I’ve been meaning to write for a while now about ignorance in WoW. Gosh, that sounds like a portentous introduction to what is actually a rather simple topic. I guess I shouldn’t have weighed in so heavy with the Schopenhauer.
When it comes to instance bosses (and raiding, from what I’ve read, looks even worse), the way WoW works a lot of the time is that if you don’t know how the fight works in advance you’ll probably fail. I think the notion behind it was originally that you’d learn by doing. Shamus Young characterises this sort of gameplay as Do It Again Stupid and, although it’s the kind of gameplay that drives me mad in single player games, there’s a degree to which it works moderately well for WoW. I mean, sometimes, you get what’s going on and you muddle through by sheer luck and a bloody minded refusal to lie down and die. And if it’s been a smooth run I often quite enjoy the first post-boss corpse run in which you’re all typing at about hundred miles a hour: “okay, we take out the healer first,” “yeah, yeah, and when he mind controls, if you use entangling roots, then we should be able to moderate the damage,” “I’ll off-tank the adds” etc. etc. It feels genuinely exciting. There’s nothing duller than a fight you know you’re going to win.
But, sometimes, going in cold and hoping for the best is not what you need. Maybe it’s been slightly tense, maybe it’s past your bedtime, maybe your shield is flashing yellow, maybe your tea is getting cold, who knows. In which case you can alt-tab and look it up, or somebody can talk you through the fight. But the point is, in order to make a decent go of things, you really need the knowledge. Not only knowledge of the forthcoming fight, but knowledge of who amongst you knows what.
The amount of times, I’ve stood there at the top of the steps of ZF watching the tank who said he knew exactly what he was going go charging straight down to the bottom and get torn apart by the gazillion trolls.
Now I realise that there’s no obligation present in the game to act as an educator to all and sundry, but equally I’ve noticed a widespread contempt for ignorance which makes it genuinely difficult to admit it if you haven’t done something before. Just on principle I usually do – I don’t want to be the guy who fucked everything up by not coming clean. And if I had a gold piece for each time someone has sneered at me for it … well … I’d have some gold pieces. Similarly, if I had a gold piece for every PUG that crashed and burned because somebody didn’t have a clue what they were doing and wouldn’t admit it … well … I’d have some more gold pieces.
Ignorance isn’t the same as stupidity, or even being a bad player. It’s just a natural part of the learning curve, and it becomes a hugely problematic one if other players sneer and bitch at you for it. It’s like PUGing in an Orwellian dystopia, where nobody dares say anything lest they another player turn them in to have rats stuck to their face. I suspect it comes down, like everything else, to WoWcockism – but quite frankly I think you’re trying to add inches to it by deriding other players, it’s beyond the help of science or religion.
I remember when were running AN, the warlock who was leading the group, took about 2 minutes before each boss fight to outline it for li’ll ignorant me. And I really really appreciated it. Not only was I a super effective healer of a fabulousness but I feel pretty confident about running the thing again. The first time I do an instance, I consider it pretty much my duty to learn it and that’s a whole lot easier if it doesn’t go past in a blur of bewildered panic.
Anyway, before the final boss, the lock was running us through the strategy and the local deathtard, who was bouncing all over the place in what was either an orgy of impatience or desperation to go to the toilet, suddenly interrupted. “Strategy,” he said, “1) Pew Pew 2) ??? 3) Loot.”
“Is 2) a wipe” asked M’Pocket, dryly.
Which, I think, says it all really.