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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Metaphors For Life

No, you're not getting a second chance, or are you...?

Warcraft is a metaphor for Life, you know. :D

No really, it is. All human experience can be found within, the myriad of possibilities and outcomes, wrapped in a bunch of pixels and delivered to your desktop 24/7. Its got absolutely nothing to do with the actual game, of course. When you play with anyone else, there are inevitably moments when it stops being about which boss you're killing or the achievement you're chasing and it becomes all about the other people.

For example: I entered a Fall of Deathwing LFD this morning on my Horde Hunter. Bosses 1-3 ran very smoothly until we reached Deathwing, where it became apparent the Offtank wasn't aware of the boss mechanics. Three wipes later, and after an inordinate amount of bickering the (very impressive MT) deliberately instigated a wipe when the OT started the encounter in an attempt not to get kicked while we were two healers down. At the end of the first platform he asked everyone not to jump and (stunningly) at least half the raid complied. Much complaining and arguing followed, as we queued for replacements. One Warlock took it upon himself to check people's DPS gear as we waited, and discovered a Boomkin doing so with what was (very obviously) his healing set (it didn't take a genius to work it out). Some lively discussion ensued, the crux of which was simple: Blizzard lets him queue as a dps, and he can do that even in gear which is completely inappropriate for purpose. I suggested he might want to consider an alternative to LFR for gearing:


So, there you have it.

It's a beautifully simple response. Yes, we did kick him shortly afterwards.

I read this week a very interesting post from Kurn's Corner about how Blizzard could do more to adequately educate their player base on what is required from players. I think this is a prime example of how even the educated will act in an irresponsible manner if they think they can get away with it. Our 'healer' was very well geared, and clearly knew how to play that class, yet they wilfully decide to forgo all this as dps for the chance of some free upgrades? Of course they did, because in the 'metaphors for life' everyone's going to chance their arm now and again if it means they might get summat for (effectively) nothing. Those people who don't know squat about their class? Is it REALLY Blizzard's job to educate them so they are fit to play? Shouldn't it be that the players go and look for information themselves and learn about the game as they play, allowing their experience to further develop from their own exploration?

I see this argument a lot at present. This is an ongoing metaphor about education going on in schools across the UK. Substitute 'schools', 'government' and 'parents' into the above paragraph and suddenly we're in an entirely different sphere. It also matters a great deal more than a simple computer game, after all we're talking about children's futures here... yes, those same children who could well be playing this game, who see examples of people taking liberties in (seemingly) guilt-free situations. Suddenly these metaphors matter a lot more, especially to those of us who choose to play their games in the same way as we attempt to conduct their lives: with respect, responsibility and perseverance. Hang on, isn't that what the griefers and the idiots are doing too?

People like to apportion blame in game, and to know where responsibility lies, because... well, as in life, there are processes. Pointing the finger at someone else for a failure happens all the time. The wise and sensible will look at all the evidence before even considering judgement. Stubborn at Sheep the Diamond experienced the worst of human behaviour this week and I know from bitter experience that this kind of, for want of a better word, asshattery is alive and well and (sadly) not going anywhere. Like Stubborn, I find myself wanting answers to these people's increasingly inexplicable behaviour. I considered that it could be the age of people playing that was a contributing factor, and at what time of day people were running dungeons. From the brief field work I've conducted it could well be the case: play at times where you know the adult playerbase will be larger and things are less traumatic. Hence I ran an early morning LFR on my Priest and had literally no problems. As the day goes on and the possibility for 'younger' players increases... plus at weekends...

However, this is unfair. REALLY unfair, because age is not the sole reason for anyone to act in this fashion. The biggest ragequit we ever had in Guild came from a 50-summat guy who really should have known better (and left over a mace /roll he lost) and when I look back on what happened, it made a lot of sense. Certain personalities will cause trouble, regardless of where they are. When you stop looking at people as pixels and remember that behind the character is a real person, a lot of what happens simply acts as a metaphor for their real life personality. I am staggered even now at the number of people who don't consider this, that Warcraft really is just one huge social networking site when its all said and done. The only difference is, in most cases, these aren't people you would never willingly have on your Friends List, and as a result... anything could happen, and normally does.

There are a lot of arguments currently about what is wrong with the game. Blizzard are clearly at pains to ensure that when the new expansion is released, it returns to the experience a great deal of the enjoyment and fun that people feel has been lacking in Cataclysm. However, Blizzard can't change the players. It can try and make them happier, give them more things to do and increasing ways to gear and feel fulfilled. It has improved in beta the way knowledge about classes is communicated. It is giving lots of opportunities for people to 'learn to play' However if people choose not to take them, there is nothing anyone can do. If the game is a metaphor for life, sometimes it won't matter how good things are, some people just aren't happy unless they have something to complain about and a focus at which to direct their displeasure.

The only way that is ever going to change is completely out of Blizzard's hands.

[EDIT: Hello Druids, who point out to me that spirit works very well as hit for Boomkins. I am encouraged to see new people reading and responding, and so I add this postscript.

I have a Druid boomkin, so have some understanding of the mechanics at play. I also know I wouldn't play as DPS with a Maw of the Dragonlord or two healing trinkets, because there are better items out there (from LFG) which would maximise my potential in a raid. Mr Robot is my friend :D Needless to say, this then becomes an even better example of someone who knows how to play but hoped that the relative anonymity of LFR would allow him to capitalise on loot drops...]

11 comments:

TheGrumpyElf said...

While I agree blizzard can do a lot more to educate its players I do not think that address the whole problem.

Blizzard needs to be actively heavy handed on people like that. Those people do go get into any trouble for breaking the rules of how the game is intended to be played so they can do whatever they want with no worries.

If everyone in the group reported the person and the person received a one month ban for abusing the LFR system I am sure it would stop.

Blizzard needs to start telling people it is NOT okay to just hang out and get gear. If you are not going to play the game as it was intended then you will lose the privilege of playing certain parts of it.

And do not use the excuse that the blues do saying, maybe that is how they have fun. It is a horrible excuse. If how you have fun is by ruining the fun of 24 other people there is something seriously mentally wrong with you.

The Godmother said...

It would be I assume almost impossible with the current level of customer service to police the system like this. You then have to hope that enough people would take the time to report any miscreant, and frankly I doubt most would bother unless the complaint was particularly heinous. As it stands, this is the existing system anyway, and it does work, as my husband was involved with a particularly obnoxious individual who was banned for bad behaviour.

I would expect to see an LFR-specific complaint system debut at some point however, because I can see enough people complaining about the system to make it viable.

stubborn said...

I've been harping on it plenty recently, but some kind of tribunal system that involved respected players (those who had never gotten into any trouble) who had logged a particular amount of playtime (easily researched) could instigate special tribunals that would auto-flag particular incidents for quick review by a GM board. If you just look at the statistics presented here:
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/news/tribunal-records-16-million-votes
you can see how successful it's been. It puts efficacy directly in the hands of players, lessens the GM's workload, and helps reward and emphasize good behavior in the community.

Thanks for the link love!

Bristal said...

One thing folks could learn from this is is just to play nice. In life there will always be that guy who shows up to a raid in the wrong gear.

Expecting the government (or Blizzard) to fix your social problems sets a bad precedent. Someday, you may be the guy who seems deliberately unprepared to everyone else.

Essentially, this is a social problem. One of choice. Not a you're-infringing-on-my-rights problem.

It's a computer game that you have willfully agreed to play with 24 other random people. And now you want the company that your pay a measly 12 bucks a month for the right to play to sit next to you to be sure nobody irritates you or does it wrong?

I've seen lots of these kind of exchanges and so rarely does either side communicate appropriately. The goal is simply to get the first shot in without typos.

Fight your own battles. But if most of your battles boil down to "you're dumb, do it this way or I'm taking my tank and going home", you might not be choosing your battles wisely.

Rohan (not the blogging Rohan) said...

About the boomkin - his gear being "completely innappropriate for purpose" - I'm confused. If he'd been dpsing as feral in healer gear, I would understand the comment, but how is boomkin gear all that different from healer gear? I would have thought it was quite a reasonable thing to do - for both you stack INT, enchant with power torrent, etc. There are minor differences in the secondary stats (hit cap, which is generally spirit anyway, vs haste breakpoints), but that's about it. I'd think that, for example, an ilevel 390 healer set would be better for dpsing than an ilevel 380 dps set... Sounded to me like the warlock was just being a PITA...

stiubhart said...

Yeah, this confused me too. Generally, int, spirit, haste, and a dash of mastery and caster druids are good to go. Even with a healing set bonus, the gear should be pretty good for dps. (Remember spirit = hit for boomkin.)

Patrick said...

Yeah, I'm in the same boat of confusion. I've raided as a resto druid for all of DS with a boomkin OS when we only need 2 healers. I don't switch gear or reforge and I'm pretty competitive on the dps-front. We are now 4/8 HM in DS and I haven't felt I'm gimping the raid.

The Godmother said...

Okay guys, trust me when I say that the healing weapon and the two healing specific trinkets meant he wasn't doing his best.

'Pretty competitive' is all very well, but actually turning up in the right gear means getting stuff that isn't simply appropriate for the single spec. I certainly wouldn't raid as a boomkin in healing spec, but I do take my dps seriously.

Needless to say, his attitude needed some work ^^

stiubhart said...

I agree that the boomkin sounds like he had a bit of an attitude, but what about the warlock who "took it upon himself to check people's DPS gear as we waited" ? Was there a problem with the boomkin's dps? Was there a problem with his attitude before the warlock decided to start calling out who wasn't "doing it right?" If either of those is yes, then fine. But, I've seen people in full current-season conquest pvp gear get called out in dungeons by people they are out-dpsing because they aren't "doing it right." That's an attitude of its own.

The Godmother said...

Yes, the Lock was top of the meters. No, he wasn't rude, and yes he had a point, looking at my Recount.

If he had been rude or unpleasant, I wouldn't be telling the story. The point was the assumption by the well geared Druid that he could play dps as well as people actually kitted to do so, which he wasn't.

Perception, as they say, is everything.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you it's the player and not Blizz repsonsible... Blizzard is responsible for creating an environment where anti social behaviour is rewarded, "A..l" games flood unhindered the only server wide channel, and generally the social interaction is hindered. You can not freely chat in the /1 channels, the server wide /lfg is history .... but it's no problem that fresh lvl 1 characters get automated guild invites from guild just interested in getting bigger.

It's no surprise to me that in such an environment the "socially disinclined" prosper.

Rauxis, chosen of CAT