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.

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