Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Private WoW teacher for hire

A little more than a year ago, I asked: why is it normal to consult a teacher when you want to learn how to ride a snowboard, but you won't see anyone offering to learn you how to play a tank in WoW? It's acceptable to take skiing lessons, but we expect everyone to learn how to master the game by their own means.

My idea about veterans offering lessons in WoW was pretty well received in the comments, and some experienced players shared stories from their past where they had been the mentor for a newbie player, and how much they had enjoyed doing this.

I never wrote clearly how I thought the willing teacher should be paid; actually I never thought about it much at the point I wrote the post. I guess I assumed that it would be payment in gold, similar to how Gevlon paid for raid spots at that time. People are paying gold for boosts, why not pay for knowledge? And my readers probably assumed the same. The real life commercial side of it never became any issue in the discussion.

Coaching for money
Now I’ve seen this teacher-for-hire idea come true for the first time, thanks to a post at Consider This. The story is that a fury warrior, who seems to be well known in warrior circles, deeply involved in the EJ forums and a raider in one of the top guilds of the world, is offering coaching services at 24 dollars an hour.

Consider is very critical about this, and concludes that “no player out there is so dim-witted whereas they need a paid service and no player is so amazing that they’re worth paying for such a service.”

His major objections are:
  1. The game is fairly simple and there are a ton of free resources to help you out if you need
  2. The warrior in question isn’t that great. Why pay for someone who isn’t actually the best?
  3. Others can’t teach you to react to the unexpected – which is what being a good player is all about. To be truly competitive with the best, you’re going to have to be able to think on your own, and a coaching service doesn’t make you do that.

He finally offers anyone who needs advice on how to play their DK a free service – through mail, MSN or even on vent.

“But whatever else, please god, never pay someone for such junk. Not for a game. Not for WoW.”

Why I don't mind
So what’s my view on this? Well, not so surprisingly, considering I suggested WoW teaching services in the first place, I’m not as disturbed as Consider.

It certainly makes more sense to me to pay 25 dollars for personal tutoring of one of the 100 best players in the world than to pay the equal amount for a silly sparkling pony.

The way I’m playing the game, I don’t see any need to consult such a teacher myself, (provided that there was one available for mages).

I’m playing in a guild which although it’s The Best in its kind and holds my heart, honestly can’t claim to be on the bleeding edge of raiding. I don’t have any ambitions to make a WoW career, aiming for a spot in Ensidia. I’m not going anywhere. But suppose I did? If I really had that drive, if I really wanted to become the best in the world in my class, why wouldn’t I try an hour of personal coaching? I’d soon enough find out if it actually resulted in any improvement.

I agree that there’s a ton of information available for free. Provided that you have unlimited of time at hands you could probably learn most of the stuff that this coach could tell you by looking it up yourself. But at least the mage forums at EJ (I can’t tell about the others) is currently a mess, a jungle to get lost in, a time sink I could live without.

I don’t think that this guy is scamming players. He’s made an offer and if people are happing to pay for the service, I don’t mind.

Will it work?
The next question is: will the warrior get any customers?

To be honest I doubt it. The players who are ambitious enough to want to learn from the best are probably a little too cocky to admit that they have a lesson to learn. And the casuals who know that they’re not the best, aren’t motivated enough to pay to get better.

The biggest problem however is the timing. It’s summer and there’s end-of-expansion-blues in the air. The people who are still into progression raiding are pretty clear by now on the best specs, gear and rotations. The market will probably be better once Cataclysm has arrived and people are still in confusion, trying to navigate through the information overload.

But I still think that most players are pretty reluctant to pay real life money for this. In game gold would work better. On the other hand – these days when the gold is flowing on the streets I suppose that very few top players would be willing to sell their time for such a trivial reward.

25 comments:

Andy said...

I can't really see it working too well either, for the reasons you stated, plus asking for $24 per hour(!) is a bit much. I could see paying a one-off fee for a set number of hours of coaching, but that price seems rather high. I don't even earn that much in my real job!

That said, I do think the idea of offering your services as a coach is a good one, and I disagree with Consider's claim that you can't teach someone to play smarter and react well to unexpected events. That's exactly what they do in the military of police: train you to act intelligently when things go pear-shaped. You can teach someone to know their class inside out, so they can react to situations instinctively, since after all there aren't that many different things that can happen in WoW. Teach someone general tactics for dealing with various types of situations, and emphasise the use of initiative, and all but the most brain-dead or lazy (like Gevlon's famous M&S) will get it eventually.

Klepsacovic said...

I think it's a neat idea, and I can see a niche market for a new player who has way too much money. But in that case, he should be charging more, to indicate that this is a premium, exclusive service, not just some bored player with extra time.

Jen said...

A coach can't teach how to react to the unexpected, but coaching can definitely make you a better player. I wouldn't pay that much money, but I've wished more than once that I could get tips and tricks from more experienced players - things from "use Barkskin on Marrowgar heroic" to "save your NS+HT macro for when someone resses". I'm sure I'd have figured them out on my own, but getting this advice might have saved a few wipes.

Azryu said...

This is not a new idea at all.

http://www.skill-capped.com/

This is a website with some of the best pvp gladiators who joined forces to make a video tutorial site. For 5 bucks a month you can view their instructional videos and such, which is all in efforts to "coah" you.

I actually bought one month out of pure curiousity. I can say it was worth the 5 dollars, since i watched all the mage related videos, but the content comes out a bit slow to warrent a renewing subscription.

Len said...

It's an interesting idea, but I'd find 'virtual coaching' a bit pointless. I'm not the best at what I do although I muddle on ok and know a fair bit about the classes I play. Where I'd really need help is say, figuring out what keybindings would work best for me to optimise my play or how to use my skills in a pvp context (in which i currently have no clue).

I can't imagine how that kind of coaching would work without someone actually physically sitting down next to me, knowing how my UI is set up and seeing how I currently do things to offer tips and advice on how to change.

Hugmenot said...

I disagree with Consider's claim there is no demand for such services considering how many people pay hire chess and bridge coaches. The fee, $24 per hour, is quite low compared to professional chess coaches.

A WoW coach can help players with gear, gems, enchants, rotation, and consumable choices.

He or she may be able to provide tips on to when to consume potions or use some cooldowns in specific encounter.

I have my doubts whether the coach can help someone react to unexpected events. I cannot see how a coach can simulate such events in-game without the help of an accomplice group or raid, and only on a limited time-consuming basis in my opinion.

I believe the inability to create situations - the equivalent of chess positions - tailored to the player is what will limit the WoW coach-student relationship to just a few hours.

Logtar said...

I would actually pay for a lesson from someone if I needed it, however I think that class leaders in most raiding guild provide that kind of service to the guild members free of charge. I personally have done my fair share of coaching and never asked for anything but loyalty to the guild in return.

Gevlon said...

Quote from the guild info of "The PuG": "Raid logs: [link] Check them, learn from your mistakes. If you don't know how to improve, PAY someone to help you!"

NaturalGamerGirl said...

If someone is willing to pay for some assistance, I don't see what the harm is. But tbh, I find that sometimes guilds provide this service for each other. The guild my husband and I run is a very community based guild, and we have all 'coached' each other at some point, whether it be help with gear questions, suggestions on maximizing effectiveness in a raid, teaching a new player about the game & the unwritten etiquette, and helping skilled players learn a new role or class.

Interestingly enough, the most common thing I feel I 'teach' is etiquette for new players. Some of who have been playing since Vanilla or even BC sometimes take for granted that we have been involved in Azeroth for years. We know the unwritten rules and sometimes get frustrated when others break them, assuming they are doing so for malicious reasons. My noobie guildies have shown me that sometimes people just don't know better!

I have heard tons of horror stories of terrible guilds, and if someone did not have this kind of supportive environment to learn and they were willing/able to pay for it, where's the harm?

Rades said...

The concept is interesting, but why would I ever pay someone to teach me about WoW when there are so many free resources? WoW Wiki, Wow.com, youtube videos, countless blogs... Ok, this guy is a warrior and I don't know of a great deal of warrior blogs. But let's say he was a hunter or druid? I seriously doubt he could teach me anything that I couldn't learn on a blog, or by asking a blogger.

As for the charge per hour...why per hour? It would seem to make more sense to charge per raid, per 5 heroics, per Arena match, per 500 Arena ranking points, etc.

Shelly said...

"The warrior in question isn’t that great. Why pay for someone who isn’t actually the best?"

someone doesn't need to be the best at something to be able to teach it. To teach it to a set standard they need a set standard of greatness but there are plenty of things that are taught by people who aren't the best, and this includes tutors. Part of the job of tutors is to teach in a way that their student will learn and part of it is to teach things that aren't above the students ability to learn.
I would actually argue that teaching in itself is also learning.

As for the rest of it, had a dk tank in hellfire ramparts who did everything strictly tanking correct, but failed to watch for pats, or pull from a distance. He always died first and with ALL adds on him but failed to realize his surroundings. I assume he looked up on his class and read how to tank in his spec but I think he failed to read any points about environmental awareness that may or may not have been in the literature.

Tesh said...

I'm definitely not in the market for something like this, but I think one exists. Why rag on a guy for trying his hand at using his expertise to make money? It's precisely that drive that makes many economies function.

So what if it's a constrained niche? He'll find out soon enough, one way or another.

Glacey said...

When I first read this, I thought the whole concept of virtual coaching for pay was silly.

Until I remembered the various trees and boomkins I've coached over the past two years.

Thinking in particular of a fairly poor warlock player who decided to switch his main to a boomie. He asked for advice and we talked about specs, rotations, addons... I helped him redo his UI, explained why a certain spec was better, went over each talent. This helped him get into the class, rather than just copying one of the numerious posts of what your spec should be. You know, I did spend over an hour with him on at least one occasion.

24/hr isn't that unreasonable. I earn more than that at my job, and this is a dedicated period of time for this coaching, which will usually lead to real results.

My new boomie friend (formerly warlock) not only has a better understanding of boomie mechanics than he ever did warlock, from his first raid in feathers to his next, after coaching, his dps increased 2k. No, he'll never be a savant or go to a top 100 guild. To him though, knowing that he DOES NOT SUCK at his class makes the game more enjoyable, and overall he saved time with dedicated coaching versus trying to wade through all the mess he could find online.

I just PM'd him, and he agreed. He also earns more than 24/hr, understands that time=money, and said he would absolutly have paid that for his current level of enjoyment of the game.

Much more than a sparkley pony.

Bristal said...

A better idea would be a "camp". One or two evenings or a weekend with some awesome players hand selected by Blizzard to lead workshops.

WoW could offer a free server transfer and back for a one-weekend camp, I'd pay $50-$60 for that.

There would be breakout sessions for each class,, PvP, then groups would be formed for raids with excellent raid leading and continued feedback.

Maybe it would guarantee a full Ulduar clear, a major gear upgrade, or an achievement of some kind.

How cool with THAT be?

Maybe I've been to too many meetings lately...

Video Game Philosopher said...

Tanking isn't that hard, it takes time, and experience to become great at it. It also isn't really something that can be taught in my opinion.

Perdissa said...

$24 an hour actually isn't a lot of money as far as tutoring goes. Good tutors in my country easily charge that amount for children in middle school, taking the equivalent of the GCE A levels in the UK. Can the child learn all that stuff on his or her own, without a tutor? After all, there are plenty of resources out there. Of course. But the tutor is supposed to help the child overcome barriers or save him some time with difficult concepts.

Would I pay that to have someone tutor me in WOW? At this point, probably not, but I obviously can't speak for everyone.

The value of individual coaching cannot be understated, though. A while ago, my wife's paladin hit 80 and wanted to tank. We brought our paladins to normal hellfire ramparts and I told her to pull every group as if we were in a LK heroic. Through that, she managed to pick up a lot of stuff, including LOS pulling, picking up loose adds (which I purposely taunted away), how to cast righteous defense to save nub party members who "accidentally" pull another group of mobs. Early on, her realization that she was running out of mana very quickly reminded me to tell her that she could use divine plea to keep mana up etc. She graduated from it a much better tank. :)

nugget said...

Omm.

"The players who are ambitious enough to want to learn from the best are probably a little too cocky to admit that they have a lesson to learn."

I think this statement might be a little 'off'. Not trying to be mean... just pondering.

See, there's always a point of 'mastery' of any skillset, where you learn more from doing your own research than from asking someone to sit there and hold your hand - paid or not.

Those who are ambitious enough to want to 'learn from the best' probably already are... by studying them from various sources. Maybe even by talking to them! But not in a 'take me on a step by step tour' way, but rather, I am weak in *this* particular area... and I need to find out how to fix it.

Research! XD

In terms of improving skillsets - everyone can always improve. However, I don't think the reluctance to seek out a tutor has much to do with cockiness, but rather with the level of mastery.

...and paying someone for a Newbie Helper in WoW just sounds wrong to me, somehow.

Squee!

Jen said...

@Video Game Philosopher: Maybe you can't teach someone to be a *great* tank, but you can definitely teach them to be at least decent.

A few things my MT taught me (for my prot pally alt):
- what seal to use, what to judge
- why piece X of gear is better than piece Y of gear
- the difference between main tanking and offtanking
- how to pull casters
- why I will probably always suck at tanking since my spacial awareness sucks :D

I'm not a good tank, but I'm definitely better than when I started out. And there's some things she told me that I never saw mentioned in any guide/blog/wiki...

Larísa said...

@Andy: Hm… considering the price I actually don’t think it’s that horrencous, thinking closer about it. Come on, normal consultant fees are way higher. I pay my hairdresser more than double this fee per hour. Not to speak of if you consult a specialist – normal fees are about four times higher or more, I’d dare say. But it depends on the quality of the service. How efficient is that hour? If you pay real life money – loads of them – you’ll have pretty high expectations, I’d dare say!

I think too he should offer package prices with bonuses for people who sign up for let’s say 5 or 10 hours over a certain time. But maybe he’ll develop this, if this enterprise will turn out to work at all.

And yeah, I agree that it should be possible to train someone even to doing proper reactions. You have to use your imagination. I suppose a lot of the consultant-service is thought to be off-line or vent-chatting, going through wws-logs, talking about gear and talent choices etc, but I can imagine that he might roll an alt on the server where his client in, a DK or whatever, and then just observe him in a certain situation.

@Klepsacovic: hehe, yeah… proper consultant fees perhaps would add glamour to it? :)

@Jen: Yeah, I too miss that. I’d love to have a private mage mentor. Either for fun and friendship – or for a fee. But sometimes you feel a bit lonely trying to figure out things.

@Azryu: I think it’s a new idea since it’s very different to have a private, personal coach and to watch some tutorial videos with the same content that you share with several others. It’s not the same at all.

@Len: That would really be even better. How I’ve wished that I one day actually would sit in the same room as another gamer, someone looking at my keyboard, helping me to assign buttons properly so I could start working on developing a new, better muscle memory… But I think this coaching service might still be the next best and actually provide something.

@Hugmenot:Yeah: I’m with you there. I don’t see people buying huge amounts of hours. But a couple of them could probably be useful for people who have more money than time at their hands.

@Logtar: I’ve never been in a guild huge enough to house ”class leaders”. Currently we’re only two raiding mages in my guild, including me. But yeah, I suppose that kind of coaching exists in big guilds.

@Gevlon: hehe… now at least you know where to point the clueless fury warrior!

@NaturalGamerGirl: No, I don’t see any harm in it either, as long as it’s not a scam, but proper coaching that is offered. Everyone isn’t fortunate enough to be in such a guild environment that you describe.

Larísa said...

@Rades: I don’t deny that there are a lot of free resources, but it takes quite a lot of time to find out the essence of it – even for me, who has information exchange as a profession. If someone has more money than time available I can fully understand why they’d go for this as an alternative to grinding the webs.

@Shelly: /sign on this. The most important quality is to be a good coach. If you’re number 1, 10 or 100 on the world ranking list doesn’t matter.

@Tesh: yeah, I’m not bashing him for this. I’ve said that this is something that Blizzard could provide as an additional service that you could buy, but as long as they don’t, I can see why other will try out this as a business idea.

@Glacey: Great story about that warlock! Hm… thinking about my new tree it sounds like something I’d be prepared to do. One hour of intensive, high-quality coaching… 25 dollars… yeah. It’s not a horrible deal tbh. It would make me more confident in what I’m doing and save me a ton of research time.

@Bristal: A boot camp is a really nice idea! I’d love that kind of workshops! Really cool! I’d much rather see Blizzard working on that kind of additional services than on sparkling ponies. But I suppose it would take more work…

@Video Game Philosopher: I actually believe the coach is fury.

@Perdissa: That sounds like a good lesson! She’s fortunate to have a teacher like you at hands. And yeah, I don’t think it’s THAT much to pay, provided that the tutoring actually is good.

@Nugget: hehe, I don’t take any offence if someone has a different opinion! In this case I think it depends on what level the tutoring is at. If you look into horse riding I know that even the very best horse riders will take private tutoring on hour here or there – either alone or with a couple of others in “clinics”, to brush on their skills into perfection. If this guy is THAT good he might have something to learn to even top-ranked players. But considering the mentality I’ve seen displayed many times, I’m not so sure they’ll realize this.

nugget said...

Hum! That's a good point about horsies and their riders.

I guess I was thinking of it less as a sport, and more as an uh... intellectual sport? XD I was coming from the viewpoint where research and mental discipline are more important than control of your body as a whole.

I'm not belittling sports here, far from it! But I think there's no denying that they have a far larger physical component than any computer game. =)

So where I can definitely see it for athletes, as well as musicians... for say, artists and writers, not so much. That was a very good point about horsies though!

And also, I find that even if I take a long break from a class (this isn't just WoW based), my fingers 'know' better than I do, how to play the class - assuming I was ever any good at the class in the first place.

~_o perhaps the difference isn't as great as a nugget originally thought!

Tam said...

I honestly don't know what I think about this. I mean part of me wonders if it's belongs the same category of thought as going to the gym versus hiring a personal trainer. I mean, there are plenty of free resources available for maximising your exercise regime (shudder) and all that, but sometimes, perhaps, have somebody who knows you and has some over-view of your strengths and weaknesses bellowing at you to row harder. This analogy is getting a little strained - I'm afraid it's left over from my rowing days, and is therefore a little rusty. But the point I'm getting at is that having somebody teach you something in a personal way is essentially a luxury some people might choose to purchase. And just because WoW is a game, does this put it in a different sphere to all the other things we like to hire people to teach us to - e.g. is there any real difference between being taught to play WoW and being taught to play the violin. I suppose the idea I'm drifing towards is that whatever you want to learn, there are ways to learn it on your own and ways to learn it from another person or in a group - are people just raising brow because it's WoW and being good at WoW has less inherent value than, err, being able to row or play a musical instrument.

I think what vaguely niggles at my mind though is the thought that being able to do so something does not necessarily translate into being able to teach it...

And one final thought - isn't perhaps a large part of the pleasuer in a game like WoW the learning process. In that it's a safe space to experiment, improve yourself and, yes, fuck up horribly. I mean, trying to stagger towards self-learning often has dire consequences in the real world, it's rather a shame that people might not feel comfortable enough to enjoy liberty in Azeroth.

Apologies, rambling Tam is VERY rambling.

Bronte said...

This reminds me of an old friend in WoW who was a renowned PvP gamer. He would often lay claim to "carrying people through arenas" and "pwning Horde nubs" single-handedly in most battlegrounds". When i finally asked him if he could impart some of wisdom to me, he responded by saying he'd do it for 5K gold.

I didn't message him after that day.

If you are that full of yourself that you feel the need to charge, even your friends, knowledge that is readily available on the internet, and otherwise is circumstantial at best, then i frankly don't need to be your friend.

Larísa said...

@Nugget: hm... well... there's still a lot of technique involved. Another example is actually how you learn to drive a car. There's nothing strange about taking help from a teacher there.

@Tam: you definitenly don't ramble any worse than I do. I agree with what you say. And yeah, I think this guy's merits as a teacher are more interesting than his merits as a player.
About the final observation: well... there are many different ways to enjoy the game. For many of us the freedom of failing, stumbling, learning at our own, is a pleasure. But not to everyone. And there are those players who looks upon WoW as a very competative sport. I don't think taking lessons is the way to go for a majority. But I can't see the harm in offering it for the few who want it.

@Bronte: Well, I hope you see the difference though. I would find it a bit strange to if a friend would charge me like that. But this paid-for service is something that is done for strangers and I don't have any problem with charging in that situation.

Tesh said...

*chuckle*

Sorry, didn't mean to suggest you were blasting him for this. I didn't read you that way... but I've read a few comments here and there that do. ;)