WoW Wednesday: The Cynical Age of Warcraft

There was a time when the internet was young and MMO developers were still toying with the concepts that we would take for granted today. It was a simpler time when the “M’s” in MMO meant far more than gimmicks and trends, as the social interaction within these earlier games was considered indispensable. Communities formed in many different games, good and bad, bonding over the struggle to progress both as gamers and as people. It was wonderful. But as the industry evolved, so did the general demeanour of the overall populace.

World of Warcraft is one exceptional example as it is one of the very few MMOs out there that can claim successful longevity that has seen  many evolutions of their playerbase. Niceties and manners used to be part of this giant’s community, but these days, you’d mostly see trolls and vagabonds plaguing chats and activities all around. While it’s but a norm in any game, I can’t help but notice that the trite cynicism gets worse as a game ages. With something as old as WoW, is this going to get any worse, or is it really just the game’s generally innate demeanor of its population?


Yolo, Yolo, #Yoloswag

“You like to suck on donkey testicles, bleh!” I would hear every so often as I fly through the skies in Stormwind. Another would respond, in kind, with the same level of juvenile taunting, and, before you know it, several groups of people are spamming “Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker” over and over again, and then maybe someone blaming Obama and Mexicans for what’s happening to Personal Looting. It is but a normal day in WoW’s trade chat and those are things that the average WoW players are accustomed to, and it isn’t something special that just occurred in Warlords of Draenor, for WoW has a very long history of crazy and troll-ish chat from Barrens, Goldshire, Alterac Valley, and many others that host the perverted, the obnoxious, and the cynical. In the past, these odd behaviours stayed in those types of chats and only a few lingered into dungeons and raids, and talking trash in PvP doesn’t really count, but, lately, these types of attitudes have gotten far worse and further along into other areas.

WoW Cynical Image 1

My face when I read trade chat.

It isn’t the worst thing ever to have a little bit of a debate or even just ripping on random people. If you’re too sensitive about those kinds of things, you shouldn’t be on the internet. But that is merely affirming the sordid nature of online interaction and a step closer to acknowledging that things are just getting worse as time goes by. I’m sure many of you will remember the happier times earlier on in the life of WoW where people actually cared about helping others for the sheer reason of common decency and would be shocked whenever a douchebag comes out and says something stupid. Nowadays, it’s far more rare to find kinder folk with the intention of forming bonds with other players, being outnumbered only by the arse and the arsehole.

Since I started playing WoD, I’ve noticed that chat has become progressively worse. Friction everywhere you look and there’s always somebody bagging on something/someone. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, it will eventually spiral out of control with the standard threats of ignoring and reporting. Back in Pandaria, it was bad, but not this bad. There literally isn’t an hour that goes by without someone fighting. However, it’s almost always some sort of swagger people have to prove amongst themselves, like having the fastest realm time in some challenge mode dungeon that no one cares about, or some guy thinking he’s the best hunter(lol) that has ever graced the game. And pretty much has always something to do with an achievement from an expansion long ago.

It simply boils down to the growing cynicism of veteran players against the cynicism of other veteran playerscompeting for superiority through a war of words. But, hey, I kind of get it; experience does breed pride, and through pride, vanity. Experience is gained only from how long one has been partaking at some activity, namely WoW, and there’s been 10 years of that. With every new expansion, there’s a whole new slew of bragging morons about something they did some time ago, and it looks like something that won’t ever slow down.


Plz stahp being bad

This reminds of something that happened quite recently; when my old guild was disbanded due to reasons as stupid as trade chat, I sought out a new one that focused more on playing as a team and less about who has the bigger e-peen. I stumbled upon a guild, which will not be named, who sought out, oddly enough, a ranged dps for their Normal Highmaul progression. Being geared past Normal, you would think that I’d pass on that and seek another guild into Heroic or Mythic progression, but I’m far more concerned with having a tightly knit team forged in hardship, and, really, breaking into the A-Team of a well established guild is going to be more work than it’s worth. So, I gave it a shot and sent the recruiter a tell.

WoW Cynical Image 4

Progression Plz

Despite my item level, experience, and knowledge in raiding, the recruiter was skeptical at first, wondering why anyone of my particular skill set would be interested in joining or helping a guild barely progressing in what is to be dated content in a few weeks. As he put it, “I didn’t think anybody could be so helpful.”

I really wouldn’t put it as “helpful”, because I do have an ulterior motive than just helping them, but my point is that he was authentically surprised at the thought. If anything, it proved to strengthen the idea that I am not the only one noticing in the continuous degradation of proper human interaction within the game. To reiterate, he simply found it far more surprising to find someone interested in helping others as opposed to those that simply seek the advancement of the self.

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That isn’t to say that wanting to gear up as quickly or as easily as possible is a bad thing, but it certainly does become the thing we obssess about in WoW these days, and the obssession for these pixelated pieces of equipment make for a harsh environment. Take for example the sorts of notes you find when looking for raid groups in the new Group Finder tool. More often than not, you’ll be seeing note after note about “no bads”, “pros only”, or “shit players will be kicked”. Pair these up with an ungodly high item level requirement for the raid’s difficulty (660+ for Normal Highmaul? Sounds like some real baddie just wants to be carried), one can only surmise that, at this day and age, no one is willing to put up with the time it requires for other people to learn. Requiring people to know the fight is one thing, but totally another to arbitrarily toss out the word “bad”.

Sure, I completely agree that it’s always a bad thing to wipe, umm, let’s say, thirty-four times on a single boss due to a bad egg, but it’s also quite absurd to expect everyone to play on the same caliber. If you’re not willing to put in the time it takes to get a pug going, then you really don’t have any business attempting to pug. Though, I will agree that it is absolutely frustrating to see someone get killed by Kargath’s Berserker Rush because they stood still. Even I have my limits.

WoW Cynical Image 3

At least my follower knows what to do!

Veterans would say that they’ve gone through all the movements and hoops, and that they need not go through with them anymore considering what they’ve already accomplished, but that isn’t what the game is about. You simply are not entitled to any ease that can be unwittingly attained, because that goes against what WoW is all about: Progression. If you don’t want to have a hard time, better put down that mouse and move on to something else, because you may have been barking at the wrong tree this whole time.

Due to WoW’s age, as well as the MMO industry’s age, we expect people to have a good handle on how these types of games work. We find it absolutely intolerable that an MMO this old still has those that simply cannot grasp the logic flow of encounters, whether in PvP or PvE, and to function properly when in the situation. Because of this distinction to have skill, there is undoubtedly a lot of bad blood formed between players, most especially in a pug, causing a lot of in-fighting that could have otherwise been circumvented with a proper /tell without it blowing up into a day-time soap.

World of Warcraft

Wow! No one’s arguing! …because I blocked out chat!

Even something as minuscule as a talent choice is debated upon within the raid. Who cares if he picked Focusing Shot rather than Lone Wolf? Is he doing his job right? Is he a generally useful asset/negligible liability to the team? If yes, then leave him be. Don’t go crazy over things like those. Rather, get upset at the guy that thought it funny to pull a boss four times in a row just because he was bored waiting for the group to fill up.

It is because of this that we see more and more toxic attitudes that break apart actual raids and parties who should have otherwise been doing well. But, guess what? WoW is one of the strongest MMOs in the market and it won’t stop having new players. There will always be a Knewbie Mcgreen and there really isn’t anything to stop it. We either accept the nuances in playing a game this massively multiplayer, or we lash out at the rest of the game world, making it just a shade dirtier.

Most players these days have this fancy for breezing through the ranks and, to put it simply, just want to have things easy. It’s completely different from averting a long and boring grind. Quite the opposite really. In terms of PvE, raiding is the real game, and PvP is just PvP. So having this combination of gear obsession. a penchant for the tame, and the age of the game make for, most of the time if not always, a bad attitude. Players become impatient, intolerant, and just downright annoying.


New Game

If you have played any newly launched MMO lately, you can immediately tell that the community is far more docile than that of WoW’s. Why? Because no one has any experience to talk about yet, nor do they have any accomplishments that matter within the game’s borders, and simply because everyone else is still exploring. But once they get complacent with the environment, you better get ready for what’s to come, because it’s just about to become the same as every other game. This isn’t to say that there are not any rotten tomatoes at all, but there are just too few of them to notice.

I offer no solution nor resounding advice on this growing cynicism with age, but just the realization that the bad attitudes are simply parallel to a games growth. Who knows if this will continue? Though I am hoping for a burst of voluntary social reform by the people of the internet in the future. It’s the only thing I can think of that will spare us from further “screw yo mama and screw Obama” comments.

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About BroadcastDinosaur

Likes to pull bosses before the tank does and is a leech in PvP.