I have mild social anxiety disorder. I was diagnosed with it several years ago, but never took medication for it, because I don't really believe meds to be a solution, and the fact I can manage it (mostly). If I go to a bar, and see the parking lot is full, and the bar is crowded through the windows, am I afraid to go in? Certainly, but I force myself (sometimes my friend will force me), to walk through the doors. Once I'm in, I enjoy myself, and forget the qualms I had seeing the parking lot. There are other times when my social anxiety kicks in. For example, my friend who I went to high school with who was also my guitar instructor, invites me over to holiday cookouts. Sometimes I go, and find I have a good time, despite feeling nervous, and trying to make excuses in my head to not go. Other times I see all the people there, and don't bother to show because I don't want to seem socially awkward, and such, though I get along with everyone. For me, just showing up to a social function takes a lot of work and mental energy, even for family events. There are people with social anxiety disorder who have it a lot worse than I do, but even a mild case of it makes things difficult sometimes.
What does this have to do with WoW? I think the answer should be obvious. WoW is designed, especially at level cap, to be a social game, working with other players to accomplish goals. If you read some other posts, I prefer to play solo as often as possible. Why? The answer is simple. I don't have to worry about looking like a fail player, or be the person that causes a wipe, or the person who has poor dps levels. Even running heroics, which at this point are easy (except for HoR), I feel nervous going into them, despite the fact I've run most of them enough, and the fact that if I PUG them, I probably won't see the other players again. To make matters worse, if I PUG (I'm dps), I have to wait 15 minutes most of the time. I get nervous just waiting. That's 15 minutes to ask myself which instance will I get? How will the group be? I have a 5k gear score. Will people think I suck if my dps is less than 3.5? Often the nerves get the best of me, and I leave que, a part of me feeling relieved.
This kind of reached an apex this past weekend. I left the guild I was in. I had explained to a couple of the officers that my playstyle (not raiding), and the fact I cut back on my playing some, didn't make me a good fit for the guild at the moment. One of the officers told me they like to have good people in the guild, even if they don't play or raid much, but if I'm in a guild, I want to be active and contribute outside of saying "grats", and a lame joke here or there. If I'm not raiding, or helping other players as often as I feel I should, then the guild should have other players who can come in and provide that. My toon is just dead weight.
One may ask what does leaving the guild have to do with SAD? While I wasn't able to raid ICC with them (GS too low), I could have done other raids, such as VoA, or Ulduar when players were looking for a group. I usually kept quiet. A part of me wanted to join, but the negative thoughts crept into my head. As a non-raider, I've never done a raid outside a weekly boss, or fighting some ICC trash. Of course, I thought to myself if I join group, I'll have no clue what I'm doing, look like an idiot, and an incompetent player in front of the guildies, hence ruining my chance to do other raids. In my mind, I'd rather my toon have no name than a bad rep, just as in real life.
I've seriously considered quitting WoW of late. The only reason I still play is to say hello to some people in my friends list, and it helps me keep in contact with former coworkers of mine (one of whom told me not to mind other people, but it is hard not too). Other than that, there's very little incentive for me to continue to play if I have to rely on other people constantly to accomplish goals, or improve my character.
I know a lot of this is in my head. I'm at the point now where even if I do something new, I listen to other players tips, and quickly adapt to the situation. However, I remember being a fresh 80, not really knowing my class, and stepping my toes into instances for the first time. I remember all the negative comments I received and people being jerks to me. People who obviously forgot what it was like to be a fresh 80. I try to tell myself to forget all that, that I have some clue as to what I'm doing now, but the ghosts of those voices in party chat still run through my mind.
I understand some people may not be able to relate to what I just blogged. The people who thrive on the social aspect of the game, and let any negative players roll off their shoulders. However, there may be other players out there who suffer from SAD, and play WoW. To those players, I want to say you are not alone.