Friday, February 24, 2006
Learning from WoW
Gamasutra has a feature article claiming that WoW teaches children the wrong lessons for life: that time spent rewards you more than skill, and that group is better than solo. I think the guy is half right.
A lot of people believe that they only need to spend time somewhere to be rewarded. Unfortunately for example "going to college" doesn't really get you anywhere, you will actually need to have half a brain, and study to get a degree and a good job. There are some jobs where you can get away with just being there, but then don't complain if you have a lousy career. For a job which is really satisfying, and to get recognition from your bosses, you will need to have skills, and spend some effort on your work, not just be there from 9 to 5 like Wally from the Dilbert comics.
World of Warcraft is notoriously bad at teaching you that. Getting to level 60 requires a lot of time, but very little skill. Somebody having twice the time will beat somebody having twice the skill to level 60. Succeeding with a 5-man group takes skill, but unfortunately WoW does not reserve the best rewards for 5-man groups. Instead WoW teaches you that if you manage to join a big organization, and join big 40-man raids, you can often get away with just following instructions from the raid leader, not thinking much yourself, and being lucky on the rolls, for the best rewards in the game. WoW also rewards you for mindlessly killing the same easy mob over and over, for example for grinding faction or farming gold. If on the other hand you come up with a clever idea that nobody else had to beat a hard fight, you risk getting banned for exploiting.
The Gamasutra article also complains about WoW teaching you that groups succeed better than solo players. Yes, WoW does that. But in this case it is a good lesson, because the same is true in life in general. Teamwork is more efficient, be it by forming study groups at college / university, or later in your job. The author might not particularly like groups, but being a loner isn't rewarded much in real life either.