The Shakes

I’ve mentioned before that I struggle both mentally and physically with the stress of PVP in EVE – through anxiety and essential tremors.

I have had mild to moderate shakes in World of Warships in some battles, and become befuddled in some close quartered stressful encounters, but for the most part my reactions are nothing like in EVE.

There are lots of obvious reasons. The cost of losing a battle in both time and game assets is relatively minimal in World of Warships. It is easy and quick to line up for a battle, where you repeat the same basic scenarios over and over allowing a level of comfortable familiarity. The map, zoomed out views and basic 2D nature of the environment (aside height of islands) makes it much easier to maintain situational awareness. Your encounters are relatively balanced. You generally have time to think about what you are doing, and even in flimsy ships get an extra chance or two to adjust your tactics before you die. Interestingly I think the basic keyboard controls also makes it a much easier game to PVP in – where as in EVE I can find it difficult when under stress to navigate menu trees and click on small line entries on the overview.

It is not however some utopic PVP game for the shake challenged.

For me I can be entirely self-aware of my anxiety over something, be consciously relaxed, prepared, breathing well, eating well, sleeping well, yet – despite how I am feeling mentally, still get slammed by the physical anxiety reaction. I tend to need balanced and repeated exposure to such things to build up an overall comfort level.

I have found it very hard in EVE to achieve that – it is difficult to access PVP in a consistent and timely manner. In World of Warships however it is actually easy to access PVP that way. Instead I find I hit the other side of the exposure spectrum.

I carry around a certain capacity to cope with a situation. With that careful exposure I mentioned before I can increase that capacity over time. Conversely, if don’t get that exposure or fall out of the habit of it, that capacity dwindles. What I have found with World of Warships is that the repeated exposure can at times use up my coping capacity. I can find myself hit with sudden mild dread at starting yet another battle, or end up shaking more the longer I play in a session.

2 thoughts on “The Shakes

  1. I’m not a psychologist and what I’m about to say is an extreme example making it only somewhat appropriate to your post but one effective method to control phobias that has been shown to work is gradual acclamation. People with fear of flying (for example) might join a support group that meets at an airport. This doesn’t force the people to fly right off the bat but it does get them closer to planes. Eventually they’ll move into to getting on a parked plane. It won’t be going anywhere but now they’re on a plane. Then getting on a plane that’s going to taxi somewhere but won’t depart the ground, then maybe a touch and go flight, then . . . until genuine flights to distant locations. Now games aren’t phobias (lives function fine whether one plays a particular game or not) but it is interesting that what you mention is something very close to gradual acclimation. It’s also interesting that acclimation isn’t permanent; one can fall out of practice. Finally, it’s interesting that this acclimation can only be pushed so far at any one time until, eventually, dread returns.

    ::sigh:: Life can be so much work sometimes. We have to not only navigate the exterior world, we have to navigate ourselves too.

    • You are spot on with the concept – it gets called things like “Graded Exposure”, and comes under Behaviour Therapy for Anxiety. It is aimed at increasing your ability to cope and to put perspective around your concerns.

      Both my kids were diagnosed early with having anxieties – my son gets very upset if forced into a situation he is uncomfortable with, my daughter instead reacts with extreme anger. We have spent the last 10 years constantly juggling and balancing the kids exposure to things that trigger their anxieties. It has unfortunately never been suggested it would cure them though. Maybe it depends on the source of your anxiety or phobia; if you were born with it, or if it was born from experiences.

      I know EVE is “just a game”, but I’ve learnt plenty about myself over the years by reflecting on how and why I react the way I do within it.

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