Ad Astra Per Ardua
There’s a great personal essay by Robert Fulghum in which he describes a self-centered lawyer who claims that nothing is important, that there’s no moral certainty, that all that matters is improving one’s own condition. He then recounts a time when he saw this same man jump from a pier to save a drowning child. After this happened, he asked the man how it was he could say all those selfish things and then risk his own life to save another.
“Well,” the lawyer said, “I could be wrong.”
Yesterday, Spinks wrote a blog that caught my eye about game difficulty and the strong emotions and labels that go along with talking about it. I found the post quite revealing in the way she talked about people’s expectations for a blogger’s expertise. She warned that when you state your opinion, you end up with people “proclaiming that you are a noob and should l2p. Or else suggesting that you have no right to judge the game’s difficulty unless you’ve already completed it on the hardest possible mode. “
It seems that at some point the idea of a blog has changed from simply stating your opinion and, perhaps on a good day, backing it up to bloggers being experts on everything they write. Why else would belligerent people attack, of all things, your credentials? The argument should be addressed, not a blogger’s credentials. After all, the only credentials a blogger needs is an email address and the ability to fill out a simple form.
I know quite well that I am no expert on any aspect of WoW. I’m the opposite of an expert, in fact. I always assume I’m arguing from a position of ignorance, and I find that a lot of bloggers do the same, even though they may not state so overtly. Not all of them, but many. The tone of authority and confidence that may carry with it the idea of expertise is simply in the way we write. Because we know what we believe and we’re able to translate those ideas into words, we’re able to write as if we know what we’re talking about.
However, perhaps this sometimes comes off as misplaced expertise. Dear reader, don’t let it fool you. Many of us know that we’re just putting forth an opinion, which is why we’re always all so hungry for comments. We want to hear what others think, to see if they agree or disagree, and to continue the conversation that previously we’ve only had with ourselves. We know, that in the end, your opinions may be just as valid (depending on your evidence, of course), that you may have seen a connection we missed, or that you may be able to punch a hole in something we thought was rock solid. And we want that; we do. We may not like it when that happens, but we know it’s for the good of the community, for the good of the conversation.
On that note, I want to continue addressing what Spinks’s (that’s grammatically correct) blog was really about: the difficulty of the game. I don’t think anyone could fairly paint me as a hardcore gamer or as a L2P noob (well, at least not hardcore). I find the game to be pretty fairly balanced. Sure, heroics are hard, but they’re meant to be. They were hard for a month at the beginning of Wrath, too, and at the beginning of BC. Then, as people begin to outgear the content, they got easier and easier. Eventually even Cata heroics will turn into AOE farmfests, just not yet.
I think the raids are about right, too. My short-lived Cata guild was able to down a boss in after a few nights of trying. Then we got stuck and the guild died before we got another one, but I’m sure in the fullness of time we would have. The victories are meaningless without the struggle, so there should be a struggle.
That’s not to say that casual players shouldn’t get to see the end-game content. I firmly believe they should, and I also believe they have the opportunity to. Perhaps not right away, but after people have had time to gear and get bored and drop out and more spots appear in raids, after the raids have had a nerf or two, then sure. We all pay the same money, so we should have access after a similar amount of play time. The hardcore players just meet that minimum time more quickly.
I feel the same way about blogging, and I know a lot of the older, bigger blogs feel at least similarly. Everyone should have access to the blogosphere. Everyone has a right to their opinion. However, the survivors, the “hardcore bloggers,” have been around longer and carry a little more weight. That doesn’t mean their always right – far from it – but it does mean they’ve withstood the test of time and the full effects of their occasional wrongness. That – the struggle with being wrong (or at least being told you are by a lot of people) is the struggle that makes it worth it, that makes those blogs respectable. Without the struggle, the respect would mean nothing.
But of course, I could be wrong.
Stubborn (who knows his opinions are never wrong, for a given value of “never”)