The new paradigm of healing

I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV lately as a white mage, which of course is a healer class. Healer classes are a little different in XIV these days: I fell in love with healing back ten or so years ago playing Warcraft, where the entire job of a healer was to keep the party alive. On hard content this was a full time job: you've got to be glued to the tank while making sure no DPSes pull aggro or befoul themselves of raid/dungeon mechanics. But on easy content healing is...peaceful. There's a fair bit of downtime (especially with a veteran tank), and your character's limits mean that you're often spending more time running than casting.

XIV has shifted this paradigm. Healers are now distinguished by the fact that they can also heal as opposed to only healing, and you get some side-eye from the rest of the party if you approach your role as if in the 2010 zeitgeist. On a good day you can approach 80% of a dedicated DPS's output, meaning that playing a healer is more about brinksmanship — how aggressively can you deal damage without having your tank die?

I think this is probably a stilted metaphor for how I'm approaching engineering management these days, but it's hard not to notice the parallels. The EMs who I admire most are new-style healers: they unblock, they foster, they plan, but they are deeply technical and Do The Work. The EMs who I, even if I admire, do not envy, are old-style healers: their calendar is a proxy for productivity, and they fill their downtime with 'the work about the work'.

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