The Fields of Victory
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.
Stubborn (and grateful for community management)