It’s rare that I run across something concerning WoW that, upon first reading, finds me confused as to how I feel about it.
Normally, for good or ill, I read something about WoW and my own feelings on it will be clear to me.
I might very well change my opinion after a lot of thought, of course.
At the moment, I’m right at that point, and it’s all to do with the raiding culture.
Last night, I had an email from a reader asking me what I thought about a recent post from the Tanking Tips blog, called The Road to Content; Reputation vs Gear vs Experience.
The post focuses on describing the things a new tank should take into consideration when planning on becoming attractive to a top end raiding guild; the gear you wear, the experience you develop in tanking content, and your reputation on the server.
The post left me feeling very confused.
You see, I feel the post holds several solid insights into the importance of these three aspects of a player’s raiding qualifications. Well written, thoughtful, you know… a good post.
The quality of the comments to the post also told me that the majority of readers appreciated the subject and how it was addressed, and offered many excellent suggestions and additional advice for how a new tank can develop gear, training and a positive reputation among the playing community as well.
So, what’s my problem, right?
It all came down to the feelings I had when the writer openly discussed strategic planning on joining guilds, with the specific intent of getting as well geared for raiding as possible before swiftly /gquitting and moving on.
Further, it felt that the unspoken assumption was that if your goal was to step up and be an end game raider, a new tank should be willing to intentionally deceive a new guild as to the players’ true motives for joining, because if a guild knew you intended to only remain long enough to gear your toon up, they would not take you in, and you would not get what you wanted.
That’s where my confusion came about.
For one thing, the blog author, Veneretio, stated further on in the post and comments that he didn’t actually approve of that behavior, but that sometimes it was good to talk about bad things. I’d have to say, pretending people didn’t do things like that when we know it does happen isn’t going to make for any kind of realistic dialogue.
Another thing that confused me was that, aside from one commentor, I really didn’t see anyone else that felt like I did about those parts of the post, the parts that felt like the writer was presenting joining a new guild with ulterior, self serving motives as an actual strategy.
Instead, it almost felt that, yes, the commentors acknowledged that doing that was one accepted way of gearing up and getting ready, but that the drawback would be openly developing a reputation as being untrustworthy, and so other methods would work better to develop and preserve a reputation among the community that would make you attractive to a raiding guild, such as running frequent PuGs.
I am not a raider. I never, never have been part of a hardcore raiding guild that tackled content seriously, night after night, putting forth massive effort and hundreds of hours into server first victories.
In reading Veneretio’s post, it led me to wonder if, when thinking of raiding in particular and the game in general, I’m guilty of a failure to think outside my own preconceived ideas.
I have always seen World of Warcraft through the filter of my own preconceptions of what an MMO is, right from the first moment; a place where you can play an RPG with a huge online community, live.
I have built upon those preconceptions on what an MMO is with my own beliefs about just how a person should act towards other people when playing a cooperative game like a tabletop RPG together. Yes, sometimes you get together with strangers to play an RPG, especially at conventions, but it’s still about sitting down and having fun, usually with folks that are either already friends, or might become friends soon.
I guess I could boil my attitude that came out of that to; if you’re going to play a cooperative game, why the hell would you play it with people who you believe that you will be screwing over in order to advance yourself? Why not just play a single player game instead? Why hurt other people? Johnny Fairplay my ass.
When phrased that way, my assumptions are easy to point out. Cooperative. Advancement. Screwing other people over. It’s all based on how I think the game is supposed to be played.
Why should I assume that the game is meant to be cooperative? That everyone else should care about the feelings of other people? Or act towards other players with courtesy or consideration, all friendly buddy-buddy?
Instead of my tabletop RPG mindset, where the team plays together as friends, how about I switch up the analogy?
How about if I look at WoW as predominantly a competition?
A competition such as Baseball.
Yes, it’s a game. There are rules for play, and structure, and people have fun playing it at the amateur level.
But if you truly want to go pro, your goal is, indeed, to do the best you can as a player… but you don’t expect to join one team in a one horse town, and then lead the entire team into the major leagues with you.
No, in this sports analogy, you join an existing team, and the coaches work at helping you improve and getting you set up with the tools to win… and getting you integrated into their team. They teach you the basics.
But if a major league team sees your play, and offers you a job in the majors to see the show, it’s expected by everyone that of COURSE you’ll take the opportunity to bring your play to the majors. You had to start somewhere, right? You had to learn the trade. And you had to develop your teamwork.
I can see it. It makes sense.
Using that analogy, as flawed as analogies are, it helps me to articulate the one thing that I believe remains true, whether raiding or casual.
Bear with me just a moment.
In the sports teams, when you join the minors, everyone knows that the hope is to someday be good enough to join the majors. Even if you’re playing in a sports bar team with the logo of a local barbershop on the back of your jersey, if a scout said, “Hey Mikey, you’ve got a hell of an arm, I think you’ve got what it takes, want to come start for the Yankees”, the rest of his team isn’t going to say, “Dude, you wouldn’t have gotten the skills without us. We just got you trained up, and we need you to stay here so we can crush the Malibu Bowl Bouncers in our bar league next week. ”
I think that, with the attention that is given to world firsts, server firsts, professional gaming league events, even Accomplishments, and the entire raid setup in place… it’s actually a realistic expectation that players, a majority of players, would have that same point of view.
A guild can represent a team, and for many players, perhaps your fellow guild members are not necessarily friends, but teammates.
Some teammates might be jerks, but hey… if they’ve got one hell of a pitching arm, it’s not like you’re going to bench them if you want to field the best team you can.
And let’s face the truth. Some teams are recognised as being more successful than others… and the dream of many players is to someday make the majors, whether that means being in the number one raiding guild on your server, your battlegroup, or even in the guild that are the the world first badasses of the universe.
Got it? It’s totally not how I have ever internalised the game before in all these years. Never. That’s my blindside, I didn’t ever look beyond playing with friends as being the core of the game for me.
But now that I’ve made that analogy, here’s the problem I’ve got… if you act as though you believe that others do not, and will not, understand your joining a guild, playing with them, getting good, getting geared, and then leave immediately, and you decide that you want to do that anyway so you’ll have to deceive them, then you’ve shown that you are deceptive and selfish in your dealings with others.
If you acknowledge that in order to get what you want, you must conceal your true motives from others, deceive them as to your intentions, and attempt to find situations where these actions will not be made public to the teams you do someday hope to join, then you’re not playing as though you really believe that WoW is a sport, and your actions are still inappropriate. You are acting as though you do understand that, no matter how you feel about what you are doing, the community as a whole will disapprove. But you’re gonna do it anyway.
You can bitch about it all you want. That’s the way it is. If you know your behavior is viewed as being wrong, and you do it anyway… the results are all on you. You have made the choice to play the way you want, aware of the potential consequences. Don’t hate the game, yes, hate the player.
I will continue to believe that, whether WoW is a cooperative game of leisure among friends or a sport played by competitive cyberathletes, if you intentionally deceive other players so that you can get them to give you what you want, that’s poor character, and it’s poor sportsmanship.
I know in my guild, if someone asked to join and told me as the guild leader that they wanted to raid, loved to raid, and hoped to advance to a more progression focused guild, but would like to play with us while they gained experience, gear and skill cause they like palying for fun with friends along the way… I’d say it depends on the person, and if the person is a friendly person and treats other guild members with consideration and courtesy, then okay.
I CAN make that claim, and stick to it. Because I already have done just that, a long time ago, and he’s still in the guild on one of his non-raiding toons.
We have a member in our guild that has been in Sidhe Devils for well over a year. I won’t say his character names, but he’s a really great guy.
One of his characters is in Sidhe Devils, and he logs in once in a while, says hi, chats, hangs out a bit.
But he’s not on often, because he is a raider, and that’s where his focus in the game is. And 98% of the time, he’s in the hardcore raiding guild he’s a member of on my server, and he’s raiding.
If he ever decided to finish leveling the one character he still has in our guild, and started signing up for raids, so what? Sure, come have fun with us.
And if loots drops, I’d certainly not say, “Well, we’d better pass to someone else that might stay in the guild.”
In fact, I’ll go one further. If he came to me and told me, “Hey, I’d like to begin hardcore raiding with my other character, they’ve got a spot just waiting for him, can you help me get prepared because they don’t ever run the earlier content and expect me to be ready on my own”, I’m much more likely to start helping get him IN runs to gear him up, or even get runs started just for him.
Because it would please me no end to help a proven friend who has always been open and honest with me to have the opportunity to achieve their goals in the game, if I can.
Because he’s a friend first.
When someone does the same thing, but hides it? Conceals their intentions, runs stuff with the guild and pretends to be all about the friendship, but as soon as they’re main gets as geared up as they could possibly get from the content you’re running, they take off for a guild that raids harder content? Buh-bye?
Yeah, you call them a snake. Or an asshat.
It’s not what they did, it’s all about how they went about doing it, and what it says about them as a person.
I think the post on Tanking Tips is outstanding. It really made me think, made me look at how I view the game, the stereotypes and preconceptions I’ve fallen into without questioning it.
I think there are a lot of things to think about there. The very definition of a great post; one that causes you to stop and think about things in a completely different light.