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I ran Utgarde Keep the other day on my Druid, and was pleasantly surprised when the Holistic Patchwork Breeches dropped from Ingvar. As the group’s only leather wearer, I won the roll easily and immediately equipped my new pants, placing the old pants in a dark corner of my backpack so I would remember to sell them when I finished the run.
That’s when it hit me: I just changed my character’s pants.
I suppose a bit of background information is in order here. I have an amazing two-year old daughter who is simply the light of my life. She is at that age where she seems to be doing new and amazing things every single day and I can’t help but equate everything in my life to her in some way.
I’m also in the final stages of leveling my second character to 80 in World of Warcraft, and my character, in his mid 70’s, is also at a stage where he seems to be capable of new and amazing things every single day.
So, when I upgrade a piece of equipment and stuff it into the dark recesses of my backpack to be discarded, I can't help but think of exchanging a soiled diaper for a refreshingly clean one and tossing it into the diaper pail for later disposal.
This revelation opened the proverbial floodgates to a slew of similar discoveries. It turns out that leveling an MMO character is really quite similar to child rearing in many ways.
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In the beginning, a new MMO character is virtually helpless. He can only take on the simplest of enemies and tasks, and can only wear the most basic of equipment. Most new characters benefit greatly from the help of those of higher levels, either through monetary contributions or travel assistance, quest help, etc…
A baby is equally helpless, completely dependent on its parents for the most basic needs.
Just as your MMO character is constantly upgrading their equipment for bigger and more effective items, so too does a child go through clothing at an astonishing rate. My daughter outgrew countless outfits before she even had a chance to use them. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to disenchant or vendor them, I had no choice but to pass them on to the next upcoming adventurer.
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Training and Guidance
Anyone who’s ever been around a two-year-old who missed nap time can tell you one thing; children are definitely more enjoyable and easier to deal with when they’re rested. The same goes for your MMO character. Thanks to WoW’s rested experience system, players are always careful to logout in an inn or a major city, aware that the leveling experience is made far easier by having a well-rested character.
MMO characters also need constant training. I faithfully teleport my Druid to Moonglade for training every time he gains a new level. Children are the same way. Each year, parents faithfully deliver them to a new classroom so that they may acquire the knowledge appropriate to their level of development. Public school training may not run you several gold the way it does in an MMO, but there are costs involved. Anyone who’s ever bought school supplies knows what I’m talking about.
Next to my massive collection of video game strategy guides is my equally-massive collection of books on parenting.
Page two has more on careful companion choice and pet collection habits.
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Play Well With Others
As a parent, I’m very concerned with the type of people my daughter associates with. I’m sure this will become a much larger concern when she enters her teen years, but I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
I’m equally concerned with the type of people my MMO character interacts with. I simply cannot stand when he is forced to deal with illiterates who cannot type out whole words, instead delivering incomprehensible messages like “U can hel UK Plz?”
Likewise, I go to great lengths to make sure my daughter’s safety is assured at all times. Similarly, I dislike it when my MMO character spends time with an inadequate tank who is constantly causing him to take damage or DPSers who over pull and wipe the group. Both my daughter and my character require constant supervision to ensure they avoid these unsavory types.
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I can’t explain it, but all of my MMO characters, especially those in World of Warcraft, have an unhealthy obsession with companion pets. These worthless followers serve no purpose, they don’t speed up leveling or point him toward the nearest quest objective, but still my character is compelled to acquire as many as possible.
Little girls have a similar compulsion. My daughter absolutely loves each and every dog, cat, bunny, sheep, hedgehog, and raccoon we come across. She has a massive collection of stuffed animals and cannot tear her eyes from any animal that appears outside the car window or on a television screen. Luckily, there is no real-life equivalent to the skunk awarded to those who collect 50 pets in WoW.
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Parenthood has its Own Achievements
All of my WoW characters are achievement collectors. They simply cannot pass up the opportunity to earn them, no matter how mundane or useless they may be. There is an inescapable joy that comes with accomplishing something so immediately rewarding and seeing that message “has earned the achievement: x!”
I remember the first time my daughter stood on her own. She’d been flirting with it for a few weeks, pulling herself to standing and letting go of whatever she held on to for a split second at a time. Then, one day, I pulled her to standing and she simply let go of both my hands at the same time. For ten or so gloriously wobbly seconds, she stood on her own, looking up at me with a face full of easily-discernible pride. I could almost see the golden light bathing her as she earned her first real-life achievement.
Many more have followed, though I’m still having a bit of trouble with the latest. Anyone know where I can find a Potty Trainer?