Titles. Who cares about titles in real life? I don’t. On the contrary – people who are obsessed with titles give me giggles. As I grew up we always used to laugh at Germans who seemed to be excessively interested in that stuff. As if it wasn’t enough to write “doctor” about someone who was that, they had to add another “doctor”, as if they just had to make sure. But on me the effect was rather the opposite. How could you ever take someone who called himself “Herr Doktor Doktor” seriously?
Do you remember how it used to be in the old days? Sure, there were some titles around, but people didn’t make such a big deal of it. I barely noticed them to be honest. I remember a guildie who was particularly proud of some title she had gotten in the old PvP system. Could it have been “Commander”? But to me it didn’t’ say anything. The first titles I got were Champion of the Naaru and Hand of A'dal. It was pretty far into TBC and didn’t come with a lot of prestige. I saw them as nice souvenirs, reminding me of those endless quest chains to get them, but I didn’t really expect anyone to notice.
Enter WotLK. Enter titles. A ton of them, ranging on the entire scale from silly to imba.
On the silly front I count “Jenkins”. I guess that title is supposed to be funny, but it only gives me shivers. Yeah, I’ve got it on my mage, but I wouldn’t dream of displaying it. Whenever I find a “Jenkins” in my pug, I fear the worst and expect all sorts of immature behaviour - l33t-speech, loot drama and ninja pulls.
The imba titles on the other side are quite impressive – for a little while. The sad thing is that their value decreases rapidly as time passes. While “Twilight vanquisher” was pretty cool early in the expansion, it can be acquired easily now with people geared in ToC epics. It doesn’t say a thing, so if you still wear it, it’s rather for some sort of RP reasons. You think it goes well with your character. You feel like a “twilight vanquisher”.
All in all, if you ask me, I’m almost as uninterested of titles in WoW as I am in real life. The only one that ever caught my attention was “Merrymaker”. I thought it so fit well with a sweet little pink pigtailed gnome with a sweet giggle and explosive spells. So Merrymaker it is. Larísa is also Elder, Hallowed, Matron, Love Fool and God knows what after the long strange trip which ended recently (yay!), but I don’t bother show it.
Would I make an effort to get one of the new titles? Well, I certainly want to kill the Lich King in heroic mode. But it’s not primarily in order to be able to expose myself as Bane of the fallen king. The title would just be a side effect.
So should Blizzard should add more incentives for players to get those titles? In my opinion: only in the form of vanity items. Dragons and non combat pets are fine as rewards, but giving substantial advantages to players with certain titles wouldn’t only cause imbalances in the game. It could also become a too strong incentive, making it harder for some players to keep the RL/game balance at a healthy level. And that’s exactly the kind of gaming behaviour that Blizzard is trying to move away from.
I agree with Larísa that there should be no substantial rewards tied to titles in game. Unlike her, I like to collect titles. I have five of them now: Ambassador, the Explorer, Chef, The Argent Champion, and The Guardian of Cenarius. I usually wear whatever holiday title I have during the holiday but in-between I almost always use Ambassador for role playing purposes.
Interestingly, I also share Larisa's dislike for titles outside the game as well. Except for the polite terms of "sir" and "ma'am" (which are originally titles) I never use them; it seems to go against the grain of our American sentimental egalitarianism. This is why it frustrates me when people give me titles that I don't actually have. It's true. All I have to do is show up on a college campus and with minutes I will be addressed as "Doctor" or "Professor" even though I do not have a doctorate or ever taught a college level course. I guess I just look like a professor and that's good enough for most people. Thankfully no one has ever called me Doctor Doctor because I would lose lose it it and smash smash their their face face.
The reason I like to use titles in game is two fold. One, they are useful for role playing purpose. It's cool when I meet another Ambassador that plays along and we can discuss the respective duties of the our Ambassadorships and what we think of the big political decision of the day. I've probably learned more about the actual lore behind Warcraft though this means than I have any other way.
The other reason I use titles is because I think it creates a sense of identity in the same way that people dress up their AH alts in bunny ears or with a diamond tipped cane. Let's be honest. From a distance all night elves look basically the same: tall with pointy ears. If we are in tree form we all look exactly the same: like wilted celery. And don't give me nonsense about how I'm disrespecting trees. I'm a druid healer myself. But if you take out a sheaf of celery that has been in the fridge for too long, stand it on the counter, and walk it along it moves and shakes exactly like a running "tree" does. If it looks like wilted celery and runs like wilted celery than celery it is and I don't care if people want to sex it up by calling it a "tree". It's celery. Call me Ambassador Celery. I'm O.K with it.
Where was I again? The fact that from a distance all gnomes look like balls of cotton candy. No? Titles. That's right; titles. As I was saying titles help to spruce up the trees and give their identity some bark. Without titles trees would be rootless and leave the forest whenever they could, fir sure. Do we players want that? I think not. It's roots that give trees their nourishment and allow to them thrive. If Blizzard allows rootless trees the next thing you know they will begin to wilt and people will mistake them for walking celery. So a title for every tree and a tree for every title.
I do think that titles do tell you something about a person that you can't tell just by looking at them. For example, my own impression of the Jenkins title is exactly the same as Larísa's impression and arrived at completely independently. The problem is that the interface limits one to displaying one title at a time, which limits the amount of information conveyed. So I think we should be able to display all our titles and see who really has the biggest ego. I want my title to be: The Explorer Ambassador to the Chef of the Argent Champion. Now that's a title that commands respect, isn't it Herr Doktor Doktor.