I’ve been reading Tobold’s series of posts since his un-retirement (from blogging) that all share the “Why we play” theme. I think his posts are thoughtful and incisive, although I don’t always agree with him.
One thing I’m noticing is that there seems to be a distinct “what’s wrong with WoW” tint to the series. For example, in the current post, Why do we play? – Social interactions. Tobold points out why the social temperature in WoW is poor, while it is better in “free2Play” games. Specifically, he points out that raiding guilds are like professional sports teams;
But a professional sports team isn’t a group of friends who decided to play together, but rather an assembly of people each talented for whatever position he is playing. And WoW raiding guilds are designed around the same principles: Guilds don’t recruit nice players, they recruit a “healer with epic gear”. There are guilds where you can get kicked out for crimes like taking a three-week holiday. And good luck explaining to your guild that you are retiring your raiding priest, because you’d rather reroll a hunter.
While if you choose one of the “top 10″ guilds on any server this may be true, I don’t think this is true for a lot of guilds. In fact it runs counter to my experiences. As a matter of fact it runs counter to his own experience;
Of course there are also friendly guilds in World of Warcraft, and I’m proud to (sic) member of one.
I’m not here to pick Tobold apart. To be honest, he’s much more thoughtful and analytic than I am when it comes to these games. He definitely comes at them from a different angle than I do. In this case, I think it’s unfair to paint the picture of the WoW community with such a broad brush. I’ve been playing on and off since beta. I’ve been in social guilds, guilds who were trying to progress (but frankly didn’t have the leadership to do so) and guilds that were progressing nicely (albeit not on the bleeding edge.) I’ve been in guilds that were antisocial by nature, where “mature” meant that there was a lot of swearing and offensive chat in /gu, and in guilds full of real-life friends who I have lunch with on occasion to talk about guild business. Being what I consider a “mature” gamer in a “mature” guild means to me that I don’t have to endure adolescent behavior in guild chat and that we all act like the adults with children that most of us are.
According to wowranked.com. we’re the 15th rated guild on our server. We’re regularly running Ulduar now with some success and we are figuring out the ToC content as we have time. We have Naxx on farm when we can muster the numbers and we have good relationships with another guild on our server that we frequently raid and play nice with.
Point is, before Tark and I retired from Hellscream when BC came out we were in a similar guild there. I’ve had a lot more good experiences in WoW guilds than bad ones. And I believe that there is a guild for everyone. In other words, the pot smokers seem to gravitate together, the aggro asshats seem to group up in a guild of their own, and people who value what I value seem to end up together in a guild like the one that people like me, and presumably Tobold, are in.
One thing I will definitely agree on is that the Everquest model definitely made for more cohesive relationships and in fact, more cohesive guilds. Even the dysfunctional guild I shared with Tipa called “A Twist of Fate” learned to work well together and found ways to have a good time. That ship has sailed though, and everyone hoping for a more “hard-core” MMO is going to be sorely disappointed. At best that is going to be a niche game now.
WoW IS less social than a lot of games, but I wouldn’t say it’s less social than EVERY game. As a matter of fact in my experience, among “AAA” MMO’s, WoW is about the middle of the pack. Like any large population it does attract the actively antisocial because it provides a large audience for their “hey, look at me. I can say shocking and unpopular things and call you names!” I find these are people to be igmored, much like message board trolls. They feed on the attention and love to bait. I’ve learned not to take it.
I guess I agree with Tobold on some things, but I think his analysis of WoW social interaction is just a little too sweeping and broad for me.