Crap. Tons and tons and TONS of CRAP.

I got into a discussion yesterday, in which a lot of very interesting points were raised. The subject matter is Warcraft-related, but I’ll leave other people to argue those particular stances, because I’m aware my opinion may have some quite distinct gender and age bias… plus I like you guys too much to ruin both yours and my good mood this close to Blizzcon. However, one supposition appeared in the midst of all this that made me genuinely stop and think. To paraphrase:

Ask yourself: ‘How does someone else (insert contentious topic)
affect my gameplay experience?’

You know, that’s a really good question.

Most computer games are deliberate first-player experiences, and that’s the way things were for a very long time. When it was just you and a screen, back in the ‘Old Days’, this didn’t devalue your immersion, far from it. In fact, certain adventure styles distinctly benefit from a First person PoV. If you’re not aware of the phenomena that is The Stanley Parable, I would strongly suggest you seek it out, because if you want an idea of what gaming can become when you ARE the only person being affected by it… well, I won’t spoil the surprise, but you should seek it out and ‘play’ it, at least once. The choices you make in any game have a resonance far outside the environment, whether you like it or not, because the time you choose to engage in said experience is taken from your ‘budget’ of hours that you have to use on… well, your life.

When you introduce other people into your equation… things become considerably more complicated.

If you only ‘exist’ inside a deliberately restrictive sphere, multi-player may as well be single player. The problem with Warcraft, if we really want to pin down the focus of an issue, is that there are no restrictions at all on who can play, and although people like me might wish that the less savoury elements could simply be factored out of any equation that involved us, it is impossible to know who’s going to be a ‘bad apple’: heck, when the red mist descends even the most calm and passive of people can become a monster. When you consider that, ANYONE else could affect my gaming experience, even someone I thought I knew really well. The only way to ensure you avoid any trouble is simply not to play. The problem with that, like it or not, is that you won’t get the entire experience of the multi-player environment.

Some of my best moments in Warcraft, without a shadow of a doubt, have been with people I just don’t know.

The best LFR experience. EVER? HELL YEAH :O

I did a MENTAL LFR last week, hugely draining, but ultimately a fabulous experience on reflection. The Spoils of Pandaria was a complete revelation, and an absolutely brilliant test of individual responsibility and group co-ordination… and I would NEVER had the chance to take part in a 25 man scenario in anything else but LFR. Timing, logistics and a lack of ‘friends’ means it would never transpire, and if I’d have decided not to take part because of the affect that other people had on me… I would have missed a brilliant Warcraft moment, like all those World Faction Leader Kills and the countless AV Battlegrounds. It’s not just about how other people affect me either: if I’d not pulled my weight in the Spoils, regardless of what dps everyone else was doing, we would have failed. I have sway on the world, what I do does make a difference, what I choose to do can have consequences, especially if that becomes a part of a larger ‘movement’.

Choice can have any number of consequences, after all.

There’s one more issue to consider here, whilst we’re taking about possible outcomes: the effect on the environment itself. If enough people chose to boycott LFR, it would cease to become useful. As it stands now there are obvious issues, which could be based on people’s low tolerance of failure, rather than there being a simple shortage of healers and tanks prepared to complete certain wings. I’ve listened to at least one person on a Podcast argue passionately that the people advocating Flex over LFR have a choice that many other individuals simply don’t get, based on time constraints and access to the player base, and they’re right. The ONLY people with the numbers, the definitive indicator of just what is successful and what isn’t, are Blizzard themselves, and you have to trust they are considering all the options, because they’re the guys making the game.

Connecting everything to everything else, looking at a larger picture, considering every upshot… it can be confusing when you do it on an individual basis. In the end, it’s easier just to reduce the World to a small, secure bubble around yourself, and although that’s a brilliant principle to apply, the consequences can be considerable. What makes you happy may well be what makes your friends happy too, and if those you ask agree with your position it can become easy to believe that your point of view is the right one… when it is simply one of many possible standpoints. Tolerating everyone’s opinion is a life skill many people would do well to learn, especially in public. The ONLY people with the facts in this case are the guys creating the content. They’re asking the real questions that matter, and their decisions will be the ones we have to choose to live with, like it or not.

The fact remains, if you’re not enjoying your gaming experience, or you feel it lacks something significant, blaming Blizzard is never the entire answer. Don’t just ask how other things affect your eventual outcome, ask yourself what your outlook and attitude are doing to the way you view the gaming world. Nothing is ever as black and white as you might believe, or feel comfortable admitting. Just because it works for you, doesn’t mean it’s the right answer.

It’s just a possible solution.

[FOOTNOTE: Read this Post by Tobold on whether people are just becoming tired of being in virtual communities when we play games.]

One thought on “The Final Countdown (Day 4) :: Wires

  1. All that I can say is that when I queue for an LFR I do it when I can put in the best effort I'm capable of. I don't mind if we wipe due to people making honest mistakes and learning and I refuse to take part in people shaming others for low dps. I do get annoyed when people come into and LFR just to troll the whole group by pulling when people aren't ready, though. But I'm not in control of any of those other people, the only person I can control is me and how I deal with mechanics and my attitude toward the rest. So I just try to stick with keeping all that going to the best of my ability. Some runs are wonderful. Some are horrible.
    I hope they don't get ride of LFR, though. Because I do like getting to take part in the content and I don't know enough people for normal or flex modes. And sometimes it really is just amazing doing things with a group of random people.


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