People who know me in “real life”, (provided that they can bear my geeky presence long enough), are rarely ever surprised to find that in WoW I gravitate towards healing like a college jock to a kegger. I am someone who, above most else, likes to be helpful. I appreciate a challenge, I can tolerate bit more stress than the average person, and I like working behind the scenes. And since I was accepted into the healing community, I’ve met a number of people who share that same set of traits; people who are confident in their contributions and their place in the larger whole. But recently, I’ve witnessed a ripple in the online healing world, posts and comments characterized by the belief that healers are under-appreciated—blue collar labor in a corporate machine. Overworked and under-recognized, they argue that we toil endlessly for the chance at a sliver of recognition. Brothers, friends, healers … come off it.
The Birth of Entitlement
When I originally rolled Vixsin, back on Gurubashi in the days of MHJ and BT, I already knew what I wanted her to be when she grew up—a healer. I had grown tired of the dps game, tired of being a number on a meter; I wanted to have an impact on the outcome of things. I wanted to be someone. Despite the warnings from guildmates about the inherent stress of being a healer, I was set in my belief that I needed a light-spamming Amazon of my very own. And, after leveling Vixsin to 70 and doing only a couple Kara runs, the choice to make her my main wasn’t a difficult one at all.
I suppose it was growing up in late BC that got me off on the wrong foot. Instead of feeling like a part of the healing team in my then semi-accomplished guild, I was THE SHAMAN. I rode high on the meters, had innervates on call (remember how little mana they gave non-spirit classes in those days?), and had an ego the size of Doom Lord (and probably was just as annoying). The Crystal Spire of Karabor that dropped on our first Illidan kill? Mine, without any discussion. I worked my ass off, that much is true, but the effusive praise I received, although given with the best of intentions, only enabled my nose to drift higher into the air. If there was any banner that I could have carried around in those days, a mantra that epitomized my superiority, it was the one that so many of my healing brethren carry around with them still, one that permeated the posts that I’ve been reading as of late. “I can’t heal through stupid.”
The Perspective Widens
Somewhere along the way, from Illidan to Sarth, I lost my rose-colored glasses. No, I take that back, I didn’t lose them. They were crushed, ground into a fine dust, beneath the feat of every heroic mob and boss I went up against when I first hit 80. I went into those heroics in my t6, junk swingin, and got my ass handed back to me in 42 bite-sized pieces. It was likely the best thing that could have happened. Being knocked from my pedestal was a quick and efficient way to reintroduce me to humility.
Since then, at every point where my ego has started to inflate, WoW has bitch-slapped me back to reality with an encounter designed to make me realize that I am not a special snowflake. For every tank I meet who blithely charges on ahead into the dead zone that Drug so recently illustrated, I meet another who is genuinely concerned that he/she is hard to heal because they swapped out a single gem. For every idiotic, I-can-tank-that-big-baddie cloth dps I meet, I have the pleasure of grouping with one who will throw out cc with wild abandon, especially when a mob is salivating on my leg.
By casting my former teammates in a bad light, it was easier to dismiss their efforts and hold them accountable for every little mistake I saw. Although there is something to be said for the person who makes my life easier (and lots to be said to the person who makes my life harder,) festering in silence or worse yet placing myself in a me versus them scenario, does nothing to make the game more enjoyable nor does it make me a better healer. Both of these are much greater concerns over whether or not the player “deserves” my healing. Furthermore, I have a ton of old coaches who would so wonderfully remind me that a team is always as good as its weakest link. WoW, for me at least, isn’t a single-player game; I need my teammates as much as they need me. And I certainly don’t deserve a special reward for doing the job I signed up to do. (What exactly that job is, I’ll leave to a seperate post!)
With Great Power …
… comes great responsibility, (or so it has been said by many, including the great Stan Lee). As a healer, I do wield significant power. In a 5-man run, I am the arbiter of life and death. In a 10-man, I can make sure you spend the night on the floor. And while I may not be able to directly effect your death in a 25-man encounter, rest assured that I can choose to look past your little square on Grid. Like living? Don’t piss me off.
But is this what healing is all about? Power? Recognition? Ego fluff?
In my not-so-humble opinion–no. Being a healer is not about being a petty ruler doling out bandages to the worthy, it is not exercise in passive-aggressive nature, and it is certainly not about being the star of my own Macy’s parade every time I happen to fend off a tank’s death. I choose to play a healer even though I have 5 other 80’s. I choose to raid as a healer because, more often than not, I enjoy the bloody challenge. And if somewhere, somehow along the way I make a mistake, no matter how ashamed or guilty I feel, no matter how evident that mistake is to everyone, I am not going to fail to take responsibility. I cannot accept the power of my role without also accepting the accountability that comes with it.
If you, a healer, have stood in fire, eaten a void zone, got hit by a beam of death, not moved enough to drop your biting cold stacks, fat fingered a spell, BoP’d a tank, missed a CD, not moved when you needed to or moved when you shouldn’t have, not kept your assignment alive, or accidentally pulled the pack at the top of the elevator in ICC multiple times in completely different runs (oh yeah, that would be me), then I have news for you … you’re human. And the people you play with, they’re human too. Give ‘em a break, eh?