Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Playing with others means compromise
My random thoughts on Cataclysm provoked some comments from people with a very different philosophy than mine. While I was discussing e.g. what class/role to play to fit in best with both my guild and pickup groups, these commenters suggested that I shouldn't compromise. They said I should choose whatever I wanted to play, and then just look for a guild / friends to group with who are compatible with my needs of what class I want to play or what raid schedule I prefer.
I do think that the difference in philosophy is probably due to the commenters and me being of different generations. I'm relatively old for a gamer, technically still part of the baby boomer generation, and not of generations X or Y. Between online games and social networks over the last decade evolved the phenomenon of the "internet friend". People have literally *hundreds* of friends on Facebook. And one of the stories about Cataclysm was people complaining that guilds would be limited to "only" 1,000 members, up from 600. The consequence of having so many friends is that it becomes easier to change your friends than to change yourself.
Now I might be old-fashioned, but my concept of guilds developed in the original Everquest a decade ago, where loyalty was still regarded highly, and people quitting guilds frequently wouldn't get invites into the better guilds. And I do not have strong preferences on what to play, of all the 10 classes and 30 possible talent trees I find over half fun enough to play, and there are only a few I'm absolutely not interested in playing. Thus I prefer to compromise, to consider the needs of other people when selecting my main for example, or to adjust to the raid schedule of my guild, instead of changing friends whenever the current batch isn't a perfect fit for me any more.
Furthermore I believe that there is value in playing with strangers. All of my current online friends were strangers to me at some point. Being able to compromise is an asset in situations where you *can't* choose who to interact with. Just like you can't select the people in your class, or the people you have to work with every day, you can't select the whole population of your World of Warcraft server. Being able to recognize the needs of the other players, and being willing to compromise on e.g. what class and role I play, gives me advantages for example on my ability to find a dungeon group at any odd time and without a long queue wait time. If I insisted to play a dps, and only in groups with my closest friends, I wouldn't be able to group when I wanted.
In the end playing with others always means some sort of compromise. If I were unwilling to compromise on what I play and who I play with, I'd be forced to compromise on when I play group content. Team sports, whether that is soccer or a WoW group, usually requires some compromise on who plays what position. If for some reason your virtual identity absolutely requires you to play a frost mage and nothing else, you can certainly do that; but there is a price to pay for being uncompromising as soon as you want to play group content.