Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 20, 2011
 
Freedom of choice

So as this has somehow mutated into "philosophy week" on Tobold's Blog, I'd like to explore further the philosophical notions that "this is just a game", "morality / responsibility doesn't apply in a game", and "I'm here voluntarily, so I should have complete freedom of choice". Let's accept these notions for a moment, and see where that leads us in a thought experiment:

Think of whatever you hate most in the behavior of other players in World of Warcraft or another MMORPG: Naked night elves dancing on mailboxes, ninja looters, people not moving out of the fire, whatever. And now think what you would answer to somebody defending that behavior you hate with "this is just a game", "I don't have any responsibility here", or "this is my freedom of choice". Why would anyone have a responsibility to not deliberately wipe your group, or to do over 1k damage per second when playing a DPS in a heroic? If you have total freedom of choice over what to do, what would keep others from having that same freedom of choice and using it to do things that you hate?

I believe that everybody's freedom ends where the freedom of the next guy begins. Thus in every activity involving more than one person, even if it is "just a game", there is some sort of responsibility involved. Because everybody having complete freedom of choice is by definition anarchy. Freedom of choice must have certain limits, and these limits are somewhere where your freedom impinges on the freedom of others. Now of course we can have an endless discussion of where exactly these limits are, and whether your choice creating a waiting queue in the Dungeon Finder isn't harmless enough to allow that freedom. But I can't accept total freedom of choice without limits, not even in a game.
Comments:
I have no problem with complete freedom of choice in WoW. It's like Leah wrote in reply to the previous post: in-game morality can comfortably end at "behave!".

Of course, this cuts both ways. If someone's fun is dancing naked yelling "I'm naaaaaked" (in all caps, of course), a quick /ignore works wonders to deal with the most annoying part of that problem. As for randoms ninja looting, they are of course being jerks and they will spoil part of the fun for the rest of the group. Why not just tell them kindly that they do and kick them.

Now, a person outputting low dps can have many explanations, but most of the time it certainly is detrimental to the prospects of group success. Again, informing the person that it isn't working out well and asking him/her to leave isn't really too big of an annoyance (particularly, as we have seen, as dps is easy to replace ;)). A person that replies by saying "I choose to do low dps because I do whatever I want!" would be an unusual person, indeed, but there's no stopping us from using the very efficient group kicking system.

You think I'm living on the moon with all this politeness crap – that I haven't seen what actually goes on in pugs all over the world? I don't and I have. But try politeness, it's cool and fun and people react in unexpectedly positive ways to it. Particularly if you say nice stuff to people around when you're tanking.

(As an aside, Azeroth's whole political system is very unclear to me – there are more kings, warchiefs and prelates than you can throw a stick at but still the enforcers seem to do very little to stop any civil violence in the streets, even in the nations' capital cities!)
 
Okay, fine. Let's say it's a "moral responsibility" for some of the DPS to change to tanks or healers.

For the sake of argument, we shall say 80% of the population is DPS (20% obviously being tanks/healers). But 60% need to STAY DPS, or we're all evil again.

So, how do you and Kant decide which DPS are morally obligated to stay DPS, and which ones are morally obligated to change to tank and healer?
 
The moral responsibility is being willing to change for the greater benefit of everybody. Thus who ends up playing the tank or healer depends on the current situation: If somebody signs up for ANY role where the queue is visibly too long, he switches.

And I'm not saying that everybody who is currently a tank or healer has to stay that way. I think many current tanks or healers would love to play DPS once in a while, but don't because that spot is hogged.
 
Everyone in a game has complete freedom of choice within whatever the game engine allows and the rules of the TOS. What they may NOT have is freedom of consequence.

Consequence of Trolling Trade/Dancing naked: /Ignore from anyone with a brain.
Consequence of Ninja Looting/Being a jerk/Playing like an idiot: Votekick
Consequence of queing LFD as DPS: 45 minute wait queue.

There is no social need to change how you/I like to play. But I/you have no right to whine about the consequences.
 
But I/you have no right to whine about the consequences.

I happen to know many of my readers. Not personally, but I remember their stance in previous comments. And I can assure you that many of those who protested most loudly about their freedom of choice this week here, were in the past also the first in line when it came to whine about other players.

That appears to be a general trend by the way, e.g. the same people who'd protest for freedom of choice carrying signs in front of the White House would also be the first to deny that freedom of choice to lets say gays and lesbians.

And thus my post is about the consequences of freedom of choice: Either everybody gets to enjoy that freedom, and we all stop complaining about the actions of other players. Or we say that there are limits to that freedom, that the rules of the game and the game system create an environment where players have to adapt their behavior, and then again that is valid for everybody.

The "I have complete freedom of choice, and I also want to be able to tell others what to do" attitude of many is unsustainable.
 
A lot of players enjoy PUGs. If nobody organised PUGs, all those players would suffer. Do you organise PUGs, Tobold?

Can you name a single instance in WoW where you did something for an anonymous stranger out of "social responsibility", although you'd rather hadn't done it for selfish reasons?
 
My take on this is very simple:

Games are entertainment.

Playing a tank or a healer is not entertaining as far as I'm concerned.

Therefore, to suggest in this context that I'm being irresponsible for not engaging in something that is not entertaining is simply absurd.

What if everyone behaved as I do? Then the current gameplay mechanic would simply not exist, because no one would want to play the game.

Also, the ninja looting analogy is ridiculous. You're saying that taking someone's cake (i.e. stealing it) is akin to refusing to bake one for someone who wants cake.

To put it yet another way: you're saying that I must sacrifice my entertainment for the sake of your entertainment. Clearly you must see the imbalance in that proposition?
 
There is only the illusion of free will in WoW. Everything is determined by the great Blizzard.
 
That others whine, complain and act like babies doesn't mean we have to do it?
 
@ Nils

Huh? I do stuff like that all the time. Are you saying you have never helped anyone in WoW at all when you didn't want to but felt obligated to?

Have...you never been in a guild?
 
@ Sine Nomine:

I wrote:
Can you name a single instance in WoW where you did something for an anonymous stranger out of "social responsibility", although you'd rather hadn't done it for selfish reasons?

Obviously, someone in my guild is not a stranger to me. He is certainly not anonymous. Tobold is talking about helping out anonymous strangers in the LFD.
 
Can you name a single instance in WoW where you did something for an anonymous stranger out of "social responsibility", although you'd rather hadn't done it for selfish reasons?

Too many instances of that to list them all. I help random strangers all the time. I give free portals with my mage, or free crafts for people with mats who need a crafter, in spite of not gaining skill points with that.

By the twisted logic that the proponents of selfishness have, they concluded that I play a healer because I *want* to. That simply isn't true, I'd like to play a DPS and have less responsibility too sometimes. I have a level 80 mage, and all my healers and tanks have DPS specs too. Instead I practice what I preach, and play whatever is needed, which happens to be the healing or tanking role most of the time.

In fact your comment makes me understand better why you are constantly ranting about the lack of world and immersion in World of Warcraft: You CHOOSE to play that way. I'm far more connected to the general, anonymous community, and I don't feel WoW to be such a cold and lonely place at all. It's all in your head.
 
The most annoying thing in PuGs is when people start to whine a lot or blame others, try to show them they know better and so on...

A person like that will never defend his behavior with something like "this is just a game", "I don't have any responsibility here", or "this is my freedom of choice"

If a DPS is doing very bad (low dps, standing in fire and such) and when asked to improve he responds with "I don't care, I am just having fun" I perfectly understand that and I don't find it annoying. If we can't complete a dungeon because of that, we simply kick him, if we can, we just let him have his fun.....
 
@Tobold,
Too many instances of that to list them all. I help random strangers all the time. I give free portals with my mage, or free crafts for people with mats who need a crafter, in spite of not gaining skill points with that.

Good for you! But on the flip side though, not being as good like you doesn't automatically mean that they are bad per se. Helping others is morally right, but not helping others isn't automatically morally wrong.

You did all the good things in-game, but how about real life? Do you donate to charity? If no, why not? If yes, how much? Why not more? If you donate to X charity, why not also Y and Z charity? Those are all just rhetorical questions btw, I didn't mean to ask you about your personal life and I didn't expect you to answer. They are just food for thought.

You mention about limit of freedom, but at the same time, you also need to understand that there is a limit to the so-called responsibility. Your limit might be different than others, and there's nothing wrong with it.
 
Commenter: But some would rather quit than switch to tank or healer!

Ebenezer Tobold: Then let them quit, and decrease the surplus DPS population!
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
In fact your comment makes me understand better why you are constantly ranting about the lack of world and immersion in World of Warcraft: You CHOOSE to play that way. I'm far more connected to the general, anonymous community, and I don't feel WoW to be such a cold and lonely place at all. It's all in your head.

Woa. That is quite a jump. :)
Have I ever used the word "ranting" when talking about your blog ?

But what's really a problem here is that I just don't believe you. I read your blog for years now. I have had countless interesting email exchanges with you.

The idea that you would completely change your style of play out of a feeling of social responsibility towards the abstract anonymous public seems absurd to me.

You know, if Laríssa claimed such a thing, I would consider it a superstition, but not absurd. But Tobold plays a healer in LFD, because he considers playing dps socially irresponsible towards the abstract, anonymous public of LFD users? Come on!

Didn't you write just a few days ago
In Cataclysm I only tried very few PuGs, which all sucked horribly (up to and including joining a group which was in combat, and already wiping, so apparently they had pulled in spite of their previous healer having left.). So now I rather do guild runs, even if those go to normal dungeons where I can gain nothing but a bit of reputation.

What if everybody acted that way?
 
"So now I rather do guild runs, even if those go to normal dungeons where I can gain nothing but a bit of reputation.

What if everybody acted that way?"



Are you suggesting people isn't already? Most people i know that play would RATHER do guild runs then pugs.
It might be that the people i know are the exceptions but if a person is in a situation where they rather run pugs then play with the people in their guild i'd say they should probably swich guild.

And isn't the point of beeing in a guild to play together and help if someone needs something in a normal dungeon even if the only thing you gain is some rep?
 
So, you do help random strangers, and when they don't help you back, you start whining about moral responsibilities.

How about accepting that every time you helped someone you made a mistake and you paid its price by wasted time? Then you could stop doing it and start having fun!
 
If some "funny ppl" runs unto the next room pulling all the mobs screaming "leroy jenkins" is a neat thing and can go on for 15 minutes + a while fight since you have kick-restrictions.

Another speciem kept our guildgroup infight so he couldn't be kicked. Yes we all heartstoned out and kicked him. But the System can be pretty abused.

Theese people waste my time and my efford. What would you say to a bum who grabs your Legs and screams "Drag me Home!"? "Oh sir could you please leave me alone this is clearly an attack of my private space and comfort." ?

"I haz fun ingame" is another phrase for "I don't care what you do or think I'm having fun this way so back off!".
By the way I usually don't know many people smacking chessboards on their heads and screaming "I haz fun this way" running around other chessplayers, usually they're in an asylum...
 
Total freedom? and me thinking there was a ToU you agreed upon :)
 
Total freedom? and me thinking there was a ToU you agreed upon :)

We are talking philosophy here, not legality. The "it's just a game, I should have freedom of choice" argument *can* be used also by people who break the ToS / EULA.

The idea that you would completely change your style of play out of a feeling of social responsibility towards the abstract anonymous public seems absurd to me.

Change? I've always been pretty helpful in all MMORPGs I play. I just don't go bragging about it unless directly questioned by you. That dates back to Everquest, where my first encounter with another player was somebody randomly helping newbies, and I found that a wonderful idea.

You seem to be forgetting my age: I am not a selfish entitlement kid, I'm part of the baby boomer generation which still believes in things like social responsability.

You mention about limit of freedom, but at the same time, you also need to understand that there is a limit to the so-called responsibility.

Yes, of course there is. I am just opposing the notion that there is no responsability at all in this content, just because it is a game. My sword or my fireball might be virtual, but my social interaction with people is real. It just happens on a virtual platform.
 
@Nils: hehe. You think I MIGHT play a healer just to be "nice" to the gaming community, making it a service so to say? I won't. I did play my resto druid alt towards the end of wrath because I enjoyed it. And actually a part of the enjoyment probably was that I felt less questioned as a healer than as a dps. There's a lot of healer love. A lot of gratitude. And no e-peening. It gives you a very pleasant feeling in the stomach. And if that wasn't enough, if you pair up with a good tank, you've got it all in your hands. You're in power in a way that you never ever are as dps. I was really close to changing main for cataclysm but I guess I'm a bit sentimental about my mage after playing her and blogging about her for so long.

Regarding the discussion the last few days: isn't this a reposting? I really, really have a strong feeling of seen-it-before, not only on other blogs, but here at Tobold's. The same old dps-have-no-responsabilities-rant.

I just think that this time it's rather bad timing, considering how the dungeons in Cataclysm are compared to they were in Wrath. Dps have to take a LOT of responsability these days.

Of all the comments I can't help thinking that Gevlon probably is the one that's most spot on. If you don't like to play a healer, just don't do it. If you're a victim, trying to please everyone else for an unclear reason, it's your choice and your wate of time. Stop doing that. Be more goblinish and get happy.
 
Well you are the on turning it into philosophy week. If you are going to equate social responsibility with class roles, and follow up with a post on Kant, I am not sure what you expect.

The thing about freedom is, I have to put up with things I may not like. I may not care for a night elf dancing on a mailbox, but I fail to see how they are being socially irresponsible. I can just go do something else, and it has no effect on me.

Same goes for choosing dps or healing over tanking. My cue will be longer, but that is my choice, and I am free to make that choice.

It is just a game. No one is saving the world by healing or tanking, and I think throwing terms like social responsibility around is a little hyperbolic.

Going back to the original post you linked to that started this discussion, I think you were totally off the point. The other blogger was complaining about the tanks behaviour, and the tank were being a complete ass, not the length of dps cues.
 
Unless you know IRL the players you interact with, you're playing with imaginary representations of people you build up on the spot. Hard for me to find justification for a moral system with figments of my imagination (if i caricature a bit)

you have two environments in wow, one semi sheltered (guilds) and one open (trade chat/LFG). In the open environment, i stand by my point, it is legal, not moral, because morality is pointless in that context.
 
Yes, of course there is. I am just opposing the notion that there is no responsability at all in this content, just because it is a game.

Unfortunately, this goes back to the endless discussion of what the limit actually is. Just because you view that helping others as your social responsibility, that doesn't mean that others will view the same way and that doesn't mean that they are bad either. They just have different limit/view to you.

You seem to be forgetting my age: I am not a selfish entitlement kid, I'm part of the baby boomer generation which still believes in things like social responsability.

Without meaning to be rude, this might be the answer. Generation difference resulting in different point of view of things.
 
Here is my problem with philosophy and psychology:

Among naturally occurring objects, at macro scales, no two are alike.
Many may be similar to each other, but they will not be identical. That is simply how nature works, and among living creatures, evolution depends on this fact.

Individual philosophers believe that every reasonable person should reach the same logical conclusions they propose, and individual psychologists believe that everyone should act in the way their theory describes.

They are wrong. No two people think the same, because no two people's brains are wired the same. Many people might reach similar conclusions, and those conclusions might mirror that of your favorite philosopher, but many others will not.

Again, look at how many different schools and of philosophy there are. There is wide disagreement among the great philosophers over almost every subject.

Back to games.

I think you are taking this too seriously Tobold. Looking for something that's not there.

People CAN choose to play poorly, but then, as a practical matter, they wouldn't do very well. Other people will choose to not play with them.

If you want to play with the best players, then you have to learn how to play well - or they will choose not to play with you.

Kants morality does not apply.

Economics and game theory do.

Risk vs. reward. The prisoner's dilemma, and its greatest solution - tit-for-tat.
 
I have no answers, but I've noticed this trend to not expect anyone to act with the whole of society in mind anymore. I believe this is because international specialization / globalization makes it more and more difficult to even guess what could be best for society as a whole anymore. Who can rightfully claim to understand in which direction society should develop?

Is that good or bad news? I feel bad about it. But I've no idea whether the development as such is good or bad.

Nothing very LFD-specific, I know. Just linguistics: does it strike you that we used to look for groups and now we are looking for dungeons instead? :-)
 
All philosophical arguments about social responsibility aside, I'm not sure why a tank or healer would complain about the overwhelming number of DPS specs out there. Sure, there's a ton of bad players, but there would be a ton of bad players anyway. Personally, I main a druid tan/healer and dabble with a destrolock alt. I say the more dps, the better, because all that means is my main becomes more and more in demand.

I understand the view that anytime you're interacting with other people, you assume a certain amount of responsibility towards keeping the community operating smoothly, but honestly? I can't bring myself to view DPS players as bad people, or irresponsible. Going back to your Kantian argument, if everyone continues to roll DPS, and the inbalance gets too bad, then Blizzard will adapt their model, or the game will fail. The world won't end, nobody dies, Blizzard wouldn't even go out of business. All that would happen is a lot of people would have to find a new game.
 
Either everybody gets to enjoy that freedom, and we all stop complaining about the actions of other players. Or we say that there are limits to that freedom, that the rules of the game and the game system create an environment where players have to adapt their behavior, and then again that is valid for everybody.

And now everybody has the freedom to choose between bending to the rules or doing what they want. In a utopian world you could expect people to sit down and prepare the rotation of who is the 40% playing tanks/healers each day of the month so that the whole player population suffers less waiting. In the non-utopian world we live in there will always be players that will ingore this pact and use it to their own benefit, so others are not even slightly motivated make this pact happen.
Morality has nothing to do with all that.
 
Tobold,

People do not have complete freedom in the game. They have (as in the real world) freedom to do what they will and accept the consequences.

If somebody plays DPS, they have to live with longer queue times.

As long as a person is willing to accept the consequences, I don't see why their actions are immoral in the context of their own world-view. The idea of action and consequence is exactly the set of checks and balances that we live with in every day life.

You say that freedom ends when it impedes on somebody else's freedom; so doesn't expecting other people to violate their own personal balance of desires and play another archetype impede on their freedom? At what point do we *stop* asking players to sacrifice their freedom for the freedom of other players?

It's a shame that you feel that you are obligated to do only things for others - but nobody is forcing you to do so. Your stringent definition of morality and social obligation (verging on altruism) is nice, but it's not something you can expect of everyone.

At the end of the day, people should play the role in the game that they want. As long as they aren't directly stepping on people's toes, and they are living with their consequences, that is fine. And in a game world, where the rules are entirely mutable, it might make sense that we shouldn't expect the people to give up their freedom in their virtual world, but that we should expect the rules of the virtual world to change to accomodate them.
 
"I am not a selfish entitlement kid, I'm part of the baby boomer generation which still believes in things like social responsability."

I'm also just going to state for the record that I find this sort of thing offensive. It is always going to be true that others do not align with your moral compass, but blanket statements about the selfishness of a category of people do not do anything by alienate them. I like your blog and I like your opinions - I don't expect you to withhold offensive statements. But in return I don't mind letting you know when you sound like a bit of a bigot.

I am a 20-year old, and my longest guild experience in WoW was running a levelling guild in which I was capped (then 70). I regularly ran contests and events for everyone sub-cap to give out gold and other prizes, as well as constantly offering dungeon runs etc. I did this not out of social responsibility, but because it followed my personal moral compass, which, while not the same as yours, is not one that I would call selfish, immoral, etc. I can be the person who does all of this and still say that I feel people should play DPS if they want to.
 
I ignore the people that annoy me or purposely cause problems. They are paying for the game and can do what they wish. I have the emotional and mental ability to ignore such conduct because it is in a fictional world. They are not dancing naked on the mailbox outside my house. They are not purposely wrecking my car or home. They are not hacking my account. This is why /ignore and the group kick options were implemented.
 
"By the twisted logic that the proponents of selfishness have, they concluded that I play a healer because I *want* to. That simply isn't true.."

But by your Kant-ian logic, you are assuming that everyone who plays a tank or healer would rather just be dps. That isn't the case either. Many I have played with enjoy the responsibility of tanking or healing believe it or not. Yes, there are nights when they get the opportunity to just dps and they take it gladly. They enjoy both. My sister always heals. She told me she always, no matter what she does, winds up in a healing role. She complains sometimes, but she only rolls alts that have a healing line to them. That tells me that she enjoys that to some degree and she has admitted as much.
 
And I'm not saying that everybody who is currently a tank or healer has to stay that way. I think many current tanks or healers would love to play DPS once in a while, but don't because that spot is hogged.

And here we find the flaw in the argument. Are tanks and healers remaining in their roles because they like it, because they're socially responsible, or because they want short queue times? It's starting to sound like at the heart of your categorical imperative is a fast ding timer.

While you can structure a society around John Stuart Mills' maxim, you can't structure people's minds that way. There will always be bad naked night elves, bad DKs rolling on agility gear, or low DPSers. That's why the game offers enforcement mechanisms, ignore, kick, guilds, slow queue for easy roles, etc.

Why can't we just leave it at: if you want to watch TV while playing WoW, you need to wait 30 minutes for a queue. If you want to run the pulls and be the most active, you get instant-queues. I don't see the reason to draw broader societal conclusions from there; which seem only to incite those who happen to play DPS.

You seem to be forgetting my age: I am not a selfish entitlement kid, I'm part of the baby boomer generation which still believes in things like social responsability.

Boring ageism. My generation's better than yourrrrrrrrs. Also wait aren't the baby boomers renowned for allegedly being the most selfish generation? The pampered off-spring of WW2 vets? (This isn't my opinion but it is a stereotype)
 
It would be like giving children total freedom on the playground. Soon you would have Lore of the Flies. Some MMO in fact are already there.
 
I appreciate the post isn't specifically about WoW but the sooner that game is dead the better, it's the ultimate embodiment of everything that can go wrong with an MMO: chat, questing, levelling, grouping, dungeons, raids, all gone seriously bad. Everyday I read more and more about MMO players wishing for an alternative and I think the tipping point is close were we have enough players willing another game to succeed that it might do just through sheer player perseverance. Your blog is mainly WoW related at present but it will be interesting to see what you're posting about in twelve months time - I hope to god it's not WoW.
 
But keeping a playground from going Lord of the Flies on you usually only involves keeping children from doing certain things like hitting each other and teasing and so on. So your freedom is limited from certain things but otherwise you are free to do what you want. Just stay within the lines, so to speak. The question becomes, should any of the kids be obligated to do certain things when on the playground? Instead of restricting the negative you require the positive. This may be where it is going off the rails. Can we, should we, require one of the kids to say use the teetertotter so that another kid can have fun on it even if that first kids hates it? We might suggest that it would be a nice thing to do but requiring to play in certain ways may be a bit much.

I would say, definitely limit certain negative activities from happening but as for requiring other positive activities I would say no. Encourage them, perhaps even reward them for being done but don't require them.
 
I believe that everybody's freedom ends where the freedom of the next guy begins.

That's sounding MIGHTY goblinish.
 
Have I ever used the word "ranting" when talking about your blog ?

Why wouldn't you? How else could you possibly call a "the youth of today is selfish and has no social responsibility" post than a rant?

Boring ageism.

But there we get to a point where the philosophers stop to disagree. Every philosopher over the age of 40 agrees that the youth of today (their today, not our today) is fickle, selfish, and lacking respect for their elders. Many philosophers are on record having said so, back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. Thus it must be true. :)
 
You guys debate in here like it's going to change someone's game play style.

Fortunately, we've all arrived here with [vastly] different experiences.

There isn't a single point of view in here that will get someone to change their game play style.
 
Two things.

First the major issue before this spiraled into a philosophical debate was that DPS feel the game should be changed to decrease their wait in LFD while those that aren’t DPS feel the game should remain as is and the DPS should reroll or suffer through the wait. The more examples, analogies, or philosophical ideals people quote the farther from the point we get. This is turning into a Red Herring; people are arguing each other’s argument and not the topic.

Second is something my Football Coach taught me in High School and it has pretty much been a corner stone of my personal philosophy in life. No choice is a wrong choice; you just have to live with the consequences. The problem here is I feel people want to make their choice but do not want to face the consequences of that choice, those consequences being the saturation of DPS.
 
@Dink

Totally agree.

One more thing. I give it a week before Massively steals these posts and creates a Soap Box about it.
 
No choice is a wrong choice; you just have to live with the consequences.

Excuse me, but murdering your mother is wrong. Just because you agree to live the rest of your life in prison the choice doesn't become a good one.

Oh - and it is also wrong to murder somebody in Somalia. Even if there aren't any noteworthy consequences or even awards.
 
Tanking or Healing for Strangers (PuGs) is like going out alone to a full service restaurant. For some reason if you are by-yourself it feels more “normal” to just go to a fast-food chain or get take out. Queuing for DPS is like going to McDonalds at 12:30 and complaining about a long line. When there is a Chili’s next door with no wait. If you really want McDonalds forget chili’s. But if you like Chili’s just fine, but just refuse to eat there by yourself, perhaps you aren’t seeking “fun” but instead avoiding discomfort? Being by yourself at a table for four at a restaurant with wait staff, somehow put more scrutiny on you than if you are there with other people. That feeling of scrutiny is what many tanks and healer feel when they run PuGs. I know some people that simply never eat at a full service restaurant alone. These are the same people stuck in the DPS queue.
 
Excuse me, but murdering your mother is wrong. Just because you agree to live the rest of your life in prison the choice doesn't become a good one.

I think we could fill another long comment thread just discussing whether there is something like absolute morality.
 
Some of these comments are far too serious.

Some days I don't mind a 40 minute wait as dps, other days I don't mind risking a boot for instant noob tanking. I don't really like either option, but what else am I going to do to get better gear? Dailies have limited rewards.

Now, I do appreciate one of Tobold's original points in this Tobold's Week in Philosophy, where he suggested that Blizzard might make healing and tanking more attractive so that choices between poor options are fewer.

At the end of the day though, talking morality or social responsibility is like defining "art". Good luck with that.
 
Absolutely fascinating thread. Thank you Tobold for stimulating it.

Almondo says that this thread somehow proves that WoW needs to die, as "it's the ultimate embodiment of everything that can go wrong with an MMO..."

And yet we're all here having a highly intellectual social discourse about responsibility and morality BECAUSE we play this game.

I think that in itself proves just the opposite; WoW continues to evolve and add social complexities such that it mimics RL societies in very interesting ways.

Who among us are willing to put forth the effort to play more challenging roles? What do they get out of that extra effort? How does it benefit the social structure? What happens when that "service" (and should we identify it as a service?) is less available? Should those providing said services be afforded more advantages and luxuries? Should DPS be looked down upon as shirking their social responsibilities?

The tiered social structure in which Tanks/healers are more highly valued, and DPS less so is magnified when the game focuses rewards on grouping content.

In my 3 years of WoW, it has never before been as highly focused on group content. The LFD mechanic makes that available to loners, but still creates a social inequity.

Tanks/healers, recognizing their power, wield it in very different and often interesting ways. Some revel in serving for the common good, some withhold the service only for their circle of friends.

DPS then complain that they are being locked out of content that they rightfully pay for.

Tanks/healers then complain that they aren't valued enough, and that the slacker DPS are not doing their part to ease the demand.

It's just pure awesomeness.
 
@Tobold

I think we could fill another long comment thread just discussing whether there is something like absolute morality.

But isn't it a central point in your position that there is some kind of absolute or universal moral imperative that should drive player social responsibility in WoW?

Not matter that with only few exceptions morality is a concept that cannot be taken out of cultural and historical context. Just look at how morality around slavery, gays or cannibalism evolved over the years and cultures.

More practical question though is how enforceable any moral imperative or social norm is in WoW. There are basically three mechanisms to influence player behavior in WoW - game design, social feedback and ELUA. As I stated in a couple previous posts game design shapes the behavior of players acting rationally in their self-interest. It is about working the system to accomplish individual goals. Now being MMORPG WoW game design includes social feedback component which is supposed to balance individual agendas with team centered goals. However Blizzard made a number of business and ultimately design decisions that significantly weakened effectiveness of social feedback. LFD may well be one of the final nails in the coffin of community centered game design in WoW. Therefore even if any community driven social norms or moral imperatives did exist they wouldn't have significant impact on player behavioral patterns. Finally, EULA from legal point of view regulates the relationship between player (customer) and Blizzard (service provider). Technically speaking it should not have any bearing in regulating relationship between players - defining community norms and laws in other words. However, for the lack of better mechanism Blizzard does try to regulate player community by including code of conduct in EULA. No surprise that it is not working really well simply because EULA is simply not the right tool to do that. E.g. in order to enforce socially responsible behavior as suggested by Tobold EULA would have to include a clause obligating user to play tank/healer role in order to be eligible to play DPS.

The bottom line is that Tobold's assertions about morality and social responsibility in WoW is purely academical at the moment. The game design has to be changed to either strengthen social feedback component or promote desired player choices (e.g. to improve role balance).
 
But isn't it a central point in your position that there is some kind of absolute or universal moral imperative that should drive player social responsibility in WoW?

You're forgetting one absolute and universal truth about blogging: Every single phrase has an invisible "In my not very humble opinion" in front of it. So do all the comments, even if the commenters aren't always aware of it.

Nils is talking about murdering his mother, I'm talking about playing a different character class or role in a video game. Not the same level of morality. While I do think that people being less selfish in a MMORPG and thus producing shorter queue times would be the nice thing to do, the worst possible "evil" outcome is still insignificant in the greater scheme of things.
 
"While I do think that people being less selfish in a MMORPG and thus producing shorter queue times would be the nice thing to do, the worst possible "evil" outcome is still insignificant in the greater scheme of things."

Now THIS I can agree with.

I would be one thing if we were talking about a terminally ill child who will somehow die if he doesn't get his DPS into an instance in the next 15 minutes, and my class choice holds the key.

But we aren't. We're talking about some regular guy who just doesn't feel like waiting 40 minutes.

So we are really weighing his very slight reduction in average wait time if I switch classes (to maybe 39 minutes 55 seconds or so), against my hundreds of hours playing a class/role I don't want to.

Is it selfish of me to refuse? Maybe. But a utilitarian would argue that is the overwhelmingly correct choice.
 
@Bristal: Mr T's next post is discussing exactly what I was getting it - I've had years of enjoyment with WoW but the game has had it's day, it's gone wrong in too many ways, and it needs to move over to give other games and producers a chance to shine.
 
I had a very heated disagreement with a good friend years ago and i still stand by my point. Someone who won't be polite in a video game is just showing thier lack of decency and morals. In the end thier are two kinds of people those who want the world to be a better place and the selfish people. With an anonymous toon in front of them people's real self comes out. Someone that will cuss you out in a game because you make a mistake is probably thinking all those things in real life, instead of trying to improve the situation. A ninja looter in game will rob you in real life given the chance. To be fair sometimes accidents happen and everybody had a bad day. But I give people two maybe three chances then I Just /ignore those people and move on. Try it and your game experience will get much better.
 
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