Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Helping others

I was looking for blog on WoW economics, like the WoW Economist, and found a blog called Greedy Goblin. Some useful stuff, but unfortunately people who call themselves greedy goblins don't tend to have the most altruistic of dispositions. So posts like this one, explaining why you shouldn't help others in an online game kind of annoy me.

I regularly help guild mates. Just thinking back over the last few weeks, I've given away for free cut gems from the jewelcrafter and glyphs from my inscriber, I've helped guild groups do dungeons and group quests which I had already completed, and I ran a low level alt through Ragefire Chasm twice to get him geared up, to name just some examples.

One objective reason is that I think the greedy goblin is wrong when he says that helping weaker people weakens the guild, because it transfers resources from the efficient to the less efficient. Fact is that WoW is a game of diminishing returns, where at the level cap it becomes increasingly hard to advance your own character even by tiny amounts, while with the same effort you can advance a lower level character by huge amounts.

But I think the main reason is a subjective one. I do not consider virtual wealth and achievements to be real, but I do consider the people behind the avatars to be real. Many of the people in my guild I know for years now, and helping them to achieve their goals has nothing to do with min-maxing my or the guilds overall performance. It just feels good to help a friend. I play to make myself feel good, and if I achieve that goal by helping others, that works at least as well for me as having fun by advancing my own characters. I rather spend time helping somebody complete a quest he couldn't solo, than earning 10 virtual gold pieces and 500 points of reputation with some NPC faction in the same time from doing a daily quest.

I am in a good guild, "good guild" being defined as there being a lot of people who are willing to help each other, as opposed to being defined as the guild that kills some boss mob first on the server. I don't keep score whether I get more advantage out of help from my guild than I put effort into helping them, because that isn't what a guild is about for me. By helping others I contribute to an environment which is simply nicer, and more pleasant to spend my virtual life in. A bit of my time and some gold that isn't even real isn't too much to spend on that.

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