Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is the WoW population really rude?

"I've found the WoW population as a whole is mostly rude".This statement of the blog Omen of Clarity caught my attention a few days ago. The post in itself was actually not about rudeness but about kindness, the unexpected sort, when players spontaneously help other players out, without even being asked about it. And while I do agree that that kind of completely unselfish behavior is quite rare, I disagree about the WoW population being generally rude.

How often does it actually happen to me that another player takes advantage of me fighting the mana fishes in BE and then steals the charged battery thing or whatever it is called, right in front of me? Could it have happened once? And then it was a hordie, and well... I guess I can forgive it, everybody isn't such a carebear in this game as I am.

Of course it has happened occasionally that I've ended up in PUGs with some... let's call it... less well mannered players. But if you compare it to how many PUGs with decent people I've attended, you can hardly call it a majority.

I think the population in Azeroth looks just like any normal curve if you put it into a diagram. There are a few true heroes out there, unselfish, wonderful people who lighten up the game for the rest of us. There are a few bastards who make the game miserable, most of all for themselves, but unfortunately they sometimes manage to pest their surroundings as well.
And then there's the big bulk, the crowd, who play their game, thinking mostly about themselves, or possibly about their closest friends. Who just don't care if they see a little weak mage in trouble, after pulling three mobs instead of one. They won't lift a finger, actually they won't notice the mage dying. But on the other hand - they won't laugh about it either, making rude gestures or mean comments. They just mind their own business.

But maybe OoC is right in one way? If WoW is a social game where you're supposed to interact with others, maybe you could see it as a bit rude to just ignore what's happening around you? On the other hand - you can't possibly be there for everyone that comes in your way. We've all got our own ideas about how to play the game, different paths to travel, there's no reason why we should set our own goals aside just to please everyone else.

I think one reason why we sometimes may find other players rude is that we're simply not connecting to them. We lack a bit in communication - we're sort of strangers - we don't understand the code words and what's really being said. It's just like when I'm overhearing conversations of teenagers waiting in a subway station. To me their jargon sound pretty nasty, the tone is aggressive, they're pouring out perogative words to each other, calling them names. Sometimes I hardly get what they say; it's more like they're making noises. But if you ask them about it they will assure you they're the best of friends! It's me that is the problem, as an outsider I don't have access to their codes.

Why would things be different when the same teenagers move into Azeroth? It's quite possible that the "rude" impression I get from time to time just is a matter of cultural differences. And it could very well be the opposite way. It's quite possible that younger players from time to time could think that my more adult approach to things, where I sometimes can't help using some of my experience as a mother and leader in RL, is a bit harsh. Maybe they could even think I'm rude, what do I know?

My theory is that what we see as rudeness often is rather a sign of lack of communication - or a lack of will to communicate. You could call it laziness. It's easier to throw out "FFS" than to actually try to help the player who did a mistake by telling him how he could improve.

But why dwell on the rudeness? Just like OoM I prefer to focus on the kindness. I never grow tired of hearing stories with good examples of kindess in the game. And I love to tell others about when I've met it myself.

One moment of kindness I met which I'll never forget was when I ran into Woulfie in Stormwind, I guess I was around level 40/50-something. We had met about ten levels earlier in Thousand needles, but had hardly had any contact since. But he remembered me and now he took some time to inspect me. He wasn't pleased with what he saw - my gear was sort of "random" as he put it. So he brought me to AH, where I at that time hardly ever dared to go, and helped me to buy some priceworthy green stuff. Not anything expensive but still a lot better than what I was carrying at the moment. And then he enchanted whatever he could of my gear, for free. After that session, my questing and killing went SO much easier. I spent more time levelling and less time corpse running. Those 20 minutes he spent on helping me out did the whole difference and I'll never forget it. I just hope I'll be able recognize and grab the opportunity to do the same thing for someone else one day when it shows up.

If more of us put up a "pay it forward" attitude, where we gave without expecting any other reward but knowing that the one we helped one day would help someone else, I think the game would be even more enjoyable than it is today.It may be so that most players aren't rude but indifferent. But I'd prefer to be classed as one of the minority - one of the Nice Guys.

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