I’m way overdue a post here. I’ve been commenting more at The Grumpy Elf’s blog than I have developing topics for here. However, I’ve been thinking lately what makes the game? I’ve played a few other games and I’ve not stuck at any of them. What keeps me coming back to warcraft? What makes me play it a lot? What do I enjoy in the game? What do I not enjoy in the game? These questions are all highly personal and very subjective. What someone else loves I might hate and vice versa.
As I said though I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Situations in game change and when they do it doesn’t hurt to have a re-evaluation. So what makes the game?
Raiding or the endgame
This is where most of the time is spent – at max level. My friend who introduced me to the game also introduced me to raiding. It started with some fun run’s of ICC in Cata to get achievements, then some T11 runs when Firelands came out. I then filled in when they were desperate during Firelands and I wanted to continue. I liked the focused effort, the camaraderie of facing something I couldn’t tackle on my own and beating it. I liked that it was the same group of people, an organised event, not like the impersonal dungeons that I usually ran. When bosses went down I got that thrill of having been part of something. Sure if they’d got someone for my spot they could have still done it, but I was there and it was me that they had relied on to keep them alive (I was healing then) and I felt like part of a group, I felt valued in a way for my contribution. That is why I’ve always liked raiding, as a group activity, to be part of something, to feel included and welcome.
What has prompted this post is that my raiding team has hit a roadblock. Team members want different things and are pulling in different directions. When I first joined this guild everything was great – isn’t that always the case? – and now it’s gone. When I joined I felt that we were a team, I had everything that I liked about raiding and it was good. Now, there’s some team members that I don’t like very much, they make me furious actually. I don’t feel like we’re a team anymore, there’s not a nice atmosphere. Some people want progress above all else. For me I like progress, I think it’s important, no-one is happy after all wiping for hours and hours on end. However, this progress at any cost, the selfishness that I feel some of the team are displaying, the antipathy towards other members of the team, it’s not right. There’s no team effort, no all for one and for all, it’s all about what people want personally so there’s no team spirit. I’m probably not explaining this right.
Anyway it made me ask why I was doing this? Why was I sticking around ‘to raid’ when what I love about raiding is no longer present? There’s two answers to that. The first one is that I feel like I should for those that I do like, for those caught in the middle, for my best friend in game because they deserve better. If I leave then they’ll be trouble, the guild has two tanks and they need two tanks, if I leave I’d be screwing it up for others and my conscience won’t let me do that. The second answer is more of a question – what else would I do? If I don’t raid, if I don’t have that as my focus, what will I do? Which brings me to the main point of this post.
The endgame is what you make of it
Yesterday I was mount farming with my best friend in game, it’s something we’ve done a lot of lately. We also level our characters up to 90 together which is so much better than doing it solo. I realised that I was having a lot more fun doing that than I have with raiding recently. We were chatting a bit, laughing when one of us made a mistake, telling jokes etc. and it was relaxed and fun. It was that social element that I like about raiding I guess, that camaraderie just packaged differently. Suddenly I wondered what my game life would be like without raiding and it didn’t seem so bad. I would go and get the raid kills later, if there was dead time at the end of the expansion, I could join runs occasionally with friends on an ad-hoc basis, I could use open raid if I felt like it. So I could get the achievements that I wanted without all the stress and I could still have that MMO experience, I could still play with my friend. I’m not sure how he feels about it, he’s very kind and so I hope that he enjoys it too and doesn’t just do it for my benefit.
Raiding is not doing by everyone, not everyone even goes in the toxic mess that’s LFR. I would say excluding LFR most of the playerbase’s endgame is something other than raiding. Now I don’t really count LFR as raiding but if you include LFR then I’d still be hard pushed to say the majority ‘raid’ at endgame in some form. I could be wrong but I just don’t think those are the figures. I’m not sure what they do. I know what I like to do which is solo things, collect mounts and pets, chase achievements. That’s what I did before I raided and what I still do now time permitting. The endgame is what the players want it to be. I think blizz, these days especially, tries to funnel everyone towards raiding but it doesn’t have to be like that.
So what makes the game?
It’s highly personal, for some in my guild it’s pure progress, getting more kills faster and before others. For me it is the social element, I also like raiding because it’s a challenge, but mostly it’s the team effort, tackling something bigger than us and succeeding as we worked together. I played and liked Swtor a lot but I played it is a solo game and so lost interest. I’ve liked various other games too but as soon as I pick them up I drop them again. Without the chatting to friends I’ve made, without that lure, however good a game is it can’t keep me interested. What makes Warcraft for me is the people I play it with.
Which makes the question of my guild an incredibly difficult one. In most situations I see both sides of the issue and then do nothing, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I just don’t get involved. It is rare that I force an issue personally as I’m just not comfortable doing that. However, I actively dislike some of my guildmates now, I despise their attitude and isn’t that a strong word. In life we often have to deal with people we don’t like, I’m well aware of that which is why I’ve currently done nothing. As I said above leaving would mean screwing over the people that aren’t at fault. I would prefer to have nothing to do with the people I don’t like, I don’t really want to raid alongside them, some part of me feels that being a teammate of theirs is like condoning their attitude. I once left a guild as I felt I couldn’t condone the way it was managed any longer. I’ve always felt that being silent is like being complicit, and is just as much of a crime as doing it yourself. The people are what make the game so what to do?
I think everyone sometimes needs to think about why they are playing the game, and what is truly important to them. I play the game because of the friends I have made. For all the achievements, and collection of vanity items, however much I like chasing these things without the people I would have lost interest a long time ago. What is important to me is being a good person, being able to live with my decisions and being able to say that I did the right thing. I left an old guild because I had to be true to myself and I couldn’t condone the management any longer. I put off that decision for a long time as I was worried that I would lose the friends that I had made there, I was worried that we’d lose touch and never group up again. In that case the concern was unwarranted, I still have those friends. It’s entirely possible that this guild will fall apart without any action on my part, or the people who’s attitude I hate will cease to be a part of the equation. No-one can tell the future. For now my guilt and conscience will keep me in the guild, I can’t hurt those that have done nothing wrong. If I did then I’d be just as selfish as those I’m against. Depending on what happens next will determine my next move. However, I am no longer scared of having a future without raiding.
This has been a personal post but I think there’s an important realisation that could apply to others. There’s more to the endgame than just raiding or pvp. It’s possible to play the game, and still get what you want out of it, without being locked into one of those two boxes. It’s all about ‘What makes Warcraft?’ for you. It turns out that on evaluation I could stop raiding tomorrow and still get from the game what I like best. Why do you play the game? What keeps you playing? What do you enjoy?