Content Knowledge and Available Resources
Still on the topic of the content knowledge and its groupings, it struck me over the weekend, as my wife searched several times for druid leveling guides, that there’s a whole lot more published for the upper tiers of play than the lower tiers. This, to me, is both intuitive AND counter-intuitive, depending on how you look at it.
I’ve leveled a lot of characters now. Not as many as some, of course, but I have every class except monk at 85 or higher, and multiples of a few classes. Each time, I wanted to try a different way of leveling, so I would go an look for resources on how to level whichever particular class I had chosen.
It was always pretty scant. You can find some “beginners” guides to WoW, and even some leveling guides for each class – Icy Veins, for example, has them – but a VAST MAJORITY of the published material was in the forums, and, of course, a vast majority of the forum material was out of date. The few published leveling sites often had piecemeal information, and not a lot of it. It might only cover levels 85-90 (like Icy Veins), or only cover a single spec, or cover all specs without discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
Contrast that with raiding guides, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Every class, every spec, has pages and pages devoted to them. There are guide wholesalers, like Tankspot, or class-specific guides, like you’d find on Elitist Jerks, or even online programs that do the mental work for you, like Ask Mr. Robot (who remembers be.imba.hu?). You can find far, far more information about how to play in the last three “knowledge tiers” than the first five.
At first glance, that makes no sense. The people in the greatest need of help are the beginners. WoW’s still got a terrible attrition rate over the first ten levels; my friend who I’d mentioned had started playing logged in twice and quit – and that was with me helping her (and doing a good job of not being an overwhelming jerk, I assure you). If you come into WoW at this point and don’t have the first two knowledge tiers down (over-the-shoulder gameplay and basic MMO gameplay), then you’re probably going to just give up.
Of course, there’s “in-game” help, but if you’re so new to the genre that you don’t know the most basic elements, you might not realize that there’s both in-game help and Internet guides available. Note this is different from the Dunning-Kruger effect, one of the most commonly frustrating behaviors we see in games, where the ignorant don’t know how bad they are and thus overestimate their capability. Here, instead, the new players have so little knowledge that they don’t even know where to look for the knowledge they need. They are, essentially, game illiterate.
On second glance, though, it may be precisely that problem that produces more guides for upper-tier players. Since many people want to raid, and a subset of those want to raid knowingly, and many people who write know about that subset, writers who want to share their knowledge with a “like-minded” audience would naturally produce pieces targeted in that way. Boss mechanics can be tricky, and, as Ferrel likes to say, raiding is a game of narrow margins (I don’t have the book here for an exact quote), so it makes sense that guides would be produced to maximize knowledge and efficiency of raiders.
Regardless of why, it’s clear that the early game needs more support than it’s getting. Whether there’s a good reason for that or not, I feel we as a whole should consider not just our current audiences but our future audiences, those who will be reading our blogs after all of you dear readers have decided to pursue something new. That, I think, may the key to our longevity.
Stubborn (and taxed, both mentally, physically, and financially)