Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve made my triumphant return to the World of Warcraft. As I walked into Stormwind for the first time in six months, trumpets sounded from the waiting calvary and the townsfolk showered me with confetti and pie. They know me too well.
Then, I came out of my daydream and looked around to find myself in the middle of the Grizzly Hills, hotbars floating in the middle of my screen, and a string of profanities in the error window. Welcome back, Syeric, welcome back.
So, I did what any Death Knight in my situation would do: queued for a random dungeon and hung my “insert loot here” around my neck.
When I left, the LFG tool had been implemented and people were loving life. Groups were being ran, emblems being collected, and, generally, we were at peace with the world… in the most violent way possible.
As I’ve returned, however, I’ve noticed that things have changed quite a bit. The impact of the Dungeon Finder Tool has been wider than I’d anticipated. Much like a frog in a slowly heated pot, it seems like most of the player base doesn’t realize, or doesn’t care, about the dynamic shift the community has taken.
Yes, friends. On this return, I’ve noticed that WoW has become very reminiscent of high school. I don’t mean any of this in a derogatory way– I like WoW. These are just some observations.
The Clique Factor
I’m know I’m not alone when I notice no one talks in instances anymore. I’m the odd man out when I say hello or “thanks for the run.” People can’t even be troubled to type out “ready” anymore. Instead, it’s “r.” Add one to the MMO lingo list.
On the Aegwynn server, this quiet mentality has spread throughout the game; it’s not just limited to instance groups. People don’t really talk anymore, outside of the cafeteria. Need a group for a quest? Blind invite time, baby. Actually, the most vocal people I’ve encountered are the street walkers of the MMO world: the gold sellers. As the bad players get nicer, the good players get quieter. Go figure.
The end result in all of this is that the guild has become much more important as a social medium. Your guild is your crew. They’re the “acceptables” that it’s okay to have a conversation with. You have the jocks, who raid; the geeks, who RP; and the wallflowers, who are stuck leveling. People stick to their groups and, just like high school cliques, take pot shots at each other for being different. I mean, obviously the raiders have no life and the roleplayers must follow renaissance fairs. That’s nature’s way.
And then there’s the common ground, where it’s a mix of loud noises and commotion: the cafeteria. In this case, that would be the capital cities. Or, the one exception of the Barrens. It’s okay to be vocal here, as long as you’re making an ass out of yourself or someone else. People bustle to and fro, getting their business done, even meeting up with people from other cliques, if need be. But only here. In the “real world,” those raiders can’t be seen with the measly gearscore 4800 people. Losers.
In modern day WoW, Thrall and Varian Wrynn are lunch ladies in an endless line of hungry children. Feed more lore, lore-money, and feed it fast!
Choose a Partner
And then we have the awkward “Billy, pair up with Sally and dissect this frog” type encounters. These are your PuGs. Even though the LFD tool has made this commonplace, players still choose to avoid the awkward demands of socializing by being totally, and irrevocably, silent. The only times people talk are when blame is to be placed or, in rare cases, someone gets congratulated for a job well done. Or, in analogy speak, people interact when someone messes up the project or gives them a free answer.
Of course, we’d be remiss to forget about the administration. Everyone’s got an opinion and most can do it better. I mean jeez, if Mike Morhaime is the principal, “PewforLawls” could breeze through the job. For every complainer, there’s also the defender. Generally, this is the guy that’s hoping to get in the good graces of the developers. That way, when he needs something, maybe they’ll be more likely to listen. I say, give everyone a “C” and call it a day, Blizzard.
Answer Key: Nerf, Nerf, Buff, Nerf, Data Request.
Apply to all classes.
Some people would blame community dynamics such as these on the players. I don’t. I mean, it’s natural, right? The path of least resistance is the path that requires the least interaction. Why talk when the run will go quicker without it?
The game has always been like this, to some extent. It’s striking to see it prevail in such a way, however. Runs are now polarized: either someone is nice and says hi, or they yell at you for not playing right. If you’re going to be on my kickball team, you need to kick like this. Or something like that.
Still, there are a few among us that are social, and I like meeting up with all of you. I’ll be playing WoW for some time as I work my Death Knight from 76 to 80. Look me up on the Aegwynn server as Syeric. We’ll talk about girls and our acne problems. Or just girls.
And maybe we’ll kill something.
If there’s time.