Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
A resto shaman perspective on raiding


January 21, 2010

A Story of Healer Entitlement

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Written by: Vixsin
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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?


  1. Khi

    Awesome post. I too fell victim to shaman superiority. I was in a guild where no one could touch me. They couldn’t catch me on meters. They couldn’t catch me in gear and I ruled my healing community. When I left the guild to join a better guild, I felt first hand what it was like to have people over me, in both ranks and healing meters. Not too long into the guild i retook my position and was once again Queen of Healing.
    It wasn’t until lately, when that guild broke apart and I joined the number 1 alliance guild on server that I learned humility. I’ve seen what it is like to run with great healers. I’ve learned to except my place on the healing meter, my place in our healing team and my place on the healing totem for gear. I still top meters every night and I still can get almost any loot I want but now it’s because I work hard to keep up and because I help run our healing team. It is no longer an entitlement feeling but an accomplishment when i top a meter or get loot.

  2. aacreman

    great post, ive been trying to find a good reato shammy blog for a while. Looks like ive found it :)

  3. Yeah I agree. From personal experience I have to say this though: Very often the climate in a guild and the perspective of the gulid leadership on healers decides how big a healer ego we carry around.

    I’ve been in (too) many different guilds and oh boy have I seen everything from black to white. The healers channel many guilds operate with is a good indicator of how healers feel and how they’re treated. In some healer channels there was a lot of patting on each others back, whenever we saved stupid DPS. The opposite is out there too: frightened healers who await the snippy/angry comments of officers after every wipe.

    For my personally, alts are the best way to teaching me humility. When I play DPS or tank, I still do stupid things I shouldn’t do, especially because I play a healer and should know better. Sometimes fail that annoys us is just focus of the player who does a dedicated job. Same as us staring at our raidframes and going berzerk-healing while not noticing that little fire popping up under our feet…

  4. Heh. I was totally that guy, except I was a holy PRIEST at 70. I would sit on my crucifix and ponder about how I couldn’t even solo my dailies and how I sacrificed EVERYTHING so I KEPT MY GUILD ALIVE!

    Oh, sorry, blacked out a bit there. I listened to a lot of Evanescence back then…

    I think another myth that healers like to propagate is how rare healers are. Especially now that there are dual specs, I’m finding it much harder to find competent and willing tanks than healers.

    When I queue for random pugs on my shaman or priest as a healer, I still have to wait a few mins (not as bad as dps). When I resurrected my undergeared prot pally for a week, I would have instant random pug queues, and even with my terrible iLvl 200 blue gear and outdated tanking knowledge, I would get undeserved praise from the puggers who had clearly been waiting for a while in the queue. It made me feel for a second… like a Burning Crusade holy priest :D.
    .-= Zigi´s last blog ..Updating Solarian Macros on Deathwhisper for the Lazy Shaman? =-.

  5. @Zigi
    I mean I walked around with a halo fercrhrissake.

  6. Gronthe

    I’m new to shaman healing and I’m scared to death. Mainly because my hands get sweaty when I heal a 5 man…still. I take my job seriously, hopefully I won’t ever feel entitled to anything.

    For new healers now, however, they don’t have to go through the same experiences as Vanilla or BC healers went through. Now we can level to max (80), gear up quickly in T9, and feel powerful in 5 mans and believe we are elite. Then we don’t run Naxx or Ulduar because, well, “our gear is just so much better, what’s the point?” Certainly I would think that this may play a part in why we are hearing so many entitled voices in the community. I surely never had to deal with the mana issues you talked about, so what’s going to stop me from getting a big head now?

    I know that for myself the way I stay grounded is through research. I read about other people’s experiences, what was hard or easy in Vanilla or BC, and compare it to what’s been handed to me now. If I can remember that I can be grateful or at least keep things in perspective. Not everyone can or wants to self-reflect, however, and I imagine that the entitled attitude will persist among some or many healers still. Oh well.

    Keep up the great work, love the blog.

  7. “BoP’d a tank”

    Oh god am I ever guilty of this. I don’t know what I was thinking when I bound BoP to the same key as “rejuv”. We won’t talk about how many times I’ve gone “oops” on my paladin…it’s actually become a standing guild joke :(

    Of course the last time we had Sarth as our weekly raid quest right before the fight I reminded everyone to stay the frack out of the void zones…only to die myself to the very first one! *sigh*

    One of my favorite things that I say to potential recruits when I have the pleasure to have one that feels the need to go on and on about how great they are is that part of being an excellent player is recognizing that modesty is a virture.

    Of course, we all need the big head popped from time to time :)

    Great post!
    .-= Beruthiel´s last blog ..On Being Human =-.

  8. I definitely agree that guild atmosphere has a good deal of influence on a player’s perception of their own importance, or lack thereof. But I also think the healing role itself, which encourages players to pay special attention to distribution of incoming damage, can also lure healers into a “big brother” mindset where they start to mentally catalogue all the mistakes of their teammates (because they have to heal through those mistakes.) Then, when a wipe is genuinely a healer’s fault, and it will be our fault more often than not, we bring up that mental catalogue and shift into a persecuted mindset–the woe-is-me, my-job-is-so-stressful, don’t-tase-me-bro defensive stance.

    I’m not suggesting that healers aren’t valuable, that we don’t deserve occasional praise. We do. But there’s a difference between doing our job and doing something extraordinary. And in the case of the latter, you have to be prepared to sometimes be the only one who ever knows it. (Or be the brunt of the joke, if your super save goes awry!)

  9. Great post. Had to read it twice to get it all (the joys of not being natural speaker). To follow on the thought that we are all humans – not only making mistakes comes with human nature. The everlasting seek for recognition and pat on the back is there too. I must admit that sometimes I feel a bit sad if I pull off a great trick to save everyone their repair bill and no one says a word (just yesterday healed the whole-room-before-Ymiron’s-room pull with tank that had about 25K buffed and corresponding avoidance, with awesome 1.2K dps per person average ended at 3K mana out of 28K pool and every possible thing was on cooldown); I somehow noticed whole different approach in our guild’s raids – it’s not uncommon to receive a “thank you pat” from another healer if you jumped in to help them with their assigments when they were unable to do it themselves.

    So we definitely seek praise for everything we do. However, no longer can be said that our job is more important than others. The dps is needed to be there, tanks too. I would however say that our job is the most stresfull of all (or becoming so), because oftentimes when tank looses aggro and the mob kills a dps, you end up with the blame of not being able to heal them (seen that happen, even seen DPS go ballistic on healer when a mob that was not really marked as skull ate them after I pulled on my pally). Majority of dps nowadays in your PuGs won’t care at all about incoming avoidable damage and expect you to heal it. They don’t care you might be gcd locked healing through Meteor Fists on Koralon and keep standing in the fire.

    On the idea of the mental catalogue – I believe you are not “lured” into that. It’s just part of being a healer – you know the damage sources for upcoming fight and you make this catalogue without noticing it, just because you made the learned old move to throw the RT on them to pick up their slack of movement. Being able to remember and recall all this however, should have just one use – when you are thinking of bringing less healers (are we able to heal this in X-1 healers? We are if people avoid spells Y, Z and C) or when the blame is on healers for wiping due to oom.

    Sorry for the slight off-topic rant :)

  10. Its funny I have always thought that good tanking, like good healing, should be invisible. Particularly with Vanilla WoW, with the simpler fights, the DPS should never notice the threat and never notice the healing.

    Funny story, a friend of mine was trying to heal a 5 man for the first time and was quite nervous about it. I tanked it for her and at the she asked “How was my healing?” “I never noticed it.” She was quite put out, until I explained that tanks have a relatively little control over their own HP and many, many other things worry about that are more important than their own HP.

    If I am noticing my HP, there is something wrong (though the RNG could be wrong for a moment or two). If I am constantly aware of them, well then I really don’t trust the healing. I would assume its the same for DPS with both heals and threat.

  11. I’m definitely late (a lot late) to this post, but I I don’t think I could pass up throwing a comment down. Sitting in my draft post hopper at the moment is a lengthy post on a very similar topic that I haven’t gotten around to finish yet.

    Just a month ago I started getting into the WoW community a little deeper and started throwing down my thoughts on the screen for others to read. Consequently, this lead me to other folks who enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences with others.

    What I found from healers was unbelievable.

    It seems like every healer blog out there focuses on the stress of healing, and how they carry the raid through the evening with their hard work and instant miracle creation. Every comment against a healer’s performance is taken as an unwelcome nuisance. Let me just say, as a healer and a raid leader, healers are no more special than DPS.

    Healing for me isn’t any more stressful than pressing the mutilate key on my rogue. Maybe it’s more of the raid leader in me that shrugs off the “that’s hard to heal!” comments that I hear, but this post sort of reinforces my thoughts. I’m the first to call out healers if it’s their fault, because sometimes it is.

    Woo, I got a little worked up there.

    .-= Borsk´s last blog ..Behind the Screenshot: The Logistics of Lady Vashj =-.

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