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September 26, 2011

Dear Reader,

A bit of a quickie today; I’ve a stack of papers to grade before Friday, and I want to get a nice head start on them.  I wanted to discuss something I mentioned last week, the idea of in-game efficacy and its affect on our feelings about MMOs.

Efficacy is the belief that your actions matter; that they can make a difference.  It’s also the #1 indicator of job satisfaction; if you feel like you’re important, listened to, and can cause change, you’re happier than if you feel like you’re just a cog.  I was talking to my wife about various posts I’d written and how I was seeing some opportunity to weave psychological ideas (Myers-Briggs and WoW coming soon!  Don’t steal this, please!) back into some of my WoW thoughts, and we started discussing what made us enjoy or not enjoy various parts of the game.

In discussing my distaste for the end game, I pointed out that in pre-Zul dungeons and older raids, if someone makes a mistake, it’s likely that the pulling together of the other players can prevent a wipe (this may be true of Zuls now that gear ilevels have exploded, but I was well fed up before that).  However, in Zuls, you had to have a solid team of five that made no mistakes; dps had to all stay alive; healers had to manage mana and triage well, and tanks had to hold threat (what a laugh) and blow their defensive CDs.  One mistake and everyone else is screwed.  Your personal ability had little effect unless everyone played nigh-perfectly.

She pointed out that this was an efficacy issue, one of her areas of expertise in relation to voting behaviors.  The more I thought about it, the more true it seems.  I feel less and less like I have anything to do that can benefit the endgame, so I feel less and less inclined to participate.  I’m not well geared by this patch’s standards, I’m not well informed any more, my tanking and healing are as good as they’re going to get from a play perspective (or rather, they would be if I had any practice), so I just don’t feel like I can contribute like I used to when (warning: glory days ahead!) I raid led the first downing of Naxx bosses for my guild.

On the other hand, leveling is a game of pure efficacy.  Whatever you decide to do, your personal choices matter greatly.  If you do low level dungeons (which can nearly be duo’d and definitely trio’d), your personal play really matters.  If you do low level PvP, your play is very important.  If you just quest, you’re the only factor in your success or failure.  You’re more effective there than anywhere else, and that’s what I’m doing: being effective at leveling.

So to retain fun (or regain, in my case), I think that players need to feel important to the endgame.  If you’re sitting happily with a guild in which you are an important part, where you’re listened to, where your opinions and play really matter, then it’s no wonder you’re happy (and kudos to you, as well!).  Most people in the world would be happy with that situation.  On the other hand, being guildless or in a guild that doesn’t take you very seriously can be very frustrating due to feeling so ineffective towards the endgame.

Luckily, I’ve found an activity that keeps me happy and feeling my efficacy (does that sound dirty?), as have most of the happy players out there.  I’m hoping that I can regain some of my endgame efficacy, too, as I meld more into my alliance guild (I hit 85 with the Draenei shammy last night – 7 down, 3 to go).  I may put the leveling game on the backburner a bit to test out this toon with this guild, but we’ll see.  Some stars really need to align for it to happen seriously.

But I’ll be watching the skies, at least.  And if not, then I’ll have my DK’s boots on the ground, grinding away an 8th 85.


Stubborn (and dreamy (and tired, today, with a lot of papers ahead of me))

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2011 10:38 am

    Oooh, can’t wait to read the Myers Briggs post.. it’s something I’ve thought a lot about in connection with WoW, although, I cba to write about it in detail myself, I touched on it a little here in connection with why I play alts 🙂

    Yeah.. I think you have a point there with the need to have your contribution felt. I am terribly guilty of generally carving a niche for myself in new places – often being the person people go to with complaints 😛
    However, I’ve also done a couple of low level instances recently, where I’ve done something (solo killed a boss, cleared up a lot of mobs after everyone was dead) and wanted to shout TADA LOOK AT ME at the end, and all I get is *Hope you can mass res* 😛

    I’m very happy in game at the moment – hope your guild works out for you too.

    • September 26, 2011 4:49 pm

      I used to do that, too. I used to work hard to be top healer (or tank, depending), ingratiate myself (not in a bad way, just by being nice, polite, listening, providing advice when asked, etc), and eventually offer to lead raids. I think that’s where things started to fall apart. After working hard to do just that in four guilds – each of which went wrong for one reason or another, some of which was more my fault, and others of which I had no part of whatsoever.

      The negativity about those experiences has dragged the game down a bit, but I also understand that’s something I have to deal with, which hopefully I can begin to with this new guild. Since I know a couple of people in it from RL, I hope it’ll work to keep my interest.

      Thanks for the well-wishes and the comment!

  2. Kierbuu permalink
    September 26, 2011 6:31 pm

    The feeling of contribution… probably why I find low level PvP twinking in random groups so much more satisfying than endgame content now. Just one or two good players can really swing a game.

    • September 27, 2011 6:06 pm

      I agree totally; that’s one reason I really liked my rogue in PvP. I felt I could directly contribute to comebacks and wins by slowing/killing demos, ninjaing bases, bursting down healers and FCs, and so forth.

      In fact, I’m not surprised at my early distaste for PvP, as well, since I really only had a tank spec; I couldn’t contribute much in most Bgs.

      The other side of this is, of course, the frustration we feel, where our individual contributions are awesome, but the constant failure of teammates continually lowers our actual efficacy. PvP is really the perfect laboratory for a look at efficacy.

  3. Bravetank permalink
    September 27, 2011 4:29 pm

    Really interesting. I would also love to read your myers Briggs wow analysis too. In terms of efficacy do you think the feedback is key too? I want to be useful and know I’m being useful. But there’s very little positive feedback in WoW in my opinion (although it might just be me!)

    • September 27, 2011 6:15 pm

      No, you’re quite right. You can have that internal motivator going and letting you know you’re doing well, but then some jerkface says otherwise, and for some reason his completely inaccurate mumblings seem credible. So I totally agree, the actual feedback can be very important, whether it be social, like a Nice healing!, mathematical, like on the meter, or environmental, like getting the boss down in record time under challenging circumstances (a bad healer, for example).

      I always make an effort to call out both really bad (of course) and really good play. When we have a near wipe because the tank was an idiot and pulled a boss when I had 10% mana, but a dps steps up and keeps aggro, blowing defensive CDs or kiting, I always say how impressed I am. It won’t change the whole social environment of the game, but if it makes that one person a slightly more confident player, puts a smile on their face, or improves their attitude towards other pugs a bit, then great – the price was right – a few kind words are free.

    • September 28, 2011 7:16 am

      Yeah, I try and do the same – I think I always try and give the positive rather than the negative (until someone pisses me off :P). Sadly people tend to prefer to give negative comments, which is a shame, because I’m still glowing from the *omg you are awesome* after soloing 50% of a low level boss because there were just two of us and the other person died. I of course said I’d never have survived the whole fight alone, and I think we both went away happy. You’ve inspired me to be more complimentary all the time now. 🙂

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