Saturday, January 18, 2014

Memories are Made of This

This is my GollyRocket :D

However much you play this game, it inevitably ends up about the people.

I read Big Bear Butt's Post on his Rocket and couldn't help but smile. My Rocket was bought by Rob, my ex-Guildie who departed before Christmas, with the gold he left me from his race to Gold Cap As Bear points out at the end of his post, you'll forget the details of the Expansions over time, but you never forget the names of the people who touched you, and it's true. My life in game has been populated by individuals, names that stay with me even after all these years. Not all of them are great, either, in fact some of them are testaments to what I've tried to avoid becoming during my online life. I've mentioned a few of them in my Blogging career: the priest that taught me to understand what mobs did the most damage and how to deal with them. The Ex-Guildie who tried to con people into doing what she needed, who became my personal nemesis when she got thrown out of the Guild. The Ex-Guild Tank who didn't want to be anything other than the best on the Server and now is in fact just that with the #1 10 Man Progression Group... oh and the irate Guildie and his wife who accused me of having a mental disorder when I left him out of 10 man ICC group.

Ah, good times.

The point to this however is simple: often it doesn't matter about what you're doing, but who's there to remember it with. The shared experience is something many of us return to as key moments in our lives: sporting, musical, family memories are often built around these crucial events... and become part of your collective unconsciousness with those you shared them with. Hence you don't remember the boss names in encounters, you refer to them by the collective names you use in a raid team to abuse them when they refuse to die. It's not often about the first time you clear an Instance completely, it's more around the problematic mechanic you couldn't grasp and now think is simple. It is also grasping that 'winning' in Warcraft isn't really as simple as many people might have you believe: there is no Route One to success, and it really doesn't matter if you're first or last to the table in either level or approach to a particular Instance. The real key to 'getting' Warcraft has very little to do with the mechanics and a great deal more to do with the reasoning. Everything has a purpose, including making you play with other people. In fact, doing this alone is becoming more and more of a disadvantage.

Yeah, I know that's rich coming from me, especially after the week I've had levelling deliberately out of instances and without the need for other people, but there is a point to all this. The only real way to counter anti-social behaviour isn't to remove the need for interaction, its to encourage it. However, that's very easy to say, but somewhat harder to enforce...

Many things to kill alone.

One might well argue that with each Expansion that passes by, it becomes easier to lose yourself in the game and not play with anyone else. As content is trivialised the desire to solo things and prove yourself mistress of what was previously a stretch for 5/10/20/40 people gives the individual a sense of power she wouldn't normally possess in current content, and that's all well and good, but it doesn't teach you how to do your job (and so we're back to the posts of the last few weeks.) Giving people's 90's without understanding of their current situation (how to buy things, where to go for quests, what rules have changed) also carries risks, but if we work on the assumption that most people will go and learn if they want to... well, that becomes less of an issue. What remains is the mechanics of social interaction, and the basic tenets of respect and care that you'd expect if you were in the Real World. For many people, those things simply don't factor into game-play, mostly because they don't see the WE in gaming, they simply consider the ME. I can give you a perfect example of this from yesterday.

Interest is relative. Your server may vary.

Building respect in the Community may be the single best way to deal with the multitude of current sins that seem to plague the player base. The fact that any one person feels they 'own' a Guild is, at least for me, a pretty damning embodiment of how the single player mentality is really destructive in a social situation such as Warcraft presents. A lot of trust is placed in the people that run Guilds, and it is so often destroyed by individuals like this who believe their name affords them rights over everyone else, that you can just buy and sell people like this with absolutely no consequences. Blizzard have tried mentoring programmes but I feel that there really should be more significance and consequence laid at the door of people who trade Guild values like this, and that the notion of a Guild's 'value' should be redefined. I'm concerned at how little we've heard about possible Guild changes or improvements for Warlords. I really hope that's simply an oversight on the part of the Devs.

I'd like to think that the memories of Warlords with my Guild will be as good as every expansion that has preceded it, and that has a massive amount to do with the people I play with, and a lot less to do with the actual content. However, not everyone's lucky enough to be with the same group they started their Warcraft journeys with. Maybe it's time to start promoting friendship and understanding as reasons to play ahead of free L90's and fabulous raid content... and to ask people to stop playing alone. I know I need to spend more time doing just that, even if the temptation sometimes is to do the exact opposite. I know the benefits and the pitfalls. Sometimes, moving out of your comfort zone is the only way to make progress.


Matty said...

I think sometimes it's not so much asking people not to play alone, but addressing why they do, why instances such as LFR, etc., feel so angry and upsetting, that folks simply do not want to feel forced to spend time with other angry people. I'm not telling you anything you don't know and haven't said -- I just love when doors are open to all, and no one is left out of content because of a few bad apples. For the most part, I think Blizzard has begun to do a good job with this. Just like having a cocktail party where you can't force everyone to mingle, you have the event, and then allow people to make up their own minds.

Erinys said...

It's a tricky one but I know if I "needed" other people for every aspect of the game, I would quit. Not because I'm an anti social monster but because my anxieties often make social interactions exceedingly hard for me. People asking me for help is one thing, but I've never really got the hang of being able to do it the other way around. I can't do LFR, I can only do 5 mans when I massively out gear the instance and even silly things like raiding with people I know aren't going to turn around and say "btw you suck" is virtually impossible at the moment. Obviously you could argue then I shouldn't be playing multi player games and perhaps that's right but I think there is a fine line between encouraging people to play together and shutting those who lack self esteem and self confidence out entirely.