Does the very act of being one of forty people in an instance, all clamoring and angling for the same purple drops as the guild moves forward farming Molten Core, or Blackwing Lair, ultimately end up being a let down? Once a guild begins to work an instance, and people get a taste of decent gear, the real pressure comes to bear on the ego of the individual. Couple this drive for “stuff” which becomes the cyber equivalent of the Indy 500 with no entrant limitation, with the veil of privacy interacting over the web brings, and it is a two-pronged assault of asshatdom aimed at the casual player. We all have stories of people who have changed after getting a few “uber” drops, but why does it happen? Can we peer ahead into the dusty future of MMORGS and see a time when civility and personal happiness with trump the stampede to get gear? I think not, though the gaming population ages, there will always be new players, as well as those who have been rewarded by their behavior with getting just what they want, be it attention, loot, or both. Look at the WoW realm boards–they are full of posts aimed at illuminating an individuals online prowess, or the inverse, their lack of skill.
Add to the mix of loot pressure the relative anonymity of the web, and the meek, bespectacled, computer club graduate becomes the new Reichsfuhrer Stormwind. I must admit, after perusing the RL pictures of guild-mates and other people on a particular server, going back to my MUD days, I am always struck by the thought, “That’s the human sphincter whose children I roundly curse?” I’m sure that no one really looks like the nightelf warrior with triple-Ds I imagine they do, especially as 90% of them are male, but certainly one might be led to believe the mysteries of shaving are not arcane magic to this all around game expert. However, the transformation process is not confined to the young, though I believe their drive for immediate satisfaction makes most younger gamers the most egregious offenders. I have seen a number of what are relative oldsters turn into the denizens of Hell’s seventh circle in the space of a few short game weeks.
Do I write this with a particular person(s) in mind? Sure, it wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t. But I don’t believe those people are specific to any one guild. In all the games I’ve played that allow players to band together in the little commune called a guild, I’ve witnessed this morphing of the beginning player into a loot-hungry class/raid boss tactics expert. If it stopped there I guess I wouldn’t have to lament the trans-formative power of the on-line gaming experience. Indeed, it seems the stimulii of the entire process begins with the seemingly innane smaller collections of pixels that the bigger collections leave behind their corpses like rabbit pellets in a hutch (drops). Once a player gets a taste of a decent drop, one they didn’t have to lift off the in-game purchasing system, human psychology takes over like Pavlov’s dog listening to the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Fleshing out what drives a player to climb over his/her guildies to get at the full set of gear, higher pvp rank, or whatever in-game reward one can name has led me to a conclusion. Simply, I guess if I don’t want to deal with the stubborn, overbearing, game done-it-all-know-more-than-you guy who spouts wisdom in the form of satirical put-downs and emotes, I will have to end my raiding days. Gearing classes with an eye to moving up the tier system, in WoW terms, requires a large number of people, perhaps 60 to account for absences on various nights, in order to be successful. While I am certainly not a statistician, it appears the group dynamics in a number that large invariably dictate a number of the group will fit the above profile.
An analogy I saw on a Las Vegas “behind the scenes” documentary comes to mind–when a prominent hotel/casino operator was interviewed about high stakes gamblers, who drop tens of thousands of dollars at a time, the operator of the casino said that for the very wealthy, dropping that figure is no more exhiliarting that say, a plumber on vacation gambling $100 dollars on a blackjack hand. People have to have more or they become bored (though how boring is it to run MC 100 times trying to get full T1 sets?) I think I will follow Wilhelms lead and get back into the theme of my pen and paper days, enjoying the wee instances for what loot they offer, and not as a stepping stone to push past 60 other people.
Read his article here: http://tagn.wordpress.com/2006/10/18/in-defense-of-instancing/