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The Fields of Victory

December 21, 2012

Dear Reader,

Not too much new has been happening in WoW for me, but I’m just playing away.  I’ve capped over a few reps to the next level, made a few more friends, and – surprise! – hit 460 ilevel!  I got lucky and got the Firebird kilt off of Sha.  I was quite surprised, really, because I hadn’t gotten any loot from him under the new system, so when something other than the 28 bucks showed up, I was at first like, “Whoa – where’d that come from?”  And to be frank, I got it from my extra roll.

So finally I can step into LFR, an act I’ve been dreading since it was announced.  Hopefully it will be exciting, engaging, and overall positive.  On the other hand, it may be like LFD x5.  Much more on that afterwards.

A lot of my time recently has been spent playing other games, too, as my wife’s workload at the end of the semester was nothing to be sneezed at.  She’s a very ambitious teacher who asks a whole lot of her students.  She’s the kind of professor whose class you can say you survived.  Her students – the good ones – are very, very loyal as a result (they made her cry several times this year with their acts and words of kindness), but the drawback is at the end of the semester she has piles of papers AND piles of exams to grade.  I got out a week earlier (don’t feel jealous; I went back a week earlier, too), though, so I’m done with all my grading.

Anyway, the point is that I’ve had a lot of time to play games without her, and since we mostly putter around in WoW together doing dailies and so forth that I needed something else to do.  I took Doone up on his suggestion to join him in LoL and actually convinced my buddy to try it again, too.  My buddy – like I did my first time – hated LoL, not understanding how the game works.  It’s so different from WoW’s PvP as to deserve a completely different abbreviation – DotA.  Neither of us our first time in understood that you work with the mindless creeps to take down towers slowly and carefully; you don’t mindlessly engage the enemy and feed them recklessly.

After my first lesson, I learned what I was doing wrong, but he didn’t bother.  It took a lot to convince him to come back, including some very gratuitous and vulgar abuse about my feelings towards the game.  The state of my personal anatomy was brought up in relation to the game several times.  I simply locked my jaw and kept at him, though, and now he’s loving it.  He’s got three champs he loves to play: Anivia, the big ice bird, Cho’gath, the insectoid monster, and Soraka, a healer with a horn (on her head, not that she plays notes on).

I, too, have found a few champs to play alongside his.  I started with Ashe because she’s easy, but I didn’t like the “recommended” tag that came with her.  Yes, I’m a noob, but I don’t want to be playing  a champion that shouts it.  I got the free Alistar, a minotaur support character who I usually play with one of his attack toons.  Lastly, most recently, and most enjoyably I bought Poppy, a tiny diplomat with a large hammer.  She’s been a ton of fun and I heartily recommend her as a first melee to anyone who’s thinking of giving it a try.

I got to play a little with Doone, and I’ll probably seen him more this weekend, and it was a lot of fun.  It’s nice to get to play with people you’re acquainted with; it really gives you a solid look at their character.  He was helpful, worked really well as part of a team, and encouraged everyone.  When our team was getting down, he bolstered it.  He’s a really solid fellow, and I’m glad to count him among my blogmates.  If you’re not familiar with his work, he’s linked in my blogroll; he writes T. R. Redskies.  Give him a read and join us in League of Legends!

One of the most wonderful things about League of Legends is the community.  People who talk about it being just as poisonous as WoW’s must be playing a different LoL.  I’ve written many times about the tribunal, but I haven’t seen it in action so much as potentially benefited from its invisible presence in the background.

Let me put it to you this way, dear reader.  Go play an Arathi Basin, an Alterac Valley, or any other WoW PvP.  Count the number of negative comments and divide by the number of players.  I’d be willing to guess in an average, friendly “messy” (meaning not pre-formed) PvP match, you’ll have about a 1 negative comment for every 2 players ratio.  It may be that every one of those venomous comments comes from the same jerk, or that multiple jerks say negative things.  There’s no recourse, of course, thanks to WoW’s laissez faire attitude, except to stick your head in the sand with /ignore or reduce yourself to their level and feel vicious and satisfied.

I’ve played in probably about 30 games now.  I’ve only seen ONE quasi-negative comment, “Let’s stop feeding them, guys,” which was said by someone who was near the top of the death count, so it may have meant to be positive, like, “All right, team, let’s get our heads in the game.”  It’s impossible to tell, thanks to the innate lack of prosody (tone of voice that conveys emotion) of text.  I’ll call it a .5 negative comment, though, to be fair.  And I’ve played with over 100 players (it’s not more since a majority of those games are against AI).  This includes in the after-battle chat, which allows the teams to talk to one another about the match.  Can you imagine what that would be like in WoW?  It could never happen.  Never.

The tribunal, though, is only part of the formula.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a secondary community management system in effect that’s coupled with the tribunal and available to everyone, not just max-level players.  It’s called the “Honor System,” and it allows you, after a match, to “honor” your teammates with +1’s to helpfulness, teamwork, or friendliness.  On top of that, you can honor the opposing team with +1 to “honorable opponent.”  I’ve received a handful of each, and I checked to make sure it wasn’t my buddy, because I’m paranoid like that.  It wasn’t.  Complete strangers were giving my +1 compliments about my completely noobish gameplay.

A positive reinforcement coupled with a negative punishment.  We talk about the Skinner’s boxes of WoW a lot, about how manipulative they are, how they get us to act against our own self interest (how many of you have been stomping marmots for money and valor? I refuse to do that quest.).  Here, we have basic psychology building a better community.

On top of that, and, to be fair, much less important are the loading tips.  Each time the game loads into a battle, the “loading tip,” which in WoW, might be something like “Remember to see your friends outside of Azeroth, too,” which is a perfectly nice loading tip, displays statistics about good and bad behavior in the game.  “Players who harass their teammates lose 13% more game.”  There are a lot of these that provide the constant reinforcement of good behavior that I’ve witnessed in the game.  It’s really, frankly, amazing.

10 years, 100 years, 1000 years in the future (okay, maybe only like 20 or 30), when League of Legends is a forgotten relic of the past, I hope that Runic at least is remembered for trying to mold people’s behavior in a positive way when so many of their competitors were doing the opposite for financial gain.  I love WoW, but I love it emotionally while intellectually being constantly on guard.  I feel safe in LoL in a way that I haven’t among strangers in WoW for a long, long time – at least since LFD.  That, in and of itself, is worth a subscription, and yet, LoL is free to play.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and grateful for community management)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Wookiee7 permalink
    December 21, 2012 12:46 pm

    Try going early in the week, either Tuesday or Wednesday. As a non-raider and so far non-instance player, I recently dipped my toe into LFR. Yes, LFR before even trying Heroics! Anyway, I’ve done 2 LFR’s and both times were just fine…the raids were smooth with minimum deaths and no wipes. I followed the advice of others and ran them on Tuesdays, just after the reset. Apparently, raiders run early in the week, so your odds of having a better LFR experience go up. Mine did!

    • December 27, 2012 10:15 am

      I’ll give that a try when I get back to IL. It makes sense, too, since that’s when the best Sha runs take place. Thanks for the tip!

  2. December 21, 2012 2:37 pm

    LFD gets something of an unfair rap in this sort of discussion. People who did guild runs in vanilla or TBC have a somewhat skewed view of what it was like to have to PuG content back then. The insults and comments were there, being in a guild just provided a shield. It has become worse the more popular WoW became but that started long before LFD, or Wrath. The Isle of Quel’danas was an amazing display of bad behavior.

    When I played RIFT I used their version of LFD frequently and did not have the problems that seem endemic in WoW. People are still people but I wasn’t shocked when runs went without egregious insults. I’ve also not read about people in SW:ToR dealing with WoW-style random groups. Actually, I expected WoT to be a fairly vile place but I’ve not noticed it up to rank 4 tanks. It may be that way at cap but I can’t speak to those ranks.

    Note that I’m not exonerating Blizzard, they have done nothing to try and make the community less toxic. I’m just not convinced that LFD is the root of all evil.

    • December 27, 2012 10:18 am

      You’re right, of course. I shouldn’t just put it on LFD, but on Blizz’s useless ability to control its player base. I have also found precisely what you’ve described, that other gaming communities are far less acidic than Wow’s; I’ve wondered before whether that’s due to age of game, size of player base, or what. I suspect a little of both. So really, I agree; LFD in and of itself was a great idea that all of us heralded since it meant not having to beg for dungeons any more, but the implementation and observation thereof was miserable on their part and created a theater for goons with a trapped audience of 4.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. December 22, 2012 5:31 pm

    I have to say… this actually makes me want to try LoL. I’d previously been sort of interested, but was concerned about getting mauled by fellow players while learning to actually play the game.

    • December 27, 2012 10:20 am

      The first time I played, I hated it, and some jerk in “beginner AI” mode – the most basic mode – complained. I immediately quit the game an uninstalled. After writing about it, though, I got several comments promising me that such an event is very rare, so I eventually went back. I haven’t had a negative moment since then, and it’s been on and off for probably 6 months now. It’s free, too, so the worst you’re going to lose is the time it takes to d/l and run the tutorials. If you get on there, let me know and I’ll get in touch with you, though I won’t be back home until early Jan, so it may be a while.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. December 22, 2012 6:56 pm

    I feel safe in LoL in a way that I haven’t among strangers in WoW for a long, long time

    And isn’t that a great feeling?!

    Seriously, I’m happy for you. :D

    • December 27, 2012 10:21 am

      Yes. The sense of relief that not having to worry about the next group activity – guild or random – has really improved my mood overall. In fact, I partially attribute my sticking with WoW beyond 90 to my ability to go to these other games and decompress when needed. I may even try LFR and “real” raiding again.

      Good to see you!

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