It’s now officially two days into 2013, and by now everybody should be hangover-free. This means that we’ve all got clear enough heads to sit back and figure out what exactly it is we want to accomplish this year, because let’s face it, 2012 got pretty much universally screwed up and now we’ve got a shiny new chance to go to the gym 3 days a week, eat healthier, kick our crippling addiction to internet poker that’s been tearing our families apart, et cetera, et cetera.
Except we’re not going to do that shit this year either, because that’s the problem with New Year’s Resolutions — we all feel so obligated to set these lofty and oftentimes unrealistic goals for ourselves just to keep up with the spirit of things that we fail by the second week. Let’s take the gym example; if you’re not an athletic person and have never bothered to make a real attempt to work out for more than the five minutes it takes to walk across the Trader Joe’s parking lot, the chances are pretty good that you’re not going to magically turn into a fitness nut just because we changed our calendars.
So how about we set ourselves some reasonable goals for this year? We can start with something easy, like our gaming habits. Say it with me, folks: This year I will stop acting like a douchebag in World of Warcraft.
See, when hiding behind a computer screen, it’s easy to be a jerk to someone else. You’re completely anonymous, represented only by a jiggly-titted fantasy creature of some unnatural skin coloration and a name like Tigolebittiez or Forthelulz or something else where you change all the “s”s to “z”s to be ironic.
In a fantasy world, you’ve got all of the power you wish you had in real life. Who wouldn’t want to Heroic Leap their boss when he starts in on one of his tirades, or cast Silence on an annoying in-law? Alas, we’re forced to grin and bear it with a meek “yes sir” and an overall browning of our noses like we were Mitt Romney on a Spanish-language broadcast. Log into World of Warcraft, and suddenly we’re not bound by most of the societal rules we have to follow in our daily lives. If someone pisses you off and they happen to be flagged for PvP, just curbstomp them into oblivion. Somebody’s talking smack in a dungeon group? Cast Tricks of the Trade on them and blow Vanish during a boss fight. It’s gratifying, but it makes you just as big of a jerk as you’re perceiving the other person to be.
Here’s some of the most common asshole behaviors I’ve noticed in my eight-ish years playing. I’m not exactly a perfect angel, myself. I’ve indulged in the majority of these at one point or another, but that doesn’t make them any less wrong, or mean that we can’t all work together to stop being dicks.
1. Stealing Nodes
If you’ve never done this yourself, you’ve had it happen to you before on one of your toons. You’re cruising around Hellfire Peninsula on your newly-acquired but slow-as-balls flying mount trying to find some delicious Fel Iron with which to level your blacksmithing. Finally, your minimap lights up with a single yellow dot. Success! You make triumphant “NYEEEEEEER” sounds in real life as you dive down to retrieve it… only to have some asshole level 90 farmer see you heading for the same node and beat you to the punch with their shiny max-level flying skill. Or you’re both on the ground, and they blow Ghost Wolf or Sprint just to make sure they reach it 0.3 seconds before you do. Or you’re fighting the mob that was guarding the node and they take the opportunity to tap it while you’re doing the work for it. Bonus douchebag points if they use a /kiss or /taunt emote at you afterwards.
CRZ has made this even worse by overpopulating certain zones and servers. I think a lot of it, at this point, is happening due to frustration over constantly losing the race in the first place — somebody takes four nodes from you, eventually you’re going to say “screw this” and abandon all decency to do the same to others. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves everyone so frazzled at the end it becomes Every Gamer For Themselves. Granted, the problem is not entirely on the shoulders of max-level characters; I’ve seen plenty of same-level players blowing all the cooldowns they can to get ahead. Some level 90s have a genuine need to level their own profession, as well, such as in the case of Deathknights since they start at 55. Most, however, are farming it for their own personal profit, choking out the enterprising lowbies who are trying to gather the materials themselves and putting them in a situation that often leads to them being forced to buy those same price-gouged materials off of the auction house just because they can’t get enough on their own. Yes, yes, capitalism, I know. But how about asking yourself how you’d feel if somebody did that to you? Or if they recently have and you’re just so frustrated you don’t even care anymore, is it really worth turning to the lowest common denominator just to get fake ore in a fake world while riding a fake dragon you paid for with fake money? If you see someone running towards one node, let them have it. You’ll beat them to the next one without having to use anything out of your bag of tricks. If someone is standing right in front of it and fighting a mob, move on. It’s safe to assume they’re probably working their way towards it.
This also goes for herbs, skins, and sparkly quest items that have to be picked up. Your kindergarten teacher would be disappointed in your lack of sharing skills.
2. “It’s just LFR!”
Seriously, if you’re about to excuse any kind of asshole behavior you’re about to partake in with the previous statement, stop what you are doing. LFR or the regular Dungeon Matchmaking Tool is not a euphemism for “auto-attack the whole way through and ninja all of the loot.” There are at least four other people relying on you to not be a jerk in order to advance themselves in the game. Using any matchmaking tool is not a badge of badness, despite what some elitists may argue. Those using it do not need to be “punished” or indoctrinated into the “real World of Warcraft” or any of that. You would be pissed if a priest took your rogue’s +agi trinket claiming that because the proc is +haste, it’s still useful. Don’t do it to somebody else.
3. Undercutting the Market… the Asshole Way
It’s obvious that in order to make sure your item sells on the auction house, you’re not going to want to sell it for a higher price than the current lowest price listed. In fact, logic would dictate that you should probably sell it for slightly less. This is fine reasoning. What is not fine is to undercut that lowest price by 1c or, worse, a ridiculously huge amount that will crash the market for everyone else. Buying up all of the reasonably priced items listed just so you can flood the market and repost them at price levels so high as to be beyond simple gouging is also a dick move.
But to be honest, the one that irks me the most is the 1c undercut. Nothing will make me curse your name under my breath so much as that. It’s almost like a personal attack, knowing that whoever did such a thing was fully aware of what they were doing and still thought that they were clever.
It is really tricky to call people out on auction house behavior simply because it IS a free market economy in World of Warcraft. A bit of healthy competition is good, and keeps the market going. The important thing is to keep things fair. Of course, the person undercutting by the infinitesimally tiny amount can be bought out and have the items reposted at a more normalized price, and the same goes for the person who puts up an item otherwise selling for 20g for 1/40th of that price — something to keep in mind when seeing this stuff happening on your server. Just remember to make sure you’re not crossing that very fine line yourself.
Publicly calling out someone selling an item in trade chat for a price that you simply don’t feel like paying accomplishes nothing, either. Don’t feel that those epic gloves are worth 3000g? Don’t buy them. Trying to shame them into lowering their price just because you’re cheap is only going to unleash the wrath of the rest of the server. I’ve seen it happen before, and it’s not pretty.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering what constitutes a “fair” undercut, I typically scale it based on the lowest normal price. If something’s selling for 10g, I might put mine up for 9g. If something’s selling for 12,000g then I feel there’s a bit more wiggle room to go with there and a drop to 11,000g is not unreasonable.
4. Complaining About PvP on a PvP Server
To be blunt, you chose to roll your character there. Stop being surprised when someone ganks you during a quest. There’s all sorts of “social” rules even as far as PvP goes:
- Thou shalt not gank someone in a daily quest area — remember the Isle of Quel’Danas and how much that sucked?
- Thou shalt not gank someone in order to grab the node, herb, or quest item they were attempting to gather
- Thou shalt not bring five of your friends to an otherwise fair fight
- Thou shalt not camp the shit out of someone who didn’t instigate it and tried to run away to begin with
- Thou shalt not run around ganking extreme lowbies while wearing a tuxedo and equipping a fish mace, although this is admittedly hilarious
- Thou shalt not kill questgiver NPCs, you jerk.
Even then, any adherence to these generally accepted behavioral norms is optional, at best. But that’s why people roll on a PvP server. I should know, I spent six years playing on one before I realized it wasn’t for me. Then I just shrugged, transferred a few of my characters to PvE servers, and rolled all of my alts on them as well. There’s no shame in it. If you still want to PvP but don’t want to live in constant fear, you can flag yourself for a while, do some battles, then toggle it back off and go sit in a safe area for five minutes until it takes effect. You can still access the same battlegrounds, arenas, open-world PvP zones… so why torture yourself, and everyone else who has to sit and listen to you bitch about it? Get a character transfer. The same goes for people who complain that their server is “dead” or “full of scrubs.”
5. It’s Not Tough Love, It’s Douchebaggery
If somebody unintentionally screws up in a LFR or random dungeon you’re in, and your response to it contains any kind of four-letter word, slur, or accusation as to the moral fortitude of their mother, you’re not helping them improve. Instead, everyone is now picturing you as this kid:
It’s pretty likely that the person making the mistake is simply unfamiliar with the content being run. “Why don’t they just ask for an explanation?” you might point out. Probably because they’re afraid that people are going to jump all over them like two-bit comedians on the Kanye/Kim baby thing (see what I did there?) for even insinuating that they might not fall asleep at night reciting raid strategies like the names of enemies for the Red God. If you see a party member make a mistake like that, ask if they need an explanation… nicely.
- WRONG: “omg ur a fuckin noob, I have to explain this shit?”
- RIGHT: “Hey, <name>, do you know this fight?”
If they indicate that they need an explanation, give them a quick but still polite rundown. I can almost guarantee you that in 90% of cases this will be sufficient to prevent any further mistakes on their end. The Fiance is sort of like that — he can, quite frankly, be difficult to run heroics and raids with, not because he’s an idiot, but because he doesn’t have the eight freaking years of experience under his belt that I have. Tell him what he needs to do, however, and he’ll pass with flying colors. And keep in mind that once these newer players learn what they need in order to be successful, you might find yourselves requiring their services for a future run. That healer you called a “fcking fagot” in Heart of Fear because he let you die? Yeah, he remembers you, and now he’s geared and has a killer rotation down, but don’t expect any of those epic crit heals to be falling on your ass anytime soon.
6. Panhandling Can Get You Arrested IRL. Don’t Do It In-Game Either.
A level 2 character has no business asking random level 90s for 200g. This isn’t me being a jerk, it’s the absolute truth. It’s very easy to make money in World of Warcraft these days. Kill a couple of level-appropriate mobs, do a quest or two, and you’ll have plenty of money to sustain you, especially since we no longer have to worry about learning new spells and ranks from our trainers. A good chunk of us probably remember the days when getting your first mount at level 40 required an obscene-for-the-time amount of gold, to the degree that if you didn’t have a generous guild or good auction house skills and lucky drops, you were going to be walking for a while. Now currency rewards have been buffed and initial training costs drastically reduced, to the point that even without a main “feeder” account to send over the gold, you’re definitely going to have enough to buy your first mount with plenty to spare. These days, going around Orgrimmar whispering every player you come across and asking for gold is annoying and lazy. There’s a reason we don’t see naked night elves dancing on mailboxes anymore.
That being said, if you’re on the receiving end of one of these beggars, a simple “sorry, no” will suffice. You don’t need to launch into a soliloquy about how that person has made terrible life choices and suggest that they delete their character and quit the game. If you’d like, you can even put them on ignore, and then you’ll never have to deal with them again.
7. Spamming Guild Invites
I swear to Christ, it needs to stop immediately. Stop with your pre-printed macros about “if you don’t want to join, then sorry for bothering you.” You’re not sorry, otherwise you wouldn’t have spammed my new alt with it as soon as they came out of the cutscene. I’m not sure if this technically counts as spamming according to Blizzard’s code of conduct, but if it doesn’t, it really needs to. For purposes of research, I rolled a level 1 character and did NOT disable guild invites as I normally do. I received 15 unsolicited invitations in 20 minutes. That, my friends, is utterly ridiculous. There is no better way to ensure that I never join your guild than to shove it in my face as if it were your unwashed junk. It will also probably make me sideways-eye every one of your guild members that I come across from that point on. It’s true, you know; people will remember you from that point on as a spammer guild.
8. Threatening Devs/Community Managers
When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would not drop any F-bombs, simply because I’m vainly hoping that at least one or two potential employers are reading this and my ability to use them more often and more correctly than Robert DeNiro might work against me. This, however, hits really close to home, not only because I’m a future dev myself, but also because I am on very close personal terms with a handful of them in the real world (mostly other game companies, but they still do the same work and deal with the same bullshit). As such, I make no apologies for the rule I am about to break.
If you threaten any Blizzard employees, or their families, or their friends, or their dogs, just because you think that rogues need a buff… fuck you, you maladjusted burden on society and oxygen thief. I’m glad that your priorities are so screwed up that you think it’s acceptable to say horrible things to these people who work unimaginably long hours just because you don’t agree with the decisions about the fantasy world that they created. Do you know what the average burnout time for a game developer is? Five years. And a big part of that is the frightening levels of abuse and lack of gratitude that they receive from their player base. If you don’t like the changes they’ve made, then you have three options:
- Quit the game.
- Calmly and rationally ask why they chose to pursue that design path, then offer your own insight without making overly generalized statements.
- Become a game developer yourself so that you can make the choices you think are best.
Some game company headquarters have had to go so far as to install bulletproof glass and security checkpoints just to protect themselves from players who have gone beyond simple threats and actually driven themselves out to the building while waving a gun because they disagreed with something.
It’s a game, guys. It’s not worth taking someone else’s life, happiness, or security over. And it’s certainly not worth going to jail over, although if you’re that unbalanced in the first place, it might be best if you were taken off the streets.
We can all stand to be a lot nicer to each other in real life as well as in World of Warcraft. It may not reduce your waistline or give you whiter teeth, but I assure you that it takes far more effort to be a jerk than it does to be a nice and helpful member of the community.
Also, please note that I’m not attacking good-natured trolling of friends and guild members. A sense of humor can make the game ten times as fun to play. For example, a guy I’ve played WoW with since the beginning was getting pissed off at the steady stream of fireworks being mailed to him by NPCs in lieu of more useful rewards. The other night I decided to level my engineering skill exclusively on fireworks and filled his mailbox with them. It wasn’t done to be mean. I did it because I knew he’d check his mail, say “dammit!” and laugh. The first time I did Molten Core, my guild at the time told all of the new players that if they went into this one crevice full of lava, there was a hidden NPC who’d give you a one-time quest that’d reward epics and assured us that it was safe to go in. It wasn’t. We spent the next five minutes cracking up over Ventrilo, yes, even those of us who had to pay extra on our repair bills.
I understand that a lot of what I’m saying here may be taken as unpopular opinion, which is something that shouldn’t surprise any of you by this point. I’m just calling it as I see it. If you still feel like you need to yell at me or threaten to kick my cat, I now have a Facebook page you can use to do just that!
Oh, and also, hunters? For the love of God, please name your pets. It makes me twitch.