Thursday, February 25, 2010

Goin' Slummin'? Thanks, But No Thanks.

During my time spent in WoW, I, like the rest of you, have had occasion to encounter a wide range of behavioral types.  Being somewhat of a psychology geek (or is that nerd? or dweeb? Jbelle?), I usually view a lot of these types with a bit of a clinical detachment, holding myself aloof from the drama.  Most would say I have a rather high tolerance for things that can be quite annoying or even downright rude.  Hence why I don't write a whole lot about failed PuGs and getting ninja'ed and such.  I'm the type that wants to find the source of the behavior and puzzle it out, fix it maybe.  In another life, I was probably a decent shrink.

Despite my compartmentalization of issues and natural immunity (+15) to behavioral issues, I have my weak spots the same as anyone else.  There are just some types that bug the hell out of me.  I'm sure this isn't a surprise because, after all, everyone has their own peculiarities and proclivities.  Even Superman has Kryptonite, and my behavioral Kryptonite takes the form of a pattern found in some (not all) hardcore gamers.

I'm not even sure what to name the pattern, but I can certainly describe the symptoms:
  • The player thinks they are better than everyone else.  They probably raided hardcore before, but have since backed off, so they still consider themselves "hardcore".
  • Since they've backed off, they're now stuck with us "casuals".  They're not playing with their current group by choice, rather it's just the best they can do.
  • They are not an open asshat.  This isn't the person who is a blatant classist or immature prick.  In fact, in their mind they probably think they are the most mature, well-adjusted person in the game.
  • They see casual gaming as really the "second tier" of the gaming status hierarchy.  These folks couldn't possibly put the same amount of thought/preparation into an encounter as a hardcore group because they're not hardcore, right?
  • They believe they are the all-star of any group they join that isn't hardcore.  After all, they have the experience, so they're obviously the best.  It's not something they try to rub in, but you know, and they know, and everyone should act accordingly.
  • They often overcompensate for any perceived "harshness" as if the casual player were a fragile creature that cannot possibly understand the intricacies of true raiding.  Thus, all wisdom is related in a patronizing manner, but it is not meant to be mean... it's just all us fragile casuals can handle.
I think that paints a rough sketch of what I'm talking about.  Surely you've encountered someone like this before.  I guess I'd label it the Fish Out Of Water Syndrome.  Like Donny, this person is most clearly out of their element when it comes to grouping with casuals.  FOOWS is not something that every "harder" core player exhibits, only a select few, and it bugs the shit out of me. 

I mean, I don't consider myself the best player out there, but I generally feel that I'm pretty competent.  I like to think I know my class, and can understand raid encounters.  After all, I blog about it damn near every day.  I can't be that dumb, can I?  (Shut up, Jbelle).  There are certainly things I miss or don't do correctly, but, on the whole, I'm doing just fine, thanks. 

For some reason, the individual playing with FOOWS just thinks everything they do is so damn smart and good.  They couldn't possibly have made a mistake; it's always someone else.  They often try to blow smoke and sunshine up your ass, because all casuals need their fragile e-peens stroked so that they can confidently fail and perhaps stumble into success.  The problem is, they are so out of touch with reality, that the smoke and sunshine fail to become anything more than smoke and sunshine.  We all know you're full of shit.  I think we'd rather you just came out and said: "Hey, you twats, you guys suck and I'm good and if you did everything my way we'd win."  The false front drives me nuts.

I guess the core problem is just that I dislike "fake" people.  I prize honesty a great deal, and think it's condescending when someone tries to BS me.  I'm generally a smart guy, and I can see what's going on just as well as you can.  The fact that I don't have the time to play 40+ hours a week, doesn't make me unintelligent.  It just makes me casual, and casual does not equal dumb.  Not always anyways.  A lot of us so-called casuals (by playtime) spend a lot more time researching and reading to make up for our lack of time and experience.  Hence the success of my ICC group.  We only raid two hours for one night a week, but we succeed more than we fail because we spend a lot of time preparing and discussing via emails and what-have-you.

The whole FOOWS thing reminds me of when guys I know used to talk about "goin' slummin'".   I don't know if you've ever heard that phrase, but it can mean a lot of different things.  The basic gist behind them all is that you're going to spend some time with people who are beneath you in some manner.  Usually it's with a very selfish goal in mind, but it doesn't mean you're going to be an asshole about it.  In fact, it often implies a vast amount of falseness in order to "fit in".  Done well, a lot of people can be fooled and really do think they're "lucky" to have such an auspicious person in their midst. 

It's like the Lord who takes time out of his day to be with the Commoners, but doesn't do it out of a sense of altruism or anything, but because he thinks he's gracing them by his presence.  He never forgets that he's a Lord, and he never lets the Commers forget it either.  There's no sense of equality, but obviously the Commoners are benefiting greatly (as much as the Lord from all the fawning).

I suppose my aim here is to just try to describe one of my recurring social issues in the game.  Being a successful casual raiding group from way back in TBC, we've seen a lot of FOOWS sufferers pass through our ranks.  Inevitably there is drama and hard feelings, but usually it just ends up in each party going their separate ways.  It's sort of sad, because it is just such a part of who these people are that there is no way you could talk some sense into them.  They will refuse to see how their behavior could be causing friction.  It's textbook denial. 

So how do you deal with a person like this?  How do you smooth the friction they inevitably cause?  After all, they're usually a good player and can offer a lot to the group in terms of experience, but do you sacrifice the good will and togetherness of a group for high numbers and boss strats?  It's a tough call for a raid leader, since such a person can be a great asset, yet also a great liability.  For my part, I think I've just tried to encourage honesty.  Sometimes it blows up and changes need to be made, but if you aren't ever honest with someone, then you're never giving them a chance.  Maybe they can change their FOOWS ways.  Or, maybe you should just melt them with your laser eyes and get on with saving the World... of Warcraft.


  1. The previous times that I have encountered these types of Raiders has ALWAYS ended poorly. They are just a bomb waiting to explode & rip apart the rest of the group.

    What I've learned is that if you have something good and you want to perserve it (like a great 10-man raiding group) I would say avoid these types like the plague.

    That's just me though...

  2. This is wild to read... The biggest problem my guild's run into thus far has come from one of the folks you describe. You describe it very accurately, I gotta say, and it's a bit relieving (if a touch scary) to see that my own experience isn't a one-shot occurrence.

    This is dead on:

    "[...there is no way you could talk some sense into them. They will refuse to see how their behavior could be causing friction."

    I'm the raid 'administrator' for my guild, and resolving/trying to prevent conflict is one of the things I do. I bashed my head against our FOOWS for months trying to better understand their issues/attitude/etc. so that I could give appropriate advice or help them see our point of view, but alas... Seems I pretty much wasted my breath.

    In the end, I asked that we part ways and the FOOWS and I came to a mutual decision that this was in fact the best thing to do. Thing is, it wasn't a clean break. The FOOWS, subsequently, continued to show great desire to return to the group, and recently was reintegrated. A few of us are petrified that what happened months ago will happen again, but we're praying (for the sake of the group, as we're very small and would much prefer that everyone just get along and play nice) that the FOOWS has since matured...

    Very tough stuff to deal with, anyway. I don't know the magical equation that'll solve the problem, but I wish I did. I don't like the underlayer of stress that comes with the disconnect between the FOOWS' reality and the rest of the guild's. What's worse is, some raiders don't seem to be rubbed the wrong way by the problematic player -- in fact, it's almost like they have no idea the attitudes, etc. are coming off to some of us as offensively as they are. So it makes chastisement or other corrective action kinda awkward...

  3. Yeah, different folks definitely have a different level of tolerance for this sort of thing. It gets very tricky to have to manage.

  4. I have had this happen in my Random Heroic Dungeon encounters. I had a tank come in to the bane of my existance HTOC one night. I was healing and during the faction champion guys we drew the Rogue. The tank kept saying how elite he was and this dungeon was nothing. I would get abused for allowing him to go half health. Hello when you have a DPSer that cant stay out of the floor poison its hard to keep everyone close to 100% when you half to concentrate on the guy standing in the GREEN STUFF! Any way you could tell he was hardcore cause he had Full T-9 and was pulling like a mad man. Definatly a FOOW. Fortunatly for me we did not draw the confesor that time I would have curled up and died lol

  5. One thing I do, is I just be brutally honest with them. They are the 5600 GS fury warriors doing 5k dps during twin valks and who talk about cleaving the snobolds off the casters. They also never stop talking about their methods and how awesome they are. So, I tell them straight out, their dps sucks, they arent gemmed properly, just because their arena rating is 2000 doesnt mean they are invincible, and their voice sounds like a Harley motor chewing on female cats in heat.

  6. Yeah, I feel your pain. You're talking about the the type of guy that I would never assign to kite duty in a raid. Or ANY important role that could make the difference between win and wipe. They study EJ, copy pasta specs/rotations entirely and stick with it. They're nothing but monkeys. And they probably got carried to 2000+ rating by a decent arena partner or they are playing in a terrible battlegroup.

  7. Ha... cats in heat...

    Thanks for the feedback, I was hoping I wasn't the only one... :-)