Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Subscribing To More Than The Game

I saw this the other day on MMO Melting Pot. I thought it was a pretty interesting discussion going on.  It doesn't really apply to me or the guild I'm in, but interesting all the same.  As I struggled to relate, I pondered on why it just didn't seem like an issue to me.

A little background for anyone new around here.  My guild is pretty special.  Also "special," but that's a different post.  We are a small group of friends that raid once a week, for two hours.  That's it.  We only have about 12 people in guild, so pretty much everyone raids. 

We're very casual, but raid time is important to us.  It is something we schedule around.  We ask people to take the time commitment seriously, and no one has a problem with that.  RL comes first, but so does courtesy to your friends (just like in RL, if you want to keep said friends).  It works well because we're all on the same page.  We may have different playstyles and likes, but what it all comes back to is that we appreciate what we've got going.  We're all in the same boat, and we row together, even if our oars are made of different kinds of wood.

As such, you may understand why it was difficult for me to sympathize with the discussion linked above.  Obviously, we don't force people to grind or cap on valor points or anything like that.  Everyone is responsible for working on their own gear, and they take pride in that.  No one wants to be the guy holding us back.  No one wants to be dead weight.  We help each other out, and we try to get guild groups into heroics as much as possible during the week.  Not only does it help with gearing, but it helps with leveling our yet-to-be-maxed guild (we're sitting at level 15).

That being said, I really appreciated the viewpoint of Windsoar at Jaded Alt.  In particular, I like how she says that she "refuses to subscribe" to the notion of being forced to cap VP.  I thought that was a very apt way to put it.

When we subscribe to WoW, we're subscribing to more than just pixels.  It's almost as if you're subscribing to a way of life.  Maybe even a religion.  And, like a religion, we have many different sects that espouse different notions of what is "right" and "wrong."  There a myriad of different biblical interpretations when it comes to WoW.  What Windsoar is talking about, then, is supporting religious freedom.  If each guild represents its own "nation," then we're discussing the virtues of having a state mandated religion.  Namely, forcing a particular playstyle, a certain subscription, upon  your guild members. 

Maybe tolerance is what we need here.  It doesn't always work so easily, though.  History has proven that, often, if you give a man an inch he'll take a mile.  Yet, we should probably still strive to strike a balance.

And the rules changed based on you guild.  Maybe you're a superpower, charged with policing the world.  Or maybe you're like us and just a small city-state.  I can see where a gigantic nation with aspirations of leading the way (hardcore raiders) might require a more structured form of worship.  For us, it is simply not needed.

Like Windsoar says, we're just simply not at the point where that one minor upgrade really makes all that much of a difference.  No, far more important to us are things like morale and energy and attention.  We need sharp, smart raiders, not mindless drones.  I would sacrifice a piece of a gear for a firmer understanding of the fight any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  We need to understand the basic tenants of our religion before we graduate to the existential nuances. 

To me, it just doesn't make sense to expend all this time and effort on gearing if you aren't going to spend equal amounts on strategy, learning, and teaching.  (A lot of hardcore guilds do just that).  For every hour you spend killing trolls, I argue that you might benefit from spending an hour reading strats or watching videos.  If you're not doing that, then you're not enjoying the benefits of a full subscription.  You're just showing up on Sundays, you don't really believe.  Maxing gear is the easiest measurable goal.  After all, how do you know if someone "studied enough?"  Still, it is only one small piece of the puzzle here.  Gear does not solve every problem.

At the end of the day, I'm not trying to make a case here that one type of play is better than another.  Religion is a personal choice, one you must own.  We must find our own paths.  I'm simply cautioning that before you drink the cool-aid, before you subscribe to a certain playstyle, you should probably be sure of what's in it.  Everything that's in it.  Sure, mostly it may be sugar and water, but it only takes one small ingredient to kill you.  Is it worth drinking poison to be a "member?"


  1. Great post. Huge kudos.
    On topic; Farming Zandalari Heroics is, as stated multiple times, a choice every player have to improve their gear. Whether you're a hardcore raider or a casual. It's an easy way to improve your gear and a get a minor boost in your performance. It's not necessary if you're in a small guild, like yourself, but if you're in one of the top raiding guilds and want to keep it that way it's almost necessary.

    I see the problem in earning more valor points from grinding these dungeons than doing actual raiding. Especialy since the bosses in BWD, BoT and TotFW was nerfed to only award justice points. Blizzard might have kept it this way to keep people running these dungeons.

    But I for one, am not going to spend hours upon hours reaching the valor cap every week to get a few pieces of gear.

  2. Right. As long as being "hardcore" doesn't poison the game for you, then go for it. I just see a lot of folks complaining about how it ruins their experience... at the end of the day being "hardcore" is optional. You pay the price for wanting to be "on the edge of glory."

    One of the sources of pride for our group is that we downed the LK before Cataclysm came out... and we did it OUR way. You can experience all of the content on your terms if you want (and, I guess, are fortunate enough to find a group of people who think similarly... no easy task there).

  3. Considering my guild isn't anywhere ready for raiding Firelands and I can't get any better tier gear without dropping the bosses in the original 13, I don't see myself suffering the Troll dungeons anytime soon. Sure, it would be nice to replace my Heroic Corla's Baton with the vp one, but what's the point.

    I was quiet a sad panda when I found they changed the boss drops to JPs, considering we haven't even killed all the bosses..


  4. Thanks a lot for this post. It's been interesting to see the really spectacular range of guilds that are out there and making raiding a central part of their guild-time. I don't raid to be #1, I raid to have a fun time slaying internet dragons! :)

  5. No problem. Like I said, I appreciated your viewpoint on things.

  6. You always have insightful comments and useful information here, but I think this is one of the best posts I've seen of yours. I really like how you take the idea of subscribing and apply it to a wider idea - very clever. I also like your point about knowledge being more important than point capping; it's something I'm sure most people know, but the context you've put it in makes a lot of sense. Great post.