Thanks to all my wonderful guildies at WtWtA for all their helpful advice!
One lovely summer day a handsome Gelert was walking through the forest just outside of Meridell. As he looked about, he spotted a bunch of shiny green grapes hanging from a lush vine twined about a tree branch.
“Just the thing to satisfy my hunger,” the Gelert said, eyeing the grapes with an eager grin.
He took several steps back and leapt into the air, but missed the grapes by inches. Again he stepped back, threw himself at the luscious looking grapes and once more his snapping jaws closed on nothing but empty air.
He tried only a more times before finally giving up. As he walked away he sullenly growled over his shoulder, “Ah, who wants THOSE grapes; they’re probably just sour anyway.”
Like most old stories there’s a moral to it. In this case the moral of the story is that it’s easy to despise what you can’t have yet.
You see it happen all the time on the forum threads. You might even recognize yourself or a friend from some bitter moment.
A player attempts to achieve a high score trophy on the last night of the month, only to be beaten by others more practiced at the game. The losing player sullenly pouts, ‘Why do all these other players have to keep playing? It’s not worth trying if they’re going to keep playing every month.’
Yet another player struggles to feed a Kadoatie at the Kadoatery and gives up after a week of trying. Sulking openly on the forums they complain about the ‘Overfeeders’ and how nobody can ever get a feeding in because of them and besides the Kadoaties only ask for horribly expensive and rare items, so why should anybody even try?
Another player seeks to restock a rare item but misses several times and grumbles, ‘There must be something wrong with my computer, and anyway the shop isn’t fair to people with older systems. I‘m never going to try to restock anymore, because it only works for cheaters.”
Still another player tries in vain to get a difficult item avatar, but can’t seem to save up their own funds to buy the item. When they can’t save up on their own, they try to borrow the item for free, or beg for points to purchase it, and when that falls through, they throw a fit and declare anybody that does have that item avatar must be a snob and it’s not worth having after all.
And then there’s the player complaining in the Battledome Chat about how there’s nothing fair about the Battledome. All the weapons are too expensive, it’s impossible to afford training your pet to high stats, and even if you can, all the older players know too many tricks for a player to be able to win fighting them. ‘It’s not worth trying; besides, TNT doesn’t release anything for Battledomers to do anyway.’
All of these players suffer from the same Sour Grapes syndrome. They feel that because it’s just too hard for them to reach their goal, there’s no reason to try because the goal wasn’t worth it anyway. Only a snob would have the MSPP avatar, only an Overfeeder could feed a Kadoatie, only a cheater would get such high scores so consistently or be able to restock so effectively, in the mind of the Sour Grapes player. Not only do they spurn the challenge they once sought, but they try to invalidate the achievements of those that have worked to get to that level of play.
The saddest part about the Sour Grapes mentality is how they not only deny to themselves the chance to succeed, they try to spoil the success of others that made it. It’s not enough for them to deny themselves the thrill of victory, they want to make the victor feel guilty for somehow being better than them.
Originally, the actual meaning of the sour grapes story didn’t quite go that way. In the original story the protagonist disparaged the grapes, but not because they were ‘sour’ and unworthy of his time. He tried to save face by saying the grapes were ‘unripe’ or unready for his efforts. It’s a subtle but an important one, in the situation being described here. When the goal being sought is ‘unripe’, then the goal is one that the player feels is within their reach, if they just reach for it when they are finally ready. That game trophy or avatar can be gained, with practice. That rare item can be restocked with patience, practice and a bit of good timing learned through frequent attempts. Those Kadoaties do ask for cheaper stuff and with a bit of planning they can be fed till their little bellies are ready to pop, so long as the player never gives up and always keeps trying. When the time is right, they will succeed.
We all get disappointed from time to time. Some games are harder than others and take a lot of practice to get good at. Certain shops are always crowded with people eager to snap up that high priced item but there are always going to be windows of opportunity. Some goals take years to achieve, rather than weeks or days. Does this mean that that those goals are not worth trying for? Of course not. What it does mean is that you shouldn’t give up easily when something is difficult, no matter how frustrating it might be.
Challenges are what give achievements worth. Something easily gained without time, thought or effort will often hold less value than something worked hard for. The pride you will feel when you finally get that super rare avatar, or that high score trophy, or that rare gallery item, will be the real reward at the end of the day. Greater still than that pride, though, will be the awareness that you stayed true to your goal and you never cast it aside for being too hard. When you finally reach for and achieve that long sought goal, those grapes will be the sweetest and most ready of them all.