Being a healer in a multiplayer game is a mixed experience. Sometimes it’s ridiculously stressful, but other times it’s unbelievably rewarding. At the end of the day, it all depends on your own expectations, which are inevitably based on the gaming community you are playing with.
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for over 10 years now and have played most classes. But nothing stresses me out more than trying to heal at an instance or a raid.
Seriously, healing feels fricking intense. Because let’s face it, if the party dies, it’s completely, 100% your fault, right? Eh… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
When I first started playing WoW, it was during The Burning Crusade. Back then, the game was definitely more challenging than it is today. I was also younger, which is relevant to the story, because it meant that I was very, very impressionable.
The toxicity of your average WoW community existed back then just as it does now. So, when I inevitably encountered hostility towards “noob healers,” I thought it was well deserved. After all, people wouldn’t just needlessly harass other people online and make their gaming experience unbearable, right?
With that in mind, part of the reason why I am so stressed out about being a healer in WoW is that I expect to be harassed because of the smallest mistakes I might make.
That’s kind of unfair, if you think about how little flak other player types get for their mistakes – especially damage-dealers. It’s always very easy to blame the healer for the team’s mistakes.
The Sins of Our Healers
That shouldn’t be the case though. It’s not fair for the whole responsibility to fall on the healer’s shoulders. Raiding is team work. The tanks need to be able to manage the threat, so that they can efficiently control damage. The damage-dealers need to be on top of their rotations, so that they are as efficient as possible. Only then does it matter whether the healers are also keeping up with the rest of the raid group.
Not to mention the fact that everyone should be paying attention to the mechanics of the fight itself. Just check out the Kil’Jaeden fight at the end of Tomb of Sargeras in Legion to see that not even the best healers can save the raid if people fail to soak Armageddon, even in the easiest difficulty.
Maybe I feel really stressed out about healing in WoW because the game is somehow tainted for me. But it’s probably actually because most people don’t have time to waste for a newbie healer to start learning how to do things. Most of my attempts at healing have been via WoW’s matchmaking system and people there can be really mean if they think you’re wasting their time.
Except, this is a fricking game and we should be playing to have fun, not because it’s some sort of a job.
Heroes Never Die!
Then there is Overwatch, with none of that emotional/traumatic baggage I’ve been talking about.
In Overwatch, I proudly main Mercy and I simply love it. First of all, it feels so empowering. Have you ever mass resurrected your entire team after they’d been just wiped out and then won a game? The adrenaline rush is unbelievable.
You can’t do that anymore, but the new and improved Mercy is even cooler. Her new ultimate makes her into a proper valkyrie, allowing you to not just support, but lead the charge as well.
I am not the best player out there, but I like playing Mercy as an offensive character – Battle Mercy, if you will. She is not really made for this, but she is perfectly capable of taking down unsuspecting Soldier 76s and Widowmakers. I once shut down the ultimate of a Soldier 76 and it was glorious. So already, choosing a healer is more rewarding in Overwatch than it is in WoW.
Healing in Overwatch feels different from healing in WoW, mainly because the former is more hectic and instantaneous. In WoW, if you make a mistake, it might cause a wipe much later during the wipe. This could cost everyone around 15-30 minutes of gameplay, which means the stakes are very high.
In Overwatch, if the healer makes a mistake, everyone dies, but then they quickly respawn and can continue the game almost immediately – seconds, rather than minutes. There is more room for forgiveness.
There’s one more thing. I don’t know how active the chat option is on the PC version of Overwatch, but in the PS4 option, no one really uses it. Therefore there is almost no way for some random stranger to tell you off. In that sense, the PS4 Overwatch provides me with the perfect environment to play healer. If WoW had that, maybe I’d be more confident in being a healer.
Sidenote: all of this anxiety could probably be avoided in all games if I actually play with a group of people I can actually know and trust. Maybe I could join a guild, for instance. But that’s somewhat impossible for me given that I live in North America while my characters are all on European servers.
Be Nice To Your Healers
My point is, playing a video game should be fun and enjoyable for all player types and frankly it’s not easy being support. It’s often the case that video game communities are not very welcoming to newcomers and that’s just not nice or fair.
We have enough unemployment in the world for inexperienced people as it is, so why are you also taking away people’s gaming experiences too?