Do you enjoy Star Wars: The Old Republic, but struggle when it comes to grouping up or talking to other players due to anxiety? This guide will have some tips and tracks about approaching grouping up for players with general anxiety or social anxiety, and for players who feel anxious about grouping up in general or worry about letting their team mates down.
Both general anxiety and social anxiety are characterized by persistent worry that is disproportionate to any actual threat. Both disorders are associated with high sensitivity to negative feedback as well as the perspective of negative consequences.
This means, whether you are gaming or interacting with people at school or work, you are over-worrying about people’s reactions, to the point that it’s causing you issues in your day to day life. Your symptoms may include a feeling of dread, ruminating, over-thinking or worrying so much you never actually get to do the things you want to do, or even physical symptoms like stomach aches or constant tiredness.
“I have been playing off and on since SWTOR started. I have general anxiety and struggle with never feeling good enough for playing in PVP, Flashpoint, and Operations.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
When it comes to gaming, that means your anxiety may be preventing you from participating in activities you think you might enjoy, for example group Flashpoints, Operations, Player vs Player content, Galactic Starfighter, group quests like Heroics, or even more general activities like joining a guild, chatting with other players, joining voice chat or participating in social media and chat programs like Discord or Twitter.
“It’s the expectations I imagine my teammates have for me that keep me from team based multiplayer games.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
If you are dealing with persistent worry that is getting in the way of you enjoying or living your life or a regular basis, online or offline, this article can give you some tips but is not going to be enough to get you on the path to getting better. The first step is to talk to a doctor and tell them about how you are feeling, what symptoms you have, and what types of things you are having trouble doing or engaging in.
The most common method of professional treatment for both general anxiety and social anxiety is a combination of medication and therapy. The most common type of therapy is called “CBT” – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a way of thinking that helps you tackle the worrying thoughts and behaviors that go along with these thoughts, and helps you recognize and adapt these unhealthy beliefs to more helpful ones which can ease distress and promote change.
For example, while playing, you may think something like, “everyone is doing so much better than me, I must be dragging them down”… with CBT therapy, you would learn to replace that unhealthy thought with something more realistic and helpful, for example “I’m contributing to the team and we still go the boss down successfully, and no one actually seems upset at me. I’m learning and trying my best.”
“Seeking help is a quest of self improvement. Just like video game characters you need to overcome obstacles and face challenges, but sometimes we need help from others to do this. We don’t shame our characters for needing support and we shouldn’t shame ourselves for reaching out either. If our characters don’t have full health and “mana” then we often can’t win our battles. So taking time to rest and recovery and take care of our needs is important.” – SWTOR Player words of wisdom
While players with both general anxiety and social anxiety will likely try and avoid activities, why they do so is slightly different.
A player with a general anxiety disorder may avoid Operations or other group activities due to worries of not preparing enough and thinking they won’t be able to memorize everything in their class and fights on time, or worrying about causing a catastrophic failure during the fight, or causing their team to lose in PvP.
A player with a social anxiety disorder may avoid Operations or other group activities out of fear of being judged by their team mates, feel distressed about the idea of being talked down to in chat, and worrying about having nothing to contribute to the team, especially if there’s voice chat involved.
Addressing those worries in healthy ways is the biggest way to move forward when it comes to jumping into the group activities you want to participate in!
“I have social anxiety and yes listening to people makes me extremely anxious. Especially when I feel like I have to perform for them. What I mean by that is, I feel like they expect me to be good at the game. I feel like there are all manner of unspoken obligations I have to the other players and I don’t know what they are, or I’m not good enough to live up to them. Then someone says something negative about my performance and it just seems to confirm these things and it is agonizing. Of course, intellectually, I know this is all just in my head. But that doesn’t make it feel any less real to me.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
It’s ok to play solo.
Although Star Wars: The Old Republic is meant to be a multiplayer game, a huge majority of the game can be played alone including all of the story quests, most Flashpoints, heroics, dailies, and many types of explorational quests and achievement hunting. While there are some types of rewards that are locked behind group activities, there are many rare and obscure items that can be earned by playing alone.
“SWTOR may be a huge multiplayer game, but how you play the game is up to you. The player who focuses on solo content or maybe the occasional FP with friends/guildmates will easily earn as much enjoyment from the game as the player who actively queues in the Group Finder multiple times every time; there’s no one set way to play SWTOR.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
“I straight up feel like there’s no pressure to even play group content in SWTOR if you enjoy what you’re doing as a Solo player / casual player. There are so many classes / stories to play through and so much content that when you finally finish all of that you’ll likely just be totally satisfied with your experience and not even feel the need to explore group content” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
You may see other players encouraging you to play group activities and sharing about the reasons they like them – but if you don’t want to group up, that’s ok! Star Wars: The Old Republic is a game in the end, and if certain activities don’t seem fun, you don’t have to participate in them. While fully isolating yourself from interacting with other people 24/7 can be detrimental, you may simply want to conserve your energy in social situations for real life activities like school and work, and keep your gaming a relaxing solo adventure.
“I have social anxiety and I only play single player games because of it. Even online gaming with my friends is a hurdle because of it, but that is one I “power through”. You do you, friend, don’t let anyone else dictate how you enjoy your hobbies.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
Playing solo can still sometimes be hard in a multi-player game for players with anxiety.
“When I start a new MMO, I actually get overwhelmed in heavily populated areas, like when there’s an event up! Eventually I just got used to being on the fleet by going there regularly. Just gotta take it slow and get used to it! And if things get overwhelming, or someone is being mean, you can teleport to your personal ship. I really like the ship as a quiet safespace to exist in. Helps wind down!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
Play Alone with a Guild
Many players also play “alone” but interact with other players or guildmates through chat or social media as they play. This gives you the ability to still be social and enjoy the company of other player without the immediate need to react to situations, for example in group Flashpoints or Operations. If you are playing alone, you can choose when and if you are ready or comfortable engaging in chat – you can be as social or as quiet as you feel up to that day. This is a fairly common style of play where you can feel like you are playing in the same online world as others, while being able to play at your own pace.
“MMOs are both my quiet place where I can do my own thing, or a hang-out, where I can talk to other players, depending on whichever I feel like.” – MMORPG player on Reddit
Even if you are not planning to group up at all, you can still be a great guild member and contribute towards your guild. You can conquest, craft, donate credits or decorations to the guild bank, or say hello and be kind in guild chat as you feel up to it. Guilds receive a bonus to XP and Reputation just by having you as a member, so you’re a positive addition to a guild’s roster even if you never interact with a single member!
“You can help a guild while being a solo player with your weekly conquest progress! I’ve never touched group content despite being in a guild (I got a random invite and didn’t want to deny the invite in fear of hurting someone’s feelings) but I’m usually in the top 3 in my guild’s conquest objective points! I even get compliments sometimes now and then for how consistent I am at getting a pretty high score. I just do solo daily and weekly quests each day!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
Some players with anxiety would prefer to play solo, while others would like to group up, but worry about how they will be treated, or worry about letting their team down by not being skilled enough at the game.
“I feel like I need to be perfect at everything I do within the group based on past raiding experience in other games. Since my raiding days were over, I’ve been a relatively solo player, avoiding as much player interaction as I could to avoid being chewed out for being less than perfect (as far as efficiency goes). Recently I’ve been wanting to make friends / play with others but the anxiety is still there. If you have something similar how do you work through it? Do you try to be friendly or not talk at all? Do guilds help?” – SWTOR Player on Reddit
There are different types of group content in the game, and not all of them are equal. Some types of group content are easier than others, and some require less time commitment or active social engagement than others. It’s entirely up to you which ones you want to participate in, and which ones you want to skip.
“I go at my own pace, I don’t pressure myself to do group content, and when I do I let people know when I’m still learning stuff. If they’re rude about it then it’s not my fault.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
Use the tabs above to explore:
- World Bosses
Levelling or exploring together is a very casual way to interact with another player, and requires the least amount of in-game skill. For most players, levelling together means running between quests and helping each other fight enemies together. When friends level together, they often socialize at the same time, over voice chat or in-game chat, because the actual in-game content is on the easier side. However there’s no actual need to – you will need to communicate a bit about where you are travelling to or which quest you want do next so you don’t get separated, but there’s no need to strategize, and if both players are happy to play without chatting, it’s very easy to do. Leveling is an activity you can start-and-stop, there’s no set time for how long you need to level. You can level in groups of 2-4, though 2 is most common.
Heroics are a slightly more difficult type of content. Many player choose to do them alone, but they can be easier if you group up, and both low-level and high-level characters benefit from running heroics. Players running heroics often expect a little more efficiency when grouped up, for example walking around enemies you don’t need to fight, but no skill or experience is needed. Heroics are an activity you can start-and-stop, there’s no set time for how long you need to do them. Players often try and complete a set amount, but nothing bad happens if you bounce out early, and your group or partner will be able to continue without you if you need to go. You can do them with groups of 2-4.
Dailies are kind of like levelling – they’re a series of quests on different planets you can complete for rewards, but are meant to be done at a higher level. They can be done solo, but doing them with a group is often faster. The amount of skill required for dailies varies, but most do not require any skill, especially if they do not have the ‘Heroic’ tag. Less socialization is expected for dailies, but much like levelling, you will need to coordinate which quests you are heading to so you don’t get separated. You can do dailies in groups of 2-4, and if you need to leave early, your group or partner can easily go on without you.
Flashpoints are one of the classic ways that players group up, they are designed for 4 players. Veteran-mode Flashpoints are the easiest mode of group Flashpoints, and do not require any combat skill or experience. However, expectations for randomized groups (using the groupfinder) can often be really high, with some players wanting to run incredibly efficiently – with great speed, not pulling any extra enemies that aren’t need, lots of skips, skipping cutscenes, and no deaths. Other players are more relaxed and don’t mind the pace or efficiency of the run, but there’s no way to pre-determine what type of group you might get if you use the groupfinder. You kinda just have to roll the dice and hope you get lucky with a good group if you use the groupfinder. You can however run Flashoints with a pre-set group – for example, friends, family members, other player you’ve met in-game, or guild members, who may be more patient, nice or understanding. Flashpoints do have a set time to run – anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes, depending on which Flashpoint, and how your group is playing. Your group has the ability to re-queue to find another member, or even just complete the flashpoint with a companion instead, if you need to leave early. Master Mode flashpoints are similar, but much more difficult, and do require a measurable degree of skill and knowledge about your class. If you have people you want to play with, but Veteran mode is still too daunting, you can even try running the Solo/Story mode together.
Operations are one of the big activities that players may want to participate in, but express feelings of anxiety over joining. Operations are 8 or 16 person group activities, that have a focus on fighting boss enemies with interesting mechanics. They come in different difficulty modes, with Story Mode being the entry level mode, and Veteran/Master Modes being quite difficult. Players often express that they feel they don’t have enough skill to do Operations, or that their team mates will be frustrated with them for not having enough gear, skill, or knowledge about the boss fights or the game or their class. As they require more people, Operations require more planning and co-ordination, and also take longer to run – the average story mode is about an hour, and it can be shorter or longer depending on the Operation and your group, as even just trying to get a full group together can often take up to half an hour. With all that said, Operations are one of my favorite pieces of content in the game, both as a group leader and as a participant. As a frequent raid leader, I can assure you: with a knowledgeable and calm raid leader, your group does not need any high-end gear, combat skill or experience with raiding, for a majority of story mode operations. Where it gets tricky is that some group leaders or groups expect a certain level of gear, skill or experience, even if the game itself does not require it. An important task for players who want to join operations who have anxiety is to find a group who is welcoming. A hug chunk of the rest of this guide is dedicated to finding those types of groups and how to communicate with them. Operations do come with a higher expectation to stick around until the end, as they can be difficult to find a fill-in for in comparison to all the other activities, but remember to always prioritize your health – if you need to bow out part-way through, bow out!
“When I first started raiding. I just came to story modes and was quiet in voice and just played. It was the people that opened me up. Once I realized, ‘hey they are cool, I can talk to them about my gear, my spec’ I got better. Learned my spec better and now I can help others. That’s what brought me out of some of my shell and now I’m a raid leader and in a leadership position in the guild, even though I have anxiety about a lot of stuff.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
World Bosses are a great way to jump into larger group content, as they are designed to be fought at a lower level, and don’t require any gear skill or experience. They can be fought in groups from anywhere between 6 to 24 players! This means many groups often accept “any warm body” and are happy to have another player, even if that player has no idea what’s going on. No socialization is expected. The most you’ll need to do is press the green check mark on the top left when a summon is sent out, and hit the boss once the fight starts. Do keep in mind if you have a very slow loading computer, or computer that often crashes between loads, groups may not want to wait for you – you can still join, just manage expectations, and let them know in chat what’s going on.
“A good way of trying out content that is somewhat group focused without any actual commitment are world bosses during Galactic Seasons and the Feast of Prosperity event. While I never played flashpoints or operations I did actually go for word boss runs when they were seasonal objectives and did end up interacting with people to an extent. If you go to a world boss around the time the objectives come in for the week (Tuesdays) then you’re almost guaranteed to find people there right away waiting to also fight it.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
PvP, player-vs-player content, is often considered a “no go” for many players with anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be if it’s something you’re interested in. PvP matches and groups are formed randomly, and they can have anywhere from 4 vs 4 to 8 vs 8. There is no specific level of gear, skill or experience required, but the more comfortable you are with your class and moving around, the better time you’ll likely have. See the “Communicate” section below for a ton of tips about running PvP and dealing with the social aspects of it.
Have an Out
Remind yourself that it’s ok to leave a group or jump out of any type of content, solo or with others, if you aren’t feeling up to it in that moment.
“Keep in mind what you can and cannot control. You can’t control how others will act in SWTOR. If you feel the need to be on your own today so you can control what comes next in your gaming experience, great! Being able to control your experience can create a really good space to relax when so little in the world is controlled outside of our own sphere. If you’re feeling more comfortable and want to group up, just know that an Operation, Flashpoint, even a Guild meeting may have hiccups along the way. Be ready with the one thing you can control: if you stay there or not. If you need to leave, don’t worry about elaborate lies. Just a quick ‘a personal thing has come up, I need to go, I’m sorry!’ is enough. It’s just a game, your anxiety is with you every day and you need to manage it the way that keeps you healthy.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
“If it gets too overwhelming, just sign out and sneak back in later. Yes, it could be frustrating for the team, but if you’re struggling with panic or are just totally overwhelmed, don’t torture yourself because it’s just a game. You can always say “oh my gosh, my internet just went out!” Haha I did this when I first logged into the game, the friend who convinced me to play showed up and I started having a panic attack that I couldn’t muddle through content with them watching, so I just said “oh no my phone is ringing!” and closed the game. Just giving yourself permission to bail can make you feel more comfortable, even if you never use it.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
How to Leave a Group
Whether you’re finished with what you’re doing, or need to leave to take a breather, here’s how to actually leave a group in SWTOR.
To leave any group, whether you are just levelling, heroics, Flashpoints, or Operations, RIGHT-CLICK your character portrait (the circular picture of your character near your health bar) and roll over the word “Group” and then from the sub-menu choose “Quit Group”.
Use the tabs above to learn more about leaving different types of groups!
Flashpoint or Operation
To leave a Flashpoint or Operation instance, you will need to use the “Exit Area” button on the bottom-right. In instanced areas, like Flashpoints and Operations, if you choose to “Quit Group” before leaving the instance, a 30-second timer will start and then automatically kick you out. So you may prefer to “Exit Area” and then afterwards “Quit Group”. You can not exit while in combat, so if you need to leave in the middle of a fight, you won’t be able to actually leave in the game, but you can of course step away from your computer.
Stronghold or Guild Flagship
To leave a Stronghold or Guild Flagship instance, you will also need to use the “Exit Area” button. You could also use the elevator button at the beginning of the stronghold.
To leave a Guild, type “/gquit” into the chat box. Do note that it logs a notification message in chat to your online guildmates, so if you are worried about having to discuss quitting, you can wait to quit during a time when no one else is online – or just /gquit then log off.
To leave a PvP match, RIGHT-CLICK your character portrait. Do note, there is a time-out penalty for leaving matches early, due to people abusing the feature to leave losing matches.
- Etiquette for leaving a one-time event once it is over like a Flashpoint, Operation, Worldboss event or Datacron Hunt is easy. Simply say thank you for whatever the event was, then leave the group. You do not need to linger if you do not want to when then last boss is defeated.
- Etiquette for leaving a one-time event part-way, like a Flashpoint or Operation, can be simple too. Simply say thank you for the group, and inform them you need to go. You don’t need to explain yourself if you don’t want to, simply say something like, “Thanks for the Flashpoint group, I’m sorry I have to go suddenly. Good luck with the rest.” Wishing your group well let’s them easily know you’d like to perhaps group up in the future again. It’s customary to leave the group, and then log out of that character, to show you are clearly no longer available. (You can always hop on a different character if you wanted to keep playing.)
If you plan to play with other players, choosing who you play with is almost as important as addressing your own worries if you want to have fun.
“That feeling of holding my team back is why I only play with my friends, I can kinda handle some activities until I end up matching with a toxic player and leave to play something else.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
All of the base content in the game can be done even by players without any gear, skill, or experience, but that doesn’t mean every group or group leader is willing to take along someone new, inexperienced or ungeared. Some groups also want to run quickly and efficiently, and have no interest in having group members who don’t already know the fights, or have no interest in leading a “learning” run.
This is an ongoing problem especially for group Flashpoint and Operations, with players focusing on speed and efficiency rather than fun, and you’ll often hear about newer players having bad group experiences because of it.
“What I find works best for me is having just one or two friends you play with and mute the rest, far less taxing on my nerves and still gets some of the benefits of coordination. And if at any point you don’t think you want to play with them again, a few buttons and they can be removed from your life.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
“The best way I’ve found is to try to find like-minded people, and stick to them. Be honest, make sure they know what they’re getting into. Likewise, actively encourage them to be honest with you as well, and try your hardest to have a fair and open mind. I know this is hard. Trust me, there are some fantastic people out there from all schools of life. The trouble is finding them, which can be a massive problem when you’re faced with social anxiety. Baby steps. Try talking to someone who is in a guild, ask them about their guild and such. Innocent icebreakers. Look at the forums or that guild subreddit for guilds that are on a recruiting spree. What do they tell you? Maybe there are special interest guilds already out there but you’re unaware of them.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
Unfortunately, not everyone has friends or family who game! The great news is that there are plenty of groups and players who focus on community and content completion rather than going as fast and as efficiently as possible at all costs. One of the best ways to make friends and find these friendlier groups, with anxiety or not, is to seek out and join an active guild. Guilds are groups of people in-game who have a shared interest or goal – and many guilds run group activities for the benefit of their members, and are more willing to wait, explain fights in more detail, or not demand perfection.
Use the SWTOR Fan Community to find a guild that suits what you are looking for!
You can use the guild finder to look through guilds, and check their information include:
- How many players they have (some anxious players like big guilds where they can blend in with the crowd, other like small guild with less people)
- Any requirements to join
- What type of activities they do
- If they have rules and a code of conduct for how to treat others
- If they have a calendar or schedule set up for planned events
- Some have a link to their Discord channel public or have forums – you can join temporarily and peak around to see how they treat other players there
Communicating with your group leader before-hand within your guild or friend group can be a great way to set yourself up for success.
Use the tabs above to learn about communicating and joining groups for:
“You may think that you are the only one that feels, scared, nervous, etc about an event but you are not! Trust me, there are people in group that totally understand, they may have anxiety as well (and not told anyone) or someone who was nervous their first time and they know how it felt. I believe, you will get a lot further just saying, “This is my first time, I’m nervous”. Biggest thing is, you must communicate. If you do group content, just know, there are people who understand so let them know you are nervous. You don’t have to tell them you have anxiety, just say you are nervous. Even people without anxiety are nervous about group content at times. There are people who are in the group or who are leading the group who understand and will make it so much better for you if you just let them know, you are nervous” – SWTOR Player with General Anxiety / Panic Disorder
Flashpoints are considered the easiest and most accessible group content in the game, outside of just questing casually with friends.
There are two ways to run Flashpoints as a group – in a randomized group through the group finder, or with friends or guild mates.
Veteran Mode Flashpoints are quite easy – no real experience or gear is necessary, they’re meant to be done at level 15+.
Flashpoints with Guild / Friends
In general, it’s better to run with people you know, especially if you are dealing with anxiety. If you can try, and form up a group within your guild or friendship circle. You can even try scheduling a date and time and invite others to join you during that timezone, by posting in your guild’s Discord or in a group chat.
“If you are going to do Flashpoints, I’d recommend going in with people from a small guild, when you are comfortable. Let them know you are new to group content and may need help learning mechanics and your spec. Tons of people are very friendly and willing to help in those spaces.'” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
If you are looking to run with an organized group, you can ask questions to the group leader and they can give you some assurances about what you may be worrying about. Most guild Flashpoint events tend to accept anyone at any skill level, as the level range is very wide for Flashpoints at level 15+. For Flashpoints, you can ask questions like:
- Is it ok if I’m new to Flashpoints, and haven’t run Flashpoints before?
- Do I need to be a specific level?
- Do I need any special gear or a specific item-rating? Do I need augments?
- What am I expected to know about my role as a tank/healer/dps?
- Which of my abilities do I need to know?
- Will you explain anything I need to know about any boss fights that are harder?
- Do I need to use voice chat? Do I need to use my microphone?
If you can’t get a guild group together, you can also try forming a group through general chat – explain what you are trying to run and in what style you plan to run it. for example “Looking to run Hammer Station with a group, we will be watching the cutscenes and going at a relaxed pace.” Or, “New player looking to run Cademimu for the first time.” That way you can find players who want to run it in the same manner as you do, whatever your preferred way of running is.
Flashpoints through the Groupfinder
If you are unable to get a like-minded group together, you will have to use the Groupfinder, which will match you with 3 other random players if you are queuing up alone. These could be other new players like you, players who are casually levelling up and trying Flashpoints for a change, players who are looking for quick rewards, or highly skilled players looking to speed run. You can definitely have fun and make some friends through the group finder, but it’s a really mixed bag of people.
“Communicate to your group that you are inexperienced in this and they’ll be more forgiving. Honesty helps in most situations and will make you feel better.” – MMORPG player on Reddit
Unfortunately, some of the players in the Groupfinder want to run at max speed, take every shortcut perfectly, and not fight enemies for a single second longer than necessary. Thee players sometimes get angry when the Flashpoint is not run at a break-neck speed. This is a common ongoing issue, and not something wrong with you – if this player wanted a perfect run, they should have formed up their group outside of the groupfinder, so they could be with other like-minded players. It sucks to have a bad experience and it can be hard to shake off for many players, especially if it was their first group activity.
“In flashpoints, sometimes people can be a bit… moody or want to just rush, and that makes me nervous. So I find that calmly asking them to slow down or if we can do a bonus boss helps if they get a little moody. Cooler heads prevail, yeah?” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
Many flashpoints have a “solo mode” available that you can run by yourself before you go in with a group, if you want to see the layout or cutscenes on your own first! Unfortunately, not all Flashpoints have a solo version, and players often want to go fast and skip past the cutscenes when you use the groupfinder. They may ask you to “spacebar” through the cutscenes to skip past them quicker.
As someone who has run many randomized groups, I can assure you, some will be bad… and some will be great! Many of them will be just ok. Don’t let comments from these types of players weigh you down, and remember that they are in the wrong, not you – you’re just trying to participate in some fun easy content that’s made for levels 15 and up!
“Don’t get discouraged if you try and ask for help/advice and someone brushes you off or gets surprised you don’t quite understand something. There are hundreds of really helpful and supportive people in SWTOR, just like in the real life – don’t let your experience from one or two random interactions bring you down.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
If you do meet someone nasty, right-click their name and choose “Ignore”. This will cause you not to be grouped up with them ever again, and the more group Flashpoint you play, the more people you’ll weed out who aren’t worth playing with. Nice. You can then choose to stay in the Flashpoint if you’d like, to have your team vote-kick that person out, or to leave the Flashpoint yourself – there’s nothing forcing you to stay, and your normal team-mates will be placed at the top of the queue to find a replacement.
Master Flashpoints are slightly different. They do require a certain level of skill and experience, and players in the group finder expect that you should have the pre-requisites before using the group finder to form up for Master Mode Flashpoints.
Operations require a bit more knowledge and skill than Flashpoint, but more importantly, they require additional team work and coordination. I highly recommend to run them within a guild or friendship group rather than with random groups you don’t know in chat, if you are new or anxious.
“Sometimes doing ops it’s better to let the ops leader know you can play but you have anxiety and you may need them to be careful how they explain things to you.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety / Panic Attacks
If you are looking to run with an organized group or a guild run, you can ask questions to the group leader and they can give you some assurances about what you may be worrying about. For organized operations, you can ask questions like:
- Do I need to have run this before, or is it ok if I’ve never run it before?
- How difficult is this operation / group activity going to be?
- Do I need any special gear or a specific item-rating? Do I need augments?
- What am I expected to know about my role as a tank/healer/dps?
- Which of my abilities do I need to know?
- Will you explain the fights while we play, or do I need to know the fights and mechanics beforehand and should look them up before we play?
- Do I need to use voice chat? Do I need to use my microphone?
A good group leader will be able to answer these quickly and easily with confidence.
“I find that gradually trying things with other people over time makes it easier. The very first time I tried a raid I basically had an anxiety attack, but now I do them all the time with a friend! I think it helps to go slowly and have someone around to help out and talk to.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
I lead “story mode” operations on a weekly basis, and can say with confidence that all story-mode operations in the game can be run by any player without any specific gear, skill or experience at max-level. However, other groups may have higher requirements for the same type of activities – for example, they may expect you to have run the operation before and be familiar with it, or know how the fights work before-hand. Groups formed through general chat usually have higher expectations of players joining than groups formed through guilds.
“In our guild we use Discord in our training runs, but a lot of us mute the mic and just listen; the raid leader will talk people through the mechanics of the fights, and people can ask questions or type in the Ops channel. This helps in two ways; the obvious one is that we can learn the mechanics in a friendly and relaxed group, but the other way is that it shows that the guild is serious about supporting those of us who are anxious.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
If you are looking to get into harder content like Veteran Mode and Master Mode Operations, there are actual baseline requirements you need to meet for your group to be successful, which includes a combination of a higher gear score item-rating, and being able to reach certain numbers when it comes to damage, healing, or defending. Each team will have different requirements for these, and may include things like using voice chat or using outside programs to measure your combat like StarParse.
Player vs Player content can be one of the most stressful types of content, as players are more likely to trash talk or insult their team mates in PvP than any other type of content. The great news is that if you want, you can still play PvP and just turn off chat if you really want to, and pretend you’re playing solo.
“I have chronic panic disorder, talking to people is quite a task for me because of it. I play a lot of PvP, which is notorious for being extremely competitive and (can be) a toxic environment, I probably encounter quite a bit of toxic players in the matches more often than not. The key with that is to not take it too seriously or rather personally, as it could potentially be triggering for someone with any form of anxiety whilst playing. I have although met a ton of super cool laid back players who also enjoy PvP, it took me a long while to interact with some of them, but I think because I put out a nice demeanor to them, they seemed to do the same.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
There isn’t a high degree of socialness expected for PvP, even though it is a group activity. I recommend to leave chat on if you can, so you can see and make call outs for help from your team mates, but if anyone gets salty, right click their name and choose ignore, and you’ll never have to worry about them mouthing off again as you won’t see their messages anymore.
PvP has such a wide range of gear and experience levels, from brand new players just trying to get XP or rewards, to seasoned players who can annihilate you with a glance. The great news is teams are randomized and tend to rotate – you never have to worry about letting your team down, as you’ll technically be with a whole new mix of people the next match. That awesome player who wrecked your face last match might be your team mate in the next match!
You also shouldn’t worry about not being the best player in the game. Just by queuing up and being will to step into matches, and actively playing the best you can, you’re positively contributing to the queue times, and the ability for matches to be formed up – without you, both that brand new player and that super skilled player might not have had enough people in the queue to even get a match going!
If you are looking to run with an organized group like with a guild, you can ask questions to the group leader and they can give you some assurances about what you may be worrying about. Most guild PvP events tend to be casual and fun – “come as you are”. For organized PvP events, you can ask questions like:
- Is it ok if I’m new to PvP, and haven’t run PvP before?
- Do I need any special gear or a specific item-rating? Do I need augments?
- What am I expected to know about my role as a tank/healer/dps?
- Which of my abilities do I need to know?
- Will you explain how the different types of pvp matches work as we play, or do I need to know the fights and mechanics beforehand and should look them up before we play?
- Do I need to use voice chat? Do I need to use my microphone?
If you are planning to join a group activity in the future, knowing more about what you are getting into can give you a better sense of confidence.
What to Know
In any type of content in Star Wars: The Old Republic, there are three things in general that you can learn and look up online:
- Your class and how to play it
- Your role as a tank/healer/dps in the content you are going to play
- The mechanics of the content you are going to play.
This will be different for each type of content:
- If you plan to play an Operation as a Healer, you will need to know how your different healing abilities work, any abilities as a healer you will need to watch out for and cleanse, and any mechanics of the boss fights you will need to deal with, like moving at a certain time or helping to interrupt. To what degree you need to know these things varies by each group, and some groups only ask that you have a basic understanding of your class and role, and will explain any specific mechanics during the fight.
- If you plan on playing PvP as a tank, you will need to have a good idea of how your defensive abilities work, that you need to taunt and guard people in PvP matches, and knowing how the objectives and points in a match works can help you understand what’s going on around you.
- For Flashpoints, as a damage character, you might want to have a better idea of how to do more damage or how your abilities interact, so your team mates aren’t wondering why the only thing you’re doing is hitting random buttons on your keyboard to attack. You can even learn about the different bosses if you’d like, to know what’s coming up.
How much you want to look up, read, and memorize before-hand is up to you. Personally, I love writing guides, but I hate having to read them in full – I don’t like the feeling of homework! You might however find going in more prepared reduces your anxiety, making it easier to group up.
“If you’re unsure of your skill (be it lack of skill or just insecurity) I think most people will be understanding, if not at least you know who not to pair up with the next time.” – SWTOR Player on Reddit
As a frequent friendly group leader, I never expect my team mates to know the fights, but I do expect a very basic understanding of your class and role. The great news is you can start learning this in a few minutes with our Basic Class Guides and 5-button Rotations for every class and role!
Use the tabs above to browse through more planning tips!
One important thing to know is that worrying and planning are not the same thing.
“If you worry or over-think about situations in the future that you don’t have all of the information about yet, you will feel like you’re powerless to handle the situation well, when in fact there are pieces missing to the puzzle since you aren’t actually in the situation yet. Anxiety tries to convince you that worrying and imagining every possible negative outcome will help you handle future situations.” – Kristine Tye, Therapist
Reading and memorizing key points is great planning. Trying to learn and memorize every single moving piece of mastering content isn’t useful, and brainstorming how to handle every situation is closer to worrying about things you won’t be able to control than planning.
“I’ve felt like I need to be the “best” and know the dungeon before I even step into it.” – MMORPG Player on Reddit
“Worrying is spending time and energy thinking about or trying to predict parts of the situation that you cannot control.” – Kristine Tye, Therapist
Feeling physically well can help give you a boost when it comes to tackling events that make you anxious.
- Talk to your group leader before-hand. Use the tips above in the “Communicate” section to know what types of questions you can ask that might help you!
- Log-in 10-15 minutes early. This will give you time to get your character and computer all set up, rather than feeling rushed by logging in when the event actually starts, if it’s at a scheduled time.
- Establish a routine. Having a routine when you log in for an event can help reduce anxiety. For example, maybe you go to the bathroom, get a drink, listen to some music, and check your character is wearing all their gear and has their medpacs. Then you can go in feeling comfortable.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, relaxing your muscles one at a time, or closing your eyes and imagining a positive outcome are all common relaxation techniques that will only take you a few minutes before you start.
- Eat/Drink regularly. Keeping your body nourished gives it energy to deal with anxious situations. Keeping hydrated can also help reduce headaches, so keep water beside your desk at all times.
- Keep any medications you need near your desk, along with snacks like crackers if you need to eat them with food.
- Sleep. Sleep is a difficult topic for many people with anxiety, but good sleep hygiene like setting a schedule and routine to sleep can give you the energy you’ll need if you’re doing longer social activities like operations.
- Exercise/stretch. If you aren’t up for actual exercising, at least try and stretch to help release tension in your muscle, helping your body feel more relaxed. Exercising doesn’t even have to be traditional in the form of going to the gym and lifting weights – it could be going for a short walk, or playing an exercise video game like RingFit.
If you would like to look up guides for any of these types of contents, here are links to tons of community guides:
I like to go through a little checklist when I log in when I’m doing group content, as I often struggle to remember things, which can lead me to feeling anxious or embarrassed that I’m letting my team down by not being prepared.
- Am I wearing a gear piece in every slot? Is it the right gear?
- Am I in the right discipline/spec/role?
- Do I have the right tree choices / loadout?
- Do I have medpacs?
- Do I have adrenals?
- Do I have stims?
- Are my abilities still all on my quickbars, is the quickbar locked?
- Does my inventory have enough space for anything I need to loot?
- Do I have enough currency space to pick up currency like Tech Fragments, or should I spend some before we start?
- Do I need to start running/loading into the planet, or will I get a summon?
- Do I have the right interface?
- If I’m on voice, is my microphone working and is my push-to-talk set?
- If I’m setting up a group, did I set the difficulty and give everyone assistant?
When I’ve successfully done these, I feel calmer, and I have more energy to devote to the things I can’t control, instead of having to fumble around with trying to figure out where my medpacs are or finding a missing ability in the middle of a stressful boss fight.
Part of dealing with anxiety is learning healthier self-talk when things do go wrong.
Story time! Recently, I found out I had accidentally been using the wrong type of gear while playing very difficult content with my static team for months, making the content artificially harder for everyone on the entire team. When it was finally discovered, I was incredibly embarrassed and upset.
My anxious thoughts included:
“I let my team down, they’re embarrassed to have my on their team, they’ll leave the team because I’m not careful enough, they’d rather play with someone more competent, we could have succeeded if not for me.”
All of these thoughts are unhealthy, and not actually useful for me or my team to move forward. Replacing these with healthier self talk could include:
“Ok, I let me team down, but most of them laughed about it, and although everyone is teasing me, no one seems genuinely angry. No one has said they will leave the team because I forgot to gear properly. I’m still doing great at learning the mechanics, and I’m trying my best to be geared up correctly even if I didn’t succeed.”
While this specific mistake had more drastic consequences because it was more difficult content, I make constant less-important mistakes when running easier content. I’ve learned most players are just happy to run and be there. I regularly go into world boss fights without any gear or weapons equipped by accident. I call people by the wrong names. I button mash and do low damage. In the end, as long as your team is able to succeed at whatever task you are presented in-game, the level of skill of your party members doesn’t really matter at all. Most people are also just watching themselves and their own character even in group settings – no one is worrying about your low damage or tanking mistakes beyond the couple of seconds where it might matter during the fight. Even during more difficult situations where your group isn’t succeeding, many players are just happy to be able to participate in group activities with other players who are being nice to them.
While you may feel anxious when in a group with very skilled players while you are still learning, I’ve found most skilled players are really happy to share their expertise and want to help you grow and get better at your role if that’s something you’re interested in. Work on your positive self-talk and have fun!
Voice chat, often through Discord, is one of the most common ways players communicate socially while playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Voice chat, however, can be one of the more difficult ways of communicating for players with general anxiety or social anxiety.
“I have social anxiety and it gets really bad if I’m being yelled at, like my throat tenses up and I struggle to breathe so I just mute it and it’s made it more enjoyable, I just acknowledge that they’re people who are probably toxic as that is sadly the case majority of the time.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
Most activities, like story mode operations, PvP, flashpoints, or casual questing, do not require voice chat in any way, but players or guilds may still request that groups use them any way, either as a way to be more social or as an easier way to organize the group and give instructions. Other activities, like Veteran Mode and Master Mode operations get very difficult to co-ordinate without voice chat.
“If talking in voice is uncomfortable for you, type instead. Plus, there’s always the ol’ “I don’t have a mic” excuse.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
As a player with anxiety, you will have to decide where your comfort levels and boundaries are. You could talk with just friends, and never strangers, or never join voice chat at all, or only join with your microphone muted. The choice is 100% yours and there is no “right” solution.
“My biggest advice to players who are worried about doing group content is to be up front with your concerns and limits. If talking is uncomfortable for you, there are players who won’t have that as a dealbreaker as long as you are running the right content.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
Many players who are trans or experience gender dysphoria feel a lot of anxiety when it comes to grouping up, especially through voice chat. While this specific guide does not cover anxiety based on gender dysphoria, know that you are not alone, and that there are many trans gamers in the SWTOR community.
“For me, my voice dysphoria ties very heavily to me being trans. I’m very worried about being perceived as someone I am not. When I started raiding again after my egg cracked, I was able to find an accepting group that was okay with me using chat only. We worked around it. And over time, I got more comfortable to the point where I actually wanted to speak.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- Here is a list of ways to cope with gender dysphoria.
- Discusssion about voice chat on the transgamers subreddit
- If you decide to use voice chat but not use your microphone, you may find the tips for communicating through other ways than voice chat useful.
Player Tips & Experiences
- Personal Experiences
- Joining a guild, which has been one of the biggest pieces of advice players have given
- Grouping Up
- Voice Chat
If you experience anxiety while gaming, you are not alone! Over FIFTY SWTOR players reached out to me to help add their experiences to this guide!
- “I have all of the confidence in the world when it comes to SWTOR. I know my role well and I am very good at most things in the game. But the thought of being in the presence of other people puts the sense of dread into me. I don’t always know how to effectively communicate with the people around me. I’ve found that there aren’t many people who have the patience to slow down for someone who is locked up tight; and why should they? This game isn’t a place for them to cater to us. Its a place to have fun.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “I have about a 1,600 hours in SWTOR and probably 90% of it is playing solo and the 10% spent playing group content was with people in my own community who wanted to show me the cool and fun Flashpoints and Operations.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “I felt anxious on the fleet at first for example, and at my first Life Day event I was too embarrassed to do the event quests things, like hugging Wookiees and throwing snowballs. It helps to remember that every other player is also hugging Wookiee, so you don’t look ridiculous, it’s all in good fun!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “If I even think about playing a multiplayer game my heart rate starts to rise and I feel the familiar tightening in my chest thinking about the abuse that I am likely to receive. I know how people act towards new players and I just don’t need the hassle. This means that most of the time I tend to stay away from multiplayer games.” – Gamer on Reddit
- “Anxiety can be very complicated in many cases. Its often a byproduct of something else in a person’s life. It could be anything between being an introvert with a chemical imbalance to imposter syndrome or body dysmorphia or a troubled past or even a whole fruit salad of mental health struggles including but not limited to: depression, bipolar, PTSD, autism, schizophrenia, and other disabilities.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “‘Self-help’ is a road that we all have to take in life. No one is immune to the struggles of living. This includes all people from all walks of life. We come from all over, but when we look down in the dirt, our footprints will still look the same. We are all human and it’s important to remember that. For those with mental health struggles: Remember that everyone is struggling and that you are not alone. ” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “In my experience as someone with some amount of social anxiety, playing multiplayer games which the majority of my friends also play is a very nerve wracking experience. The constant comparisons made by my friends and the feeling of being judged for playing poorly could make interactions with people you know in real life a hassle. I enjoy multiplayer games a lot more when there’s no one to worry about.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- “You don’t have to force yourself into negative scenarios. Just get out of that situation entirely and enjoy the game elsewhere. Ignore is one of my favorite features – it basically removes all toxicity in your gaming experience.” – MMORPG player on Reddit
- “I typically only really interact with my guild, however, I’ve done OPS outside my guild before, and typically I have taught myself to ask questions about certain things like abilities or how the fight works, etc. Generally those turn out fine and people are more than willing to help.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “I get scared to play online lol because of my skills” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- “By the time you are looking at harder operations, you definitely should feel comfortable on your spec and be familiar with basic mechanics, like not standing in AOEs, moving, positioning, etc. And even before any group content, using tools like Starparse to compare your dps while on a training dummy (advanced health module + armor reduction being the norm) can help boost confidence or show you that maybe there’s something you are missing. Again, a willingness to learn goes a long way.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “When you start a match, try not to mute, if people start to get toxic, you mute that person. If you feel you cant keep going, mute everybody and put your favorite music.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- “I have social anxiety, but it’s not for talking to people since I’m actually quite a good talker for someone with it, the issue for me is going to events instead of interacting with people. IE School, Work, etc. makes me freak out but as soon as I’m comfortable there I’ll be fine, and that’s usually how it goes for multiplayer games too.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- “But joining a guild (which I now own), helped my anxiety a lot. I have to talk to people outside the guild sometimes and I have to rise to the occasion and make sure everything runs smoothly. Leading the guild has also helped my anxiety and makes me put the anxiety down and make sure everyone has what they need to do OPS, or FPS, or RP, or what.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “My tip for looking for guilds would be finding guilds that emphasize beginner friendly, casual, just for fun. Even if you’re not a beginner to the game or some of the content, they’ll be more accepting overall. When I was advertising for my guild, I used to put “solo friendly” in the pitch, and I’ve seen some guilds add that. That’s a great way to gradually introduce more socializing and then move on to doing group content” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Other people’s drama is not your problem. You don’t need to be involved nor feel responsible for it.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Start slow. That goes both for difficulty of content and easing into social groups. A small guild is a great place to start. Most are very chill and friendly, and the longer you lurk in guild chat or discord, the more you’ll get used to those people, even if you aren’t speaking or even typing.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “If you are planning to join a guild, be ready with questions. If the person recruiting you isn’t willing to answer basic questions, then it might not be a great environment for someone who has specific gaming expectations. I have a list of questions ready based on my play style. 1) is it okay if I don’t participate? 2) do I have to login every week? 3) what requirements do members have to meet? 4) if I have a problem with another member, who can I talk to? I try to cover my bases early.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “A tip about finding a guild – I spend time with one person in the game, till you feel ready to meet them and stuff. Never jump in full throttle. Do it when you’re ready.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Join a guild you like the description and player count, usually a smaller count kind of helps with comfort level. I usually wind up being quiet for a little bit till I get a good sense of the vibe then make the occasional comments on the discords or just work up to being active within it.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “When looking for a guild, sometimes the description doesn’t always match the guild. I feel like the only way to find out is trial and error. I like bigger guilds because you can get lost in the mix if you want.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “When I was asked to be part of a guild, it was random – at the time I wasn’t even entirely sure on how they operate – but they had a Discord link in chat so I quickly had a look on there – decided it was quite a large community and looked helpful so I joined! I knew it was a right fit for me when I saw them encouraging group games, just a large active community!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “When I searched for a guild, I was looking for a big guild with lots of events. Means they were planners. I love scheduled events. I may not go to a lot of them but it shows they have people who are knowledgeable in the game/department they are in and they are organized. My anxiety does stop me from doing some stuff.” – SWTOR Player with General Anxiety / Panic Disorder
- “When in a good guild, I believe, if people know you are learning, they could care less about mistakes or dying. Everyone has had their first time in a Flashpoint or Operation, they know what can happen when you don’t know.” – SWTOR Player with General Anxiety / Panic Disorder
- “I found my guild on the forums, and they emphasized that they were a no-drama guild that understands that we have families and jobs and hobbies, and understands that those things might overwrite gaming time. And they walk their talk; there’s no drama, personal or in-game.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “More often than not, it helps just being open and honest about the anxiety. Sometimes it takes a bit of bravery to say it openly, but in my experience it has always made everything afterwards so much easier, and in the worst case, it lets you find out really quickly if it’s a space you want to be in or not based on the reaction.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Many guilds in the game tend to invite you without asking and even if the guild is great, you might not want to join it just yet – you can turn off guild invites in your settings. If you find one you want to join, chat with their recruiter or officer, get some info, ask questions – if you decide to join one, you can turn your guild invite notifications back on and let them invite you!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “The biggest thing I’ve found is just taking the leap when it comes to joining a guild/player group. It’s always awkward until all of the sudden it’s not, just gotta give it time.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “From my personal experience, I was a little worried that there would be such a large online community that wouldn’t be welcoming, but on the times I’ve spoken in chat – everyone has been so helpful and just generally nice to be around.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Surprisingly joining a guild helped out, participating in events every now and then lead to making a few friends.” – SWTOR Player on Reddit
- “Ask questions, be kind, and if you don’t know how to ask a specific question, maybe talk to someone you know prior and see what they think. Communication is key AND know that it is okay to not know everything! I’ve been playing for over 8 years and I’m still learning new things! If you don’t feel comfortable in doing something, say so, but also remember to try, you may end up doing well and liking it!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- ” I seldom take it upon myself to form pick-up groups for activities and will lurk in the chat channels until I see someone else take the initiative. Especially when it comes to larger group content.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “When it comes to the game centric stuff, like imposter syndrome and not performing well at your spec, being able to admit that you have room to grow goes a long way. People are much more critical of those who think they know everything, and are overall more forgiving for those who are willing to learn and just need the right resources and guides. If you are wanting to do stuff like ops, pvp, or other group content, being able to communicate stuff like that openly goes a long way. Finding the right group for you is a big part of that as well.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “If you feel overwhelmed in social settings, the general, party or ops chat is too much for you at the moment but in the same time you would just like to do group content – toggle those tabs off. Let your group leader know via private whisper message – hey, I’m turning that off, it makes me feel a bit down, I’ll not see ops or group chat callouts. You can also create a separate chat tab just for whispers from other players or disable any player-driven channels completely.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- For content, story mode operations to me are a MUCH better environment than Flashpoints, by far. For legacy SM ops, those are all super easy and you can get carried easily as a dps too, so you won’t be a burden on your group. Just again, gotta be up front and say ‘Hey, I’m new to this Op’ or ‘I just started using this spec, got any tips?” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “My Number 1 tip is having a friend to play with. I can easily run large raids if at least one of my friend is in my party with me. If I’m alone, I can’t even use the group finder! I find that having a friend around helps me keep perspective. For example, if I forget a mechanic, my friend can remind me! And if someone goes wrong, he can tell me if it wasn’t my fault, or that it’s not as bad as I thought. It helps a lot!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “I know it can be really scary to join group content, but it can be a lot of fun if you try to take the risk! For example, at first I was too scared to do group content, but last year I was doing raiding with friends. Sometimes you might not feel up to doing group content, but thankfully SWTOR has so much solo content, so it will be waiting for when you’re ready, never give up!” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
Playing Solo Instead
- “I would definitely emphasize that SWTOR is a much more solo-oriented game than most MMOs and so an anxious person doesn’t need to guilt themselves for not playing the multiplayer content if they truly aren’t interested. If they’re only forcing themselves because they think they “ought” to, I think it’s giving themselves an unnecessary burden” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Play how you want, if you are too anxious to do group, play solo. “- SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Leaving a group is always an option.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “I used to just play and not use the mic, but the negativity still bothered me, and I also felt guilty that I couldn’t talk and strategize, so I felt like I was holding back my team. I would play and mute everyone, but then I’d feel extra guilty, because not only would I not be able to help my team with voice chat, I also wouldn’t be able to hear them talk about what’s going on either. I’m sure it would be no big deal in a non-competitive game though.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- “I do not play with strangers because I just won’t talk and I don’t want to be ridiculed about it. So now I don’t power through, I will only play with people I know well, even when I know one or two people in a larger group of players I still won’t talk, this is how I am in general not just video games.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- You can also work on playing role or classes that require less speaking – for example tanks are expected to communicate more. “There are plenty of times I’m not speaking because I’ve learned how to minimize those vocal mechanics. Like being a ranged character that doesn’t have to worry about getting clear for a cleanse since you always should be clear. Playing a class with a self cleanse also helps a lot on most of those cleanse mechanics out in general.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “If you’re enjoying your games with everyone muted, keep playing that way. If people are upset about it, who cares? It’s just a video game. But if you do want to overcome your anxiety and start being able to communicate (or just listen), you have to start by slowly and gradually exposing yourself to it. I used to be very anxious about using voice chat (which probably stems from me being told as a child that my voice was annoying…lol) but I really wanted to overcome it because I enjoy the cooperative aspect of games a lot. I spent a lot of time reading and trying figure out how I could convince my mind that it was ok to use voice chat, but sadly it doesn’t work like that. The only thing that worked was accepting the fear and actually doing it. I started off just squeaking out a hello at the start of a game. And I would give myself a pat on the back and not worry about saying another word the entire game. Over time I started saying a bit more. A hello, and then a good game. Then call outs here and there. Over the course of a few months I was able to talk to strangers in games in a way I couldn’t have previously imagined. I still feel anxious about talking in games. The difference is that I’m more easily able to move past the anxiety and do what I want to do. I know that over time the anxiety will go away completely.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
- “I play a lot of competitive games with voice comms and I have really bad social anxiety (I get panic attacks in public somewhat frequently – masks actually help a lot) and I just got used to talking online and making callouts. I never really have conversations so it makes it so much easier to just play the game and make the calls.” – Multiplayer gamer on Reddit
How can I support players with anxiety?
If you don’t have anxiety yourself, but have come here to try and find help for friends, family members or guildmates, here are some tips players have shared about how you can support your fellow players with anxiety and help them feel more welcome in your groups or guilds.
Many players shared how their guild leaders have helped them be less anxious! Use the tabs above to read them.
“For those without mental health struggles: Remember that you still have other kinds of struggles too. The best we can do as human beings is to be understanding and make the galaxy a better place for each other.” – SWTOR Player with Anxiety
How can I support players with anxiety?
- Be kind, be patient.
- Encourage them to seek professional help and therapy if they have the means. Speaking with a doctor about mental health still carries a stigma, and you can be a part of that positive change.
- Understand that anxiety can cause players to react more strongly to a situation or comment than someone without anxiety. An off-hand teasing comment might make one new player laugh, while for another new player it could lead them to feeling unwelcome and singled-out.
- If you have expectations for your guild, make them clear in your guild listing or first conversation. For example, if your guild requires you to log in at least once a week, or requires you to participate in group activities, or requires you to be in voice chat, or requires you to get a certain amount of conquest points per week, make that clear. If there are exceptions that can be made, also make them clear, and do your best to accommodate exceptions where they can be made. The guild that I’m in has a “voice interview” that we do with all new members that is required – but exceptions can be made for those who are unable to, and our recruitment team performs it over text chat instead in those cases. Other guilds that focus on the conquest leaderboard or who do the highest level of raiding, may not be able to make exceptions, due to the focus of the guild, and that’s ok too.
- Allowing players to “play in the way that works for them”. That means allowing players to join or not join group activities, to join in on chat or be silent, to hop into voice chat or stay out of it, to play frequently or occasionally, to play difficult or easier content, with no negative comments for either choice.
- Respecting the need for preparation and routine. Players with anxiety may be less available to adapt or switch gears on the fly, or jump into unplanned activities. Have a schedule, setting expectations, and giving players enough time to prepare their characters and themselves can be useful.
- Have clear route visible for what to do if someone is experiencing a problem within the guild. How can a player talk to leadership and who should they talk to if they are worried about something in the guild, or if someone is giving them a hard time? Who can they contact for different types of content like PvE/PvP?
- Be willing to answer questions.
- Do not tolerate slurs or insults within your guild.
- Have clear set of rules or code of conduct about what is allowed and not allowed within the guild.
- Let players know what they need to know before-hand. For example, if they are joining PvP or an Operation, do they need to know the fight? You could also send them a link to the guide if they’d like to pre-prepare and read about the content you are going to play before they join.
- Be very clear about when activities you are running “don’t require any gear, skill or experience”. Be very clear about what is required – for example, world bosses require having earned your ship in the story, or Operations require level 80 and to be subscribed. If you do have any gear, skill or experience requirements, make them clear as well and provide resources for players to reach those goals.
- When playing group content, don’t assign blame – if a player is struggling, ask if they need help or are encountering and hurdles, and offer help. Sometimes players are having a rough day, sometimes they are having trouble understanding a mechanic or a class ability. Just telling them they are bad is not useful to you, your team, or them.
- Don’t over-generalize or blame an entire situation on one player’s performance in group content. Even if a player is under-performing, the entire team likely has things they need to work on and improve, and it’s unlikely that they alone are the sole cause of failure. Don’t single out players as ‘the cause of the wipe’.
- Do give praise. Hearing that you’ve done a good job at tanking, healing or with the mechanics can mean the world to someone who is ruminating on their own thoughts of not being good enough. Thank players for attending and make sure they know they are invited and welcome to join next time too, whether you’ve succeeded or failed.
- Avoid public reprimand. If a player makes a mistake or has a small scuffle, message them privately, so they don’t feel their mistake has a spotlight on it, and it’s somethng they can improve on in the future rather than a mark of shame everyone has to know about.
- “In a handful of Operations the leader made sure we all got up and walked around or stretched about every twenty minutes or after 5 or so team deaths to release tension and it did give OPs a calmer feeling than what I was used to. This could be a tip in the section “How can I support players with Anxiety.” – SWTOR Player with General Anxiety Disorder
- “Don’t single out an anxious player by name in voice chat or in text if it’s a comment or observation that can be made as a general observation or general team/group statement. Also refrain from adding opinions that have emotional context especially if it carries insulting or deprecating connotations. If you do need to talk to the anxious individual by name because they made a mistake, ask them how they are feeling first or make what you say a emotion-neutral observation. Then you can follow up with soliciting them about how they are feeling about how they play or what problems they think they are having. Most negative or poorly received criticism comes from having one’s expectations or hopes fall short and then jumping to assumptions and/or blaming someone for the situation, rather than avoiding both blame and assumptions by identifying problems and working on a solution as a team, where it’s okay to be a human that makes mistakes.” – SWTOR Player with General Anxiety Disorder
- “Players might ask you for help and if you agree to help them – make sure you’re helping them in a way they actually WANT your help to be in. Some players with anxiety would just like directions or explanation how to do a mechanic and will feel uncomfortable when you invite them to the group on the spot, saying you’re on your way to them. Just ask what exactly they would like you to do or tell them.”- SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- “Stay supportive, open minded and aware that your teammate might be struggling – but don’t single them out on it and don’t treat them like a “special needs” group member, they’re a player just like you who just has a different threshold of what they find “easy” or “enjoyable”. Stay friendly, patient, reassuring if they express some concerns – but don’t go over the top, asking every 5 seconds if they need a hand on this or that. We literally feel like a third wheel even more if you do.”- SWTOR Player with Anxiety
- The Difference Between GAD and Social Anxiety Disorder
- How CBT Can Help You Manage Social Anxiety Symptoms
- Tips For Playing Dungeons & Dragons When You Have Social Anxiety
- Check Your Anxiety at the Door: 10 Actions You Can Take to Prepare for Anxiety-Inducing Events
- Test anxiety: Can it be treated?
- Sleep Hygiene
- Multiplayer games and Social Anxiety
- Question – How do you guys get over social anxiety or work through it when interacting in game? (Details on comments) – SWTOR
- Preparing for the worst makes us more anxious, not less
- Planning vs. Worry: How to Feel Prepared and Stress Less – Kristine Tye
- I’ve never done an Operation or any group activity – SWTOR Reddit
- MMOs and social anxiety? – Reddit
This article is simply a list of tips and tricks other players have suggested while playing video games with anxiety. I am not, nor am I holding myself out to be a doctor/physician, nurse, physician’s assistant, advanced practice nurse, or any other medical professional (“Medical Provider”), psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker (“Mental Health Provider”). As the owner of a gaming site, I am not providing health care, or medical therapy services, or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental or emotional issue, disease or condition. The information provided in or through my website pertaining to any aspect of your life is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. Always seek the advice of your own or your child’s Medical Provider and/or Mental Health Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your or your child’s specific health or any medications you or your child are currently taking and before implementing any recommendations or suggestions from this or any other website. Do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice because of information you have read on this website. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your own or your child’s Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. If you or your child have or suspect that you have a medical or mental health problem, contact your own or your child’s Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider promptly.