Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The sporty side of WoW

Could you think of WoW as a kind of team sport? The thought struck upon me the other day as I was zapping through the TV channels turned up watching a bit of the finals of the national hockey tournament.

Until recently, probably out of prejudices, I had the idea that WoW-players generally weren't the sporty kind. Being a former science fiction fan, and a fringe fan of some other SF/fantasy connected subcultures, I've met a lot people throughout the years that are a bit odd in the eye of rest of society. You know the type: probably a bit more intelligent than the average, guys that rather would spend a night discussing a book over a pint of beer or watching an underground movie than playing football. Some call them nerds. And I guess I subconsciously came to the conclusion that WoW-players were just the same. A bit shy people, social on the net but quite inexperienced when it comes to normal relationships - and probably a bit overweight due to too much junk food eating in front of the pc.... All of the clichés you can think of.

Lately however, I've began to reconsider. Hey, reading the presentations of my guildies is proof enough. Most of them seem to be crazy about sports, not only watching it, but also performing it themselves, playing hockey and football, going skiing and golfing whenever they're not playing WoW. And honestly I do train a bit myself - growing older I've finally overcome the trauma of being picked last when you were supposed to form basket ball teams at school. Nowadays I do go to gym or aerobics once in a while, levelling my physical body in the same way as I'm usually working on my avatar Larísa.

Watching the hockey game yesterday I was struck by the resemblance between that game and the game we play online. And I'm not only thinking about Arena gaming, that obviously is using a traditional sport concept, having teams meeting in tournaments and competing in ranking. I think there actually are many sport connections in PvE as well, at least when it comes to raiding.

You have the same challenge of getting a bunch of people working as a team, working towards a common goal. You have to find a way to deal with the solo artists, to arrange them into an order, without making them lose interest and inspiration. You have to make people mentally prepared to endure a weak position, to handle wipes and losses constructively, to learn from the mistakes and keep thinking forward, pulling themselves together and focusing, even when the odds seem to be against you. You have to know how to position yourself, no matter if it's in front of the goalkeeper of the opponent team or if it's in Gruuls lair. You have to know by instinct where your team mates are and be prepared to move yourself if necessary. It's also about knowing your role - when to perform it and when to improvise and leave it. Not being a hockeyplayer myself, I still guess there are times when someone who normally is a defender may have to act as a forward - in the same way as a druid can find himself switching between tanking, dpsing or healing, according to the circumstances. And a keyword no matter what kind of game you're playing is trust. Trusting your goalkeeper or healer, trusting your tank or center.

I think there are a lot of things that raiders can learn from the sports - for instance to take fewer but more efficient breaks.. Don't mess around after each pull, using up your time on nothing. Keep the pace up, throw the next ball or target the next mob instantly. Of course you need breaks throughout the evening. Make them time limited and make sure they're long enough for you to really tend to your physical needs. If people know they'll be able to make a snack, go to the bathroom and say goodnight to the children, they'll easier stay focused, not going AFK when you least expected it.

Don't drink alcohol. I know there's a lot of drinking among athletes, but mostly they're cleaver enough to stay away from it until after the match is done, if it's about celebrating or trying to consol yourself after a loss. It's the same thing about raiding. OK you could have a beer, but not much more than that. We should save the parties until the game is over.

Watching the hockey match I realized that a huge part of the pleasure was listening to the commenting. A good reporter helps you to understand what you're seeing and suddenly you see the pattern, the beauty and the excitement of the game. I wonder if it couldn't be just as entertaining to see a commented WoW game or raid? OK, there are already a few instructive videos on YouTube with text messages that are explaining the strategies, but it's really not the same thing. Imagine having a pro reporter actually telling you about what's happening, what spells different players are doing, what they're trying to achieve, what abilities the opponent raidboss is using, how things are going... Couldn't that be just as entertaining and educating as watching the national hockey finals? In my world it would. And why not? With the growing amounts of wow players there could one day be a real time, commented broadcast from Nihilum taking down a brand new raid boss. Count me in as a watcher!

The borders between athletes and SF/fantasy nerds are obviously breaking up. And I'm the first one to applaud it.

1 comment:

Fish said...

Would it be a stretch to say that a good guildmaster should act like a coach?

I hadnt seen this before, april 15 is tax filing deadline, so no chance to read at work, but I think its funny you made a lot of the same comparisons I did, and I agree with you on them.