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Community: An Unexpected Resistance

November 20, 2012

Dear Reader,

In The Power of One, a decent novel and excellent movie, one of the conclusions of the main character living in Apartheid South Africa is that “inclusion, not exclusion, is the key to survival.”  I largely agree with this belief, as difficult as it can be at times.  It goes right alongside one of my favorite quotes from – of all places – the American Library Association: “Tolerance is meaningless without tolerance for the intolerable.”  That’s a really hard pill to swallow when you see people behaving in repugnant, disgusting ways.  It may be harder when people are behaving in simply inconvenient ways, since deep-seeded intolerance is often the product of more than just the individual, but rudeness feels like something we can each control.  Regardless, I do believe in true tolerance; it’s one of my principles in the class room that have made me successful, and I believe it can be brought into the game, even if I’ve occasionally failed to remember to do so in the past.

On that point, Shintar saw my suggestions last time as counter-intuitive to that principle, that asking people to “honor the game” was a shaming technique.  In her words,

I find it strange that your example of a hypothetical situation in which you can make the game a better place centres on passing judgement on a person who hasn’t done anything to you or anyone else other than prolong your dungeon run by a couple of seconds/minutes for some unknown reason.

She’s got a good point, really, but it’s one I think spawns from my poor job at explaining myself more than an actual disagreement.  The use of “Honor the game” has far more to do with inclusion than exclusion.  It’s about trying to unify people under a single banner, and it’s not forbidding the offender from joining in the way an overt shaming technique like the other various attacks I mentioned or simply linking recount can be.  Those don’t offer any kind of inclusion at all, placing the offender in a defensive, animal-in-a-corner attack stance instead.  But asking someone to honor the game does – it gives the “greater game” as a single banner under which everyone can congregate.  It stops being about calling out their dps or rotation, their gems or enchants.  It becomes about everyone playing together and having a good time.

And as I said, it’s likely to fall on deaf ears a lot of time, but rather than having a nasty row that leaves everyone feeling excluded, you instead made a quick gesture of redemption and moved on.  You’re not taking an intolerant stand (something I’m plenty guilty of) or trying to change their behavior; instead, you’re encouraging them to want to change their own behavior so they can “honor the game,” so they can come under that banner and be included.

I hope that better illustrates what I have in mind; it’s a form of taking issue with something without overtly calling someone out; in fact, it’s like calling someone in, in to the group of people who want to do the right thing by honoring the game.  And I do think that there’s less grey area there than some of the commentators suppose; I think most everyone knows the difference between good and bad behavior.  Sure, some players are truly ignorant to good group behavior, but that’s what “honor the game” can do; it both incentivizes checking before you rush to judgment to make sure that you are yourself honoring the game and opens an opportunity if the other player truly doesn’t know better to respond in a way that makes that clear so that you can help them.

In fact, Genowen’s post goes into great detail about exactly what kind of behaviors new or simply ignorant players might not realize.  She provides wonderfully concrete examples in a way that often eludes me, and I would suggest it become a kind of player-generated new player guide for the Modern WoW, much in the same way that players generated new player guides for World of Tanks and League of Legends (I’m sure there’s many more games with something similar).  I heartily encourage you to read it and suggest anything you feel she might have missed, though I think you’ll have a hard time because she was very comprehensive, even if she does spell honor with a u.  Honour… what an ugly word. I can just imagine that last part being dragged out like an Irishman saying whore… it dirties the word, methinks.  (;


Stubborn (and honourable, when he remembers to be)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2012 9:38 pm

    As an Australian who abhors most American variations on English words, I have to admit that playing WoW has made me so used to the American spelling of the words Honour and Valour that the correct spelling is starting to look a bit odd to even my eyes.

    “Judgment”, however is just an ugly, ugly word. All those consonants just jammed together with no regard whatsoever…

    • November 21, 2012 12:24 pm

      I agree that judgment looks terrible, and I have a really hard time writing it that way; I have no idea why the “e” got dropped.

  2. November 20, 2012 11:08 pm

    I still want to spell it as Judgement even though I know I shouldn’t.

    “I find it strange that your example of a hypothetical situation in which you can make the game a better place centres on passing judgement on a person who hasn’t done anything to you or anyone else other than prolong your dungeon run by a couple of seconds/minutes for some unknown reason.”

    I’m not sure the point Shintar made is really that amazing.

    First, if we assume their intentions are somehow good, it would be auto-attacking on one fight where there was a RL emergency, not half the dungeon or something. And they’d most likely communicate “hey, sorry, had to step away for a minute to handle something.”

    Second, if we assume their intentions *aren’t* good, then clearly we have a Prisoner’s Dilemma. The ideal situations for everyone would be where you got to afk and go on follow while four people cleared the dungeon for you (you can do other stuff while alt tabbed, like cure cancer). However, if everyone tried to do this, obviously it wouldn’t work out, and thus the best solution is the one where everyone tries. But you need some way of enforcing this behavior (like calling them out and vote to kick) because the incentive is to defect and AFK.

    That one person is making the run 25% longer for 4 other people (or something like that). They’re leeching and effectively stealing your time. I don’t see how condoning such behavior is ever a good thing.

    Again, keep in mind Stubborn’s example started with

    “You: “Hey, why are you just auto-attacking?”

    An inquiry. If the response is “sorry, had to go take care of something in RL” it’s no big deal. But if they give a negative response…

    • November 21, 2012 12:27 pm

      All true, but the point I was making had to the do with the core of Shintar’s point, that excluding someone seemed like an odd way to build community. To that, I agree, and I wanted to spend the time necessary to really clarify my position for it; if one person interpreted it differently than I meant, it’s likely that many more did but didn’t say anything.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • November 21, 2012 11:13 pm

      “excluding someone seemed like an odd way to build community”

      Hmm. I’m not sure about that either.

      For example, let’s say I made an alt on your server and asked to join your guild. Once in, I started insulting everyone, spewing profanity and being the biggest jerk possible. Do you think the guild community would be improved, stay the way, or get worse if you gkicked me?

      Now you’re likely going to say “well, sure, but that’s the guild community, which is a subset of the WoW community.” And I’d argue we don’t *want* to include the entire WoW community when building the community. There are idiots and jerks who we *don’t want* as part of our gameplay – so we ignore them, we kick them.

      That’s effectively how Vanilla/BC worked as well. If someone was a ninja/jerk/whatever, they were a pariah. They could still play the game itself, but they couldn’t do anything in groups.

  3. Beshara permalink
    November 21, 2012 6:42 am

    These last few posts have been very thought-provoking. While I have been lucky and haven’t encountered a large amount of fun-sucking behavior, I have noticed myself getting bitter when it pops up. I think this effort is worth trying out.
    I have recently taken some leadership courses, and a lot of it involved rewarding the positive, fostering positive feelings, and leading by example. This solution follows along these lines.

    • November 21, 2012 12:29 pm

      Yes, I think it’s the community’s job to be better than the individual player, to be more accepting, inclusive, and helpful. However, that works only when there’s another authority doing the “dirty work,” which unfortunately we don’t have in WoW. Blizz is simply too jerk-friendly, for whatever the reason, and as such we have to become a little more edgy as a result. That’s why I like “honor the game;” it makes a point without being too confrontational or judgmental.

      Thanks for the comment!

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