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The last refuges of elitism

As people, I think we’re prone to judgment of one another. I mean, think about it, we judge people all the time. In the supermarket, at school, at work, we’re prone to appraising our fellow man. It’s not always in the snouty, look down your nose, kind of way. If for nothing else, we do this to compare to ourselves. I wonder, should it seem so strange when this type of behavior comes up in games?

Since I started playing MMOs, people have always found ways to “rank” their fellow player. This behavior is expected, of course, when you’re out to tackle the hardest encounters the game has to offer. Yet, as I’ve gone from game to game this past year, I’ve come to feel a little differently about the whole idea of “judging” other players based on their gear and stats.

WoW, probably because it’s had the most time to develop, is horrible for the “you must have X stat or skill to join our group” mentality but I’ve seen it in Aion and LotRO as well. When it comes to raiding, I can see where this outlook might have its place; after all, we have encounters acting as “gear checks” for all intents and purposes. In that case, to not have X amount of stat Y can mean failure for everyone. In small-group content, however, the difficulty level is scaled down to the point of forgiveness. The developers know that the people running five and six mans are not at the same level as the cutting edge raider. Hell, the purpose of this content is to prepare for the harder stuff. Check the loot tables if you disagree.

But, some people forget that. Or, better yet, choose to ignore it.  I was playing on Aegwynn the other night and groups were actually threatening armory checks. Do people actually lie about their gear to get into a run? They must, but then I have to wonder what that means for honesty. Certain people will always want to be carried but I think but, more often than not, people just want a chance to show they know their class and have some fun with their fellow gamer.

I can say from personal experience though, some people just need to lighten up. My mage got turned down for a DPS spot in a heroic Violet Hold the other night. Nevermind the fact that I’ve run the instance probably two dozen times on Heroic Mode, I was told that my gear wasn’t good enough. I have all of three non-purple items. The question that made the final decision? How many achievement points do you have? I’ll check armory so don’t lie. No joke. Achievement points. Apparently, sometime between when I left and now, they started to matter.

Honestly, I think we’re getting to a place where it’s more about elitism than actually being able to complete the run. What I’ve come to find is that the people who demand the extra 2k DPS over 1.8, are the same people who still view themselves as the hardcore among us. They are the scrub callers and vent yellers. They are those who believe their way is the only way and view not caring about achievements as not knowing the game. It’s a little funny, really, that as raiding becomes more open, 5-mans become the new niche of the elite. The irony, of course, is that these same people reinforce that theirs is a dying breed with every player they turn away. As the threshold between “raider” and “player” narrows, so too does that place once occupied by only the most elite of players. Eventually, they will exclude themselves out of a game they once enjoyed due to their inability to adapt to the changed philosophy of the game world.

Save the cheerleader, save the world

Save the cheerleader, save the world

Of course, most of the above is specific to World of Warcraft, yet, I think we’ll see this trend of casual friendliness continue because that’s how the “big boys” have chosen to play. People will still judge each other and reject fully capable players from roles in their groups because that’s the nature of segregationist game design. Until everyone can have everything, players will enforce social constraints with more rigidity than any game designer. Thankfully, I also think the amount of open minded players will/is increasing as well. Casuals understand casuals and, honestly, we’re a lot more laid back than the elitists. Want a spot in our group? Ask, do your best, and be patient. We’ll do the same in kind and have some fun while we’re at it.

3 comments

  1. Maxivik

    I frequently like to shatter any elitist attitudes that develop in our guild. One of the largest problems we run into rests in our two 10 man raid teams. Over four years ago, we had a significant split in our guild which gave rise to two of the most long standing raid groups on the current server. The reason the original guild broke was due to elitist attitudes on our more “successful” raid team. The same attitude has developed again in our present guild. Our more successful raiders can’t bare to have any of “the other team” in our raids, because clearly they must be bad players.

    One interesting thing I have noticed that I would like to bring up for discussion is how this sentiment spreads. From what I have noticed, it started to spread from the higher ranked members of our “better” team. Once they developed this attitude, be it from many server firsts or other achievements, it eventually has spread to lower ranking members. Now, there is a situation where some people won’t raid at all with others. Why, as leaders of a group, do we encourage our teams to look down at others who aren’t as successful, or aren’t as far in progression. Do they really need to stroke their ego’s more by putting others down. Apparently successful raids aren’t enough for them.

    For some background information, I am currently an “officer” of our guild. One of the major issues we are dealing with isn’t the lack of progression, but of the attitudes of some of our best players. Our elite player base would rather do ten man runs then clear 25 man content (which we can easily do) simply because the other team clearly are all bads.

    This is a fundamental issue in the online community, more specifically in WoW. One of the more refreshing things though is like Chris said, more and more of the better players are breaking away and playing with casual players. Why? To be honest.. it is simply more fun.

  2. Crevex

    WoW is basically the lowest point in human civ. It has the worst community by far of any game out there, and the fact your surprised by this is puzzling. Your blog was actually really good until you started playing WoW again. There are a million WoW blogs already, no one cares.

    1. Chris

      Oh, I totally get that. The whole “Return to WoW” thing isn’t something I intend to focus on. There’s a whole slew of WoW blogs I pass up on myself because there are just too many of them out there. I resubbed to FE today, no worries! 🙂

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