Category Archives: Community

The Skill Paradox

A little while ago I came across a comment on a blog which claimed that “as we know, most MMO players are bad”. I did – and do – find it curious, because this indeed does get passed around as a universal truth: most people we meet online are terrible players. Naturally and curiously except for those we’re having these discussions with, we’re all just fine. This, to hit where it hurts right from the start, is basically the same reasoning that constitutes racism: “all black people are savages, except for Joe, who’s a member in my Country Club”. We can even admit the popular argument that the blogging community in a way self-selects the better, because obviously more invested, players – and who doesn’t like to attribute themselves to a self-proclaimed elite; us bloggers, we’re awesome, aren’t we – and it still plays on the same lawn as racism, after all, the Country Club is also obviously a selective environment, but those other black people, the ones outside, they’re obviously savages. It is the hypocrisy that makes every representative of a group one knows by name and face an exception, while at the same time maintaining blanket judgements about the large anonymous group as a whole. That’s not what this post is about though. Instead, I’d like to consider how we arrive at the perception.

First of all, the claim itself that “most players are terrible” is inevitably wrong. As I casually remarked recently, we all live in the Gaussian Curve, and what it really means is that most players are average, as this is how most natural averages form, with only few cases when the data points are crowded near the extremes and the average is a mostly virtual value. An example of the latter could be the life expectation during the European Middle Ages, which was mathematically around 35, but if you look at the numbers closer, you realise that it doesn’t mean that “most people died around age 35”, but that the horrifyingly high infant mortality skewed the statistic and what it rather means is “if you survived past the age of 1, you were probably going to run for the 70”. But this is unnatural, an anomaly. Usually distributions follow the Gaussian Curve, which is why it’s called the Normal Distribution.

There are of course special situations, like, say, Wrath of the Lich King creating a particular expectation about content difficulty and the subsequent Cataclysm taking things in a somewhat different direction. But the aforementioned sentiments gets stated sweepingly, not in some differentiated “in early 2011, large parts of the WoW player base were not prepared for the content difficulty presented to them”, and gets accepted sweepingly. In fact, I can be reasonably sure that someone will actually comment on this very post that “no-no, really, everyone is terrible”. Well, maybe not after I wrote this, kind of falsifying the experiment. Or maybe not, because there are, like, 5 people commenting on my posts, so this isn’t exactly a relevant sample size of anything.

Still, the whole WotLK/Cata thing also highlights that, of course, skill is not an abstract concept, it is relative to difficulty of the task in question. So, yes, if we’re talking about reciting randomly selected works of Shakespeare while running a marathon in Antarctica, most people would be pretty terrible at it. Shopping for groceries on the other hand is something most would find pretty easy, catering to the casuals, almost. Here’s the thing though: in the context of a game, i.e. voluntary entertainment activity, people gravitate towards and away from activities such that in the long term, you are left with your normal distribution again – those for whom it’s too hard or too easy mostly leave. Even now, I think the Cata-difficulty issue is pretty much settling itself (Nils has some great recent posts on why having just one difficulty for everyone is bad design), because the averages are adjusting themselves, people are settling in their new relative positions and the content is self-nerfing.

Then there is always the possible explanation that there are, at any time, many new and inexperienced players. But frankly, this is not what the statement quoted at the outset states. “Most players are new” is not the same as “most players are bad”, even though it’s similarly unlikely. More importantly, catering to new players is by far not the same as catering to bad players. In fact, catering to new players is very important, as the expectation we have is that new players are going to learn, while bad players are not. Conversely, if you don’t let your players learn (cater to new players), you raise incompetent players (well hello, trivialised levelling game).

Last and least, because it’s mostly an exercise in being a smartass, the statement doesn’t even make sense on a logical-linguistic level. If “most players are terrible”, then terrible is the average, thus most players are average. If you’re the brilliant exception, then it’s you who is in the wrong place and probably should go back to the South Pole Stadium-slash-Theatre.

So far, we have a brief outline of why “most players are terrible” should be considered to be wrong. Yet there are lots of people who will tell you that and be genuinely surprised that anyone should think otherwise (remember the bit with the potential comment on this post? Wait for it, still may happen!). Why is this? After thinking about it for a bit, I realised that the solution is The Blub Paradox. It’s a fairly long and technical essay, rich on self-praise, but well worth reading if one is interested in the matter. I will proceed to adopt the part relevant to describe The Skill Paradox.

Imagine the Skill Continuum. No, it’s not the point in space-time a gamer occupies at 13:37. It’s the line on which all skill levels are laid out in increasing order, from a hopeless failure to the greatest winner. Now imagine a player A, whose skill places somewhere on the continuum, a safe distance from both extremes. As long as A is looking down the skill continuum, he recognises that he’s looking down. He can see all the things these players are doing wrong, all the mistakes they’re making, all the potentials for optimisation. If he’s looking up, however, he doesn’t realise that he’s looking up. All he can see are players who are basically just as good as him, only some of them tend to do things in weirdly esoteric ways. A may even consider some of them his inferiors, because, seriously, what sensible person would ever do those esoteric things. This is the Skill Paradox, meaning that we possess very pronounced abilities in recognising all the ways in which other players are worse than us, but are comparatively bad in perceiving the ways in which other players are better than us. The direct consequence is that we tend to think of ourselves as “very close to the top” regardless of where we actually place in the skill continuum, which in turn, especially if you’re not necessarily the self-scrutinising type, lends itself to the “most people are terrible” fallacy.

At this point I originally intended to write down personally experienced cases of when despite the apparently obvious presence of empirical evidence I wasn’t as good as I thought I were, and only got better after embracing details I previously had dismissed as irrelevant, ranging from my most newbish online gaming beginnings in the year 2000 to more recent experiences. In fact I even wrote down those examples, read through them, and they felt so full of unintended self-adulation that they made me sick. And, you know, as much as there is to say about how awesome I am (for example: how awesome I am), I ultimately decided that it would rather distract from than support the point.

The point being: as soon as you acquire even marginal competence in a field (note how we gently drifted away from being gaming-specific), you will find it easy to recognise the shortcomings of those below your level of competence – that’s why you’re better than them, you moved past making their mistakes. Your observations will objectively suggest that you’re “one of the best”, because everyone else you observe is “bad”, with the exception of those whose superiority you cannot fully comprehend as such, for the very same reason they are superior – they realised potentials you have yet to discover.

Shall you live in eternal self-doubt? No, not at all. If you feel you’re good, you probably are. No one is born a master. Just know there’s always a “better” as much as there’s a “worse”. This is also why I don’t like evaluating my own performance based on doing something others (supposedly) can’t do – it’s much more intriguing to consider what can be done than what can’t. Otherwise you’re going for that old trap where “anyone who has accomplished more than you has no life, and anyone who has accomplished less is a noob“.

There is another consequence to all of this, one that won’t sound particularly surprising: your ability to look up the Skill Continuum and realise that you are looking up is directly related to your ability to become better yourself. This is what teachers, trainers and guides do, they explain to their students how those esoteric things can make them better. The good ones do, the bad ones simply state what to do – and sadly there’s a huge demand just for that, seen in the MMORPG world where a lot more people blindly follow the cookie-cutter spec and rotation than actually understand why and under which conditions it is superior. Whenever you convince yourself that “this is as good as it gets”, you stop improving. A truism, really.

And just as I was about to finally post this (it’s the third rework or so), xkcd came out almost on cue: Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

It’s a game, not just a game

I am a gamer. Been a gamer for more than a decade now. Been an online gamer for more than a decade now. As such, I hate the phrase “it’s just a game” as much as anyone. More, probably. However, I am from time to time using the phrase “it’s a game” myself, and I’d like to point out the difference. Because to me, they mean two very different things: one is descriptive, the other is dismissive.

Saying “it’s a game” classifies an activity – unsurprisingly, as a game. It qualifies the subject matter as an activity that has the purpose of yielding a positive emotional balance. Or in other words to have fun. It is important to remember that a game is not played to change the world, to fight terrible illnesses or to solve global problems. A game is played to have fun. To be entertained. To feel good – to feel better. It is played for the very purpose of spending time doing something that is pleasant, instead of spending time doing something that is less pleasant. The fun you derive isn’t always immediate, sometimes it is a process, and as with just about everything, there’s no reward without effort. But the goal is ultimately always to have a good time. Because “it’s a game” and that’s what a game is about.

Saying “it’s just a game” dismisses that fun as irrelevant. It implies that since the goal is fun, not reaching the goal is not a big deal. And surely it is no big deal compared to, say, an earthquake and a tsunami. No argument here. But that’s entirely outside of the context. We’re not talking about earthquakes and tsunamis. We’re not making a choice between death and devastation … and gaming. We’re not making a decision between saving the world and playing a game. We’re talking about a person who, having hopefully fulfilled their duties, decides to sit down and entertain themselves, to have some fun. There is no reason why that fun should be dismissed. There is no reason why factors that actively, negligently or maliciously damage that process of enjoyment should be deemed irrelevant.

The phrase “it’s just a game” has been used since the dawn of (gaming – yes, that includes classic board and table top gaming) time by people who damage other people’s gaming experience and then justify themselves by dismissing the inflicted damage as imaginary. Well, the damage is real. It is real time of a real person whose expectations, plans and enjoyment were damaged.

On the other hand, “it’s a game” states something constructive: I am doing this for fun. For enjoyment. For entertainment. For pleasure. My goal in doing this is to derive fun, enjoyment, entertainment and pleasure. Not to make the world a better place – I’d rather have a day job for that. But when the game isn’t fun, there’s something wrong. Because it’s a game.

RealQ: a Real Question

My real name was first published in gaming-related print and online media in the summer of 2000, when the team I was on finished second in the tournament organised by a gaming magazine. It was published after an explicit request for my consent and my written expression of that consent. And it was, in fact, still way ahead of the timeline.

You see, gaming-wise, I come from a slightly different background than most of you, my valued readers. From 2000 to 2007 I have been a highly competitive and quite successful FPS gamer. Why does it matter? Well, we’ve come to see our gaming slightly differently – more as a sport and a competition. To be recognised as sport and competition, an activity needs a certain level of acceptance, an external appearance. Some time in the second quarter of the decade the communities at large began to realise that we’re never going to be seen as anything other than “killer-game players” by the wider audience if we continue to appear with names like “xKilleRx” (no, not an alias of mine or anyone I knew, just an example). And thus, slowly, gradually, a trend towards revealing the person behind the nickname began to grow.

We put our real names on team websites and league profiles. We uploaded pictures of our faces to be seen next to it – which is, you know, already kind of better than having your real name next to the image of an elf with a sword (sensational revelation: I am not actually an elf with a sword!). We added our age (often 20+ at that point) and profession/occupation, which also looked better than “level 80 Assassination Rogue”. Leagues required to add a UID to your profile that uniquely identified your copy of the game and could be queried in-game to make sure that player and account actually match. Later, the ESL (Electronic Sports League) introduced Trust Levels – essentially you could fill out some paperwork and send in a copy of your ID (which after the process was completed would be burnt and the ashes scattered over the Gulf of Mexico to control oil spills) and thereby verify that the person behind the account is, in fact, who you claim you are. And when you intended to attend LAN Parties, you’d register with your real name anyway, because LAN Parties take place in the real world, where you have to show your real ID (no pun intended) to prove that you are really over 18 years old and are really the one who paid the entry fee to be let in. When you go to a festival you can’t register as “SuperGothChick” either, regardless of whether you like your potential employer ever finding out about your music taste or not.

So, in essence the notion of revealing my real name on the internet doesn’t send me into immediate panic attacks and visions of doom. So, am I pro RealID and the jaw-dropping changes announced yesterday? No. Not at all. Why not? Because of a key difference.

There is this one big difference. When we were fighting back anonymity in the FPS community, it was us, the players (leagues and tournaments were effectively player-run as well), making decisions in what we perceived to be our own interest. Very important. Our decisions. Our interests. We had this visions of Electronic Sports, of social acceptance, of transparent and fair competition, and we did what we thought would help us get there. We did. And those who were not interested? They just didn’t need to. They didn’t need to opt out, or even actively decide against opting in. They just did nothing and were not in any way bothered. Yes, they may be denied entry to high-ranked tournaments, particularly with actual prizes, but that’s kind of fair game – without the push for a more competitive and representative environment those tournaments (and especially the prizes) would not have been there in the first place. You can’t have your cake and eat it too – but you can have the choice between having and eating your cake, and it should be your decision, not the baker’s. Bakers get to set the prices, they don’t get to regulate how much of which cake people have to buy.

Again, because it’s crucial – we were doing what we were doing in what we perceived as our interest. Blizzard’s new forced-RealID plans are in no way in the interest of players. I don’t even need to explain why it won’t have any of the proposed positive effects, as the blogosphere has already taken care of detailing why it’s outlandish, counter-productive, completely wrong and even outright dangerous (late addition: misleading in the very intent). I’m only adding my voice to the storm.

It is not the trolls who will be scared away, but those who do not want to be trolled under/for their real name and identity. The sky is not falling, but activity on the forums will feel much more uncomfortable exactly for the paced, measured, reasonable individuals. There is a natural barrier everyone has inside against being involved into a forum discussion – into any public discussion. Having to put up your real name there in the open adds to the barrier, most effectively holding away, again, the paced, measured, reasonable individuals. Comparisons to the real world fail as well. When you enter a bar your full name doesn’t pop up over your head. When you try to chat up that cute girl your personal details are not revealed to her even before she gets to tell you to get lost.

The official forums may not actually become a more hostile place, but they will feel more like “dangerous ground”, which will, once again, first and foremost, keep away those with mild personalities and a thing for politeness over shouting. By keeping those people out, the forums will become useless to anyone but trolls. We have been so far relatively successfully recruiting via the official forums. That will most certainly end with the introduction of the new forum system. The risk of exposing our real identities (and yes, there is always a risk, even though maybe not as overwhelmingly huge as some may believe) will not be justified by the realistic outlook of actually finding someone who is not a dick, because the forums will be officially Dickland. The alternative of community forums (e.g. MMO-Champion) is there, but inferior in that it simply is not a “central and natural” starting point for the vast majority of players. Recruitment will be handicapped. And this is just one pragmatic example – one that is relevant to us and our guild – of how this development is not only not in, but actually counter to player interest. Important.

Now, let’s concede that Blizzard is and always was a for-profit organization, and even all the “from players, for players” thing really is just a beautiful slogan. They have to act in their interest, not mine. But this is where the curious customer-business relationship comes into play. You see, I’m under no illusion that just because I pay them 10 Euro or so a month they are suddenly slaves bound to my will. That’s not how that relationship works. Here is how it works: a customer gives a business money when the way the business pursues its interest benefits the customer’s interest. In other words, like so many others, I pay to play World of Warcraft, an MMORPG. I registered an account with the company running said MMORPG, and as any serious person being asked by a serious company, I filled in my real details. At that point it was confidential information between me, the customer, and Blizzard, the business. Now Blizzard decided that they will use that information as they see fit.

Have they really? No, they have not. But with the announcements of the forced-real-forum-names all bets are off and no theory can be dismissed as ridiculous anymore. When RealID was announced, we were told it would be optional. In the corner of our mind we all asked ourselves then already whether it would slowly slide to mandatory. You know, like when a piece of software you are using brings out a new version with a totally revamped interface and a “legacy” setting to get the old look-and-feel; you better get used to the new interface, because the next version will not have a legacy setting. Then RealID arrived, we looked at it and realised with a slight unease that there is no way to disable it – the way to “opt out” is not to accept any friend-requests, and that’s it. It’s like saying “okay, from now on Skype will be permanently running on your PC, just don’t take any calls if you don’t like, we’re fine with that”. But my name, my email, my details are in there, in the game, and I have not been given any (official) means to remove them. That can’t possibly lead to problems, right?

Most of all, ideologically, it means that Blizzard is now doing with my personal information whatever they damn please, without giving me an actual say in the matter. We all know that Blizzard signed a contract, some sort of contract, with Facebook. We don’t know the content (at least I don’t), but at this point, today, after that announcement, after that treatment and that approach, can you really stand up and say without a doubt that your account will not be forcibly merged or transformed into a Facebook account .. next month? Next Year? Because everyone, including myself, who has ever used the phrase “Blizzard would never do that” in any context looks pretty sheepish right now.

Which leads us to the question. What product is the company Blizzard selling at this point in time, and what product does it intend to sell in the future? Does it still intend to earn its money through making exciting and involving games (or at least the exciting and involving game called “World of Warcraft”), or has its vision changed to viral marketing and dealing with personal information? This is not about my name being on the internet – it already is. This is about the game I’m playing. This is about the game I love. Will the creator of that game try to earn money by catering to my love, or by exploiting it?

A little more than one year ago we abandoned Lord of the Rings Online, the game we previously played and loved. We abandoned it because it changed from creating entertainment to creating time sinks. We were searching for a new game to play together, to call our hobby. The choice basically came down to Age of Conan and World of Warcraft. More than anything, we choose WoW because we believed and trusted in Blizzard’s vision and commitment to the game and the service. Because of what we perceived as professionalism. We wanted to pay professionals money and to receive a professional service in return. Another strong reason was WoW’s developed and strong community and reliable long-term outlook.

The most recent developments undermine the vision, the community and the long-term outlook, furthermore they abuse the trust and the rights of the customers in a borderline unprofessional way. So, Blizzard, here, for you, is the RealQ, the Real Question: have we made the wrong decision? Should we have chosen against you? Is your business plan and strategy still that of making a fantastic game and creating a place for gamers to want to stay in? Are you intending to deliver us the product we want to pay for, or are you going to be the baker who tries to dictate us what cake we’re supposed to eat?

This is not a threat of “do what I want or I will unsubscribe”. No, this is a very realistic proposition: I decided to pay for your product for specific reasons. If you cancel out those reasons, or no longer offer the product, do not rely on me continuing to pay for what you’ll try to sell me instead. It’s realistic because I did it before. I won’t “leave the game because Blizzard is evil”. In all honesty, I don’t care whether Blizzard is evil. But I will leave the game if the changes Blizzard does to the game make it unenjoyable for me. And I won’t be the only one.

You are on notice, Blizzard. And you should ask yourself some very Real Questions.

Thought for the day: proof by authority

In the best tradition of KiaSA

If your argument loses weight when omitting the “5 years” part, it wasn’t a good argument to begin with.

Wrong sport, lads and lasses

The recent Ensidiagate prompted me into posting on a subject that’s been on my mind for a while now: the morality of competitiveness. Maybe I should have used that as the title of the entry, but, honestly, my titles sound preachy enough as it is. So, what is this all about, anyway? Competition.

Competition is an interesting thing. A two-edged blade. Competition means motivation, determination. It is a reason to try to be better. Competition is the antidote to complacency, and thus a catalyst of progress. Us not living in caves is a direct result of competition.

Curiously, having come so far since the time we left the caves means that competition has changed as well. In fact, outright competing with the next person is societally frowned upon, and usually manifests itself in the less productive forms of constant 1-up’ing and raging envy. Also, mobbing and other sorts of ugliness.

The medium through which we experience modern competition in what is considered a “pure” form is almost exclusively sports. It is easy to argue that sports, as such, arose from the demise of competition as it was known in former ages of mankind, as a mimicry of activities that once constituted the competition for survival (and procreation): hunt, war, elopement, gathering, perseverance. Not that war could be attributed solely to “former ages of mankind”, but at least we don’t want it to be an open competition anymore.

So, sports. The pitfall here is what kind of sports we grow up with, what sports get the most spotlight and gain the highest prominence. Football/soccer and basketball matches are frequently decided by coaxing the referee into a wrong decision in your favour. Fall down without having been shoved, talk trash to disturb concentration and hope for a rebuttal that may be punished as an additional bonus. Yell at the referee and argue every decision. No-no, my foot wasn’t behind the line. Inconceivable.

Then there’s athletics, cycling and similar disciplines, which seem to have long evolved into a race of “who can shove more stuff into their body without being caught overstepping an official rule”. The phrase “usage of illegal doping” alone is amusing already, when you think about it – it means there is legal doping, so, the question isn’t really “if”, but only “by how much”. The answer may arrive in the form of a life-ending heart attack at age 40.

Speaking of racing – Formula 1, anyone? Turned into a competition for finding the most improbable loophole in the technical regulations. Funnily, the stricter and more complicated the rules get, the more severe those loopholes are. Back when the limits were more relaxed and everyone was shooting for the sky, the differences were more, you know, tangible. Back then, A had a better engine, B had a better chassis and then we watched it unfold. Now it’s all “so, turning this screw 57° to the right can be justified with the following paragraphs as not contradicting to those other paragraphs, and it also gives us half a second per lap”.

Major sports these days are a cutthroat business where the limits of the “humanly possible” were reached decades ago, and now everything that gives you any sort of advantage that is not in clear and unmistakable contradiction with the rules is considered “fair game”. And then you venture into regions that are in contradiction with the rules and simply hope not to get caught. You are supposed to take everything you can get, try to grab some more and then act as you deserve even more yet.

Having grown up with this image of sports and thus competition, we arrive in a place where everything can be justified by pointing out that X is going up against Y. A “competitive situation” is suddenly a sufficient reason to abandon all honour, humanity, grace and dignity. You are supposed to bite and claw, to kick and punch, to blow low and exploit, exploit, exploit. All is fair in love and competition.

I would like to introduce you to another sport – or, rather, remind you of its existence. One that is not as widely popular world wide, which doesn’t get much prime time spotlight. I’m talking about Snooker, a billiard variation with an emphasis on high precision and, most importantly, strategic thinking. Is Snooker competitive? Oh, boy, yes. Look at the faces of the players. They want it. They want it badly. So, what’s the difference?

The difference is that Snooker is a deeply aristocratic sport by its very nature and origin. You can’t play it in school yards, you can’t play it in pubs, half drunk. You have to overcome a high entry barrier to play it at all, and thus, it has traditionally been coined by the, dare I say, noble. Therefore, the standards the players are held up to are inherently higher. And I don’t mean merely things as the dress code. I mean moral standards. An example.

There is a rule that forbids you to, at any point, touch a ball, any ball, with any part of your body or clothing. This is something that can be very hard to keep track of, because it basically only becomes relevant in those cases where the intended shot is a highly tricky one, so the view will be obscured, and although the referee will try his best to have a line of sight, he’ll also do his best to accomplish this without distracting the player (ideally staying out of his field of view). You can’t exactly drive a camera in there either. Besides, in the vast majority of cases, the fleeting contact of, say, a sleeve with a ball wouldn’t do anything. So, what?

I’ll tell you what. It is considered and unexceptionally accepted the duty and obligation of a player to announce an illegal contact when he becomes aware of it. Immediately. Even if nothing has moved even by a dust particle’s margin. It’s a matter of honour, it’s a matter of morality, it’s a matter of what defines you as a Snooker player and earns you respect. Just as a pointer, respect is what earns you money through the discreet ad sticker you’re wearing on your breast pocket. It is not considered “okay” to run with it, just because no one noticed.

If you touch a ball, you admit it. If you are carefully swinging at the ball and your cue touches it before you execute the actual shot, you announce it. If you get a double contact (white jumps back from first contact with other ball and hits cue again before you pull it away), you say it. Even if no one noticed. Even if it costs you the frame, or the match. You don’t try and figure out how much you can get away with. You don’t care how much you can get away with. You care about fair and clean competition, and you are not interested in any unfair advantage.

If you get a fluke (i.e. a lucky shot with a much better outcome than initially planned), you apologise. You appreciate its results, of course, and the opponent accepts them gracefully, without any “lol ur lucky nuub” rage. Luck is part of competition, as it is of any process. But you apologise. When your opponent masters a particularly difficult situation successfully, or plans and executes a masterful shot, you congratulate. You don’t cry “hax” and rant about how his haircut is overpowered, but show respect for the skills of your opponent. It’s tradition. You just do it. Failure to comply with the moral standards of the game is as severe as a violation of its functional rules.

The bottom line is, competition does not have to be that dirty, grey-zone, cutthroat, no-respect-for-anyone dogfight we learned to accept it to be. You can compete, and compete on a very high level, without disregarding respect and morality. And next time you think about competition and what it allows and justifies, don’t think about what ESPN is showing right now. Think about Snooker. Otherwise you’re just tuning yourself to the wrong ideals.

Achievement nodes

Today, Gevlon is once again reasoning about node ninjaing. Well, actually he’s reasoning about social norms, but he uses node ninjaing as an example. Thus I will tell you a story I wanted to tell you anyway. Makes sense, no? Okay.

Some time last week, when my favourite druid‘s arrival was delayed by snow (and recovery from having bested it), I used the time for some domestic tasks. Flying down to Azjol-Nerub to hand in the watcher quest, then a few relaxed rounds of ore-mining through Icecrown (yes-yes, I know, only morons farm, but I actually like doing it for a bit now and again, so, sue me!).

On my way through Dragonblight I spotted a cobalt node. Descending upon it, I noticed nearby fighting. An orc rogue, level 73, was busy with a couple of mobs. Now, I do not nurture any particularly warm feelings for the Horde, or orcs in specific, and a case can always be made, that cross-faction meanness is very much in the spirit of the setting. But we’re not on a PvP server. What? Oh, no, that’s not what I mean. I did not intend to say that on a PvP server it is okay to steal ore, and on a normal server it’s not. No-no.

What I meant is that on a PvP server the situation could have been settled with game means. I could have attacked him with all my Prot-OP’ness (not to mention a 7 levels advantage), or simply taken the ore and then stood there in a “don’t like it? come take me” pose. Or, assuming I’d be stealing from someone potentially more powerful (there’s always a bigger fish), risk being retaliated through force. This is not an option on a non-PvP server. Therefore, my actions would not have been directed against the character, but the player behind it. Players, in most cases, all belong to the human race, and, despite what Gevlon thinks, deserve human treatment. Long story short, I did the usual drill, hovered next to the node on my gryph and waited for the rogue to finish. She then hastily mined the node and /thank’d me. I /salute’d back, continued on my way .. and suddenly felt good inside. I think I even smiled.

Roughly half an hour later I was in Icecrown, flying my usual path. One of the nodes in the “ghoul field” was up – and it was titanium! Now, I shall remark a couple of things. These days, I don’t really mind what metal I mine up. I farm mostly because 30-60 minutes flying from node to node, listening to music, can be quite relaxing when not done too often. It does earn me some money (especially when sold as Belt Buckles), but I could be just doing dailies instead – sometimes I do. Saronite is useful for the “everyday business” stuff, titanium for the rarer occasions. I’m always happy to see the blue-ish glow of a titanium node, but not getting all hot and bothered about it.

The other thing to remark is that I particularly enjoy going after those “troubled” nodes. Not those with just one mob or so next to them, but those in seriously tricky places, for the simple reason that I could not have dreamed about fetching many of those 2-3 months ago, even in the company of my favourite druid, so it’s a bit of a challenge and a comparison with my past capabilities. So, I get down to the ground and to work with those ghouls. The really nasty part are the casters, because if I charge them, I get too close to the next bunch, and my ranged silence is on a minute cooldown. This particular fight goes a little pear-shaped, it takes me a while to get into “efficient mode” and get full control of the situation. I don’t know exactly how many I pulled in total, but I did more than 160k total damage in the process (first fight after Recount reset), so, it must have been something in the 12-15 household. Oh yes, and midway through it, a blood-elf paladin (it’s always blood-elf paladins) flew in and grabbed the ore.

So, I mounted my trusty gryphon, ascended into the air, looked down at the pile of corpses (they .. were dead before anyway .. I know) I produced and smiled again. Gaming is all about achievements. Achievements are gaming’s vehicles to fun. You rescue princesses (from another castle), you kill dragons, you’re having fun in the process. Scoring a /thank from the opposing faction is an achievement. Clearing out a dozen ghouls around an ore node is an achievement. Cunningly grabbing a node someone else was after is .. an achievement as well .. in a way. I guess.

In which we call out bullshit

Not in the mood for a lengthy rant, so I’ll just add my voice to the many and point out that this guest post on World of Matticus is complete and utter bullshit, from the first to the last sentence. Shame on you, Matticus, for even allowing it to be posted on your portal. As for the author, he is either an idiot with a very limited and tunnel-visioned grasp of the game (yes, I just publicly called someone an idiot – for calling members of his team “meat in the room”, “a dime a dozen” and so on. Deal with it), or cunningly sparking controversy for the sake of clicks to his own blog. For my part, I decided to never again click on a link leading to We Fly Spitfires. Sir, you are blacklisted.

Kind regards,

a tank

Grief Online?

Why is it, that nearly every time someone gets all excited about EVE Online, I can’t help but feel the game in long term pretty much boils down to “Bullies in Space”? I may be a little harsh here, and I understand there might be much more to EVE, but stuff like this (and it seems to be regarded as the ultimate apex of EVE gameplay) appears to me as the gaming equivalent of getting your buddies together to beat up the unpopular kid, steal his lunch money, screenshot it film it on your cell phone and send it to a gaming site upload it on YouTube. So, your top achievement in the game was to gank some guys, who were trying to establish a foothold of their own without joining your zerg, together with your 500 homies? Uh, grats, I guess.

PS: Yeah, I totally miss the point of the game and just don’t understand it. So, sue me.

A silent nod

Some articles you do not expect to come across on a gaming site. And when you do, it makes them all the more valuable and worth pointing out. Especially since most of us can relate, each in their own way.

There’s nothing to discuss or to add here, except that the author’s conclusion perfectly captures how I feel about gaming:

WoW is not an escape from life, it is a reflection of it. It is a journey we walk with our friends, and a memory we carry with us when we log out and come back to the real world. Make it something that you can remember with a smile, not because you played a game, but because you played it with fun, beauty, and kindness for everyone who played along with you. Any hobby you have can and should be, part of a life worth living.

*bows head in condolence*

Don’t Cha

I can’t say much about the value of the content in this blog, but the top graphic made me laugh. A lot.