I think writing a guide about gaming etiquette in general would be fun to do, but I bet some folks wouldn’t get the tongue in cheek aspect of doing it.
The thing is, the game we play is both social AND competitive, and you don’t have to do both to enjoy the game.
You can, like myself, play the game purely for the social enjoyment of playing with friends as a cooperative team, choosing as our adversaries the NPCs controlled by the software AI. Our enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of playing together well and having fun as friends. Of tackling difficult challenges and beating them as a team. Even when playing solo, most of our fun comes from exploring, adventuring, and trying new challenges alone.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can choose to play against human opponents in PvP arenas, duels, world PvP battles, and battlegrounds, fighting to prove who is the best. You can work and dedicate yourself to being a fantastic player in one on one or large group wars waged against other living, breathing, scheming opponents that want to be just as tricky or evil as you.
And of course, you can enjoy the game in any of a million shades in-between.
So etiquette, a series of rules for what is or is not appropriate behavior in the game, is pretty much impossible to seriously tackle in my opinion.
One person’s idea of what the game is all about may be to have fun and play with other people in a friendly environment. Mature conversation, people helping each other, and in general a cooperative mutually supportive society. A group where everyone wants each other to win together, and enjoy success together.
Another person’s idea of what the game is about may be to prove that they are superior to you by beating you in some measurable way. Victory could be measured as completing more difficult achievements, winning duels, victory in battlegrounds, higher DPS in raids, more epics, Arena rankings, number of lifetime honorable kills, more gold earned in game, more level 80 characters, the list goes on and on. The point here is, the person is playing the game as a means of competing with, and trying to be better than, other living people… and that is also a totally valid point of view.
No, seriously, it really is a totally valid reason to play. There are official Arena tournament matches, the battlegrounds, the duel system, world PvP… clearly, Blizzard feels that competition amongst players against each other is a vital, essential part of the game.
Now, for the most part I feel that everyone should reasonably be expected to act in a polite and considerate fashion to other players. I’m not naive enough to expect that to ever happen, but hope springs eternal.
But when you take into account the competitive nature of so much of the game, you have to change your expectations of how people will act.
Competition in and of itself is perfectly fine, but here in the States at least, and maybe elsewhere too, there is a lot of stuff that shouldn’t be a part of competition, but is. For some people, winning is inextricably tied into forcing someone else to acknowledge they are a loser. To feel good about themselves, they believe they have to force someone else to feel bad. They want not a victory, but a victim.
In true competitive sports, you beat yourself into a frenzy to win. Maybe you even demonize your opponent; you don’t want to just beat him, you want to destroy him. But a true sportsman knows he is psyching himself up to unleash a ton of emotional power. At the end of the day, he or she doesn’t actually spit on the other players and want to gut them and eat the entrails. At least, not as a matter of course. At the moment, in the heat of battle, whether they really mean it or not isn’t really going to matter. The exultation over kicking your butt is what’s gonna come through.
Still and all, I’m afraid I’m gonna my opinion is that level of competitive spirit isn’t appropriate for WoW.
This is a video game, with a player base of all ages, and anyone you meet could be somebody else’s under 12 son or daughter, and treating other people like crap in this environment just isn’t appropriate.
A certain level of competitive spirit isn’t bad at all, among people who share that drive, that zeal, that passion. I’m not saying it’s bad, I think it’s awesome that there is so much for people to be drawn to in the game. I also think that most good raiding guilds are forged of people that have a drive to win, to succeed, to push the limits of themselves and each other and destroy the opposition.
No problem. Kick ass!
Most of that kind of interaction and any behavior surrounding it can be kept in guild, between people who share that desire to win, okay?
What I’m saying is that in a mixed group of strangers, in open General and Trade Chat, in pugged raids, in any group setting where you do not know the people you are playing with… treating other people like shit is wrong. Sneering at someone, mocking them, acting and talking in a way to try and make them feel bad about themselves or their accomplishments is crappy.
If you are driven to be number one, thats fine. But a real athlete doesn’t pit himself against everyone that comes along and calls it a reasonable fight. You need to find someone else that also thinks they’re number one, and duke it out in order to have a true competition.
If you are number one DPS, and nobody else in the group is striving for that goal, if they’re just trying to each do their part of the team effort… you are working towards a meaningless victory. Maybe on that Maexxna fight you’re so proud of, if that other Hunter had been doing nothing but pounding on the boss instead of cutting webbed people off the wall, he’d of smoked you. Or maybe not. He wasn’t trying, so who knows?
But he cut people off the wall, they got back into the fight fast, the group as a whole worked together, and the boss died. You had number one DPS on the boss. Grats… but you were competing in the wrong race, and some of the others are likely to be wondering whats up when you post your Damage Meters and start gloating over your score while they are all basking in the success of the group.
Compete, yes. Just make sure you’re in the same race as the others.
Competition is great. I’m really not trying to put down raiding guilds fighting for server firsts, or PvPers kicking some serious butt. I’m pointing out that putting people down, trying to hurt someone else’s feelings or belittle what they’ve done and how they choose to play the game may be appropriate if that is why you play the game… but only amongst other people you know are playing the game for the same reason as you. And the best way to ensure that is to keep it in guild or between folks on your friends list.
I started by saying this game has both a social and a competitive side.
For me, specifically, what I enjoy in the game is the social aspect of playing with friends as a team.
Since that’s what I enjoy in the game, it stands to reason that the people I want to play with in the game are those that share my love for the social game, and share my values and sense of what is or is not appropriate behavior.
I’m going to share my beliefs on what is appropriate behavior. That is, appropriate behavior if you play the game NOT as a competition, but as a way of sharing adventures and fun with people you care about.
I invite you to share your own thoughts on this, on what you do think is fine in the game, and what you think isn’t. Maybe share your pet peeve… or the thing you think other people make a big deal of that isn’t anything at all to get worked up over.
Okay, my opinions on what the heck is appropriate.
First, the golden rule that most of us learned in kindergarten. Act towards others as you would like them to act towards you.
That’s a fine foundation to start from, but to me, that really means; “Act towards others as you believe they would LIKE to be treated, so as not to hurt their feelings or offend them, because you do not want other people to hurt YOUR feelings or offend YOU.”
It’s not quite the same thing. If you like being whipped and beaten and made to play the submissive… do you really think you should treat everyone else as if they do too? Hopefully not, but considering my audience, I’m not placing bets.
I’ll go a little farther. If you respect someone, if you care how the other person feels, then you should not want to act in a way that you know or believe would hurt them or their feelings.
That works both ways. You don’t want people acting towards you in a way that shows they are intentionally trying to hurt you or damage you. Not because you actually were or were not hurt by them, but because it shows that they don’t care enough about you as a person to make any effort towards behaving with politeness or consideration.
In the game, just as in life, I try to act how I think is appropriate by my own standards and values… and if I encounter people in the game that I feel act in an inconsiderate or hurtful way towards others, I choose not to associate with them again.
I do my best not to swear in public or amongst strangers. Friends and guild members that have gotten a chance to know me, and who know that I would not intentionally offend someone, will inevitably hear swearing in vent, especially if Prince Arthas decides he wants to go charging 150 yards ahead of the group and kill us all… but I don’t talk that way in front of anyone that might misconstrue what I’m saying or how I’m saying it as a personal insult towards anyone. BTW I want to boot Arthas from the group, that freaking noob.
I try to treat everyone that I meet with courtesy and consideration. That includes joking around. If I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, then there is no way they could be expected to know if what I say, no matter what my intent, is meant as a joke or as a serious comment. Sometimes I’m better at this one than others.
I try and share or offer my help if I see a situation where someone else might need a hand. The nature of the game that I enjoy is to be social and friendly, and share fun times. If it looks like someone needs help, AND if I have the time at the moment, then it’s the right thing to do to offer to help. Maybe they are attempting to overcome impossible odds and don’t want help. That’s fine. But if they are trying hard to do something, and encountering serious difficulty… then why not lend a hand?
I try not to discriminate towards others based on gear, class, or level where the content makes it possible. If I’m doing a Heroic, I’ll have to only go with level 80s, but I won’t pass over a player due to their gear or spec or class. If we have a tank and a healer, and some DPS, then we’re good to give something a shot. One kinda group may take longer than another to clear an area, and we may even run into a problem we simply can’t get past. But I’m not going to worry about it until we hit that point, and if we do get stuck… sure it can be disappointing, but all I personally really care about is that we try our best and we work together and have fun.
Sometimes I will, as a guild leader and raid leader, set minimum standards for something like a ten man raid, say a minimum Spellpower or DPS. When I do that, it’s never to put roadblocks up, but instead to try and give people a goal to aim for when preparing themselves. I can’t remember the last time I actually told someone they weren’t okay to give a raid a shot… it’s just good to have an idea of what to aim for. I try hard to encourage people in the guild to work hard on their own gear before they run a raid… because it does show that they care about trying to do the best they can as part of the group, and show respect and consideration for all the other folks that have worked hard to be the best they could be. But in the end, I mostly drag undergeared folks into raids who are afraid they aren’t geared up enough first. I almost never have to tell someone they’re not ready yet.
I do not judge others based on Damage Meters. Damage Meters are fine tools, but very few people seem to understand how to use them. You can set them to show many different things, such as the overall total damage done on a raid. That’s great, except that the information is always presented as a comparison to others on the run. Well, if you are looking at overall damage done… those that do AoE damage on large groups of trash mobs will make a much higher showing than someone that specializes in single target sustained DPS. You need to take that into account. You can also show damage done for a particular boss kill, just one fight on one target… but then that doesn’t take into account the DPS that were dividing their time killing trash spawns to keep them off the healers while the rest of the raid was fighting the boss. Damage Meters are subjective tools that need to be understood properly to provide a benefit, and really do little for me when I’m raid leading. I do not judge based on them. Instead, I try and pay attention to the flow of the game, who is doing what, and whether or not what needs to be done IS getting done, and how smoothly. I don’t rely on a Damage Meter to tell me how other people are playing their character.
I do not judge others based on arbitrary stats such as Spell Power, Crit Rating, Stamina, Attack Power, or hair color of toon. To me, it’s not the stats or the numbers, but how well you play with what you have, and how much fun you are to play with.
And finally, when I say that I will be somewhere to help someone do something or be part of a raid, I always try to be earlier than the scheduled time. When you’ve got a bunch of people all getting together, I am well aware that some of those folks have families, children, pets, work, hobbies, commitments… and they have to put these things on hold for a little while, take time out of their lives, all to be there together for fun. To be late, to make them all wait and wait… it is to me the ultimate example of being rude. It says you really don’t care about the rest of the group, it’s fine if they wait on you. No worries about what they could have been doing during that time they spent sitting and waiting. I really, really try hard never to leave someone waiting on me.
I do not expect anyone else to share any of my values or act according to my personal standards. People are perfectly free to behave in exactly the way they choose to behave. I’m not a WoW nazi bitching every time someone does something that I don’t approve of.
However, I DO choose to only spend my time in game with people who have shown by their actions that how they treat other people, how they act around other people, is similar to what I’ve described. People that are just… friendly. Polite. Kind and considerate to others.
That power, the power to choose WHO I spend my time with, IS under my control.
I will say a few words about how the blog fits in here, because it’s come up a few times.
I do not expect anyone to ever change to suit me. Never. If I encounter someone that is, in my personal opinion, rude or doesn’t show consideration for other players as people, then I put them on ignore, and I do not group with them again. Doesn’t exactly hurt anyone, now does it?
Sometimes, if it’s something that I think is a little over the top, I’ll come back here and talk about it.
The reason is not to publicly shame someone into acting a different way, despite what folks might think. I have called people out as an asshat before, but if you think I ever expect anyone to change their behavior from that, you’re crazy. I know nobody really cares what some fool writes on a blog. It’s all cool.
I share stuff here, on my blog, because the only people I am speaking with are people who share in some way my values, understand where I’m coming from with how I see things even if they don’t agree, and are themselves quite likely to be amazed or amused by the things people will do or say to other people in game.
“But BBB,” I hear you say, “How can you be sure that’s who you’re chatting with?”
It’s simple. If you’re the kind of person that enjoys being rude to me or to others, inconsiderate, inflammatory, abusive… I’m not writing my posts for you.
I’m writing for the people who can discuss their opinions, whether for or vehemently against, without being rude or inconsiderate of others. For people that are just playing a game and having fun, and like to chat about it or read about it when they aren’t actually playing it. And for people that can tell the difference between being nice to others, and being a dick.
If being polite or considerate when you express your point of view seems too difficult… either here or in the game… well, the problems not on my end. Your transmission is coming through loud and clear, five by five. Go find another channel.
The rest of you are my wittle wabbits, and I will wuv you and squeeze you and call you George.
Ah… the definition of a fictitious reality. I tune out what I don’t like, and pretend only the good exists, both here and in the game. lalalala I can’t HEAR you, my head is in the sand….
There. Now that I’ve said all that, gotten it all out of my system once and for all… I never have to mention any of it ever, ever again. Yay!