Tobold's Blog
Monday, January 12, 2009
Morons and slackers

I have a problem with some commenters calling other people "morons" on my blog. Normally, because using insulting language is against my Terms of Service, I would just delete the offending comment. But as in this case the comment is rather revealing of a typical attitude, I prefer to deal with it in a separate post. The attitude I'm talking about is some people believing that everybody who raids less well than they do is a "moron and slacker". Two particular examples given were somebody standing at a place where he shouldn't be standing in a raid encounter, and somebody doing significantly less damage than other dps classes. Are such people "morons and slackers"?

The term "slacker", while unnecessarily insulting, at least has some truth in it, if you use it in typical MMO lingo context. You just define a "slacker" as somebody who hasn't played "enough" with his character. Take any number of WoW characters, and plot them on a graph with the time /played at level 80 on the X axis and the dps done on the Y axis, and you'll get a cloud which definitely points upwards. There is a clear correlation between playing more with your character and doing more damage (or healing). Part of that is practice, I still learn new tricks with my priest, and part of it is gearing up. Only of course the definition of "enough" is completely arbitrary.

The term "moron" is just plain wrong. Do the same plot with people's IQ on the X axis and their dps on the Y axis, and you'll find no correlation at all. Very intelligent people can play a WoW character badly, especially if they haven't played that class very much. And very stupid people can be at the top of a damage meter, because frankly, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to push a few buttons in the right order. I've heard stories of 5-year olds outperforming their dads when playing with their characters. If you could deduct a person's intelligence from his damage output, then following that logic the person would become more intelligent if you gave him a bunch of epics. Ridiculous!

Things like "do not stand in the fire" is also something that comes with time, not intelligence. Nobody does for example Heigan perfectly on the first try, it just takes some practice. Some people are better at that sort of thing, having faster reaction time than others (I tend to be mediocre). But there is no correlation whatsoever between reaction time and IQ. It would be very easy to imagine somebody who is autistic being a very good WoW player, because focus is a lot more important than intelligence in raids. The only thing that does require some intelligence in a raid is figuring out how to kill a boss given his specific abilities. And nearly everybody just skips that part and looks up the strategy on the internet instead of bothering to try to figure it out.

People who feel the need to call somebody else a "moron", just because he is playing a video game less well, do have a problem. This behavior is indicative of deriving one's self-value from that video game. That is not healthy, especially not with games in which performance is linked to time played. Thus the "moron" will usually reply by calling the guy who plays better a "no-lifer" which isn't necessarily true either. Even worse, there are a lot of people who throw insults in both directions, people who play less are "morons", and people who play more are "no-lifers". Or as my favorite quote on that subject says: "Ever notice how anyone who plays more than you has no life? And anyone who plays less than you is not dedicated enough to deserve epics? It's amazing how you managed to hit that perfect balance."

Why can't we just accept that in a game like World of Warcraft there are people who play more, there are people who play better, and there are people who play less, or less well, without having to resort to being judgemental or insulting? In most cases playing less and less well is a personal choice somebody made, completely unrelated to his intelligence. Whether it is spending more time with family, or spending time in the game to level alts instead of improving the gear of your main, those are all valid choices. No player has the right to define his personal level of performance as being the one required to deserve epics. Most of the people throwing around insults of "morons and slackers" are not really the best possible players, and would be quite furious if Blizzard designed the entry level raids to be just too hard for them. So why should they be allowed to determine that anyone playing less well than they shouldn't be allowed in a raid?
This comment has been removed by the author.
We find the mentality of such a commenter to be "Without a job" or "Plays from the basement".

I promise that the whole Having a Wife thing or Playing with my son will fall to the wayside to make sure I can raid more often.

I promise to work on that Real SOON!
I completely agree. What is very interesting to me, and what I've seen lately, is that people can actually improve significantly in a short period of time if you:
a) take the time to explain what they need to do
b) explain proper preparation and itemization
c) be helpful, rather than destructive criticism
d) overall, build their confidence rather than fill them with fear

Our guild is made up of 1/2 raiders who only saw Kara through to patch 3.0.2 when everything became much easier. Now they have cleared all 10 man content, and 1/2 way through 25 man. On a casual schedule: 1-2 nights/week raiding only.

If only people treated others like they would friends in real life...:)
You hit the nail on the head there, the words you're mentioning are being overused so much they don't really have a meaning anymore.

Well, except for making you look like exactly what you're calling others of course.

And yeah, people may disagree on what such words mean too. That's not an excuse to throw them at anybody who disagrees with you though (not aimed at anyone in particular).
great post Tobold. "Pull out the beam in one's own eye before seeking to pull out the mote in someone else's eye"
It's not about the current skill, it's about the willingness to learn. If you stand in the fire and die once, that's okay. If you try to move away but fail the second time, that's okay. But if you die again and again to the same avoidable cause, then I will use my right to choose who I play with.
you try back up your arguments with mathematical figures like the relation between time spend at lvl 80 and dps output. but the interesting parts where intelligence and skill comes into play are left out. meaning that an intelligent and skilled player just needs 2 days played at 80 to maximise his dps ouput and a moron needs 100.
another point is that the brain lagging people (the not so clever ones) need to practise an encounter 10 times to not stand in the rain of fire or to get the heigan dance done where others understand what to do after 1 try. you see where i´m going ?
and all that is just pve, where arrow turning still is a viable option to progress. take the top 100 of arena rankings and measure their IQ and you will probably see that the majority is > 100.

not that all that really matters, cause it is indeed just a game but what bothers me is this devalueing just to hide his/her own incompetence. or would you say that a soccer professional has just invested much time and thats the only reason he is better than you ? i have no problem to admit that there are people that are much better at playing wow for various reasons. i even can imagine that there are people who are more skilled than me !
I think players that consider themselves "good," "skilled," "l33t" etc. have to dehumanize the "casuals/bads/morons/less-skilled" players that are readily abundant in the WoW world. Players that don't have the time to read up on DPS rotations or study spreadsheets to learn optimum gearing are ridiculed by those that do, in part, to make those players feel justified in their larger time investment. They want content to be pefectly balanced so that it's "hard" enough so that their guild, and those more progressed than them, to be able to complete the encounter and challenging enough to keep out other guilds/players that they deem unworthy.

I think the casualization of the game is what brought about this attitude. WAY back in the day seeing a player in full epics was a sign of that players skill and time spent playing the game. Now days this is not true at all. The best of the best simply get to compete with other best of the best guilds for a vanity title or special colored mount.
The best part of online gaming is the other people. The worst part of online gaming is the other people.

This is why I'd pay for an offline standalone WoW. It's a fun game world, but it's got all those people in it...
"Moron" is a pejorative term, but then a lot of the hardcore are frustrated that they haven't hit any fights that were genuinely challenging to them outside of achievement mode. Personally, I *would* suspect that you find that the less intelligent players don't do as well on average, at least in part because they rarely put in the time to read anything about their class. Which is where a lot of the "slacker" comes in as well. For me it's not about who spent an extra hundred hours farming heroics or whatever, it's who spent one or two hours to look through some material on optimal rotations, builds, etc. Maybe those players think of that expended hour or two as getting too close to "job" territory, but then they're wasting dozens of hours of my time.

P.S. As an autism researcher, there is a moderate negative correlation between autism and intelligence, but there are plenty of autistic people with normal or superior IQ.
The best part of online gaming is the other people. The worst part of online gaming is the other people.

So very, very true.

It is kind of funny to hear the "moron (plus variations)" and "no life" arguments play out over and over. I'm kind of both, in that I'm quite unsocial and have no girlfriend/wife (The usual versions of "I have a life"), and yet still take a long time to level, will have difficulty finding the perfect optimization for a character (I don't have an interest in perfect optimization, but may also miss synergies/connections even when looking for them.), etc. Though by most standards, "intelligence" is pretty high.

If you stand in the fire and die once, that's okay. If you try to move away but fail the second time, that's okay. But if you die again and again to the same avoidable cause, then I will use my right to choose who I play with.

This sort of thing may depend on the person. It may be that the person has difficulty with reaction times, or may have difficulty seeing one type of effect than another, or may have habits leftover that are difficult to break that interfere with the encounter, so some people may just need more slack for certain areas than others. (Though I don't actually know the encounter you are talking about, and haven't actually raided, so am probably missing a lot of information as to how hard "avoiding the fire" or other effects actually is.)
Maybe those players think of that expended hour or two as getting too close to "job" territory, but then they're wasting dozens of hours of my time.

(Missed this comment before)

I do have a lot of this viewpoint as well, though, which makes it quite hard to have any more than a vague opinion in general about whether someone "should" know or do something without knowing more about the particular person.
Nice post, spot on. Yes, the wow gaming community is often harsh & needlessly arrogant, and for such tiny tiny reasons, given the grand scheme of things. I agree that too many of us find our self worth through the game, and many of the most significant emotional responses we have IN LIFE are tied to the game, in ways that are eccentric and often pathelogical.
Gamers are the worst thing to happen to Games!

When I get frustrated I tend to not burst out but give them the silent treatment. If that happened on a PUG I'll most likely remember the names.
As someone above mentioned Tobold, you do indeed point out a way to identify those with less 'skill'. If both players play an equal time, and one does double the dps, well then it just comes down to what the player is doing. One of the main reasons people hate gear-driven PvP is for exactly that reason, 'skill' can't overcompensate for gear.

Back on point, if I make it clear that my guild is a progression raiding guild, and we aim to progress raid content as quickly as possible, are we going to blame the guild for kicking someone who falls below the time/dps line? Won't that guild aim to recruit exactly those who place above the line, in order to increase progress?

I'm not saying that is the be-all/end-all for an MMO, but if raiding is the clear goal of the guild, don't you want to weed out those that hinder everyone, or blame those players and the guild leadership if progress is being stalled? At what point is a guild justified to point out a players performance?
Since "morons and slackers" came from me and actually was planning a post on this, I'll have a bit longer comment than I use to have.

At first morons: As you once told, WoW is the game of diminishing returns. After top level less and less improvement can be made by more and more effort. It's similar with several fields of the life. For example what I write is understandable, yet not perfect English grammar. I could learn more irregular verb's past and third form (go, went, gone) but everyone can understand "quited", though it's wrong. So I hit the MINIMAL level of English knowledge, I'm capable of communicate in English. Morons incapable of doing it. Of course there is always a better player and you can become better a BIT by practicing. However if you give me a geared lvl 80 holy paladin, a class I've never played, in two days I'll play better than most players. Granted I'll won't be good enough for Sarth+2 and even less for rated Arena, but I could heal Naxx. Why: because I possess simple REAL LIFE skills like:
* reading background material: "Three months in the lab can save you three hours in the library" my professors told me. For me it's obvious to start my holy paladin carrier to read some holy paladin forums.
* doing elementary school mathematics: Heal = (base heal + spell power*coefficient)*(1+bonus from talent1 + talent2). Is that so hard? Than why do I see resto druids with 90% of their heal being rejuvenation?
* asking skilled advice: my second day of holy paladining would be "Beginner Holy Pally LF alt of a Holy Pally who killed Malygos to do heroics and spot my noob mistakes, I pay 100G/run". I'd soon get a mentor to fix my errors.

These skills are not WoW-skills, but the skill of "learning". I can learn holy paladin in WoW, like car driving, differential equations or "how to assemble an IKEA cupboard". People who lack these skills are hopelessly lost in LIFE.

Again, I'd be no great holy paladin. But I'd be OK because I have basic learning skills = I'm not a moron. A resto druid capable of refreshing LBx3 on 3 separate tanks while evading fire is a better player than me. A resto druid who sometimes misses refreshing his LBx3 on his only tank is a worse player than me. A resto druid who does not use lifebloom and try to spam Nourish is not worse than the previous. He is a moron who have no idea what a resto druid is for, despite the fact he's having one for several DAYS /played.

Slacking: slacking is not using important abilities of the character, just because the player does not care. Typical example is the mage who does not remove curse or the shaman who does not put down those totems that increase other people's DPS. Or not having enchants and gems. Everyone slacks. I don't have back enchant, because I don't want to spend 600G for lousy 10 spirit. I don't cancel-cast regrowth if I have more than 50% mana. If tranquility is up and several group members damaged, I use it, while I could heal them with other spells, saving the cooldown. But I do have ENOUGH enchants and manage my mana good ENOUGH to make the run happens.

The definition of enough: if 4, 9 or 24 people with equal slack factor would do the run, the run would be successful. If the boss have 1000K HP, enrages in 100 seconds and there are 10 DPS players than everyone must have 1000DPS or the boss enrages. If you make less than 1000DPS and the boss still dies, than someone ELSE did more for you. So you are a slacker, in absolute terms. You do not deserve loot from this boss, yet you may get if the others tolerate you. You are a burden on other people's back. That's slacker!
"Moron" is a part of the Gevlon vocabulary and I honestly don't take it too seriously. I actually he has some kind of heart and compassion behind the rather rough surface, he just isn't aware of it yet. :)

Still I do agree that words as "sucker", "idiot", "slacker" etc are used a little bit too often, especially in forums and in general chat, but also at WoW blogs. To be honest It wears me out, its quite respectless and the words finally lose their meaning.

Players who use those words tend to forget that a person who perhaps isn't skilled in the perticular area of the game thet you're engaged in, let's say PvP, very well can be extremely skilled in another area, let's say acting in character as a RPer. If you constantly call all people you meet in the game idiots, I think it most of all reflects back on yourself and your lacking skill in finding the hidden golden sides of others.
You assume that everyone playing has the same goals as you it seems, which may not be the case. There are of course differences in various people's ability to adapt and play the game in certain ways. One can still be civil and courteous and that would exclude using some parts of the vocabulary.
The reason people are so harsh with their language is that they have to share the raid spots with slower/worse or faster/better players.

The same applies to driving. I don't care if there are bad drivers in Italy, but anyone who shares the freeways I drive on -- well, that moron/idiot quote originated in this form: "Have you ever noticed that anyone who drives faster than you as an idiot, and anyone who drives slower than you is a moron?"

It's all about shared resources.
Posts like this are why I read your blog Tobold.

Moron is a completely inadequate accusation. At best you could say "slow reaction time" or "not fully focused". But those don't carry the same amounts of negative connotation people desire to belittle people, so they aren't used. I've met many incredibly intelligent people that simply had very slow reaction times, usually because they are ancient (In their 30s or 40s). They can even be really good players, but throw in situational awareness + reaction time (Think Kel'Thuzad) and you are guaranteed to trip them up. It really frustrates them as well. They know they need to move. They want to move. They try hard every time to react faster to the stuff on the ground. They simply don't have the coordination that they used to nor had computer games their entire life to train that skill set. Calling them a moron, however, is only indicative of your problems, not theirs.
I heartily agree with the sentiment of this post.
I agree with Tobald's post to a point. While I wholeheartedly agree that name calling is just childish and does nothing productive, that doesn't mean guild leaders and officers shouldn't have standards.

As was said above, "The best part of online gaming is the other people. The worst part of online gaming is the other people." This bit can largely be mitigated by guild leadership making sure that everyone in the guild is on the same page. Not everyone is going to approach the game the same way - if your guild expects people to be on time, every time, come prepared, and not need anything explained to them, then that's the kind of people they should recruit. If your guild takes people who are inexperienced and don't read boss strats, you shouldn't bitch when you need to train people and wipe a couple of times on a boss because it's Timmy's first run and he didn't know any better. If your guild brands itself as casual friendly you shouldn't expect to breeze through content that requires a laser focus.

Raids & other group activities devolving into an insult-filled flamefest is, in my opinion, more a failure of leadership than anything else. Just because you play on the same server with umpteen thousand other people doesn't mean you'll get along with all of them.
This sort of thing may depend on the person. It may be that the person has difficulty with reaction times, or may have difficulty seeing one type of effect than another, or may have habits leftover that are difficult to break that interfere with the encounter, so some people may just need more slack for certain areas than others. (Though I don't actually know the encounter you are talking about, and haven't actually raided, so am probably missing a lot of information as to how hard "avoiding the fire" or other effects actually is.)
I agree with your point on some encounters (Nightbane's Charred Earth was notorious in being hard to see on low detail settings and requiring a fast reaction time), but the more blatant examples are those where you have ample warning and "avoiding the fire" requires no great reflexes, just knowing yourself, your character and the boss' abilities.

One of the encounters that was frequently called an "idiot check" was the Lurker Below. You fought him on an arena that arcs around him, with the immobile boss at the middle. One of his attack patterns was to rotate and spout water at you, causing lots of damage and knocking you far away into the piranha-infested waters, beyond the range of the healers. He would always start the rotation facing the main tank and always rotate 360 degrees at a constant speed, although the direction could vary. To avoid the water spout, everyone must dive into the piranha-infested water and stay there until the water spout has passed. Here's an example.

As you can see from the video, the player in question is already standing near the edge of the platform when the water spout starts. He correctly estimates his reaction speed and jumps into the water in time. While underwater, he looks up to verify that the spout has passed and gets back up as soon as it's safe.
I think there is a problem with definitions.
I didn't take offense in the terms "moron" and "slacker" because I defined:
Moron: Someone who is after at least one year of raiding still not able to move out of the fire, something that is needed with every second boss and is always the exact same mechanic. Such a peson simply shows no sign of being able to learn and improve and gets angry if you try to help him because he doesn't want to think.

Slacker: Already explained, someone who is able to do something useful and doesn't do it. Its okay if everyone slacks roughly the same amounts, its not okay if one person nearly sleeps while the rest is nearly suffering a Stroke trying to do their job and the slackers job at once.
Who is more of a moron? Someone who fails at a game, or someone who calls those who fail at a game morons?

Sorry couldn't resist :P

If people cannot "succeed" in a casual game like WoW, unless they research, study or theorycraft, it is not the player that fails the game, it is the game that fails the player.
"If people cannot "succeed" in a casual game like WoW, unless they research, study or theorycraft, it is not the player that fails the game, it is the game that fails the player."

Some truth is in this statement. So much of what seperates the "good" from the "bad" involves unintuitive thinking and revolves around the need to reference out of game resources. Blizzard has been trying to dumb down DPS away from strict rotations to simple button mashing based on cooldowns and available resources (rage/mana/energy/runicpower).

Arms warrior DPS used to be a work of art requiring precise timing, where even a slight delay of .5 seconds too soon or too early would result in a large DPS loss. Now...well you stand there waiting for the game to tell you what to do...OVERPOWER (Push overpower button)....EXECUTE (Sudden death procs so you hit execute).
Maybe it's just me, but "moron" is a reasonably strong insult IME, that would probably result in a fight (maybe a shoving match) if it were used in real life. Much stronger than "slacker". I've seen fights start with less, probably since alcohol was part of the equation. I consider it to yet another example of Internet disinhibitive behavior.
Remember a thing called manners? So many players easily slide into insulting language and judgemental attitudes. Intolernance and dissing seem to be the trendy hallmarks of the mighty. Hardly role-models, these types of players turn away good customers. Take some examples - My nine year old son was once kicked out from a group and insulted for for not dps-ing enough. Did the know-it-all hotshot leader have any idea he was insulting a kid? Probably not. Another time while in a battleground, I suggested that the flag carrier cap. I was told by another player, "He's autistic, leave him alone." So I did, but imagine the outrage and insults that followed from more competitive players complaining that their game "experience" was being ruined by someone who "shouldn't be playing."

It's a game. The best and worst part of MMOs are the other players on-line. Sadly, cultural norms often tip toward the side of rudeness and exclusivity. When it stops being fun, stop playing.
Tobold, I love hearing someone say things I agree with so eloquently. :)

True story: a few weeks ago my guild hit a wall on 10-man Sapphiron. I tried to do research on whether or not we needed frost resist (short answer: we do, we 1-shot him once we all capped FrR). But on every forum where I asked the question or saw the question asked, there was always someone responding with "you don't need frost resist if your raiders aren't retarded".

That's really helpful, isn't it?
once i got an old guildmate (age 50-60) and he is waay slow in dungeons.. so slow that he always turned down offer to do instance run because he know he will slow down the party. but the guild helped him anyway because we all loved him. in gev's category this guy will be marked down below slacker/moron level , but not in our guild.

sometimes helping other is more fulfilling than helping yourself with epix..
to add my post above ^^^

i think it all boils down on how you want to play WOW. if you want to enjoy WOW with high efficiency (read:military style) then this gevlon guy should join a better guild. reading his blog i have an impression that he feels like a big fish in a small pond.. i dont think he will be a big fish again if he join a big and organized guild.. its easy to criticize everyone in your guild when you outperform them, but when everyone excell you will be just another brick on the wall..

i think the best way for this gevlon guy is gquit and join hardcore raiding guild. but i suspect he kinda enjoy being the big fish in his guild.. kinda like pariah who everyone look up to..
I never call people names, either in-game or in forums. Just because I might disagree with someone about whether a game is enjoyable or how to play it, doesn't mean I consider them to be a moron or a slacker.
At the same time, branding people 'elitist' just because they like their game to contain a certain lelvel or difficulty is just as bad in my opinion. Elitist or Slacker? Two sides of the same coin, I think.
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