From Classroom to Raid
In my last post, I used one of the many lessons I’ve taken from teaching and applied it to the WoW world. It occurred to me then that perhaps there were more that might make the transition; things that I had been doing implicitly due to my background but that others might not know or realize. While I admit ahead of time that some of these lessons might not translate perfectly, I believe that the few I’ve selected for today’s post all work.
The Learning Process
The first has to do with learning new material. Research shows that it takes on average seven times hearing something before you begin to really internalize it. On the other hand, it takes on average five times seeing it or three times doing it (or teaching it) for the same learning to occur. I’ve taken this to mean that long, drawn-out boss explanations are frequently a waste of time. I’m famous for saying, “The best way to learn is by doing,” right before I pull a boss. When I’ve run raids against new content, I’ve prepared my raiders by asking them to view the video at least twice, once a day or two before the raid and once shortly before raid time. I usually only give a cursory explanation of the boss fight, giving a brief run-down of instant-death mechanics and any strategy that the players need to know different from the video. Then, we pull.
Of course, it always ends in a wipe. One-shotting a boss the first time it’s encountered is unheard of. However, after the wipe, I talk about what I saw went wrong and ask for others interpretations of events. I’ve found this to be very successful; by asking for other raiders’ input, I give them each a chance to teach others about the fight, thus further internalizing the mechanics.
Another lesson I’ve learned has to do with down time. Down time in a classroom spells disaster. If you keep students interested, busy, and engaged, there’s rarely time for any bad behavior. For this reason, I don’t tolerate lateness to my raids. There’s no fifteen minute window to show up. If you’re not there about five minutes before raid time, I begin finding a replacement. If you’re not there at raid time, you’re out. Being “not there” includes being unprepared in some fashion including not having your enchants done, flasks bought, or food cooked (real world or in-game).
While I admit this has caused some drama on occasion, I’ve never had a “core” raider show up late twice. Never. Let that sink in. Either they weren’t willing to deal with my attention to punctuality and no longer cared to raid with me (an acceptable outcome) or they got on fifteen minutes earlier and got their business handled. The other raids in the same guild started on average 30 minutes late… sometimes as much as an hour late. It frustrated me (and many of the other raiders) to have so much time wasted waiting for someone who by merit of having been in the guild a long time made us all wait while he, for example, sold a piece of farm equipment.
Additionally, time between pulls or wipes can create problems in a similar fashion. When you take too long to move from group to group or recover from a wipe, you lose forward momentum. Sleepiness can set in, or distraction, or afks, or any of 100 other problems for a raid. Moving forward at all times is important for a raid to be successful because it shows that the raiders’ time is being valued and not wasted.
The third and final lesson I’ll discuss today regards discipline. I personally hate disciplining students and even more so adults and peers within a video game situation. However, there are times when it’s necessary to speak to a student or raider about a problem that’s occurring. A good first step to avoiding any kind of real disciplinary action is always to make general announcements. I don’t mean dressing down an entire classroom or group of raiders for the mistakes of one or a few people; that kind of thing is counterproductive. Just a simple statement like, “I noticed a few people standing in the fire on that attempt, let’s make sure to watch for that next time,” usually does the trick. It both relieves the raider from being called out, for which they’ll probably be grateful, and brings attention to the fact that you know they screwed up.
If “real” disciplinary action is necessary, I believe in handling it in private. While some power-hungry raid leaders may enjoy chewing someone out in front of everyone (or teachers, for that matter) because they believe it “makes an example” of how things work, the example often made is that the raid leader (or teacher) is a jerk. Handling things privately shows respect for your raiders and that you care about what they think of you (which you should for good team cohesion). While it’s fine for a raider to be mad at you for calling them on something (even privately), the long term goal is to have a successful raid, which should override any short-term anger on the raider’s part.
Additionally, I find taking a “I’ve been there” approach to discipline helps, too. By admitting your own mistakes before getting into the raider’s, you show that you’re not trying to establish a superiority to them. It’s unlikely that any of us were perfect angels in the classroom (quite the opposite is probably true), and all of us made noob errors at some point in our career whether we want to admit it or not. This approach shows that you’re carrying out your role as raid leader, which is to ensure a successful raid. Being honest about the fact that it’s just a role you’re playing in the game helps with any personal feelings between the raider and you, as well. You can be a raid leader in one instance and a friend in another, like the metaphor of wearing different “hats.” Remember it’s just a hat, not who you are or any ranked position that entitles you to mistreat others.
At any rate, there’s three lessons from the classroom to the raid; take them worth a grain of salt. As a part-core gamer, I’ve been in guilds that were successful guilds that had a focus on cohesion and membership but also wanted to get raids finished. I don’t think I’d be able to sit by and be reamed by a raid leader for a first-time, easily-corrected mistake, nor would I want to raid with that leader ever again. On the other hand, I don’t like having the same mistake repeated for 10 consecutive pulls. Your preferences may be different, and that’s fine, too. Enjoy the game any way you can; that’s what it’s there for!
Stubborn (an appropriate name for a teacher)