I am a bad player, and I *am* proud of it.
It’s certainly been talked about before over the years, but damn, what a great subject to chew on! That’s one that really gets the juices flowing, know whut I mean?
No matter what you do in game, if you play in group settings, you’ve got an opinion on this one.
I’m going to present mine, because that’s the only one I know that comes from the heart. BUT! I can easily see there being several different, equally valid viewpoints available, because there is no one set goal in World of Warcraft. Not everyone is in it for the same reason; as in, not everyone is focused on clearing the end game content firstest and fastest, or focused on completing every 5 man in heroic mode, or in completing a boss fight with zero deaths, or always using the pretty green fire, or beating content on hard modes, or playing with complete stoic professionalism get in get done get gone, or to romp through the game with a relaxed, friendly joking atmosphere, or beating the snot out of bosses with all of one particular class. Or ‘whatever floats your boat, honey’, to quote Flashback.
For each player, the goal of the game is personal to them, and with a game so vast in content, of course it’s going to vary from person to person. Therein lies the fun of the discussion, for when you get two people who disagree on a topic, if they don’t go into a discussion with open minds, they’re liable to assume that ONE of them just HAS to be wrong instead of thinking about it from the other person’s point of view.
I guess what I’m saying with that preamble is, I anticipate much anger and chest beating about this subject, and I honestly won’t mind.
What’s the core issue up for discussion?
“Is it okay to play below your potential when grouped?”
That’s the core issue. Right? We talk about this subject, and around this, endlessly.
But is that really the core issue here?
There is another underlying issue at work here too, because this wouldn’t be as big a topic as it is if some folks didn’t feel they had a right to answer this question FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
The real topic is, “Is it okay for other people to play below their potential when grouped?”
People don’t treat this as a personal decision to make up their own mind about. Instead, people take a stand on this, make up their minds about what standard of behavior everyone else should follow, and then act as though everyone else should agree about it and be held accountable to that standard.
That’s where I’m going first with this post. That’s the meat of what I’m going to talk about, and I’m going straight to the part of this that causes drama. Taking other people’s inventory.
Every time we talk about a bad pug, we’re doing this. “Oh, this one player, he was so bad, he did blah blah blah”… “Oh, I joined this one group, and the tank had prioritized blank stat over blank…” Oh, how horribad.
We group up, and we take other people’s inventory. We check them out and hold them up to what our own personal standard is, and if they don’t measure up, we ain’t happy.
I’m going to come right out and say it, I do this all the time, I judge the performance of other people, I judge how people act towards others, how they behave, how they spend their time (as in, is the dude actually going to HEAL at some point, or just bitch about the crappy DPS?), I’m sitting right there and you betcha red ryder, I’m watching you.
Most of the time, and this may surprise you, what I’m watching and noticing are the things people do that are good. I don’t like dwelling on the negaitve, I am always looking for things that are praiseworthy, that would make for a good ‘This person kicked ass” mention.
Still and all, if there are problems or wipes or terrible behavior towards others, absolutely damn straight, I’m noticing and probably getting irritated.
What I’m not going to do is act the assclown to you based on your class, spec or gear. Nor will I ever mention your rotation to you. Ever. Behavior issues WILL get me all riled up, but even then, it takes a lot for me to say something to you.
Let’s put behavior aside, though. Let’s just talk about specs, gear, classes and rotations. There is a big difference in thinking “This healer isn’t really geared up enough for this”, and saying in party chat or whisper or any other way, “Hey, I don’t think you’re ready to heal this content yet.”
I don’t pull that crap, for two reasons. First and foremost, it is not my place to tell someone else how to play their character. It is not my place, I do not have the right, moral or otherwise, to tell anyone else what to do, unless it is my specific job as agreed upon by the group.
If I’m the raid leader for a group, and it’s part of my responsibility to ensure that everyone in the raid group is properly prepared, then sure, I’m going to be making observations and asking questions if, in my opinion, I think things could be improved. Notice I’m not saying I’d dictate changes that needed to be made. I’m saying that if I saw things that looked like they could be improved, I’d ask the player for their opinion on the subject, and work it out. Maybe they’re going with some new spec or focus of stat and rotation they researched that might show improvement on a boss fight.
If five strangers meet in an LFD pug to do an instance, ain’t nobody got the right to tell someone else how to play. Here’s why;
The phrase ‘taking their inventory” originally came from Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 step program. Step 4 of the process is to Take a Moral Inventory of Ourself.
Step Four is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. We are searching for “causes and conditions.”
We want to uncover the truth about ourselves. We want to discover the attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, fears, actions, behaviors, and the behavior patterns – that have been blocking us, causing us problems and causing our failure.
We want to learn the exact nature of our “character defects” and what causes us to do the unacceptable things we do – so that once they are removed – we can acquire and live with new attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, actions and behaviors for our highest good, and for the highest good of those with whom we come in contact.
From this concept of taking a moral inventory of ourselves to identify our own hidden defects and try to find ways to improve came the language of taking someone else’s inventory FOR them; of judging someone else, making assumptions about that person, identifying what we think of as their defects in character and behavior, and then deciding what we thing they should do to fix it.
One of the things that experience has taught people in AA is that you can’t make those decisions for someone else. No matter how much smarter you think you are, unless three conditions are met, any suggestions (or judging) you make for them will serve little useful purpose.
Those three conditions are; they have to need your advice, they have to want your advice, AND they have to ask for your advice. If one of those is missing, you’re not going to be helping them, you’re just fulfilling some need of your own to make yourself feel better by speaking or acting out towards someone else. You’re dumping your unwanted and unasked for opinion on someone else. As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, and yours stinks.
The very first condition is, they have to need your advice. You’re already making one walloping hell of an assumption by thinking they need YOUR advice to fix their problems. If you can’t see that, then hey, you probably never read this far.
So… before you blurt out in party chat exactly what you think of someone else, hows about you look at yourself first, and ask yourself, “what do I really need to say to them, and what purpose will really be served here by saying it?”
Let’s change it up and flip it over the other way.
Taking other people’s inventory. It’s a great phrase for our game, isn’t it?
What else do you call it when some stranger you just met in a group begins to tell you how your spec needs to be changed, what gear you need to replace, what stats you’ve prioritized wrong and what part of your rotation is messed up? That your healing is crap, you can’t tank, you need more health, you’re not moving right, stop acting like a noob, etc etc.
How does that make you feel? Even if it isn’t directed at you, how do you feel when one person begins telling someone else how they should play their character or perform their role in the group?
If someone starts talking to you like that, does your mind open up, willing and eager to learn from the pearls of wisdom that this idiot is sharing with you?
I know I don’t. I tend to think he’s acting like a self-important little asshat instead of focusing on playing his own character the best he (or she) can. And I put him on ignore or just tune the idiot out, and focus on carrying him since he can’t be bothered to pay attention to his own actions. Judging my actions (or someone else’s) is more important to him than playing.
Is it true? No way to tell, because even if the person really DOES think there is a problem they could help with, their approach was confrontational and only served to piss people off.
Again, sure, we judge other people in game and in life, that’s part of who we are. I’m not suggesting we all be perfect little saints and stop making decisions based on our opinions of the people we meet in game, or to stop following our gut feelings.
What I *am* suggesting is that the actions we make be directed NOT at yelling at other people, but instead be directed at changing ourselves to take us OUT of a bad situation we don’t want to be in. Don’t waste your time and energy directing your anger or annoyance at someone else to try and make *them* change.
Okay, so what if you’re a naturally helpful person? A mentor, a coach.
Then ask yourself what you’re really trying to do. If you really are trying to provide guidance and support, to mentor someone through what seems to be difficult at the moment, then the first thing is to not be confrontational. If the other person really is trying their hardest to do the best they can, then chances are good they know they’re not playing as well as they could be. Your yelling at them for it will just put them on the defensive and close them down.
Instead, try and be open and helpful. Compassionate and friendly. Warm and genuinely trying to help as a guide, not as a dictator.
You can ask, gently and with great courtesy, in a whisper, if the other person is familiar with the next fight, boss, battle or instance. You can ask if someone has been playing their class for a long time, or has done much research on their current spec or gear. IF the person seems receptive to suggestions, then and only then, after mentioning, again in non-bragging, non-epeen waving fashion, that you have some experience with the content/spec/gear in question and would be willing to help, you could offer to share some pointers.
All of this conversation, by the way should be by whisper ONLY. There is no need to make this a “everybody else just chime in to tell him what to do” situation. By approaching it privately, and making sure the person understands you are offering some suggestions if and only if they are welcome, then you can feel your way towards seeing if the person IS needing advice, looking for advice, and if offered, will ask for it.
They may need advice, and want advice, but just not from you. People can be very proud, and what good does it serve to get somebody all riled up if they don’t want to be told what to do? If you have them thinking in the direction of support or advice, they might not want it from you as a complete stranger, but they might be open to being directed to where a few awesome resources are for their class, such as Tree Bark Jacket for Restoration Druids, or Warcraft Hunter’s Union for Hunters. You can point them in the direction of brilliant tips and guidance and feel good about having helped. When in doubt, directing someone to Elitist Jerks is always in style.
The important thing is, if you really want to be a helpful person in groups and help out those that might seem inexperienced or new to a class/spec/role, take away the suggestion or insinuation that they are a bad player, and turn it into a discussion about suggestions for dealing with this one unfamiliar situation.
How many people, good friends, do you know that are like unto a living god at their normal ‘main’, but have taken to trying new classes or specs lately? How would you feel if you saw them playing their new and unfamiliar character in a group, and got ripped a new one and called a ‘worthless noob wrath baby’ because they didn’t do something someone else expected as they try and master their strange group situation?
It’d probably piss you off a little, wouldn’t it? Here’s the best damn Warlock you’ve ever known, and this monkey-muncher just went off on him for no good reason. So what if it’s taking him 3 extra seconds to get his Rogue turned around and facing the right way behind the mob the tank is attacking… dude’s not used to running into the damn fight from the back is all, it takes a bit to get that down. You don’t exactly get to practise running around behind a mob much when you’re soloing.
If you are at your most gentle and circumspect, and you try and whisper the offer of a little help and the person gets defensive or hostile, that’s the point where you drop it. You drop it and you be courteous when you do so.
If someone else is not open to your suggestions or ideas, then it’s on you to take action for yourself if you feel you have to, and not to try and force change on them.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the behavior of other players on this blog over the years. I talk about crap I’ve seen, things that have annoyed me, and people I’ve just wanted to smack the crap out of. In a lot of cases, it’s my firm belief that beating all the crap out of them would be an all day job, and I’d have to make sure to both pack a lunch AND dinner to get it all beat out.
The big thing here is, it is incredibly rare for me to take out my annoyance in game on other people. Eve if the person is just having the most offensive behavior, how do I know what that person is going through? How do I know if maybe they had a rip roaring big breakup fight with their significant other, got canned at work, or are half drunk and really starting to build up a rage on.
It’s not right that they take that crap out on me… but I don’t need to be the one to take them down. I can just put them on ignore, and move on with my life.
My point is, trying to be helpful to others is great if you’re doing it to be a mentor or be compassionate because you remember what it’s like to be new. It’s something else entirely to tee off on someone else for gearing, speccing or playing in a way you don’t like.
If you are in a group that has players having trouble, then you need to take a look at yourself. If you can deal with whatever it is with a song in your heart and a smile on your lips, then go get ‘er done. Have fun. It may not be the greatest run in the world, but heck, they’re not all going to be the greatest run ever. Some of them will be merely good. And yes, some of them will downright suck.
But if you are getting way stressed out about the situation, don’t assume you have to try and change the other person… do something about the one thing you DO have power over – yourself. Leave the group. Leave, or try to vote kick the person if it’s their behavior you just can’t tolerate. Vote kicking someone else because you don’t like their spec or gear is bullshit. If someone else is being a tool, though, sure, vote kick the sorry bastard. If enough other people agree with you, then cool. If they don’t… again, move yourself out of the situation. Beat feet. Boogie on out of there.
I’m sure this whole post has been preachy as hell, but it’s something that I wanted to make sure I say, nice and loud and clear. This is truly how I feel about calling strangers out and chastising them for what you perceive are their problems in performance.
Now, about the real core point, from way back in the beginning…
“Is it okay to play below your potential when grouped?”
My answer to that question is, “Hell yes!”
With the goals I have in game, of course it is.
I don’t play World of Warcraft with the goal of playing as the most optimized possible character in the game.
I do not read Elitist Jerks to lock in what spec I should use, what rotation I should use, what stats to prioritize or what gear to hunt.
I *DO* read Elitist Jerks and other bloggers to gain guidance, suggestions and insight into what works, what doesn’t work, and to find out what research and experience have to say about whichever class or spec I’m interested in.
I reserve the right to deviate from the ‘optimum’ spec, rotation, stat or gear based on my one priority; is it fun to play?
That’s my goal in the game. To have fun playing.
On my Hunter, I do not study the recommendations and research to make my choice on spec based on highest potential DPS. Instead, I start with the baseline; I want to play as a Beastmaster, because I like my Exotic pets.
After I have made that decision, THEN I check out specifics on how to gear for the best advantage, what stats to reforge into or out of, what abilities within Beastmaster do whatsit, and to find suggestions for doing my best in groups or solo, all that jazz.
I start with what I feel will be the most fun style to play, and work from there.
Maybe that’s not what you think that question is about, but I’m telling you, yes it is.
The underlying principle behind that question is, with a way to measure performance, be it as DPS, Heals or Tank, those classes that can perform those roles have potentials they can reach. If it is that important for you to be at your highest possible potential, then the differences between playing a specific rotation, a specific spec or a specific class based on potential performance are different from each other only by degrees.
“Oh”, you say, “But I only mean you should have to play your most optimized rotation, not that you have to play a specific spec within a class”, and I say to you, at it’s heart, it’s all the same thing.
“Oh”, you say, “I’d never tell someone what class they have to play based on which one does the most DPS”, and to that I say, it’s all the same thing.
Now, that’s the direction I’m coming from. My goal is fun in playstyle first, and then within that, to play the best I can.
For other folks, just as an example, the goal may be the fast, certain destruction of content with the greatest ease possible for the group as a whole.
With that goal in mind, you could approach the discussion by saying, “If everyone isn’t playing at their very best, then someone is having to carry someone else.”
I’ve written blog posts about this before. I agree with that sentiment, to a certain extent. I feel that players that are grouping together have a personal responsibility to do the best they can to be ready on time to run with the group, to be prepared with whatever consumables they may need (or to have made arrangements with friends to bring them), to be ready to play their best and to kick ass. To pay attention, and to be focused on the success of the group.
I strongly feel that if you agree to play as part of a group, to do any less than this is to show a lack of repsect for the other people in your group.
But my personal goal is to have fun, and within that goal, I reserve the right to choose my own class, to choose my own preferred spec, to perform my own research, and to deviate from what is considered ‘optimal’ if I think it’ll be fun and not hurt anyone else.
Other people who are organizing said raids can reserve the right to tell me, “We don’t need or want you in our group unless you bring the blue sparks”, and I’ll have no hard feelings.
From the raiding success point of view, I completely agree that if someone isn’t doing the best they can, then the group as a whole will have to work a little harder to compensate in order to reach the same point.
However… from that same point of view, taken to the logical extreme, if Frost Mages do the most potential damage, then all raiders should be Frost Mages. Or Moonkin Druids, or Fury Warriors, or whatever is considered, through research and experience, to be the one class and spec that has the greatest potential damage of all of them.
If a group is not willing to go to that length, then there is already a tacit understanding that raiding success and individual fun are meeting somewhere in the middle. So maybe both sides could agree to chill out and find that common ground?
Heck, some groups may even be so devoted to the speedy, efficient destruction of content, the completion of world firsts and Hard Mode obliteration, that specifying what class to bring on top of spec and rotation and gear are considered perfectly normal.
I’ve got no problem with that… at that level, everybody knows what they’re getting into. But do those same players remember when they get into a five man random that not everybody else is quite that… well, extremely gung ho? I hope so. I surely do.
If I queue in a Heroic 5 man LFD, I certainly don’t expect to get ripped because I’m a Beastmaster Hunter, or a Kitty Druid, or a Frost Mage, or any other combination of class and spec. But yes, it’s happened.
If I happen to LIKE being a Warlock and finally having me some green fire? Yeah, I reserve the right to bring that green fire. To bring it, and to use it to light bosses up right on the ass. In five man content, and as a solo player.
I choose to play what I find to be the most fun. I will do all the research I can to be the best I can be within that framework, but the fun WILL come first.
It may not be optimal, it may not be the greatest potential way to play my class effectively and efficiently.
But it will be FUN!
Yep… I’m a bad player, and I’m proud of it!