Thursday, September 11, 2014

4.6. Alignment or Death

Sir Klocker displays his Tabard of the Lightbringer, while
Neps and Ben (Aeden) stare into the light,
Dalaran

Doing the Devil's Work

Preoccupation defined the weeks ahead. Mapping it all out helped focus on the solution, rather than languish on the inevitable. Getting the dots on the page, connecting each one, painting the picture of where we were, and what we were about to take on. I followed in the footsteps of my Wrath rewrite, building on what had already proven successful. A bump to the minimum age requirement. The handling of the 25-Man progression team. New ranks. Loot rule revisions. It was the path to Cataclysm; the mother of all to-do lists. Knocking out a bit each night was also healthy. Idle minds are far more sinister than hands, and mine had a tendency to chip away at positivity. Keeping busy kept the inner voice at bay.

If I wasn't raiding, I was back in Google Docs, scribbling digital notes, analyzing lessons learned from Wrath. How had the Raider / Elite ranks worked out? My gut said overwhelming success, but there were still edge cases like Ben: expertly played, yet still immature enough for me to exercise restraint in promoting. The shadow priest that was equally loved and loathed in DoD struck me as a kind of gun-for-hire, showing up conveniently at Lord's behest, then exploding enemies with an ear-piercing digital scream. He had his own code, but honored DoD's as well. Romanticizing Ben's loyalty might have been a stretch, but there were hints of a Samurai in there. The prospect of a third rank warranted further investigation.

Thinking of Ben chained into thoughts of other candidates rising above, particularly the warlock Mangetsu. His bursts of silliness macro'd into raid chat were mixed wonderfully with steadfast determination at "rocking the meters". I dropped the Alt-25 on his shoulders and he rose to the occasion, not only taking it on, but cultivating progression-quality expectations in the process. He took a rag-tag bundle of players not quite ready (or able) to hit progression, and schooled them in the ways of the guild. Mang was professionally played, yet humble. Serious enough to lead, yet loved laughing and making people laugh. Officer material, but not an officer. Something needed to be done, because there were more like him. Most notable of these newer faces was the paladin Drecca.

A meteoric rise to stardom wasn't pushing it. Drecca joined DoD at the most opportune time: Bretthew was "done" at the wrap of 25-Man ICC (normal), leaving Omaric to shoulder the raid-leadership load by himself...and not the easy part. He tired of his tanking role and I wanted to free him to join DPS, but that meant a dedicated tank filling that spot...and certainly not one that required training. Drecca required neither training nor flexibility in his schedule: he began one Friday and was present every progression night from that point forward. From the moment we hit go, Drecca behaved like the most expertly played folks in the guild. It wasn't long before you couldn't really tell the difference between him and a long-time, weather-worn veteran of DoD.

Team BoA Alliance defeats The Lich King in 10-Man,
Icecrown Citadel

Push It To The Limit

Drecca's dedication wasn't easily rivaled. He quickly offered his services to Mangetsu in assisting with the Alt-25, carrying with him that same DoD mindset: expect more from yourself, put in a bit of effort, do a little reading, a little gear tweaking. There are no excuses for bad play, so get in, and get going. Drecca's natural tendency to take charge, clean up mistakes, and point people down the right path eventually freed Mangetsu from having to be present at every Alt-25. For many that ran it in those later months of 2010, the Alt-25 was, for all intents and purposes, Drecca's raid. This worked extremely well, as putting all the eggs in Mangetsu's basket would've left the Alt-25 hanging, if the off chance something horrific were to happen to the 'lock.

In a guild where there is no mandate to be online for x amount of hours, I was very thankful for the select few that were always available, and Drecca was certainly near the top of this list. Beyond his participation in both progression and Alt-25, the paladin answered Neps' call in joining up with a group of similar hardcore folk. Neps' challenge: roll Alliance alts, and with BoA gear, grind them up to 80 and knock out ICC again. And so with names like Phame, Moolickalot, Fishee, Sarge and others, Team BoA Alliance wrecked the Lich King by bringing three bloodlusts. In Drecca's words, it was an "undeniably pro strategy." It was fair to say I was colored impressed:

Hanzo » Drecca: (+5) For being hardcore enough to level Alliance characters and kill the LK again.

Drecca held the limelight so well, I wasn't even aware that Neps was the one responsible for the idea.

---

"You really have him wrapped around your finger, don't you?" said Blain, catching me off guard.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Blain noted the green text of guild chat. People were up in arms over the proposed incoming changes to Real ID. In typical form, players that didn't understand what was involved were bent out of shape. It appeared Drecca's stance was that of my own: It's a bit too early to be freaking out over any proposed sweeping changes. Nothing's in stone. Keep calm and loot the hound.

"He uses your name like you're the leader of a cult."

I continued to scroll through guild chat. Yadda yadda yadda, I agree with Hanzo. Yadda yadda yadda, Hanzo's got a post on the forums. Yadda yadda yadda, if you don't believe me, check with Hanzo.

"So what? He's keeping the peace. It's nice to see players moderating. Guy's only been here a few months and already knows what's inappropriate to be bitching about."

"I changed my mind," he added, "I don't like him. He's too negative." Negative about what? Blain was being indignant. Or jealous. He of all people should have known that hard truths don't often come with a silver lining. It struck me as ironic that Blain, who had been called 'dictator' by those unappreciative of stark criticism, was telling me that a practical rebuttal was coming across as 'negative'.

Why obsess over things that might be? Let's solve problems we face in the here and now. I could spend these next few months buried beneath layers of doubt and depression, wallowing over what might transpire in Cataclysm. Or, I could sit down and attack it with every bit of energy at my disposal. We might go down, we might not...but we wouldn't be doing either without a fight.

I needed pragmatism now. I needed folks to be the pillars of DoD by marching forth with solutions, not long diatribes on how Blizzard's great conspiracy is to rob people of their money or their privacy. That meant calling upon anyone in the guild that could act as the best and brightest of us, reinforcing what it means to be in DoD. That you give a shit. That you're not looking to make excuses. Let's all be on the same page.

And if players like Drecca chose to invoke my name to add some punch to that reinforcement, so be it.

Blain summons Mature for tanking duty,
Orgrimmar

Corporate Misalignment

I faced a sickening decision: banish all 10-Man teams from Descendants of Draenor. The thought crossed my mind increasingly as summer vacation approached. 10s had traditionally been an afterthought in DoD, so much so that our earliest 10s managed to send hardcore raiders scurrying to new guilds. Lesson learned: don't forsake its importance in progression if the 10 and 25 are tightly coupled...say, for example, on the off-chance Blizzard randomly decided to include tier 4 tokens in Karazhan.

Luckily, I was able to side-step administrative scrutiny of the 10s in Wrath, thanks to Blizzard's very clean, well-drawn line in the sand. 10s and 25s were two different worlds. Different effort, different reward. All my focus could therefore be poured entirely into the 25-Man. Aside from general guidance, I left the 10s to fend for themselves. And they performed admirably, I might add. Aside from the occasional misunderstanding regarding poaching, the 10s managed themselves. Starflex did its thing independent of Eh Team, which in turn had no need to submit to the whim of Si Team or Cowbell. They set their own schedules, their own priorities, their own loot systems. As long as their overarching goals remained aligned with that of DoD's, they required no intervention.

The thought of potential 10-Man administration in Cataclysm gave me pause. Not many details were yet in stone, so I worked with what was available. The most recent reveal came a month earlier, providing insight into a concept the community referred to as downshifting. 25-Man raids would gain the ability to split into multiple 10s to further their progress. Additionally, the raid lock system would gain flexibility in that Raid IDs would be as tradable as Pokémon cards, freeing players to move from one lock to the next in order to proceed through the instance. On top of all of this, Blizzard clarified once again that while 10s were intended on being easier in Wrath, this was not to be the case in Cataclysm.

Piecing together a solution was difficult, as little of it made sense. Would it become commonplace for players to hop Raid IDs, exacerbating the potential for poaching? It certainly could! I would have to put rules in place to govern how the 10s interacted with one another, carefully outlining the etiquette for exchanging members without burning bridges. Would the 25-Man progression team start spouting excuses on "why aren't we just dropping to 10-Man to finish this?" Blizzard claimed the two difficulties would match, but would my most hardcore raiders be convinced? The 25-Man raiding rules would have to include clarifying text: "Dropping to 10-Man will not be considered as an option to overcome obstacles". I suspected many would secretly think it, whether told or not. The one thing players were good at were giving me reasons to doubt their alignment with the guild -- so much so, that an entire rule was crafted to shutter the lack of common-sense.

None of these changes (and their to-be-determined solutions) spoke to an undeniable fact: as long as loot/rewards remained equal, the 10s would forever undermine the work that was being done in the 25. I already learned this lesson when adopting The Five Dysfunctions of a Team into Why Raid Teams Fail. Two different levels of contribution with one set of rewards produces resentment, hatred, in-fighting -- all viruses to team health. Yet, this is what I was facing. Preference A vs. Preference B. Old-schoolers vs. scrubs. The personable vs. the awkward and anti-social. The rep-grinders vs. the altoholics. The gamer mentality vs. "I prioritize real life first!". Solutions vs. Excuses. The melding didn't strike me as an incredibly alien concept -- it happens in the real world all the time. When it does, the results often end so predictably bad, it's a running joke in professional circles. Alignment seemed nigh impossible; a stretch, at best.

So...set a new rule to cut that 10-Man cancer out before it spreads? Or become the cliché mirrored in corporate America?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I guess I will never 'get' the issue that 25 man raiders have with 10s, to be precise, what impact does the achievements and gear of people who are not you, have on your progression, gear and enjoyment?

If the world firsts don't get their panties in a bunch when your guild finally clears heroic and gets to wear the same gear as they do, then why would you presume to get your panties in a bunch when someone even lower on the foodchain than you are does likewise?

I mean, if we want to be all elitist then really, if a guild is not at least in the world top ten, then it's not all that great. Who was the 11th guild in the world to complete Heroic SoO? Few people know, and the only ones who really care are guild number 11 and guild number 12. If we were to be extremely generous in our assumptions, we could say that, maybe 1% of 1% of WoW players know or care.

So, being snobby about who wears what or who downed what on which difficulty is a privilege reserved for those who really crack out the effort; those who can down a raiding tier without NEEDING gear from that very raid to make it to the end. From everyone else its really laughable; middle-class snobbery on full display.

So, if this middle class snobbery is, as I assert, utterly unjustified and ludicrous, what is the reason for it?

Does the value of 25 man raiding accomplishments really only boil down to the provision of something to hold over the heads of others?

In other words, is it utterly necessary for there to be 'have-nots' in order to derive pleasure or satisfaction from having or achieving something?

If there were an absolute absence of people over whom you could feel superior, would you still raid?

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous,

A perfectly valid question, and one that comes up again and again. By the end of this blog, I hope to have answered that.

What you say is true: in theory, our enjoyment of the game really *shouldn't* be contingent on anyone else's successes / failures / preferences. We should all be free to play how we want. Each guild's definition of what "makes them great" differs: one guild's world first status is another guild's ability to treat their fellow man with kindness instead of douchebaggery.

The reality is a little different. What we do in WoW, how we choose to play, and the ramifications of our decisions have lasting repercussions on other players, yet so much of those decisions are excused with "LOL n00bs chill out it's just a game LOL"

This last, fourth part of the blog intends on covering why that is.

It isn't black and white. It's complex, because people are complex, and people are what make World of Warcraft the way it is.

I hope by this point (for the long-term readers) my intent is clear: I'm neither right nor wrong in the matter -- just stating how it is. And I believe there really hasn't been a good account of the facts thus far. We get Blizzard's holistic view of the way things should be, masked by numbers we aren't privy to and corporate policy that isn't any of our business...

...or we have the constant battle of the community, devouring itself in an ongoing religious war of casuals and hardcores, each having its own biases and neither being very good at seeing the validity of the other side.

Anonymous said...

The idea of being an expert in anything... a field of study, a hobby, a sport, etc. is largely reliant on a majority of the population not being an expert.

If being an expert or working towards improving your expertise is what gives you pleasure in WoW then... "In other words, is it utterly necessary for there to be 'have-nots' in order to derive pleasure or satisfaction from having or achieving something?" should be answered with a yes for those who value it.

Aedilhild said...

I will never 'get' the issue that 25 man raiders have with 10s, to be precise, what impact does the achievements and gear of people who are not you, have on your progression, gear and enjoyment?

It's a belief that a large raid size -- with some regard for human and electronic logistics -- is the best representation of grand, valorous battles, but human nature being what it is, if rewards are the same in a prescribed environment like a video game, most people will choose a smaller and less complicated venue.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious at this point; why were you fighting so hard to save the 25-man raiding team? If 10-mans are easier to run, give the same gear, and are supposed to be just as difficult as 25's, why run 25's at all?

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous,

Because taking the easy way out went against my beliefs in what made the game great. I wasn't afraid of putting in a little effort, and my intent was to have DoD be a place for similar minded folk.

Bill DeGeer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

've been reading (and re-reading) 8YIA from the start, and that question was on my mind at the start of the 25 vs 10 discussions.
I remembered many times being online and seeing trade chat filled with arguments about the gear equalization between the 2 raid sizes. At the time I thought like the Anonymous poster above, why the hell would my enjoyment take away from anyone else's, if I'm running a 10 and they're running a 25? Was it truly all about the ego and uberness of the 25m raider? At that time, I leaned towards that perception.
While reading this blog, I've come to realize the points that Shawn has been making all along: There is an exceptional amount of due diligence required to run a 25m progression guild, not only placed upon the shoulders of the GM, but on the players themselves. Enjoyment of their game was in part because of that adherence to wanting to press their gaming and teamwork abilities to the maximum. That's all fine and dandy, has nothing to do with the rest of the population, except for requiring a large population to draw from, to find like-minded individuals - or those that come for a visit, and like what they see, and stay, adapting to the goals of the guild.
Unfortunately, when you change the reward system, giving people options of 10 or 25 for the same loot, you end up shrinking the available pool for a guild like DoD to draw from.
People DID flock to 10 mans, as Shawn has shown many times in his 'psychology of a gamer' posts.
No, I'm not part of DoD, but I've been there all throughout the life of WoW to see (and agree with) Shawn's analysis.

Wylset

Anonymous said...

Just an extra two cents that I'm throwing in: I've always been intimidated at applying to join a 10 main raid guild This is a small, super close-knit group of people. And even though I'm part of their group, I would be an outsider for who knows how long.

With 25 man teams, it's a lot easier to blend in and find your niche.

Anonymous said...

I followed a link from the WoW Forums to your blog. My compliments, very well written.

It sounded like what mattered most in DoD were the raid groups, and I detect a level of disdain for everyone else. Was this the case?

I ask this because because some of your posts struck a chord with me regarding preferential treatment of player groups.

I was in a guild with an RBG team, but was relegated to the team's "bench", and only ran in three RBGs with that guild. It seemed that anyone who wasn't a "starter" of the RBG team was invisible to the leadership of that guild. It didn't take long before I left.

I'm curious, what was the view of the leadership of DoD toward their non-raiders?

Dalans said...

@Anon: Quite the contrary, we tried to make it so that everyone was welcome, our bread and butter was PvE raiding though and those folks tended to stand out more than someone who just PvP'd. "You get out what you put in" was a sort of unofficial motto and we were fine with whatever level of commitment you had and differing play styles were accepted. If anything brought disdain it would be inconsistencies or sudden flip flop decisions whether it be changing characters (early on) or just disappearing without so much as a word.

I'm sorry, but I guess I will never 'get' the issue that 25 man raiders have with 10s, to be precise, what impact does the achievements and gear of people who are not you, have on your progression, gear and enjoyment?
For me it was less about their enjoyment and more about the way Blizzard handled it. I'm strictly speaking from my experiences going from 40 to 25 and about PvP season gear looking like PvE raid gear but the idea is the same. I was done with WoW about mid-WotLK. It has already been outlined that when you make something easier to acquire the vast majority of people are going to go that route. With that in mind I'll speak more to the raid sizes/player groups.

When we went from 40s down to 25s it was a huge blow to morale. All of a sudden this game you have been enjoying with all of your friends, you can now only enjoy it with most or some of them. You now have to make tougher decisions from a management standpoint of who stays and who goes, rotations become much more important and some people will feel or actually be left out. The feeling is much less grandiose. Think of a room with 40 people and then have 15 of them leave. The atmosphere, the environment is much different and not in a good way. Even though the change from 25 to 10 (yes I realize it is not forced but for all intents and purposes, it was inevitable for a lot of guilds) is the same number of people, the effect I feel was much greater which leads me to my next point.

The effect on the guild itself was stark. DoD was lucky enough to have the recruiting to switch to two 25 teams but all of a sudden now, people are thinking those from the 40s (officer core, best performers, etc), yeah those people are the A TEAM whoever is left are the losers (the B team). I personally tried very hard to counteract this mentality whenever I saw people talking about it and as much as possible we tried to split the officers when not doing the bleeding edge of progression but the damage had been done, the divide was there. No longer is everyone talking as one large group, but two separate ones. "Oh man you remember what happened last week in the run, oh that's right you weren't there," "Were going to do this really hard thing in this instance, oh you don't think you can make it because your gear isn't up to snuff, ok we'll find someone else." You tended to stay with the group you were with for the most amount of time. The 25/10 issue would only exacerbate this.

Anonymous said...

@ Dalans from Anon 1.

I raided in Wrath and led a guild that did raid in Cata, so I do have some perspective upon which to draw and sympathy and understanding for the difficulty of maintaining guild cohesion.

Cliques will always exist. We are hardwired to form bonds with smaller and more manageable numbers of people when we find ourselves in large groups. It is not preventable.

What I found, though, in my time as GM was that it is entirely possible to have and maintain a happy and cohesive larger group of people even in the presence of cliques. One of the things you need are 'joiners'.

The Joiners are people who interests and connections with a variety of people act as larger bonds. They need not be officers, but most of mine were. There were raiders/PvPers, PvPers/Achievement hounds, raiders/collectors and so on. Each separate clique had a 'friendly face' in another clique that in essence acted a good host of a house party does and made each group feel comfortable and social with the other.

Joining cliques also requires conscious effort on the part of leadership. It is crucial that the GM participates in each clique, makes those personal connections and takes part in those activities. Guild events also need to occur with regularity in which the greatest number of people who choose to can indeed participate.

We used contests and fun nights to get guildies out of their comfort zone and into things they normally would not engage in, in the name of good old fashioned guild fun. This helped build bonds between PvPers and pet collectors, raiders and transmog junkies.

Another key to success was valuing each activity and each guildie equally. A triumph or victory was feted with equal enthusiasm regardless of the field.

Maintaining perfect equality is neither easy nor painless, and led me more than once to decisions with serious ramnifications, but I found it crucial to overall guild cohesion.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Shawn and the officers of DoD were lacking or did not expend effort in this direction, but I am saying that it is entirely possible to have a great and successful raid within the larger context of a great and successful guild, regardless of the size or number of your raids. I will utterly concede the point, though, that it is extremely taxing on the GM.

My point on value, I feel, needs to be mentioned again. If at any point, one set of achievements or activities is given pride of place, then you've written your doom. If the 25 man is seen as the defining factor, the only bringer of glory, then the 10 man raiders will never feel valued, nor will anyone else. The bonds between cliques will disintegrate. Guildies will feel abandoned. Your ability to draw from the strength of your own guild will vanish. No one like to feel like a second class citizen.

And this is unavoidable in an environment where you are trying to compete with other guilds, when you place value on what people who are not you are doing and when you use other guild's achievements as a stick against which to measure and value your own.

If you ignored what others were doing there should never be a problem with guild morale or cohesion. When you focus on what others are doing, you start the clock on your own destruction.

And this is what everyone does. To use a tired expression, they think inside the box. They end up following either the 'social' or 'raiding' guild model regardless of how they set out.

It needn't be that way. It's just easier.

Shawn Holmes said...

Some really great comments from readership this week, both insightful and honest. Keep them coming!

A lot of the guesses being made as to my stance on things are on the money. Just remember that there is more to come. The reader should know as much as I did at the point in time these posts take place. As new events unfold, there will definitely be opportunities for me to stick to my guns or change my stance.

Anonymous said...

Why the 25 versus 10 man hate?

(Armchair psychologist tiem inc! Opinions! Many claims! Handle them!)

Oh man, the reasons are endless. Almost literally.

Most don't matter much though, cept they do.

Same reason why achievement points don't matter, cept they do.

Why earning more money than other people doesn't matter, cept it does.

Why having the largest truck doesn't matter, cept when it does.

Why having the largest male genitalia doesn't matter, cept blahblahblah (You get the pattern).

The point is, is that we universally acknowledge that NONE of these things should really matter to us in terms of our self worth, but they DO.

We can hide it behind logic, "25's involve more work, 10's require less margin for error, blah.", but it comes down to self-worth, value, achievement, and challenge.

We like to know that whatever we put effort into has value, that WE have value. We derive that value from comparing ourselves to others, or, to ourselves, past or idealized. We are also competitive, some rabidly so, even those of us (Like me) who try to avoid competition as much as possible are competitive to some degree.

Raiding is a challenge, or is supposed to be at least.

Achieving a challenge means you put time and effort into it, that you were good enough, that you are good enough. We feel good, we have a concrete (Or psudo-concrete) thing we did, that we can hold (In some way, memories count XD), that we can feel good about.

That's why games ARE typically challenging, if they weren't, if there wasn't some to accomplish somewhere, we wouldn't play them. Sometimes the challenges are very simple, and even easy (15 bears asses GOOOOO!), in which case, the story, the achievements, the leveling act as supplementary challenges, things to help us achieve, things for us to work towards, to accomplish.

We all get this worth, this value of time spent, that validates our time spent, and validates us, in different ways.

(Post 1/2, because apparently the submission counter has counting issues, and can't tell when something is over a hundred characters less than it's stated limit -_-)

Anonymous said...

But.

What happens if how you validate yourself, how you define your time spent, how you enjoy yourself, comes in conflict with another definition of value? Another definition of challenge? One that threatens to take what you've earned, achieved, valued and lessen it? Lessen what you've done, what you've accomplished? Lessen you?

How would you react if something you found value in, something you had pride in, suddenly, as a result of the act of another, had no more value than anything else? Some quality that you had is no longer of any worth?

Think of what this explains, in different ways, it explains a lot. Hipster's get their value/worth from being at the forefront of something, being there before others were, being part of something at the start. Midlife crisis, seeing your age, realizing that you haven't accomplished much of anything, and trying to make up for it. Etc.

It's not everything, there's always additional reasons, a rainbow of it effectively.

But, something I've noticed over time, Humans are complex, diverse and so very different.

And yet, from what I've seen, I've often wondered if we aren't really very simple, and actually pretty much the same.

The same equation, just with different numbers plugged into the variables as it were. Same concerns, same wants, same considerations, same almost everything, what differs is what fills the gaps, what defines those wants, those values, those considerations, and while that doesn't change the equation at all, while it doesn't change those core items, it does change the outcome, raising different things above others, emphasizing them differently, they still have the same value, but due to how we were born, who, where, what we encountered and when, changed how we went about those same core pieces, how we valued them. They're still there, still the same, and yet so different.

/shrug

And perhaps I should get back to my HW, so I can sleep, not type up weird sleep dep un-edited comments on the internet, and actually try to graduate. XD

Catelina, KT Alliance Holy Priest (Going to be years until I can get a new comp... no WoW for me...:/)

Dalans said...

@Catelina:

I have zero idea where you were going with that so cue the "May god have mercy on your soul" guy from Billy Madison.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Catelina,

I got it. :)

Remember Ater's famous words? (top of 2.19, "Blizzard's First Mistake").

Whether we are humble or boastful, we seek acknowledgement. It varies in intensity from person to person, true, but we all secretly care what other people think, even amid the barrage of in-game comments to the tune of "LOL who caers what other people think!!1!"

For those that turn to WoW, there's a satisfaction that's derived from the effort and subsequent reward of raiding. Or PvPing. Or collecting every last damn battle pet. Or having a farm in Valley of Four Winds that nets you millions of gold. Our measures of success are all different, but they mean nothing until we're *recognized*. It's the famous tree falling in the forest conundrum. Are you really successful, if nobody pays attention?

When that which separates the accomplished from the amateur diminishes, what motivates us to continue? If everyone's definition of "fun" is different (ask the casuals and the hardcores this, and note the differences in answer), and the "fun" for someone is quantifiable proficiency -- and then that proficiency no longer holds water...how is one supposed to be recognized for effort? Lacking that, other motivating factors tend to fall to the wayside.

A bit melodramatic, perhaps, but remember: there are real people behind these characters, and they have their own motivations. I'll touch on more of their stories in part 4. Some are poignant. Others are pathetic.

Anonymous said...

"...we all secretly care what other people think...".

No, we really don't all care what other people think. Only those who are insufficiently self-actualized retain that flaw. The more you introspect, the less influence others have over you. I concede the point, though, that few people take this freedom for themselves. The vast seething majority remain shackled to the judgments of others.

Using others as a yardstick against which to measure ourselves ensures eternal failure and unhappiness, you can never 'win', because there will always be someone younger, prettier, richer, thinner, faster, more accomplished, smarter etc. etc.

Inversely there will always be someone worse off in any given category. No matter if you find yourself at the apex or the lowest point in the valley, the landscape is constantly changing, and you will not remain long in one place. You doom yourself to constant vacillation between degrees of pride and shame. You lose the game of approval garnering merely by playing it.

The amount of emotional and physical energy required to care about the opinions of others can be utilized in much better ways.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous,

I think it's fair to claim we vary in how much other people's opinions impact us, ie. how much we *say* they do vs. how much they actually do, behind closed doors.

Perhaps you're right on that: "not everyone cares what other people think."

Is it possible to get to a place, psychologically, where nobody's opinion affects you? Sure. Some brains come wired with that particular feature baked in -- they are physically incapable of understanding acceptance, either positive or negative. For the rest of us, well, electrodes monitoring brain activity have already shown social rejection fires the same neurons as physical pain. So humankind isn't completely out of the woods yet.

Is being freed from those shackles the norm? Not likely. Certainly not among a crowd of people that's traditionally turned to games because it was the only thing that felt right as a hobby/interest; gaming felt it 'fit' them.

I submit that there is a larger, more important question that such a black-and-white analysis deserves further scrutiny: do gamers/people in general want to rid themselves completely of such shackles, so that another person's opinion never has an affect on them...ever?

"I'd like you to stop physically abusing the children."

Don't care.

"I think with a bit more effort, you could see a big promotion by the end of the year!"

Don't care.

"Wow, you've killed a person in the war? That must have been been really traumatic."

Don't care.

"We're here today because we care about you, and we think you have a problem with cocaine."

Don't care.

...so, how are any of these examples any different than:

"We'd like you to be a part of our raid team, we think you kick some serious ass..."

or

"We'd like you to pull some more of your own weight on the team. You're being carried and the rest of us are starting to tire of it."

You see, for so many players today (and this goes well beyond WoW), all concerns seem to come down to the answer:

**I don't really care _what_ you think**.

To me, caring what other people think (even just a bit) is the necessary baggage that goes along with wanting to make a difference, seeing how things are shit in the world (see: general chat) and wanting to rise above that. To that end, caring goes hand-in-hand with being around other people.

For those that have freed themselves of such 'shackles', I can't imagine what a lonely world it must be for them.

PS: Yeah, I get that some people enjoy solitude, and are perfectly fine on their own...and more power to 'em! (Cheeseus is a lot like that), but they *still* have to interact with people **OCCASIONALLY** (family, work, a few friends here and there...)

Anonymous said...

@Dalans

Yeah, had to get back to my Homework, sorry bout that. XD

@Shawn

Oh thank god, someone got it. :D

"A bit melodramatic, perhaps, but remember: there are real people behind these characters, and they have their own motivations. I'll touch on more of their stories in part 4. Some are poignant. Others are pathetic."

That last part fills me with sadness. :(

@Anon

""...we all secretly care what other people think...". Only those who are insufficiently self-actualized retain that flaw. The more you introspect, the less influence others have over you. I concede the point, though, that few people take this freedom for themselves. The vast seething majority remain shackled to the judgments of others."

Text makes it hard, but, I'm picking up on a bit of disdain there. Maybe just a pinch.

Your self-actualization is how you've charted your self-worth, your accomplishments, that's your yardstick, yourself.

And, you're comparing others to that yardstick, and their failure to live up to it, and the ideals it entails.

How often do you tell others about self-actualization? And it's benefits? We all compare ourselves to others, we all find worth in others, though, sometimes it needs a few degrees of Kevin Bacon to spot it. We are social creatures after all.

Some of us just don't need the others to acknowledge it, we do it ourselves instead. :)

I agree though, I found I had a lot more fun in WoW, when I just simply played, and cared nothing about how my performance rated against others (I was later told that my performance got a little worse, but, no one complained, and hell, it actually got me to not outright HATE raiding, so, no one had any issues with it. Having a semi-dedicated healer was something they needed badly at the time, and, not dealing with extra stress was my cost).

Of course, that also applies to IRL, but, this IS a WoW blog, figured I'd work that back in. XD

If any of that came across as attacky, I do apologize, running on an hour or so of sleep, editing is kinda poor at the moment, I'm usually pretty good at making a point without being offensive. Though, I did make a few assumptions there. Just a few, totally not many I'm sure. XD

-Catelina, again