Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Hypocritical Elephant

The second Elephant in the Room that I'd like to acknowledge resides in the "LFD Tool" bandwagon.  Often in close proximity with or because of a gear score conversation, it seems the blogosphere has recently been inundated with stories of fail and triumph... emblems.  There have been quite a few positive sounding reviews and helpful pointers, but I think the vast majority of the press has been negative.  Not because the tool isn't as toolrific as the Backstreet Boys in their prime, but because utilizing it requires you to play well with others... something at least half of us fail at and then the other half totally calls them out on it in a vicious circle of newbtastic, negative glory. 

Yes, this Popic is one of those firmly ensconced in the "annoy the hell out of me" area.  Don't get me wrong, I love the tool more than a quad popped collar on a calm day.  I just get sick of whining after a while.  Maybe I'm just an elitist prick, but I suppose I have lower expectations of my fellow gamer than the rest of you

Sure, I sort of think of myself as all that and a bag of shards.  I mean, I am a warlock and an all-star, but that really isn't the mechanism at play here.  Honestly, I just realize that out of 10 million people, I'm probably going to come across at least 50% that are worse players than I am, and that's if I'm just average (which is about where I consider myself, maybe slightly above, but only because I spend a lot of time researching my classes, much like any of you reading this.  Chances are, if you're reading blogs, you're going to be "above average".  That's just the truth of it).  That means there are at least 5 million people worse than me in skill playing World of Warcraft.   But skill isn't the problem here, is it?  It's gosh-darned common courtesy.

So if I'm of average rudeness (which is probably again close to true, though I may again be above average since I have a rather good tolerance for rude individuals.  Or is that below?  Or am I really an elitist prick and setting the curve?), that means there's another 5 million people who are more rude than I am.  What this all adds up to is that there are a lot of rude people out there, and I probably have about a 50-50 shot of grouping with them if we were doing a two man group.  However, we're not.  We're doing a five man group.  Each slot isn't exactly statistically isolated either.  You see, if you get one nice person in your group first, then that's one less nice person in our 50-50 spread.  You're at 49-50 (if there were a theoretical 100 people).  That next spot is more likely to be an asshat.  By the time you get down to filling a whole group up... well, is it any wonder there always seems to be one bad egg?

My point here is why do we keep getting surprised by the lack of warmth in random groups?  We should be surprised when we get a good one!  And that's what we should be writing about as bloggers: the success stories, what works.  Megun over at Forbearance said it best here.  I don't give a shit about holiday cheer, but what does grind my gears is hypocrisy.  By calling out newbs with vehemence and derision and then writing "how to" guides, aren't we being just a little bit hypocritical?  Sure sure, express your opinions, vent if you must, but let's try to bring it back to the positive.  Instead of just blatantly trashing someone, why not use it as a chance for constructive criticism?  Tell about what the person should have done, though they may have chosen not to.

For instance, I have a story of fail (yes, I actually have many, I just haven't felt like sharing them.  I get pissed for all of about five seconds when it happens, and then, you know what, I move on).  Well here's the short version: Fuu and I zone in on Abi and Ful, her ready to heal an me ready to pull around 45% of the overall damage done, as has become my trend (cuz I'm BAMF and we all know it.  Oh and others might actually be trying to gear up.  No waaaay.).  Having queued as DPS/Heals, Fuu notifies the group right away that she needs to switch spec.  Easy enough right?  Oh, and I should mention we're in Gundrak for about the twenty seventh time this month.  Always Gundrak.  Some folks were getting Occulus (Solidarity with the MM, fo'shizzle.  I got yer back Jess) consistently.  Not us.

In any case, the important point here is that you zone in on top of a staircase.  Zone in, and immediately switch specs while the rest of us do our little high dive with a triple somersault and a half twist. Ten.  Mr. DK, either being illiterate or rude, decides to ignore the fact that not only has his healer notified the group of a quick spec swap, but also is not even with us, having not completed her dive... and pulls.  Normally, I'm badass enough that even this wouldn't be a problem.  Pop demon form, charge in, AoE the piss out of the group (like 8k+ DPS in demon form, ffs.  Ridiculous numbers.  Demonology is great fun for trash and quick dying stuff.) and they're down before any mage can so much as blink. 

DK decides to pull the next group, even though he's sitting at 40% health, getting no heals, and the first three are not quite dead.  Herculean though I may be, I cannot instantly shut off my immolation aura and the second group is going to immediately squish me.  I mean, it's not like he was thinking about snap aggro or anything.  Squish goes the warlock, squish goes the party.  Healer walks down the stairs all like "Oh hai angry trolls that are not my friends".  Splat. 

Even this would be no big deal.  I would not have written this narrative had this been the end of it.  If we had simply rezzed, been like "oops can't read or write" and moved on... no biggy.  People neglect to read chat all the time.  Besides, sometimes I like to stretch my demonic wings and see just how much I can take. 

DK says something like "you guys all suck" and immediately drops group.  Seriously.  One bad pull.  In Gundrak.  One healer obviously not being ready.  One 8k burst of DPS from a warlock that didn't pull aggro UNTIL he pulled group two.  W.T.F.DO.YA.THINK?  Mis-communicating has NOTHING to do with skill.  But, who cares, anyways? What part of that was us sucking?  We got back in queue, go another tank, and rolled that place like John Wayne rolls his own cigs.  (I would think such an iconic cowboy would be really fast, but I really don't know.  Maybe the Marlboro guy woulda been a better reference?  Still, I like John Wanye.)

There's my fail story, in all its glory.  I enjoyed ranting and hope I was mildly entertaining.  That's step one to writing one of these.  We're pretty good at that.  It's step two that I feel we're missing on a lot of cases.  Here comes step two...

What he should have done is just wait a cotton-pickin' second (which is longer and harder to count on your calloused fingers than a normal second, since you've been, you know, picking cotton) for the healer to switch specs.  Simple enough right?  Another good lesson is that if you don't let one bad egg sour the group, you can actually have some fun.  The DK's asshatery became a bonding point for the rest of us.  When we got a new tank, we laughed about the dumb stuff and then quickly and efficiently took down the instance and got a few achievements to boot. And really, none of this struck me as newsworthy until I got on this rant about bandwagon topics.  I mean, it's nothing new or out of the ordinary, except maybe for the lessons I gleaned from it.

The bigger picture just bugged me: why don't I have any good rant stories?  Why do rant stories annoy me?  The answer to the first is that I generally just brush crap like the above off, check off a few lessons learned, and turn a potential fail into a win through persistence.  That, and maybe I've just been lucky.  The answer to the second is that many of the rants don't try to turn the negative into a positive.  I don't have a problem with ranting.  In fact, when done right, it can make for a quite humorous read.  I do, however, have a problem when people merely point out a problem without offering any kind of solution. 

Many of the articles I've read are not taking that second step.  They do a great job describing the incident, but they often fail to say how it could have been fixed.  Mostly, I think this is because the authors think the fixes to be obvious.  After all, this is why they're ranting in the first place, right?  But what if they're not?  How are you helping the cause if someone is out there scratching their head and not understanding what is wrong with the situation?  What illumination are you providing to the dark cloud you've cast?

Let's bring this Wall O' Text to a close, shall we?  And while we're at it, let's try not to be hypocritical.  I've identified a problem: distinctly negative postings without a constructive resolution.  Okay, now to take my own advice.  What's the resolution here?  Well, bloggers are generally helpful people.  That's why many of us are out here, to answer questions and provide infotainment.  We just simply need to do what we're already good at: help "newb" players out.  For every negative, we need to try to offer a solution.  We need to make sure we're being clear not just how something is bad, but also why it's bad. 

Keep your chins up and don't let that bottom half get to you.  Do your part, do your job, play adequately, and you're fine.  Don't let some asshat tell you otherwise.  If you're out here reading, you're probably already doing your part to make yourself a better player, and isn't that all we can really hope for?  None of us are going to play perfectly, but we can always try to play better.  In the face of negativity, persevere.  Isn't that what we have to do IRL anyways?


  1. Well, first off, interesting post. A couple of things:

    1) The first issue you are effectively addressing is the purpose of writing about our in-game experiences. I.E. what IS the purpose? Is the purpose to entertain? Inform? Vent?

    For most of us, it's all of these things. For instance, many people do enjoy failpug stories for their entertainment value. I think what you were saying is that you don't really find them entertaining, and that they actually just annoy you. Fair enough. But I don't find RP posts entertaining :) So when someone makes an RP post I usually just skip reading it. Unless it involved people and/or characters I know.

    2) Regarding the provision of a solution: Let's look at it this way. If you read a story about an awesome PuG... what is the point? What lesson can be gleaned from that? Does it frustrate you if at the end of the tale the author does not mention what made the pug awesome? Because isn't that the same thing as not explaining what made a PuG awful? In general, it's usually made pretty obvious what could have been done differently to avoid being labeled as a failpug - either the error is explicitly stated through context, or it's simply that someone was just plain rude.

  2. 3) Provision of a solution. Well, to this particular criticism, I would say this: There are three basic steps to fixing a problem. 1, Identify that there IS a problem. 2, Identify what exactly the problem IS. 3, Provide a solution.

    Honestly, 2 out of 3 aint bad. It's a good start anyway. Many of us like to invite discussion in our comments, and often in those discussions we are able to identify potential solutions.

    4) Get over it and Move on. Oh you knew I wasn't going to let THAT one rest, right?

    People "get over it" in different ways. Some people, such as yourself, just roll their eyes and forget about it. Others like to think about a problem, consider it, dwell on it, share it, discuss it, etc etc etc to "deal with it".

    For instance, if you write a post that irritates me, I could just roll my eyes and hit back on the browser. But, damn, it's so much more fun to write a TLDR comment discussing it, ISN'T IT?

    I mean, cmon. We're writers. Talking about things ad nauseam is sorta like, our shtick!

  3. I believe that many people do write about these fail pugs more as an Entertaining value than as an eductaional sort of thing.

    It's similar to the movie, "The Hangover" it's funny to watch but there really isn't much of a moral of the story sorta thing unless you think of DONT GO TO VAGAS WITH YOUR CRAZY BROTHER IN LAW THAT WILL DRUG YOU as something to be learned ;)

    I enjoy a good laugh from time to time at someone elses expense. I mean c'mon! Some of these groups that you read about, I think Thank the Lord I wasn't there because when you are, they really aren't that funny at the time.

    Like the Douche who pulled the room when I wasn't there. I was SUPER pissed. DKs already have a bad name when it comes to instances and this guy just fulfilled his sterotype to a T in a total of 1 whole minute.

    WTG DK. I'll bet your family is so proud.

    Srs posts are srs. Lighten up babe :)

  4. lol Well I knew you two could troll me! :-) Hopefully this will spark thought among some others. I understand that there are other schools of thought but for me these fail stories seem to meld together into a veneer of negativity that is something I wouldn't wish up our shared blogosphere.

    That's a personal viewpoint though, I realize. I think mainly I'd just like a lot of the writers to stop assuming there are certain "universal rules" to gaming. Sometimes people are acting like a newb because they actually ARE a newb and we're pushing them away. That's the part that I fear of.

    Be entertaining, but try not to be condescending I guess? IDK, this was just something I wanted to get off my chest and discuss. I think it's a great topic when people are thinking intelligently about it. The game certainly has changed in ways that make us behave and interact differently.