straight 8 hour shift, so I don’t even get to leave for lunch. I get two 15 minute breaks which I use to eat and try to walk around the cubes a time or two. Top it all off with the fact that my addiction to the game has increased ten-fold since right before the Cata launch and I spend an average of 30 hours a week playing WoW where I used to only spend about 8 and you’ll see how all the conditions have led me to this physical issue(and I haven’t even mentioned that this is the worst winter on record for my part of the world, making me even more housebound than normal). I started an exercise routine at the first of the year because I am ready to lose weight. But now it’s become more about strengthening my leg muscles to reverse the damage and balancing my time being sedentary while playing the game. That is why the exercise and nutrition are mentioned here. You will benefit yourself greatly by simply adding 4 hours of physical activity to your week. It will allow you to enjoy the game longer and not view it as something that has dislocated both of your kneecaps.
So there you have it, 5 little things you can do when you’re not able to login to the game which will improve and enhance your WoW experience. I’m sure most of you die-hards are already doing one or two of these things, but if I’ve given you any new ideas then my purpose has been served. Now I command you to go forth and conquer.