This is a thought I’ve had percolating around in my brain for some time. It draws heavily upon experiences and feelings related to the badge change in 3.2 and recent almost-drama in my guild.
How many of us have talked our friends into playing WoW?
Hey, there’s this great game I play, you should get it too! I can give you some gold to get you started and boost your level up so you can come play with me!
How many of us were shocked/appalled/mildly irritated with the badge change in 3.2?
ZOMG now scrubs will have good gear and think that they should be in raids!
Or maybe we were excited about the badge changes?
ZOMG now I can get my alt or my friend’s character caught up so much more quickly!
How many of us took the time to put these situations together?
The following post is hypothetical. I have to put this disclaimer in or someone will think I really have a friend named Bob that is playing WoW with me.
Let’s say I have a friend that I want to play WoW. We’ll call him Bob because I’m too lazy to come up with something original.
Bob gets the game installed, I walk him through rolling his character. Bob wants to play a mage, just like me. I’m so proud.
Now I’m always off on my mage doing big-mage stuff. I’m raiding and doing dailies so I can afford to raid (and support my vanity pet habit).
Poor Bob is killing 10 tigers.
And then 10 bigger tigers.
Next he can kill panthers!
So much for playing the game together.
I obviously have to get Bob up to 80 so he can kill raid tigers with me! (It’s a metaphor, work with me here.)
With Bob in tow, I run through every instance I can get him through the portal on.
Loot is set to free-for-all, take the cloth and the greens and blues and purples and leave the rest to rot. We’re here to pillage and plunder (and power level)!
Completing a few quests here and there on his own, Bob has made it to 80.
Guildmates help out and we steamroll heroics to get Bob some emblems and gear.
Then maybe a Naxx run or two. Knock on Sarth’s door for tea. Beat the VoA pinata for purple candy.
Bob is picking up gear left and right; no one else in the guild needs it, we’re all in our shiny raid purples.
Between the free loot and then emblems raining down, Bob is geared pretty well.
We’re down a DPS for tonight’s ToCr raid. Want to join?
And so Bob trundles off to ToCr, happy to finally be doing big-mage stuff.
The beasts event starts, the magnataur comes out.
Bob has died.
Not only has Bob died, but his damage was shit for the 60 seconds he was up.
WTF? He’s in the best gear we can get for him!
But you see, poor Bob never got to learn how to properly play his class.
He did some quests on his own, but let’s face it – unless you’re trying to solo elites or take on multiple mobs above your level, you can get away with surviving with only a very limited understanding of a class. And if that quest is too hard, you can always dump it and move on to another.
(Not only that, but if you don’t have someone of your gear level to compare yourself to, you won’t know if you’re doing poorly or not. I know this, I soloed a warrior to 61 and to this day have no clue how the hell I ever got that far knowing as little as I did about class and game mechanics. I had spirit on my gear!!! But because I was living through most quests I was pretty sure I had a handle on what I was doing.)
Mechanics of fights often weren’t explained to him because it didn’t matter. The boss would be dead before it could cast that special attack. The healer could heal through the damage. Bob’s friends were in a rush to get through the old content as quickly as possible. Just kill it, strategy doesn’t matter. We’ll brute force our way through it. We all may have even laughed at the memories of our first times through there. New record! Boss down in 23 seconds!
Bob never was challenged by the content. He never understood what threat was or how he could control it. The tank was easily geared enough to keep on top of his threat or skilled enough to taunt it back. He never had to learn about survival abilities. Ice Block was what you used when jumping off of a cliff to get the Going Down achievement.
Getting out of the fire wasn’t important. We would tease him for standing in it, but with the strength of heals in the party he never died from it. He never learned the painful lessons of running back to a corpse and the resulting repair bill.
Crowd control and utility abilities were never used, why bother? It’s easier to AoE the whole pack instead of keeping a sheep off to the side. Someone else in the party was on top of removing curses. Bob probably never even saw a frame light up purple before it was gone.
Rotation was something that was talked about, but it didn’t really matter. The mobs were dead before he was even positioned in the room and ready to start casting. We ignored the low damage because it’s hard to compete against raid-geared people on mobs with such short life expectancies. He’ll be fine when he’s caught up with us.
With emblems and the upcoming changes to leveling and DKs starting at 55 and all these other things, we’ve been on the look out for the scrubs.
These changes will increase the number of scrubs!
These changes will let scrubs try to enter the hallowed grounds of raiding!
Night of the living scrubs!
Are these scrubs any worse than the ones we create ourselves out of friendship?
Our friends aren’t scrubs!!!
But what makes our friends immune to the taint of being a scrub?
Would they pass the PuG test? The PuG test being, if you didn’t know the person in real life and you were in a random raid with them, would you want to punch them in the face for being an idiot?
Being friends with a raider does not confer magical raiding skills. They do not step foot into their first raid with an intimate understanding of game mechanics. They do not receive a patch download from your brain into theirs about how bad it is to stand in fire. They only know what they have experienced.
One of the common topics I’ve seen in the blogs I read is the failure of Blizzard to provide enough “training” to new players so that they can be successful raiders at end game.
Why then, do we shoot ourselves in the other foot by taking what little education opportunities exist in the game and whisking our friends right past them?
Have we created our own monsters?