Open and Shut
There’s been some discussion lately about the open or closed-ness of the raiding game. I’ve seen some respected bloggers become defensive about their success and others become irate about the accusation that raiding is not something that everyone can do. I’ve seen a few even claim that it should be a closed club and that it helps the game to be such.
Let me start with a basic premise. If you disagree with this premise, save yourself the time it will take to read the post, because you will certainly disagree with the post. Both socially and evolutionarily, it’s inclusion, not exclusion, that’s been the key to survival. From an evolutionary standpoint, having incorporated the correct genes to survive in a changing environment has allowed certain genetic combos to survive when other more exclusive combinations perished. Socially, including people in decisions (in a government, group, or whatever) gives them a feeling of efficacy and ownership, increasing their investment in the organization. Inclusion, not exclusion, has proven time after time to be the key to survival.
So it’s in Blizzard’s best interest to be as inclusive as they can. Nerfing dungeons and raids, catering to vocal parts of the player base, and scrambling to keep their subscriptions up are in their corporate interest. The problem, dear reader, is that you or I may not benefit personally from the inclusive attitude. It’s hard at times to divorce yourself from your personal perspective, but try putting yourself in Blizzard’s shoes. That doesn’t excuse the bad decisions Blizz sometimes makes, but it does help explain them.
On to the guilt. I was honestly surprised to see some of the bloggers defending their success recently. Let me say up front: They have no need to. Whether you’re truly “lucky” and have a good guild that’s “carrying” you or whether you work your butt off to be the best is irrelevant. If you’re in a good guild that “carries” you, then you must be bringing something else to the guild beyond your raiding. Like in Larisa’s case when she felt a little ostracized by her guild’s new attitude, her numbers may not have been top, but her presence, her attitude, her leadership – something she brought to the guild made a volume of the members stand up and let her know how much they cared when she left (for the record – I am not saying Larisa was carried, her story just worked for an example of collateral benefits). That, you see then, is not luck. It’s simply another form of hard work: being a good person, even when you don’t feel like you want to.
No one needs to apologize for success, however they got it, assuming they didn’t trod over others in the process. It’s very typical, though, to feel guilt about being successful when people around you are not. I know when I was raiding without my buddy back in a previous guild, I felt guilty knowing I was downing Lich King while he was sitting on the sidelines, secretly blacklisted. Now, I’m on the other side of that coin, unable to find any raiding guild that has a schedule that fits and a group of people I feel connected to. Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down. That’s life.
As for whether it’s good or bad on a personal level for raiding to be a closed club, well, it certainly depends on where you are. I’d love to be in a closed raiding club right now, knocking down boss after boss week after week. I’m not there, though, and I’ve found the closed-ness of it a little frustrating. Just yesterday a guildie asked in gchat if anyone wanted to come to BH. I offered to tank on my pally; they had a pally tank. I offered to heal on my pally; they had a pally healer. I offered to switch to my mage; they had three mages.
Okay, I get it. You don’t want to chance losing loot by over-representing a particular class or build. It still pissed me off to no end. Closed out again, after I was finally “trying.” I don’t hold it against this particular guildie; he was doing what was in the best interest of other, longer term guild members. It still irked me though; I just paid to transfer my paladin to this guild. One of the first things said in gchat afterwards was a question as to why we the guild was recruiting ” so many” paladins (my wife moved a pally, too). The GM laughed it off and said, “Nice way to welcome someone,” and explained that we weren’t new members but had just transferred. Not a ringing endorsement, all the same.
I do agree with a lot of the comments recently that part of the closed-ness has to do with raiders not being willing to explain things to newer players. The lack of polite constructive criticism – honesty – is sometimes startling. I’ve seen it in runs as people don’t admit they don’t know a boss until after the first wipe (I always ask, so they had an opportunity to), when people are kicked without a reason being given to them first, and, now, apparently by my GM who could have politely said, “Well, we have a lot of paladins; maybe you should move a different toon or just stick to your mage.” I wouldn’t have liked to hear that, but I’d prefer it to getting there and finding out I’m not welcome.
So here’s the takeaway. It’s important to be inclusive, but obviously not to the point of self-destruction. You have to be honest about your inclusion and reflective about it or you’ll end up in trouble. Blizzard was neither honest nor reflective; they made WotLK too easy and Cata – at first – too hard (based on WotLK). It was refreshing to veteran players to see the game take that turn, but Blizz had made promises to more casual players that they were no longer keeping; that’s dishonest. Then they retuned the game towards the casual side, breaking the tacit promise of Cata to the more serious players. Instead of including everyone, they excluded them by angering them, and their subscriptions fell. It makes perfect sense to me.
Include by being honest. Tell a poor player why they’re doing poorly. Include them by giving them another chance. However, if they need more practice to succeed, tell them so and kick them. You can’t destroy the rest of the group for one individual; that’s not inclusion, it’s exclusion of the majority. Also, don’t feel guilty for your success, just remember to always include the unsuccessful in it by way of humility, sharing credit, and thanking others. Talk up your successes but by way of allowing those who haven’t experienced it a chance to do so through your tales.
Lastly, I hope I haven’t made any bloggers uncomfortable by so directly talking about some of their posts. You guys are well respected because you do these things, because you include (though some more inclusively than others), and because you carry yourselves well. I wouldn’t want any of you to think I felt otherwise.
Stubborn (who’s on the downside right now, but who knows, maybe I’ll be up soon)