Damn, It Feels Good To Be A Healer

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of violent games for work. In the last week, I’ve thrown knives and lit people on fire in Battlefield V, blasted people away with my revolver in Red Dead Online, and engaged in all sorts of wacky assassinations in Hitman 2.

It’s often a lot of fun, but every now and then I need to help folks instead.

I’ve been an on again, off again player of Final Fantasy XIV for a while now, but I’ve really immersed myself in the game over the last few months. It’s been rewarding to meet new players and engage in my server’s larger social events.

In MMOs, I usually pick either a damage dealer or a tank who soaks up damage. In FFXIV, I’ve been playing as a healer. I wish I had done it years sooner. Protecting people and keeping them alive has not only challenged me to be more attentive than in most games, it’s been an incredibly rewarding and far less bloody way to experience video games.

This isn’t to suggest that there’s anything wrong with enjoying a violent game. Hitman 2 is one of my favourite games of the year, which I’ve been playing tons of since it released, and it’s full of violent hijinks. Switching to healing hasn’t meant things are easier or even less exciting.

On the contrary, each new boss fight I encounter in Final Fantasy XIV has challenged my reaction times, awareness, and ability to improvise. If a giant titan prepares a big attack, I need to have the clarity of mind to cast a regen health spell on my tank or even prepare a large area of effect healing spell to protect my entire team.

All the while, I’m dodging the enemy’s attacks and keeping an eye out for any teammates who are close to dying. If someone falls in battle, I better have my Swiftcast ability - which lets me cast my next spell instantly - available so I can bring them immediately back into the fight.

It’s a fair amount of work, especially if it’s my first time fighting a new boss, but success feels more tangible than any other gaming experience I’ve had.

Games are largely competitive by design. We’re meant to face off against other players and win whatever contest is at stake. Often, this means combat. Sometimes, like when I’m playing as a Medic in Battlefield V, I get a small taste of collaborative play.

There’s fun to be had in these digital battles, but changing the pace provides me with a real sense of catharsis. I’m not the best healer, but I’m trying. And when I do my job well, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I kept folks alive this time around.


Comments

    Kind of ironic that it's FFXIV though, where healers are designed and expected to do a fair bit of damage in group content. Though I get the sentiment, it's nice to be able to interact in a more positive way than murdering everything.

    I love FFXIV because cooperation is the key to success, and people are almost always exclusively nice, even if you fail... A lot. Amazing community.

    My wife and I used to be our guild's healers in WoW back in the day. She was a paladin and I was a priest and it used to be so much more challenging and fun than being a DPS for us, especially when we could co-ordinate who to heal, with what heal type and when etc.

      I maintain that there are few bonds as strong and as intuitive as the bond between main tank and main heals. The subtle, unspoken signals you give to each other - like heals topping the tank up to full and dropping a cherry-n-top heal-over-time, to let the tank know, "Something has come up - CC or a DPSer in trouble - I'm not going to be able to heal you for a minute." Or the tank seeing that someone else is in trouble and popping more mitigation cooldowns than is necessary, to acknowledge, "You deal with that, I've got this for the next 10 seconds." All happening faster than would be efficient to verbally or textually communicate.

        As a lifetime main tank, this is spot on. The healers are the reason the tank can function, they're critically important and that develops a natural connection. They'll also be the role that I'm most likely to risk everything to save, because losing a DPS is bad, but losing a healer is much worse.

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