Paying Attention with WoW

Every day, without putting much thought into it, we must pay attention to what’s going on.  On a macro level, we need to pay attention when drive, when we walk, just to make sure we aren’t going to run over or into something.  On a micro level, at work, we pay attention to what we are doing to ensure we are performing out tasks correctly.  However, zoning out can happen and, when it does, has the potential to lead to bad situations.

Video games offer a great environment that encourages and develops paying attention.  And because it ties in nicely with last week’s blog about teamwork, I am going to referencing again raiding in World of Warcraft.

A screenshot of my Death Knight and Magmadar.  He was a terrifying boss back when the maximum level was 60.  Now that's it's 100, he's a piece of cake.
A screenshot I took of my Death Knight and Magmadar. He was a terrifying boss back when the maximum level was 60. Now that’s it’s 100, he’s a piece of cake.

Since the beginning of high end raiding in WoW, specific abilities of specific bosses were countered by abilities specific classes had.  One of the earliest examples of this is the Magmadar fight in Molten Core.  During the fight Magmadar would become enraged, which lead to a large increase in the amount of damage inflicted upon the tanks and the raid.  To counter this, the hunter class had an ability called Tranquilizing Shot.  If a hunter didn’t cast “Tranq” Shot during Magmadar’s enrage, it could easily lead to the entire raid dying.  So hunters had to keep an eye out for the enrage so they could counter it.

Similar things happen for each and every class in the game.  During boss fights, tanks need to know when to use their damage reducing cool downs in order to survive (a cool down is an ability that has a refresh rate anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes).  By paying attention to what the boss is doing, the tank knows when to use their cool downs.  Healers also need to pay attention to what is happening so they can make sure to keep the raid healed.  During certain phases or abilities, healers may need to use a healing cool down to increase the amount of healing they do in order to survive the fight.

Essentially, during every phase of every fight, with some exceptions, everyone in the raid has to be paying attention to what is going on.  Some fights might require you to completely stop damaging the boss in order to handle a specific mechanic the fight has.  In other fights, additional enemies might spawn with abilities that need to be dealt with immediately.  If anything is overlooked, it is very likely that the entire raid will be killed and the fight will need to be restarted from the beginning.  Many fights also have several things going on at once that all need to be paid attention to.  Therefore paying attention is crucial to the group’s success.

This lesson translates directly into what I do for a living, product assurance.  While testing a device I need to constantly pay attention to what is going on in order to catch any strange behavior.  I can pay attention on a macro level, just looking for anything out of the ordinary while testing.  However, I sometimes need to pay attention on a micro level to hone in on a specific behavior is order to diagnose what is going on.

Paying attention, however, isn’t exclusive to my professional field.  No matter what you do in life, paying attention is a crucial skill we all must have.  For some professions, like doctors, paying attention is extremely important because life could be on the line.  For others, paying attention ensures that we are doing our jobs correctly.  We all should strive to be good at what we do, and paying attention is a large step towards that goal.

If you have played WoW, what is your favorite boss fight?  If you haven’t played WoW, do you play any other MMORPGs?  Please leave a comment below and/or share on Twitter.