Wednesday, December 19, 2012

She's Becoming Gold

No vicious streak. Not Epic quality.

Bunnies. Not only are they cute, they're a sure-fire way of getting people to link to your posts *cough.* Warcraft have reinvented the bunny with Pandaria, and frankly I find the Hoplings really rather disturbing: they're vermin on several (not legal) substances. However, I'm not here to talk about the pest problem in the Valley of the Four Winds. I'm here to consider one specific Leporidae and the rather complex moral quandry it has created for me.

His is a mile wide, AND he's Purple!

This whole introspective exercise started innocently enough, with a conversation on Twitter with the estimable , who was lucky enough to snag the Darkmoon Rabbit at auction for a mere 20,000g (if you'd like to see what transpired, click here.). I've never seen this pet for anything less than 50k on my server (current one up's asking price is a cool 70k) so I think it is fair to say that amount represents a significant bargain. However, I'd not really considered the circumstances behind this pet's expensive status against the experiences I've gathered as a Battler. The rabbit itself isn't actually worth a purple nameplate to begin with in battling terms (ask Ratshag, he knows about such things) but it's rarity in capture does mean that the asking price is probably about right. You need 39 other people to even have a chance at rolling for one, after all. This however is not my issue: for that we need to go digging about on the Internets to define a term I remember from my O Level Economics lessons.

Opportunity cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the next best alternative forgone (that is not chosen). It is the sacrifice related to the second best choice available to someone, or group, who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices. The opportunity cost is also the "cost" (as a lost benefit) of the forgone products after making a choice. Opportunity cost is a key concept in economics, and has been described as expressing "the basic relationship between scarcity and choice".

In simple terms: is it worth spending 70,000 gold on a Rabbit, if it excludes me from spending that money on other pets (or indeed items) that I consider are just as important? It's not as if I consider the asking price as excessive to begin with, I should say: I do think, considering the amount of time per month the rabbit is 'live' put against what it takes to get one, those figures are justified. It is also important to consider that there are very few items in game you might consider spending such large sums of money on: the Vendor/Reforger Yak, for instance is probably to only other major purchase (away from the Black Market Auction House) Most importantly of all however, is the consideration that even without making a real effort to generate an income this Expansion, and with (pretty much exclusively) one character doing all the work, I've still made money.

However, I won't buy one, and I know that this has nothing to do with my in-game wealth.

I took my daughter Christmas shopping at the end of November, and spent the day looking in various shops for a dress that I could wear to a formal ball that I attended a few weeks back. The first outfit I found, I will admit, I fell in love with, right up to the moment when I looked at the price tag and grasped that to buy it would mean spending what equated to our weekly food shopping bill. When faced with such real life decisions there is absolutely no hesitation: the result will never justify the expense. I realise that my real life thinking has seeped into my gaming experience in that regard, but it isn't the only reason I won't part with the cash. There is also the part of me that resents the need to have anything that expensive to purchase to begin with, for the sake of having a complete collection.

This issue began with Murlocs, and the Blizzard Battle Bear, and Mini Tyrael: items from events I could not sensibly hope to attend, and price tags on items from said events which (again) are entirely justified but again will never realistically be within my reach. It's like being able to do Heroic Modes in current content, or camp the TLPD in the Storm Peaks: you make a conscious decision to place your own limits on what is reasonably acceptable behaviour, and you stick with it. Yes, there will be those who look and tell you your collection will never be complete, and that you're not a 'proper' collector as a result. There's a whole ball of complex psychological and social factors at play here, many of which seep through from the Real World without permission. In the end, it has to be about finding a situation that is comfortable for you and your expectations. I may have the money, but until in my heart I can adequately justify the expense, the Bunny is never being bought.

I find it interesting that a game can present such complex moral questions, and I think that perhaps designers should have a greater understanding that their actions can cause consequences far and beyond what they may have first considered when implementing ideas. In the end, however, my feelings are only one possible take, and there are ten million people playing this game. I'm sure my Server's Darkmoon Rabbit will finally sell, but I won't be the buyer. Whoever does part with the cash I hope will enjoy what they have, and will consider it money well spent.


Andy said...

This idea of having limits to your collection seems to me similar to the whole 'hardcore vs. casual raider' thing in that 1) it's not a binary, black and white issue at all, rather being a whole spectrum, and 2) there are measures of degree: at the high end, for raiding the currency is time, mostly, and for pet (or really any kind of) collecting it seems to be about money.

And according the goblins, the two are interchangeable ;-)

The Godmother said...

Yes, but there is more to it than just balancing one hand with another, or else I'd be permanently poor. I suspect the psychologists would have a field day with my behaviour in game... ^^

dobablo said...

Many moons ago I found myself in possession of a Crimson Deathcharger when the going AH price for my server was 40k (end of Wrath). It was one of my most desired in-game items, but I knew the gold would be much more useful. It I hadn't won it from a guild lottery from a completed Shadowmourne it would of gone straight onto AH. As it was I had a massive internal battle between the great commandments of "Thou shalt not Need items just for selling on the AH" Vs "No novelty item is worth more gold than you'll see all expansion."

What would you do if your guild killed the rabbit and you won the roll (over other collectors)? I flip-flopped both ways over the course of a month before deciding that I couldn't take it from my guild just to sell it or hold not use it. I wanted the mount too much to return it so using it became my only (highly irrational) option.