Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Final Boss

The Final Boss of WOW is out and his name is Arthas the Lich King.  We saw him commit hideous crimes against his own soldiers in Dragonblight, we saw him destroy legions of fighting men in Icecrown, and many of us remember back when the Scourge invaded the rest of Azeroth and the world was turned upside down for 4 days.  Now it is our opportunity to corner him in his lair and take him down.

On the very first day Arthas become available to fight a guild defeated him.  The fight is certainly very challenging as many, many guilds tried and failed.  Now we go to the WOW forums for comments and find that the world has ended.  People are signing up in droves to complain that an iconic figure in the lore of the world has been destroyed in no time.  They are screaming from the rooftops that Blizzard has ruined everything and that the final boss should have taken weeks, no *months* to defeat.  How can any of us continue on playing knowing that someone else beat the game first?

When you go and lift a 80 kilo weight and feel good about it there is doubtless someone else lifting a 160 kilo weight.  Of course the guy lifting that 160 kilo weight probably trains for hours a day and devotes much of his life and energy to becoming incredibly strong while you hit the gym for 3 hours a week.  He probably makes it a priority.  This is something that I find really quite interesting about competition that manifests itself very obviously in WOW; people look down on anyone with a different level of involvement than themselves.  This is not unique to video games at all, but the unbridled anger and vitriol that gets spewed about is not generally seen in other venues because the anonymity of the internet is not so readily available.

When someone is more involved in a chosen sport or activity they are regularly looked down upon as having no life, being too competitive and not being willing to just have fun.  When someone is less involved in that same activity they are just casual, not committed and are weak.  In most fields of endeavour these feelings must be squelched to a large extent to keep from violating social norms.  People will slander others in this way in private with people they know are in the same strata of commitment as themselves but will largely keep it there.

In WOW that sure isn't true.  Because the game itself is so intertwined with the internet the people who play it find the temptation to log on and scream out their frustrations over the tubes irresistible.  They scream that the game is too easy because someone else beat it (never mind that those who beat it play 40 hours a week) and then they turn around and insult those who accomplished the feat calling them basement dwelling no-lifers.  Of course next week they will be screaming that the Final Boss is far too hard and the game is catering to those same no-lifers because no normal person could hope to defeat it.  The hardcore players will then post that they beat the Final Boss too easily and that the game is being dumbed down for the casuals.

A reality check:  Like in most things in life, if you actually want to be the best, the first, the brightest and the guy who makes the front page you have to be the most committed.  If you prioritize other things in life then bully for you, but blowing your stack because you can't be the best player in the world on a couple hours a week is simply foolishness.  If you prioritize WOW and are amazing at it, fine and well, but suggesting that all the time and effort you and your team puts in to being great is nothing and that everyone can do it trivially is asinine.  Just like ultimate frisbee, knitting, lifting weights or climbing mountains there are going to be people more and less committed than yourself.  Spending your time putting others down only makes you look insecure; demanding that the game be solely designed for someone of your exact committment level makes you seem selfish and irrational.

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