11 Mar 2011

My Folly Against The Entitlesloth

I feel like a conflict has been brewing inside of me for the past few days. It’s one of those horrible conflicts of ideologies that I can’t see any easy way to resolve. And what makes it worse is that both sides of the conflict are borne of a single source.

You see, I want to help players become better.

Part of that is by writing guides, making videos and helping people in-game. I don’t see anything wrong with being a bad player if you have a willingness to improve. The players I don’t want are the greedy entitlesloths – the lazy players who play badly, know they play badly and insist on continuing to play badly. The players who then inflict their laziness onto others by abusing LFD, expecting to be carried through dungeons on a dais to scoop up loot like peeled grapes.

But in my desire to stigmatise the entitlesloth I fear that I contribute to a culture of elitism. A mindset of “You must be this skilled to enter”. I see people who play in spite of their real-life restrictions and limitations, the people who rely on Warcraft to provide them with an escape from their real world situation. And I feel ashamed that the culture I help support probably makes them feel unwelcome and unwanted.

Let me make it clear – I want these people in my game.

I’m left clutching at a wider question: does a game have to be challenging in order to provide long-lasting fun? Does it have to be easy in order to be accessible by everyone? Does accessible design mean that you enable exploitative player behaviour? Looking at it as a logic problem, there’s no reason why an accessible game should generate an army of entitlesloths.

I think it’s a bit of a cop-out to say that Warcraft is a victim of its own success. That having such a large number of players means that you’ll get a few bad apples. That we should just roll over and accept that bad apples exist and get on with our game regardless. I’m not sure that’s right. Instead, I think that we’ve got to a stage with cross-server LFD tools where boundary-pushing exploitative behaviour is encouraged.

Screw everyone else over because as long as you get what you want that’s all that matters – and you’ll probably never see anyone in your group again. Do something really deplorable – make off with the guildbank or abuse an entire realm, and a name change and fresh passports are a server transfer away.

Even if you’re normally a pleasant player it’s easy to see where this leads. You become suspicious that everyone you don’t know is automatically a bad apple out to rip you off. You become ultra-cautious of Shroedinger’s Entitlesloth lurking at the end of every LFD queue, or that every new guild member will rise through the ranks only to make off with your stash of flasks and materials.

Worse is the “what if” scenario playing in your head, creeping into your thoughts. What if I became the entitlesloth for a few dungeon runs, pick up some gear I don’t need and bag a few coins from it? I could do with earning a little extra to make up for the repair bill I had from those wipes in Stonecore earlier. What’s the harm in it?

When you become innately suspicious you see the guilty everywhere, as if the whole server is wearing the mask of the entitlesloth. From there the general culture of the game has only one way to go – downhill. It’s a bit like the Vortex of Suck.

To bring it full circle, I feel that elitism has emerged as a natural response to the entitlesloth: we want those we group with to play their part and perform their role. But I feel that it’s also an imprecise instrument that doesn’t serve us well as a community of players. I’m left feeling ashamed that in supporting some forms of elitilsm I’ve probably discouraged players that I really want to keep in the game. And yet, I can’t help but feel that design choices made by those who make our games are encouraging us to act in this way.

In my own desire to eradicate the entitlesloth, I fear I may harm the very people that gaming should support, the very people who deserve an escape to a fantastical world the most.

And therein, my friends, lies the conflict.

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25 Responses to My Folly Against The Entitlesloth

  1. Billy says:

    Mr Gazimoff, what you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent post, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this website is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

  2. Stubborn says:

    Well, let me be your first serious comment, then.
    Great post, and doubly so because of the link to the other great and heartbreaking post.
    I’ve struggled, too, with the balancing act between wanting to punish bad players who don’t care and support bad players who do care. I’m sure I’ve misjudged some from time to time. Your post and the one you linked really makes me worried, as you are, about the damage misjudging someone could do. While I would never, ever treat someone like the jerk in the forum post, I wonder, sometimes, if I’m slipping towards elitism myself.
    While I know it’s kind of taboo to talk about one’s own posts in comments on other’s blogs, I hope you’ll forgive me this one time; I just wrote a post today on electronic sociopathy which I think is very much a part of your “Entitlesloth,” though perhaps a more vicious equivalent of it. I wonder if, in fact, there’s a spectrum here with entitlesloths on one side and electronic sociopaths on the other, each feeding the biases of the other. The Sloths care so little because so many others are mean, rude jerks, and the Electronic jerks are so angry because of the amount of entitlesloths they run in to. The rest of us, then, are simply poor civilians caught in the crossfire and trying not to take either side while simultaneously resisting both.
    Great, thought-provoking post.

    • Gazimoff says:

      You wrote a great article, and I think that issues like this can be tricky to balance out. You’re probably right about there being a spectrum of behaviours as well.

      And don’t worry about mentioning your own stuff, it’s one of the reasons I use commentluv! No harm with linking to your own work.

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  4. Tom says:

    Well you wrote a lot stuff there… bottom line, do what you want others to do.

  5. Onike says:

    Here’s the problem. It’s easy (sometimes too easy) to get caught up in worry about the Big Picture of WoW. You hop into the LFD, get stuck in a group, and immediately start analyzing the players you’ve been teamed up with. You inspect their gear, and over the course of the first few pulls, based on their performance, you make a judgment. It might not be deliberate, it might be as simple as the unconcious feeling that “This guy is a noob”, but you judge them all the same. This isn’t to say that you’re a bad person for doing it… everyone does.

    Part of the issue here is that the overall culture and community of WoW has created this built-in bias. The second you meet a player you don’t already know something about (ie. a guild tag you don’t recognize, a name you’ve never heard), you start to size them up, and decide whether or not they are a “good player.”

    I think that, although it’s definitely impossible to eliminate this behaviour entirely, that’s sort of… wrong. When you start worrying that every undergeared player to enter a heroic LFD wants to be carried through content and is an “entitlesloth” you lose track of the real purpose of the game – to have fun. The fact of the matter is, that if a player is being an idiot, and causing your group to wipe, you always have the option to leave the group. If they’re just undergeared, but besides slowing down your run a bit, they are having no adverse effects… just be patient.

    Constantly worrying about whether or not player #129875b is contributing to overall decay of the World of Warcraft will not only subtract from your enjoyment of the game – it’ll drive ya crazy.
    Onike recently posted..Death Knights Dont HealMy Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      I completely agree with you about analysing players – Gearscore contributed a lot to this. Although these days Gearscore seems to have fallen out of fashion compared to raw DPS numbers – is this because people aren’t pugging many raids at the moment?

      And yes, worrying about the little stuff that you have no ability to affect is probably going to drive you up the wall 🙂

  6. Ceraphus says:

    I agree that the game design choices have forced us to act more elitist. Looking down on those with lower skill level that they are holding us back. In my guild I try to push everyone to be better, even if they are already great. Mind you we are more of a casual minded guild with family folks, college students, corporate gig types who log on to escape the daily grind. I try to push but not so much it stops being fun, yet thats my biggest fear is that I push so much that the game becomes just like their real life, its a tough line.

    Encounters in Cata are unforgiving if not executed right, so it makes it tough not to have some kind of elitist attitude. However those people who feel entitled who don’t want to put in any effort are those I refuse to play with, now those who know they aren’t the greatest but want to be better, are those I will gladly play with.
    Ceraphus recently posted..How To- Warcraft Melee DPS 201My Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      I have exactly the same attitude. If you want to improve and learn, I’ll gladly make time to help you out. If you can’t be bothered to help yourself and expect to be carried everywhere then I’ll give you short shrift.

  7. Bulliwyfthetank says:

    My whole issue with LFG lately has not been the lazy people that just want to coast, its the people that genuinely do not know how to play the game.
    After 4+ months of running several 5 mans a day (I’m not able to find a raiding guild on my low pop server that will take someone that can play on my schedule).
    I’m to the point that I do not want to teach people these instances anymore.
    I do not want to teach people how to CC anymore.
    I do not want to teach people how to run an instance.
    I do not wan to have to teach people how to play their own class.
    And so I come across as an elitest prick. Not because I am (I dont think I am at least), but because I dont have the patience for a frost mage that wont summon his water elemental, or because that destro lock is using his voidwalker or sucybus as a demon, or the fact that the DK is wearing spell plate b/c it increases his frost damage.

    To be frankly honest, I would rather have the people that just want to coast through the trash and half ass things than have the people that just plain suck. At least the coasters have the ability to sit up and pwn something if they tried. The people that just plain suck…. suck.

    • Billy says:

      This has got to be one of the worst posts on here so far. Please take your “I’m a god at a video game” attitude and realize it’s just that – a game. Anytime you go LFG you’re asking for people that play at their own pace, without a min/max approach, or are just learning the mechanics. And I doubt highly it’s your schedule that keeps you from being recruited by a raiding guild, it’s your dumbass attitude.

  8. LINDA PELFREY says:

    I think this is a very tough time to be a fresh 85, for many of the reasons you mentioned; speed runs without cc; expectations of DPS or mana regen inconsistent with a 329 85, and an expectation of a quick run for 70VP.

    I think the “entitled” slur is a bit off; the problem that the people who use it need to fear is not “entitled” but “extortion” I.e., I am not “entitled” to a $2 hamburger from McDonalds – they are entitled to sell only $25 burgers or $30 sushi; But I won’t give them my money if I do. And they know that and sell burgers.

    So what if there are 10,000 people who are willing to spend 40+ hours a week getting better, say 2,000,000 who will spend 10hrs/wk and 10,000,000 who will spend under 3 hours a week. A game company has zero control over human nature; they just get to choose who they want to target for the game – are they Darkfall, EVE Online, or Farmville. And players get to choose how many developer resources they want available for content; what you can’t have is a game with 13,000,000 subscribers designed to appeal to 1,000,000 or 20,000 subscribers.

    Bloggers are generally correct in their list of what players “should” do, if you have the assumption that WoW is sufficiently important to the player.

    The absolutely simplest thing, doable with a few minutes of effort, to increase the average quality of player skill in WoW would be to double the subscription price. My guess is a significant majority would unsubscribe and the remaining customers would care more about WoW and probably play “better”

    A chess blogger may correctly say that what players should do is read a half dozen books and study chess an hour a day; Except that 99.9% of the population doesn’t care about chess enough to do that.

    Just how much effort you expect from customers who are spending $180/year to do as part of their discretionary leisure time? There is no absolute answer; but the game publisher’s design determines their market size.

    “Should” is subjective; but every time I read a post about should, I immediately think two things:

    1) What people “should” do is almost always irrelevant; only what they will do matters. The fact that people should not steal has absolutely, positively zero influence on whether the bank and I lock our doors at night.
    2) In almost all values systems, what WoW players “should” do is unsub, give some of the $15/mo to their charity/religious group/political party/school and invest the rest in low-cost index funds.

  9. LINDA PELFREY says:

    WoW Design also does not encourage experienced play from new 85s; most blogs recommend leveling your lock demonology 1-84 and very few recommend entering an 85 instance that way. So you get to 85, get new gear, new talents, new specs and new pets. I am frustrated and annoyed that DPS Meter Posters dictate that I have to switch from a spec I really enjoyed leveling to one I don’t know or enjoy.

    BM Hunters with tenacity pet at least change their pet although BM hunter and frost mage are now viable talent trees in Cata. Most healers I know level 1-84 as a non-healing talent tree. (The first time I had ever healed on my shaman was when I respeced and killed the last two bosses in Nax in WotLK. My healadin is questing as prot.) I know someone who leveled their hunter 80-85 just by gathering: more gold and not appreciatively more boring than killing ten sea snakes one more time. My dwarf rogue is going to level with archaeology for the BoAs.

    I usually do zero instances 1-84 since questing is usually quick and painless and LFG is usually neither.

    So the players you are criticizing probably are merely sloths. but they may have less experience than you would expect since they leveled differently than you did. Blizzard and many players look at 1-84 not as preparatory schooling but merely a time-sink until you can “really play the game”

    • Bulliwyfthetank says:

      While you can level and play how ever you want, I dont think there is any right or wrong way to play in a 5 man, as long as you play it properly; i.e. if you should have a certain pet, then use it, if you have a 30 sec or less CD, then use it as often as you can.

      I leveled prot with my main. When I want to DPS, according to the number crunchers, I should be fury, but instead I play arms. I shock people with how I play arms. And its the same thing with all my alts: I play what I enjoy, most people are pleasantly surprised with the outcome of my DPS, and I have fun.

      I think that there are 2 major mistakes alot of people make as they level, especially when leveling alts:
      1.) They dont buy dual spec. Everyone should have dual spec when leveling, and there is no excuse for not having it – the price is less than 100g now. Its great for you to use that spec you like (demo) and learn a new one in the 5 mans or when you are running around questing (destro or aflic).
      2.) The other big mistake is one that is people dont want to run instances as they level. I think you should be required to run at least 1 instance every 5 levels just so you can learn how to use your abilities as you level. It shocks me when someone tells me they dont know how to (insert CC here) because they have never used it, and when I asked what they used when in instances, they tell me either they didn’t run any instances, or they got a max lvl character to run them through it all.

      I do not think Blizz treats the leveling as only a time sink, only the player base treats its like one. Leveling is a preparatory experience. Why else would they give us at least 1 “Kill 10 (insert target here)” quest per zone? Its because repetition is the best way to learning how to kill something fast is how you get to maximize your dps when in a group.
      Its the same thing in instances: you learn to CC/maximize single target dps/aoe effectively by doing it over and over again in a group setting.

      • LINDA PELFREY says:

        If Blizzard’s game mechanics that cause the playerbase to treat 1-84 as a time sink, then that seems to me like Blizzard treats it as a time sink.

        I don’t see how killing 10 things has much relation to my 85 experience. I may be in the leveling spec ( demo, BM, frost, prot ) and so not even using the talent tree I plan to be at 85. I certainly don’t have all the spells. I recall on my rogue never putting up SnD because the mobs were going to be dead before the buff was worth the combo points over a straight damage finisher. I.e., killing one or ten things in a few seconds at level 45 is not that similar to a 400 second fight with different spells at 85. Especially if you switch to healing at 85. As a range player, I would try to not to maximize my DPS but to hold back so the mob got to me before dieing to save time having to walk to the corpse to loot. An ideal boss fight ends with everyone out of mana and cooldowns. Whereas an optimal kill ten pigs is about avoiding expensive moves to minimize the downtime between kills. Increasing your DPS but needing to drink between kills can be a net loss while leveling. Me going around tagging and DOTing ten pigs so my pet can kill them is not overly instructive for 85. ( TH was the best where you could tag the mobs and the NPCs would tank them until you or the pet got back to kill them. )

        Upon reflection, I don’t think I leveled with any talent tree that I significantly used at 85: combat, ret, demonology, elemental, beast master, frost … So the fact that I did zero instances 1-84 was not a big deal.

        Besides, I think there is too much truth to the notion that you only really need to know how to play your class well for about a week. Levels 1-84 are about getting to 85. Once at 85, a couple of crafted epics,a Darkmoon card, some 346 weapons & jewelry and some PvP gear and you can avoid regular instances. So now you have a week or two while it would be helpful to be able to play your class. Then you will overgear enough to overcome any skill issues. But WoW endgame is really about raiding. (Who would pug yet another heroic pug for 70 VP if they were not going to raid?) And being able to play your class is helpful, but it is certainly not the most important thing. Far more important is whether you can “learn the dance.” You can play your spreist or kitty very well but if you don’t have the internet connection, computer or reflexes to do the dance, you will not succeed. And learning the dance for boss#5 is not that instructive for learning boss #6.

        • Mattwrath says:

          This whole discussion on “1-85 grind” is really more about what a person wants from the game. If a person wants to be the best, the coolest, the most leet in the game, then by all means bypass all the rich culture and mythology the game designers have spent long hours developing, cross-referencing and fleshing out so a player interested in those aspects of the game have something amazing to experience. Do people even READ quest descriptions anymore? Do people put the pieces together from the quest in Ashenvale tying into the quest in Silithus? I think those people are few and far between, myself being one of them. I have hardly encountered other players who have perhaps read some of the World of Warcraft novels available (Which explain quite a bit about the history of the Orcs and Humans and such) or have gone back and done all the quests in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor not for the achievement but for the pleasure of the fantasy world created by the quests and what they tell us of the story of World of Warcraft.

          I started playing this game about 3 years ago, having never read or played any other warcraft game and I was quite blown away with the fantastic, HUGE world created in this game and the mythology behind it all. Granted, I might have tried to sprint to level 40 for the slow ground mount (yes, it used to be at level 40 and cost you LOTS of Gold that if you only had one toon you didn’t have at the time, I had to take a loan from my guild to buy it), but I still took time to admire the World of Warcraft tapestry woven by blizzard and their army of developers.

          Bring back the joy of being a new player in a new world!

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  11. Syl says:

    This is an interesting article. And I’m probably seeing ‘holy trinity issues’ everywhere right now, because that’s the topic I’m currently looking at myself, but I can’t help but feel the underlying issue of ‘elitism’ in wow goes back to the entire role mechanics being so absolute. you basically need guides these days to understand how to play your class best, because your role as ranged dps (to name 1 example) is about that one thing only – damage. if damage is king, your main target is to optimize that; min/maxing and cookie cutters will follow.

    it’s a sad reduction of classes and the difficulty it creates for many more casual players (the ones you’d like to educate) is detrimental to what an online game should provide first and foremost: cooperative fun. it’s created a rift in the wow community, but that’s only one facet of all the negatives that I personally perceive with this system today.
    I’d like fun between players, not classes or roles. the entire theorycrafting of WoW is a monster and so far away from the type of MMO I would like to play in the future.
    Syl recently posted..Tired of the Holy Trinity – Guild Wars 2My Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      I think you’re right – I read your Trinity posts with keen interest, and I’m finding it interesting that several of the new MMOs are trying to get away from it. In Rift you have only four classes with a wide amount of flex between them so that you can cover at least two if not three of the traditional roles by changing spec. Guild Wars and The Secret World seem to be going away from the traditional roles altogether, instead focusing on what players want to do and how they like playing.

      I found it telling that when Blizzard discuss Titan, they discuss how they’ve learned a lot from Warcraft and want to produce something fundamentally different. As well as using new IP, I’m expecting it to take a fresh look on group dynamics and combat dynamics.

  12. Stubborn says:

    It has just occurred to me: did anyone think to PM that poster and let her know how her post has begun to spread in the blog community? I would do it myself, but I wanted to both check and give Gaz the chance to do so since he brought the intial attention to it.

  13. Top Rosters says:

    Nice article. In response to, “does a game have to be challenging in order to provide long lasting fun?” the answer has to be yes. There is no fun unless there is a challenge. It is why this game has such a loyal following among hardcore raiders imo. You could compare it to any other hobby or sport. People play it for the challenge – to challenge and test themselves. Without a challenge life is mundane and boring.
    Top Rosters recently posted..FailkickMy Profile

  14. Jamin says:

    I read this post a week or so ago, after being directed by the MMO melting pop. However thought I’d take the time now to comment.

    It’s great to see an author, or any content creator of sort, look at themselves and see the impact of their own produce. Though many do not, and just become ‘fan-boys’ of themselves. Though I feel you really consider your ‘intentions’ and assess whether or not you still feel that they are the right ones for you.

    I am sure that you will still continue with your site the way you have been, but at the same time keep what you have now understood in mind.

    Keep them coming,

    – Jamin