Healer Woes

If you never felt that playing healer is frustrating in games, then you’ve never played a healer. Ever. Sure, you may have picked a healer class, but you definitely have been playing him as a DPS.

Anyone who has played a healer will have experienced at least half of the things in the list below. Most of you who mainly play healers, like me, probably experienced all of them.

  1. Teammates wandering into harm’s way and expecting you to follow.
  2. Teammates abandoning you and leaving you to die.
  3. Teammates calling for aid when they are way too far away.
  4. Teammates calling for aid when they’ve overextended, are in a crossfire and there is no cover nearby.

Thing is, most of them time, we are kind of treated as NPCs. We are supposed to heal others, and while that is our job description, we are supposed to heal everyone. That means that at some point we will be healing someone else instead. However, a lot of players expect us to be healing them and just them, yelling for a Medic while being hyper-focused on the fight at hand. It’s not entirely their fault for not being aware of what’s going on around us, but still, a little bit of consideration will be nice.

The core reason for the dissatisfaction of playing healers is player interaction. For DPS players, the main interaction is fighting with enemy players. For healers, the main interaction is cooperation with allied players. And it turns out that in an online environment where most people are anonymous, it is more likely for someone to fight you than for someone to cooperate with you. Cooperation requires communication between individuals, while fighting just requires both people to be in the same space and means to shoot or beat up each other. A DPS can play without needing to consider his team, since his role is to kill and maim enemies. A healer, however, has no such luxury, as his primary role is to heal teammates. The former has much less requirements to play his role and gain enjoyment from it than the latter.

Not to mention, playing healer is mostly a reactive role. You react to your teammates being injured. Meanwhile, playing DPS is a proactive role, where you’ll take the initiative to hunt down enemy players and engage them. Sure, mechanics like Overheal and Übercharge make things more proactive to healers, giving us some control over what we do. Most of the time, however, we simply hang around our teammates and wait for them to get hurt.

If that is the case, why do I still subject myself to this? Healing is actually rather satisfying, especially when you managed to just snatch someone right from the jaws of depth, and he turns around immediately to destroy his aggressors. Besides, there is also the thrill of being hunted, of escaping by the skin of your teeth when against overwhelming forces. And most of all, it needs to be done. A healer is needed to win. And no one else is on the job. I made these points in an article about my reasons for playing Medic. Aside from all that, there is also this great, wondrous feeling that the match is won because of you.

Still, the irritations of playing a healer class grates repeatedly upon me every time. That is why I quite like Paladins’ approach to healers. It allows healers to be more proactive in a fight, having crowd control and supplementary damage roles. While this does alleviate the pain of needing to cooperate with uncommunicative and inconsiderate teammates, that issue never fully goes away. It is an inherent part of being a healer in video games.

Some days, I need a break. Auf Wiedersehen, my Medi Gun.

I quit

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