The other day I was considering dropping back into WoW after an absence. I can't remember now why I've been away, though I do know why I'm thinking of coming back: the ding.
You know, that lovely, orgasm-like lightshow that tells you when you've gained a new level. Sure, it's fun to whack things with a sword, claws, or bolt of eldritch energy. It's a joy to spend time crafting various engineering toys. Hell, even fishing's a pleasant way to spend a little in-world time. But let's face it: at the end of the day, the real reason you play WoW -- or any similar leveling-based system -- is for the thrill of that culmination of experience points. I mean, you could go in for the sheer enjoyment of chatting with your guildies, or playing around with seasonal content, but there's a reason we level up in the first place. It's such a visceral response, and a quantifiable measure of progress that I'm sure most of us wish we could experience in our daily lives.
And that's at the heart of it, I think.
If you go to the gym, you're aware that you're getting healthier, building strength and endurance, but that's measured in months, and so very incrementally that you might not even realize the changes your body is going through unless you get an outside opinion. If you work a trade, such as carpentry, you probably aren't aware of a specific, measurable moment in time at which you suddenly went from novice to expert. If you pursue a sport, you might suddenly realize out of the blue one day that you can perform noticeably better at an event than you used to be able to, but it's all so gradual that it sometimes takes a friend or co-worker to point out the difference.
So much of life is like this -- slow, minute changes accrued over months and years -- and so few times do we get to experience that wonderful moment of epiphany that such moments really stand out. The ding is like that. It's an immediate validation of effort, a payoff for all those hours of grinding that seemed endless. The joy of the ding is so pervasive there are photos devoted to it on Flickr. I wish there was something like it in real life, visible to all and sundry -- how cool would that be? You're riding a bus, when suddenly a flash of light and bass thrum envelop the driver: level up! That would make me trust his driving even more.
Or you're in a sushi bar, waiting for your first taste of fugu. From the kitchen, the ding. If you quailed at the thought beforehand, you now know you can taste those little slivers of pufferflesh without fear; the chef's been at this a while.
Or, speaking of orgasm, you're performing the Venus Butterfly with your partner and ... on second thought, maybe some things are best left private. Got a good ding story? Share it with us!