Monday, January 12, 2009

Morons and slackers

I have a problem with some commenters calling other people "morons" on my blog. Normally, because using insulting language is against my Terms of Service, I would just delete the offending comment. But as in this case the comment is rather revealing of a typical attitude, I prefer to deal with it in a separate post. The attitude I'm talking about is some people believing that everybody who raids less well than they do is a "moron and slacker". Two particular examples given were somebody standing at a place where he shouldn't be standing in a raid encounter, and somebody doing significantly less damage than other dps classes. Are such people "morons and slackers"?

The term "slacker", while unnecessarily insulting, at least has some truth in it, if you use it in typical MMO lingo context. You just define a "slacker" as somebody who hasn't played "enough" with his character. Take any number of WoW characters, and plot them on a graph with the time /played at level 80 on the X axis and the dps done on the Y axis, and you'll get a cloud which definitely points upwards. There is a clear correlation between playing more with your character and doing more damage (or healing). Part of that is practice, I still learn new tricks with my priest, and part of it is gearing up. Only of course the definition of "enough" is completely arbitrary.

The term "moron" is just plain wrong. Do the same plot with people's IQ on the X axis and their dps on the Y axis, and you'll find no correlation at all. Very intelligent people can play a WoW character badly, especially if they haven't played that class very much. And very stupid people can be at the top of a damage meter, because frankly, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to push a few buttons in the right order. I've heard stories of 5-year olds outperforming their dads when playing with their characters. If you could deduct a person's intelligence from his damage output, then following that logic the person would become more intelligent if you gave him a bunch of epics. Ridiculous!

Things like "do not stand in the fire" is also something that comes with time, not intelligence. Nobody does for example Heigan perfectly on the first try, it just takes some practice. Some people are better at that sort of thing, having faster reaction time than others (I tend to be mediocre). But there is no correlation whatsoever between reaction time and IQ. It would be very easy to imagine somebody who is autistic being a very good WoW player, because focus is a lot more important than intelligence in raids. The only thing that does require some intelligence in a raid is figuring out how to kill a boss given his specific abilities. And nearly everybody just skips that part and looks up the strategy on the internet instead of bothering to try to figure it out.

People who feel the need to call somebody else a "moron", just because he is playing a video game less well, do have a problem. This behavior is indicative of deriving one's self-value from that video game. That is not healthy, especially not with games in which performance is linked to time played. Thus the "moron" will usually reply by calling the guy who plays better a "no-lifer" which isn't necessarily true either. Even worse, there are a lot of people who throw insults in both directions, people who play less are "morons", and people who play more are "no-lifers". Or as my favorite quote on that subject says: "Ever notice how anyone who plays more than you has no life? And anyone who plays less than you is not dedicated enough to deserve epics? It's amazing how you managed to hit that perfect balance."

Why can't we just accept that in a game like World of Warcraft there are people who play more, there are people who play better, and there are people who play less, or less well, without having to resort to being judgemental or insulting? In most cases playing less and less well is a personal choice somebody made, completely unrelated to his intelligence. Whether it is spending more time with family, or spending time in the game to level alts instead of improving the gear of your main, those are all valid choices. No player has the right to define his personal level of performance as being the one required to deserve epics. Most of the people throwing around insults of "morons and slackers" are not really the best possible players, and would be quite furious if Blizzard designed the entry level raids to be just too hard for them. So why should they be allowed to determine that anyone playing less well than they shouldn't be allowed in a raid?

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