Monday, November 30, 2009

Arthas is safe from me

Via Biobreak I found this this interesting blog post raging against elitism from the Screaming Monkeys blog. The author gets all excited about a comment on another blog, where some elitist players states his opinion that "casuals don’t deserve the same experience as people who devote more time and effort". I can understand where the anti-elitist rage of the casual player comes from, but I would say that what players "deserve" depends very much on your definition of what "same experience" is.

For example, in my case, I am nearly certain that Arthas is safe from me. I gave up raiding after having seen half of Ulduar, and never got any loot from there. As Ionomonkey writes: "Real life will dictate how much time I can give to WoW, not the other way around." That is true for me too, and an increase in real life workload meant raiding several nights a week until midnight became less and less feasible. Then I realized that I wasn't having all that much fun in the multiplayer "Simon says" gameplay of modern raiding, that raid healing was stressing me more than relaxing me, and that raiding mostly served to get the gear to allow more raiding. Nowadays I'm so far behind the curve, there is no chance for me to catch up, except by being carried by my guild mates, which is something that I want to avoid. So come patch 3.3, I will effectively be "excluded" from the raid part of Icecrown, and I will never participate in killing the Lich King. I will not have the "same experience" as the people who spent more time raiding. And you know what? That is okay with me! Because in reality I'm not excluded, I just opted out.

The big difference between Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade is that in early Burning Crusade casual players couldn't even START raiding. In WotLK the barrier to entry has been significantly lowered, low enough to allow the majority of players, even casual ones, to at least make some progress in the entry level raid dungeons like Naxxramas. And that is all I have ever been asking for. Patch 3.3 even promises cross-server LFG pickup raid functionality, which if it works would eliminate the need to join a raiding guild and stick to a fixed raiding schedule with them.

Of course if you absolutely don't want to group, or if you absolutely never have a consecutive block of a few hours available, you are "excluded" from raiding. But it is silly to blame WoW or elitists for that. Many activities in real life, e.g. a party, require getting a group of people together for some time. Demanding that you can kill Arthas while soloing in short blocks of time is just as silly as asking to be able to celebrate a party alone and in half an hour.

In summary, casual players deserve access to raid content, and Wrath of the Lich King provides that access with a reasonably low barrier to entry. That is not the "same experience" as doing hard modes or beating the hardest raid dungeon in the game. But there is actually nothing unique about the harder modes of gameplay, they are just further along on the same path of raid progress. As long as everybody can get *onto* that path of raid progress, everything is fine. And it is totally okay that how far everybody progresses on that path depends on the amount of time and effort he spends.

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