Casual Play: WoW Dishes Out Casual Epics
By: Steve Wilson
Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Staff Writer Steve Wilson. The column is called "Casual Play" and will look at some of the stranger or more frustrating events in MMOs as seen by Mr. Wilson. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.
“Not bad back there, you know our guild is recruiting right now…”
I’ll admit I was interested. It would be much better to have a pool of people to adventure with rather than always looking for pick up groups. It would also be a lot more fun in the battlegrounds to run with folks that saw it more as a team sport than a mob activity. The two players I’d hooked up with in order to venture through one of my rare forays into an instance seemed like decent guys. There’d been no arguing over loot or tactics, no berating of anyone in the pick up group, if their guild was the same it might not be a bad proposition. I’d be more than willing to help out when needed knowing there’d be a community to do the same for me. Guilds in online games are almost a requirement. I was plenty interested.
“Really? I’ve been sort of looking for a guild and would love to join the right one. I mostly enjoy the battlegrounds and would like to find a solid group to run with.”
“Well, we have really high standards. You’d have to fill out an application. And have references, we could do that for you. There’s also a mandatory weekly meeting, uniform, and it’s required that if we’re doing a raid you have to stop everything and come help.”
Applications? References? Mandatory Meetings? It was starting to sound like a job. My enthusiasm declined rapidly. I was really just looking for some folks to hang out with as I slashed a bloody trail across Azeroth (and Norrath, and Corellia, and Dereth) and potentially make some in game buddies to hang out with. This guild was already on the wrong foot treating me as a potential employee rather than a gaming pal. My time in game was for relaxation, not mandatory anythings.
My silence possibly tipped them off that I was already hedging on the thought of joining and so they launched into a long series private messages about how their guild was one of the most respected on the server. This in fact had the opposite effect on my desire to join. With each message I was becoming less and less enthused. It looked like I’d be running solo for a bit longer. And to a degree I was also getting irritated. My enjoyment from a game is not based upon achievement, and so selling guild participation based on the type of end game achievement it accomplished was the wrong tact. And probably the wrong upsell to nearly any casual gamer. It really made these members, and their guild by association, seem as if they were looking down their nose at all the other players that hadn’t accomplished the things they’d ‘worked’ for. Most of the casual players I’ve talked with aren’t impressed with the holier than thou attitude of these self proclaimed top level guilds. They turn a fun little diversion into a tedious grind with the added benefit of also including a caste system.
Now days I tell guilds that I need to check out their website and that I’ll be sure to apply there when I have a chance. Declining on the spot always leads to hurt feelings and me being berated for the same things that casual players always get mocked for, no pride in accomplishment, no devotion, not knowing that I can’t achieve anything without the uber achievers. No mention ever of how much fun I’ll miss out on for not being in their guild, but fun isn’t something that can be quantified for e-peen waving.
Having once made the mistake of joining one of these guilds back in DAoC I was able to enjoy the bliss of mandatory meetings. For no reason that I could actually discern we were required to meet at an empty church and go through the motions of paying attention to a lot of blowhards stroking their egos. When I quit a few weeks later and was no longer obligated to go on guild raid, pay guild tithes, and suck up to guild egos the game became dramatically more fun. Although I did miss out on having to mandatorily be on a set number of hours each week and some end level raiding which I hated anyway. No big loss.
Repeated incidents like this aren’t my only negative experiences with guilds. The worst offenders were the ones that would join a battleground together then refuse to group with anyone else. They’d make claims about the pick up players not being on vent or team speak refusing to acknowledge that the other player could have at least used regular chat. The casual pick up players didn’t mind not having voip communication they just wanted to be able to help out through chat. But elitism for some guilds is more important than having fun and letting others play nice. I know of at least one WoW player that quit altogether because of the way pre-made guilds were treating other members of their own faction.
Not all guilds are horrible caste system whose goal is to reinforce their superiority over other players. The guild I happen to be in now for example is composed almost entirely of casual players. We’re more interested in having a good time than worrying about how much our reputation will suffer if anyone else kills Nax once or twice more than us. As a matter of fact I don’t think we’ve ever once even visited Molten Core. If this makes someone snicker chances are they are exactly the type of players mention in the first couple of paragraphs, elitists. They also happen to be the audience that more and more games are retreating from, even the bastion of uber leetness that once was Vangaurd. Honestly, the entire genre will probably be better off. Although a game that stripped achievers from any bragging rights would probably be even better still.
Applications? To meet people and enjoy myself? Absolutely ludicrous.