Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A lot of the people disagreeing with my concept of social responsibility used various forms of an argument which basically is: "Who are you to tell us what is wrong or right?". And that is a very good question. What makes me think that I can claim that there is a social responsibility to sometimes play a class or role which is needed instead of saying "It's just a game, I want to play DPS, and nobody can tell me to play something I don't choose"? Fortunately the question of what is right and wrong has been extensively discussed by clever people hundreds of years ago. And one very good test was proposed by the philosopher Immanuel Kant. It is called the categorical imperative, and invites you to simply think what would happen if everybody acted exactly like you. If that leads to a situation that would work nicely, the act is good. If everybody acting like you would lead to a collapse, the act is wrong.

So lets apply this test to the DPS situation: If everybody in World of Warcraft would play only DPS classes or roles, and refuse under any circumstances to switch to a healer or tank role, what would happen? To me it appears obvious that this would lead to World of Warcraft being effectively only playable as a solo game and in PvP. Dungeons would have to wait until people would have sufficient PvP gear to so completely outgear them that they could be done with 5 DPS. And to do a raid you'd need to go back to one of a previous expansion.

The position to play only DPS and refuse to ever play another role only works because *other* people are willing to tank and heal. That is what Kant would consider morally wrong, with the argument being that if you are unwilling to do something, you shouldn't oblige somebody else to do it in your stead. And just counting on the people who really *like* to play tanks and healers doesn't work either, because obviously there aren't enough of them around, or we wouldn't have the problem and the discussion in the first place.
The problem you are about to face is that most of the DPS people feel the game should be changed to allow them to do this and that they are being forced into an immoral position.

I agree with you and this brought a smile to my face.
You're over simplifying. You asked, "What if everyone wanted to play DPS?" which is too simplistic a question. Rather, why not ask, "What if everyone played what they want to play?"

Also, what is the definition of a situation working nicely? What's nice to you may not be nice to me.
Guess what? If everyone wanted to play a tank or if everyone wanted to play a healer, there would collapse as well. So you are morally wrong by your definition, as well.
"What if everyone played what they wanted to play?" is easily answered, because it would be somewhere in the middle between "everybody plays DPS" and the situation we do have now, where *some* people play tanks and healers even if they would like to play DPS. You'd get even longer queues than now.

And "nicely" is easily defined as "nobody is complaining". As the DPS are already complaining about how long the queues are, and how easily they are replaced, we aren't in a situation working nicely now, and if everybody played either DPS or only their favorite role without flexibility, it would be even worse.
@Winged Nazgul: I never said everybody should play tanks and healers. I said that *some* DPS should be flexible and play what is needed instead of only what they want.
@Winged Nazgul

Tobold isn't advocating that. Read his posts. He is advocating playing what is needed. So no he is not morally wrong.
As I mentioned in the other post, I had no idea about this social contract. I might've chosen something different to start with if I had more understanding about the MMO trinity. But as it is, I just chose something cool and I haven't had the time to level more than my one toon to 85.
I say play what you like. If the role is one that is least popular in a Dungeon Finder system, them's the breaks. I just find it uncomfortable that you are trying to apply morality to something like choice of class to play. Maybe it's an American thing - we're kinda touchy about freedom of choice.
You have a lot of well thought out posts on this blog, but this wasn't one of them.

Let's apply the same thought to changing to healer or tank. If everyone did that, we'd all be healers or tanks! Again, groups can't function!

By your logic: It is also wrong for anyone to change spec to healer or tank.
It's silly to suggest that centuries of philosophers have managed to come to a definitive theory of proper moral deliberation, which we could then apply to our situation. No such consensus on morality exists.

There are certainly reasonable objections to the categorical imperative as expressed in terms of universalizing the mantra behind your action.

But hey, ignore that and just look at Kant. You didn't fully understand the whole 'universalizing the mantra behind your act' thing. It's not about whether the world would be a better place if we universalize, it's about whether your actions would still be consistent in that world. Someone who wants to play their preferred role would still believe that in a world where everyone played their preferred role, even if they didn't get to play as often due to role inbalance. There's no contradiction.

But also, Kant was all about duty and acting in accord with your duty. His morality is about choosing the correct action for yourself, not finding some utilitarian ideal state. Kant didn't care as much about end consequences, easily accepting end states that are far from pareto optimal because to achieve them would require immoral acts and he didn't believe the ends can justify the means.

Not to mention that Kant was crazy-huge in favor of individual autonomy. He'd abhor the idea that some people should sacrifice their desires merely so that the community as a whole is better off.
I stand by what I said. WoW is better off with fewer tanks and healers, if those tanks and healers actually like to play the role and aren't idiots.

There's nothing worse than a terrible tank or healer, who is only playing the role because they have a second spec they can screw around with.
I think what some of us are responding to is the claim that you're being deliberately responsible.

I think you like playing tanks and healers and it's only coincidence that they're needed. In fact in 25 mans tanks aren't needed nor are they great at top end pvp (for the most part).

It's like Gevlon claiming he's socially responsible by deep undercutting. It has a good effect on the market, making things cheaper, but the reason for it is not altruism but to discourage competitors.

If you want to stretch things then you could argue that choosing to play dps is socially responsible because it encourages other people to play tanks and healers by keeping their queues short.

I think there has to be some intention to be socially responsible to make it praiseworthy not something you work out after the fact. Anyway I'm off to the pub now, to be socially responsible by stimulating the economy in the brewing sector.
Freedom of choice does cover the choice to live an unexamined life WN--go with your gut feeling.

That means you don't have to ignore the moral implications of choice, even on something as small as maximizing fun in a game.


Wrong, it just means is wrong to always play one role in the game. Of course "skill" at WoW almost always improves when a player can look at an encounter from more than one perspective.

Lastly some <> all.

Again you are ignoring the point of the argument. Tobold isn't saying you should be a Tank, Healer or DPS. He is saying you should be willing to change specs AS NEEDED.

@Winged Nazgul
I agree. Play what you want, but accept that you may have to wait.
@Tobold If you want to throw around philosophical references you should probably cover broader specter of opinions. E.g you could you use Objectivism by Ayn Rand which defines morale in terms opposite to Kant:

"The proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights".

In other words instead of testing if your behavior fits moraly the reality you should transform the reality (read WoW game design) to fit individual's "rational self-interest".
right, wrong, good and evil are all matters of perception.
@Andrei: Sociopathy is not a philosophy, it's a mental disease.

Besides, self-interest can never be fulfilled in isolation. Self-interest may appear to be followed by lying, stealing, and scamming, but everyone ends up worse off in a world of liars, thieves, and scam artists.
The thing is, the society of an MMO does not collapse from people playing DPS; groups of people who are each playing the archetype they want would continue to do as they have been doing in the framework of guild groups.

The people in LFG who are playing DPS are those who value the experience of DPS over that of a thriving, balanced queue environment. To them, the better world is the one where they get to play what they wish in a medium for entertainment, as opposed to one with an even balance of classes.

Not everyone takes the game seriously to the degree where they would take any position on it (again, as entertainment) other than trying to achieve personal gratification. I think this is a fair approach; WoW is a game that has always been about different kinds of fun for different kinds of people. Even if we all did subscribe to Kant's definition of morality (which is obviously not the case, given the capitalist world I think most readers live in), we might not see the ideal world in the same light and define morality the same way.

If you think the perfect world in a video game is one where you play DPS, you should be playing DPS. If you think the perfect world in the video game is one where groups are found quickly (and you value this more than playing DPS), play a tank or healer. WoW is entertainment, and in that context social responsibility has little presence in anyone's mind.
The problem in the first tier of a WoW expansion is that gear is at a premium. People are straining to get gear optimized to their main spec. If they roll in a group in a O/S mode they generally can't take M/S gear they might need as others need it too. This phenomenon will clear itself up naturally in a few months. I suspect you will see a lot more people running in O/S mode either healing or tanking as the expansion progresses.

But which phrase holds more with an objectivist analysis of the problem: "one's own happiness" or "rational self-interest"? It would seem that happiness leads to DPSing, self-interest would lead to more tanks and healers.
While I agree with Tobold, I think the point is this:

If you choose to play DPS, you don't complain about queues and you *really* don't give your healers and tanks grief, since then your queues will be even longer.

Besides, I very very rarely play dps in a group setting, because I kind of feel guilty, as you've said. Not that I actually like dpsing, I've tried it on the odd occasion and it was dull and tedious, but, yeah. I've always gone by the lgoic that, if everyone played dps, then there'd be no one to do anything with, so might as well tank and heal and enjoy it.
@Klepsacovic Sociopathy or mental disease unless identified by certified physician is a matter of personal opinion. And even if said physician is involved it is just institutionalized opinion. Anyway I wasn't pushing Objectivism in particular. I just used it as example of extreme opposite view on morality compared to the one used by Tobold. If you want to have a relatively meaningful discussion on morality if it is possible at all in this blog you shouldn't limit references only to the philosophies that fit your point of view.
@Drilski I think your statement is key. It's absolutely morally alright to play DPS exclusively, but you should acknowledge you are contributing to the queue problem and not complain about it. Contributing to the problem doesn't make it wrong.

I think another interesting take is to look at it as a free market, where tanks and healers are the commodity and time is the currency. As long as you are willing to pay 50 minutes for a tank and healer, you should feel fine playing DPS. As that number rises/lowers, the incentive towards playing a fast queue class moves accordingly. The WoW class balance is exactly this kind of market, and there's no reason to remove the freedom to participate in it (in a moral sense) simply because we draw our lines at 10 minutes.
Was there any purpose to an opposite example? If you don't think it's a worthwhile philosophy, why even bring it up? Surely you're not just suggesting opposites for the sake of opposites. That would be a waste of time.

Filip said:
"If you think the perfect world in a video game is one where you play DPS, you should be playing DPS. If you think the perfect world in the video game is one where groups are found quickly (and you value this more than playing DPS), play a tank or healer. WoW is entertainment, and in that context social responsibility has little presence in anyone's mind."

Perfect worlds are rarely based on one single aspect. People want short queues and to play their preferred role. Those may be in conflict and it is smart, regardless of morality, to think about the ideal mix of the two preferences. If I can queue instantly as a tank or in an hour as a DPS, which is better?

Or we could look at the overall effect of societal actions. What if every DPS just once per day queued as a tank. They would have to play as a tank, undesirable, but then when they are DPS they will have shorter queues.

Note that caring about social effects doesn't require morality, but it does require recognition that no one lives in isolation.
@Klepsacovic What I was really trying to say is that as long as a player values not playing tank/healer over fast queue times, we should not telling them it is their social responsibility to play those other classes. Most of us (myself included) would agree that it's better to play tank once a day. I myself don't even have a DPS character at high level because I think it's more important to me that queues be managed properly. But not everyone agrees with me, and I accept that too.
If everyone who played an MMO acted exactly like me, the developers would tune the game to be responsive to my tastes and interests (which would also be those of everyone else who played).

Everything would therefore "work nicely" as you put it and the act would therefore "be good".

In your specific example, it is by no means obvious that WoW would become only playable as a solo game. Clearly the designers could retune the game to be played in groups that contained only "DPS" classes. The team element could be retained, everyone could be DPS, and since you have postuulated a scenario in which "everybody acted exactly like you" (i.e. played a DPS class), everyone could be expected to be happy with this outcome.
Oh, in that case I agree. There are times to argue social responsibility, but this probably isn't one of them. I do still think that people should reevaluate their role selection because they may be given undue weight to role compared to queue time.
" If everybody in World of Warcraft would play only DPS classes or roles, and refuse under any circumstances to switch to a healer or tank role, what would happen? "

Blizzard would change the game so that tanks and healers were completely unnecessary. The game would go on just as societies have changed along with the thoughts and beliefs of their citizens.
Unfortunately, looking to philosophy for an answer to almost ANYTHING is a futile endeavor - Kant included.

There are WAY too many ways of looking at things (have you checked to see how many schools and sub-schools of philosophy there are?), and WAY too many philosophers with vivid imaginations. And yes, philosophers are great at asking questions but providing few answers.

Might we all, as humans, decide to think nice thoughts together and abandon our selfish natures and treat each other perfectly altruistically? Logically, and the philosophical answer, yes - we are capable of doing so. Practically speaking the answer is no - it simply is not our nature.

Look at how we treat each other in WoW (or almost any other online game). There is always a sub-set of people who actively work to disrupt everything. Another subset that prefer to solo and not willingly cooperate with others. Another subset that will cooperate ONLY if it benefits them. Another that will cooperate even when they constantly get screwed over by others. The bunch that is always happy, the bunch that is always miserable, and on, and on...

And all selfish in our own ways.

The ways we treat each other in the games are no different than how we treat each other in real life.

And that is ok. That is what humans are about - that is how natural selection designed us. Many different ways of looking at things all so that in the event of catastrophe, that subset of us lucky enough to have the right outlook will survive. Those different views increase our chances of survival. That is how we were designed to be.

Ignoring the natural differences in how people look at the same problem is how developers unintentionally limit their games.

Forget how people MIGHT act - focus on how people DO act...

I play my Hunter 99% of the time because my Hunter is what I like to play. If WoW has a shortage of tanks and healers, and they make it so that my Hunter can tank or heal, then my Hunter will tank or heal when necessary. I'm not rolling another class that I really don't want to play just to make things easier for OTHER people.

If there is a shortage of tanks or healers, then it is a game design problem - not mine.

If you don't agree, that's ok you don't have to.
The question that should be asked is: "If everybody in World of Warcraft would play only the role of his choice, and refuse under any circumstances to switch to a healer or tank role when situation requires, what would happen?"

And you provided a correct answer - we'd have even longer DPS queues and more kicks for replacement DPS. More complaining on the side of DPS.

The mistake here is that you assume people would be able to simpy switch to healer/tank, that it is their choice, but probably it is not that simple - most of the time people play DPS, because it's easy and they simply don't have the skill to play healer/tank. SO...

"If everybody in World of Warcraft would play only the role of his choice or switch to another role they have skills to play when situation requires, what would happen?"

What happens is, that three variables are maxed out: Players are happy with the freedom, the shortest possible queues and team performance is the highest possible. That is the situation today and it is by all means optimal give the set of rules Blizzard provided in the game.
@Klepsacovic I used opposite example just to demonstrate that there is broad variety of opinions on complex topic of morality. Tobold in his post used Kant's morality to justify his position that the game design is fine and it is social irresponsibility of certain players that is causing current group content problems. Some of the blog readers who are not well versed in philosophical topics may think this overly simplified and dumbed down view on morality is the only authoritative opinion that exists.

My position is opposite to Tobold's - I believe that there is fundamental design flaw that is causing class/role imbalance and promotes certain player behavior labeled as asocial by Tobold and others. And unlike real life virtual world such as WoW gives opportunity to refine game design (alter reality in other words) to find a better balance between individual rights and community needs.
Well Michael got to this first but your characterization and now continued appeal to Kant as some sort of unquestioned arbiter of "morality" betrays serious ignorance on your part. If you want to make an argument from the standpoint of Kantian ethics, you first must convince us of the premise, namely that the Kantian ethical system, as you've stated it, is philosophically legitimate. There are certainly modern philosophers who defend some massaged variant of Kantian ethics, and I have had the great privilege to study with some of the best, but repeating a version of the categorical imperative out of context is not convincing in the least.

To give just one example of potential problems, take the act of truth telling. For Kant, one should always tell the truth. As Michael pointed out, Kant is the anti-consequentialist. His ethics are of the armchair variety, derived from first principles by rational inference. That truth telling can lead to tragic consequences is irrelevant for a strict Kantian. You ought to tell the truth, ought to keep promises, etc even if it results in forseeable and avoidable tragedy.

Frankly, the suggestion that I am morally obligated to play a game like WoW in one of a number of available ways seems absurd. Even if I were to entertain that notion, your argument is far too strong. As corralaries, one would be obligated to either play only classes that could fulfill multiple roles or devote enough time to the game to level alts that fulfill alternate roles. Prefer to play a Mage, Warlock, Rogue, or Hunter? Duty dictates that you set those preferences aside to take up your position in an Azerothian Kingdom of Ends. Time-strapped profesional with only a few hours to play? Queuing in the dungeon finder as your lowly hunter is an illicit act of weak will. In so far as there are demands placed on an individual in participtating in a game, they are constitutive demands; the system which comprises the game is in part constructed by the willing participation of the players. Those rules don't define a moral obligation that is some subset of them, at least not as far as I can see.

His point is to do what would be best if everyone did that.

So yes, a DPS must look at his options and ask himself "what if EVERY DPS changed to healer or tank spec?"

That would be worse than if no DPS changed.

There are some valid arguments, but this one is logically incorrect.
So if everybody switches on the shower at 7:00 am, just like me, the water supply will break down and thus showering at 7:00 am is immoral?

Sorry. Kant is not that trivial ;)
You're using it wrong.
That morality test is supposed to be used while discussing informed, morally loaded (so in any way affecting others) decision and their plausible consequences. Notice the singular there - ONE decision. And then the test itself should consider the population doing the same.

The shower example is dull, there are no consequences of anyone taking the shower at 7AM that would affect others besides a low probability that you'll actually deplete the water supply of someone else. What would be a valid use of the test is - What if everyone only showered when other people shower, with the purpose of affecting others.

That's why I don't seem to find the problem that Tobold presents immoral. A Player (DPS) has the choice of switching to another role. Not switching will make the wait time longer for him and other DPS, while switching might ruin the fun for the team when he underperforms. Deciding to have fun and wait and make other people wait, or deciding to switch if I feel up to the task is the optimal decision. If everyone did that the harm would the lowest.
Of course the possible lowest harm would come if a fraction of DPS players suddenly realised, that the only solution is to learn and love playing healers & tanks and play them in specific hours of the day so that all queues would gone to equal length. Or even better, the whole DPS player dome created a chart of who is switch when to equally distribute Tank/Healer duty so that queues go equal and all DPS can DPS equally long.

That's what you're suggesting Tobold. Doesn't it seem a bit surreal to you?
I'm morally obligated to play a tank or healer in WoW? Haha Tolbold, have you lost your mind? I suppose I'm morally obligated to not cannon rush in SC2 as well?
"My position is opposite to Tobold's - I believe that there is fundamental design flaw that is causing class/role imbalance and promotes certain player behavior labeled as asocial by Tobold and others. And unlike real life virtual world such as WoW gives opportunity to refine game design (alter reality in other words) to find a better balance between individual rights and community needs."

WoW does have a design flaw. But that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or blame the system and do nothing else. We act within a system. Moral action, or responsible, whichever word you prefer, requires acting within the current system, even as we attempt to fix it.
DPS: always the cry babies of every MMO
Kant is oversimplifying things, and his philosophy means that EVERYONE is morally wrong because EVERYTHING will collapse if EVERYONE acted exactly like ONE same person.

And it's not as simple as that philosophy either. For the purpose of my example let's say that I only play pure DPS and because I suck as a player, I'm an excellent DPS but crap at tanking/healing. Is it morally wrong for me to stay as DPS and refuse to switch/play tank/healer? Kant would think so, but being morally right according to Kant would force me to change to tank/healer and ended in worse result than if I just stayed as DPS.

According to Tobold in the previous entry, there are 80% DPS players in WoW and 20% of healer/tank. Basically it's 4:1:1 ratio, so why not simply demand for Blizzard to make it 6-man party? That would solve the problem for everyone. Blizzard making the game a 6-man party would be for the "greater good" (millions of people's worth and also billions of dollars' worth) Or maybe Blizzard is also morally wrong for not willing to change their game to suit their players?
Well personally I don't think that this morally wrong or morally right concept (at least in the way you describe in this post) can be applied here. So what would happen if nobody would want to play anything else than dps? Blizzard would adapt in one way or another. If it was something that would start happening now they would probably add incentives to play other classes. If it was a well known fact while developing the game that noone wants to play healer or tank at all they would probably scrap the trinity idea and come up with something else.

Remember that this is within a world where things can and will adapt depending on certain situations. Mostly this is depending on money. If such a game would exist where noone wanted to play anything else but dps it would as you say probably collapse and people would leave it quite fast. So why would Blizzard design such a game? Or not do anything about it?
This is oversimplifying to the point of ridiculousness. Look at it this way.

1. Out of all classes the Hunter does the most DPS.

2. If every DPS played the class with the most DPS, instances would flow smoother because you could kill faster.

3. Therefore, every DPS should play hunters, and it's immoral, socially irresponsible, and leeching if not.

Absurd, right? Because you can't reduce this to the single reason of completion speed. What you are doing is implicitly putting up Queue filling over every other reason in the game to choose a class.

That's not the case. People play and choose classes for many reasons, all equally valid. Not all are equally convenient, and your moral indignation is focused on how others are inconveniencing you by not switching to a preferred class or having it as a backup.

That's an argument, but not the argument overriding all others.
Agreed with a previous poster: WoW does have a huge design flaw.

Tanking isn't actually fun.

I say this as somebody who has tanked for years. I became a tank because my little group of friends needed one so we could run instances.

Now, no matter where I go and what I'd prefer to do, I'm asked to bust out my tank spec to run a bunch of DPS through instances or raids. Nobody ever asks if I'd like to DPS instead, or even if I'd prefer to solo quietly by myself without feeling this tremendous social obligation to make sure that the DPS who call me a "friend" get a fast queue. Would they tank for me if I wanted to switch to my hunter? Not a chance, so sorry.

The folks who want to raid but know there is a glut of DPS become healers. Healing is harder than DPS but still relatively easy. Our guild has four times as many people willing to heal (whether main or off-spec) than willing to tank (whether main or off-spec). That should tell you something.

Tanking is a hyper-vigilant, high-responsibility activity undergone at eye level to some giant crotch that makes raid awareness more difficult. It's stressful to watch the ground, cast bars, the threat meters, everyone's health bars, my rotation/cooldowns, people's positions, and deadly boss mods all while listening to the raid leader bark orders and while adapting fluidly to changing situations. I don't think anyone other than the raid leader and the tanks have to watch the entire raid situation ALL THE TIME. Fail as a tank and EVERYBODY will notice.

DPS have the freedom to stand somewhere and run their optimal rotation, making big numbers while knowing that they're not responsible for whether they live or die aside from the occasional getting out of a patch of something nasty or switching targets. If they die, there might even be a battle rez and probably not a wipe. It's a nice, carefree life, isn't it?

Anyone who wants to have fun in WoW knows it's generally more fun to stand far away from something and shoot things at it.
If Kant played World of Warcraft he'd so play a hunter!
I think I'd like to backtrack on the whole premise fot this argument.

The underlying assumption being made here is that the number of players choosing to opt out of tanking and healing has gone up since Wrath due some sort of selfish motivation. However, what if the class numbers have stayed relatively the same since Wrath? What if the reason for the increased queue times is due to the current nature of a new expansion?

For example, when the LFG tool was introduced, most players were experienced with heroics and already outgeared them so we blasted through the encounters in 20 minutes or less (with no wipes). With these circumstances, one could queue several heroics in a single night of play.

Right now, the vast majority of players running heroics do not outgear them. The instances are relatively new and require more problem solving than Wrath heroics resulting in longer completion times (not to mention a greater number of wipes). These facts probably account for the lower turnover of players coming back into the queue after a dungeon run. Since the encounters take longer to complete, the queue times go up to around 40 minutes for dps players. Over time, as players gear up and become more experienced with the encounters, queue times will most likely come down again.

This begs the question, how does the "morality" of what class someone chooses to play come into this situation? Using the argument presented here, at what point can we declare it morally ok to play a dps class — when queue times are say 10 minutes ... 5 minutes? Are we really arguing that the whole WoW class system is broken if someone has to wait longer than say 15 minutes in the LFG? This whole argument seems to border on the absurdity.
Oh, and I couldn't disagree more with Sibyl.

Thing is, WoW is a super fun game. It's swallowed thousands of my waking hours (many of which ought to have been spent sleeping). Out of all the activities in this game I like tanking and healing best. I want to have fun in WoW and I do. And I certainly don't "know" that it's generally more fun to stand at range and pew pew.

Message from the happy tank/healing collective (maybe it's just me though, but anyway): please keep doing dps if you want to. If it's fun, do it. And by all means be nice to your fellow party members, random faceless electron beings or no.

Oh, and that last bit? You may not be aware, but it applies equally to every member in a group. Talk about moral obligation: don't spoil other people's fun by being an asshole.
Alright, @everyone who just posted, "But by that logic, tanking and healing is also immoral," you just failed english reading comprehension bigtime.

The argument is not that 'Everyone should DPS' vs 'Everyone should tank'. The argument is, "I'll play whatever I want to, fuck everyone else," vs "I will play what is most needed in the battlegroup."

"But then we'll have a flood of tanks!" Yes. And then 'what is most needed in the battlegroup' will dynamically shift to DPS, and you will play accordingly.

Please think these things through, people.
Morality isn't needed - good game mechanics is what is lacking. I think the inherit problem in the current 5man paradigm is that the actions of the healer and the tank directly affect the dps ability to survive while the dps don't have the same responsibility for the the healer's or tank's survival. For example, regardless if you outgear and instance or not, most likely if a healer never tosses out a heal or a tank never attempts to gain aggro the group will wipe. Tanks and healers must perform their duties or it directly affects a player's experience. But the opposite can't be said of the dps. They can run instance after instance and never have to CC.

Most PUG dps (I stress the term PUG) feel that CC isn't needed and it only slows down the run time in the instance. And dps will suffer hours of wiping before even suggesting CC on their own. It's pareto law in effect where perhaps 20% of the dps in a pug will actually want to use their CC or survivability spells. With this kind of paradigm I find it incredulous that anyone would complain about the shortage of tanks and healers. I also find it odd that some suggest increasing the 5 man to a 6 man size since this wont' solve the issue. Now the healer and the tank has to worry about 5 other guys instead of 4.

I understand players pay $15 and would like to play the game as they desire but it must be understood that this isn't universal across all game content. Let's use a basketball analogy. I can pay a membership to a gym to show up and shoot some baskets but I can't expect that the gym will reserve a hoop just for me (aka a 5man dungeon spot). And if I want to play a 5v5 game I can't expect that I will always get the position I want to play or get to make 100% of the shots. And if the most popular position is the small forward slot and there are 10 other guys wanting to play that position, well I'm going to have to sit out or play another position.

If blizzard actually wants more tanks and healers to pug Cata dungeons they have to design the content to force the DPS to CC. The dps need mechanics that that force them to use abilities that make tanking and healing easier. The dps mechanic can be a stick: no CC = dps debuff. Or a carrot: employing CC on non-player characters boost dps by X amount for X seconds or employing a survivability talent increases dps throughput. Tank's and healers HAVE to worry about the dps but the reverse doesn't apply. Fix the aforementioned and you will have more tanks and healers in pugs LFG.
WoW does have a design flaw. But that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or blame the system and do nothing else. We act within a system. Moral action, or responsible, whichever word you prefer, requires acting within the current system, even as we attempt to fix it.

But players are acting within existing system and demonstrate the behavior that this system promotes. Majority selects to play DPS because it is easier and requires less responsibility in the group play. For the same reason fewer players elect tanking or healing roles. I'm talking about educated choice with full awareness what end-game entails for each role. Some players are forced to switch roles because of LFD wait times. They don't really enjoy it and do it grudgingly which often results in asocial and rude behavior in the group play. LFD design flaws break community ties and social feeback which produces PuG bullies and leeches.

Players do all of this in rational self-interest trying play the system to their best advantage. To expect something different because of some sort of moral norm is naive. It is akin to the fallacy of communism which gives an individual no other incentive except for personal self-improvement on moral grounds (aka The New Soviet Man).
Maybe the server should just list how many of each class there is when you create a new character.
Nice with categorical imperative.

The subtlety is that Kant's analysis fails on specialization. For instance, I'm not a doctor, but I rely on there being doctors. If there were no doctors, I'd be in deep trouble. On the other hand, I'm a computer scientist and I work hard at being good at that so that my doctor doesn't have to understand sorting algorithms or synchronization or whatever.

I agree with your point about tanks and healers. I actually prefer to play them because, even when I screw up, I like to be at the center of attention, which DPS toons can only do if they pull a Leroy Jenkins).

And, once in a while I end up in a group with a better healer or tank than me, so I switch my druid to kitty cat and go wild.
and once again. if so few people are willing to play tanking and healing role because they enjoy it rather then because they feel obligated to - the issue is with the roles, not the people.

morality, social responsibility and the rest of this malarkey has zero bearing. who decides which people get to stick with the roles they enjoy and which "take one for the team"? why do people even have to take one for the team? don't you think its morally wrong to force some of the people into a role they do not enjoy, to make your life easier?

this is a game we're talking about. in my opinion morality in a game doesn't extend past "don't be a jerk to other players"
"If blizzard actually wants more tanks and healers to pug Cata dungeons they have to design the content to force the DPS to CC. The dps need mechanics that that force them to use abilities that make tanking and healing easier."

Isn't that what they are currently trying to do - and it isn't working?

The keyword there is 'force'.

This is a game - if you force people to do things it stops being fun, and people don't like to do non-fun things if the have a choice.

People don't want to be 'forced' to fail instances over and over because they are too hard for the average player. And they don't want to be 'forced' to wait 40+ minutes just to reach a dungeon where they fail over and over again (just happened to me again tonight - really starting to piss me off). And they don't want to be 'forced' to play a class/style they don't like just to try and be successful.

The bottom line is that WoW is just another way to kill time. If people have to choose between either killing time in a fun way you like, or in a non-fun way you don't like, most people will choose the fun way and avoid the non-fun way.

Kant may have a point, in a truly idealistic way, but he was talking about real life with a 16th century outlook - a time when survival was a struggle for most people.

WoW is a very frivolous pastime, played by the rich (comparatively speaking), living in a modern world of relative leisure. Kant's ideas, and big philosophical questions like morality (if it can even exist in an imaginary world with no real-life consequences for your actions), simply do not apply.

What applies is game theory - "how do I make the game interesting or rewarding enough to motive the players to take actions that are beneficial to both themselves and other players?"

Blizzard apparently missed the boat on the above with this expansion.
How fortunate it is that the role Tobold enjoys the most happens to be one of those that everyone "ought" to play more often!

Your Kantian test is misphrased to start. Instead of saying "what would WoW be like if everyone chose DPS," it should be "what would WoW be like if everyone chose what role they wanted". Probably what we have right now!
I am a software developer in real life. What if everybody would be software developer would the world collapse? Most definitely. So am I morality wrong for not knowing how to do plumbing, carpentry or heart surgery?
How fortunate it is that the role Tobold enjoys the most happens to be one of those that everyone "ought" to play more often!

You got that the wrong way around. What you "ought" to play is whatever is needed to balance a group. I'd love to play my DPS more, but I end up playing healer so that *others* can play their DPS. I think there should be some rotation here.

So am I morality wrong for not knowing how to do plumbing, carpentry or heart surgery?

If you were software engineer at a relatively young age and the market for software engineers would collapse, it would be morally wrong to live on unemployment benefits for the rest of your life, and morally right to learn a new profession.
"To me it appears obvious that this would lead to World of Warcraft being effectively only playable as a solo game and in PvP. Dungeons would have to wait until people would have sufficient PvP gear to so completely outgear them that they could be done with 5 DPS. And to do a raid you'd need to go back to one of a previous expansion."

First of all, I don't see how that is so terrible that bringing it about would be considered amoral. If we were actively working to bring that about it would not be considered amoral and would be an acceptable goal. So how can you have something as a matter of morality if the final result is only bad because it isn't what you meant to happen. I think Kant especially would have required that the final result be something more objectively bad, and not just personally undesired before declaring something amoral.

But that's sort of the problem of applying outside morality to games. The whole thing could disappear without it being especially amoral. After all if everyone simply decided that WoW was no longer entertaining them and stopped playing that would have a far more sever effect, and yet nobody could be held at fault, from a moral standpoint, for doing so.
Sara Pickell, you have a talent for distilling your opinions into an eminently readable form. It hurts not in the least that those opinions are always balanced and appear carefully considered. Thank you!
E.g you could you use Objectivism by Ayn Rand which defines morale in terms opposite to Kant

Can you imagine Ayn Rand playing anything other than a tank? I think she would have quite biting words for those who choose to rather follow in a low responsability role and play DPS, instead of leading.
I think a lot of people are over-reacting as people assume that if they don't act in a specific socially responsible way, then they are a completely immoral person.

To me, most DPS are socially neutral. They are not immoral, nor socially detrimental. There existence does not hurt tanks or healers in LFD. They do not hurt other DPS comparative to their own plight as the DPS queue is the same for ALL dps.

The question is whether DPS feel social responsibility to other DPS. Each DPS that introduces a healer or tank via alt spec or character alt helps his/her fellow DPS. If a player ran two instances a day, one as DPS and one as a tank/healer, LFD would improve for ALL DPS. Everyone would have very quick LFD times.

Assuming additional social responsibility where none is required does not make one immoral or socially irresponsible.

I liken it to a guy (hero) on the street that runs into a burning building to save someone at the risk of his own well-being. He is not obligated to go in, nor would anyone expect him/pressure him to go in. I think of DPS the same way. Great if they do, but ok if they don't.
I don't know if you do realize that, but actually there are people who do enjoy tanking/healing.
And I'd rather have to wait an hour for a tank who actually WANTS to play his role then wait 1 minute and get someone who does only tank because he's "forced" to and doesn't really understand what he's doing.
If half your group is grumbly playing along you wouldn't have much fun yourself.

Besides, it's a freaking GAME. You either play something you like or you don't play at all. Let's say 3 of your friends play "DC Universe Online" and need for whatever reason desperately a forth person. That person should be you, because you know, after all you have a social responsibility. Even if you hate it.
Here's a definite proof that Kant is wrong.

Case A: Player A is a selfish player playing DPS and refuses to switch to another role.

Case B: Player B is also a selfish player but playing tank and refuses to switch to another role.

Despite both players acting the same way, Player A is the one being called morally wrong because there are too many DPS already. Why are people being judged right/wrong not based on their action and reasoning behind the action, but based on how many DPS/tank/healer there are?
Smartypants, Kant isn't "wrong". At least not that obviously :)

The best translation of his idea is probably this:
"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."

And it is important to note that he is talking about maxims and universal laws. He is not talking about singular actions!

However, one must read more than just this sentence to fully understand Kant and his categorical imperative.
Just a little nitpick - "Dungeons would have to wait until people would have sufficient PvP gear" - no they wouldn't, resilience only works on players now. Things still would crit them in half.
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If Kant played World of Warcraft he'd so play a hunter!

That's funny :)
"Can you imagine Ayn Rand playing anything other than a tank? I think she would have quite biting words for those who choose to rather follow in a low responsability role and play DPS, instead of leading."

Uh, no she wouldn't have. She recognized that every class had it's place. She didn't expect everyone to be a tank or a leader, but just to fulfill their role properly with no blaming of others. She would have no problem with those that wanted to dps only as she would understand that in this game, dps would be a necessity. Now, if the dps didn't try to take the lead but complained about a lack of healers, then she might take issue.

Actually, in Rand's world, if she were a tank in a world of complaining DPS, she would no longer tank... at least not with the dps. She would find a group of like minded tanks and only associate with them... who would get nothing done since they would all run out of mana or hit an enrage timer.
3 points:

1: Accepting responsibility even in WoW is not limited to class choice. In a somewhat fixed social environment, i.e. a guild there are people who have to take care of leading, distribution of loot/materials, recruitment!, planning/scheduling, keeping people happy and all that. Somebody has to farm buff food etc pp. These are all tasks that can and should be taken over by DPS.

2: In your argument DPS, Tanks and healers are arbitrarily interchangeable. One (ancient) point I'd like to make is that all classes capable of tanking or healing can at least fill one other role, typically DPS, some can do all three. They have the option of playing either. This is not true for the so called pure DPS classes making them an easy target for the argument you put fourth.

3. As a raid leader I found that if someone played a class/role he did not appreciate solely for the greater good of the guild/team, he/she would ultimately not become a capable member we could rely on simply because he/she wouldn't invest into the toon as much and got less satisfaction out of it. I have seen this in Tanks, Healers and DPS (Hunters, no less). As a raid leader my responsibility was to find the best compromise between chances of success and desires of the group. Someone not liking his job would deter the group and perhaps more importantly him-/herself on both ends.

As such I am not entirely sure if your argument relating social responsibility to class choice is practical or useful outside of giving tanks/healers a justification for feeling smug about themselves.
The problem is that the game forces round pegs into square holes. You need to group to get gear and groups need a certain composition. Those who are in unneeded roles must compromise to obtain a functional group. So in this case, if we apply Kant's categorical imperative, "compromise" would work. Unfortunately, if people always compromise they often tend to have less fun. So is being immoral in this sense more fun?
The question that needs answering is why you automatically assume that any hybrid class that is DPSing must not be fulfilling their 'social responsibility'.

1) Is tanking/ healing the only way of fulfilling social responsibility?
2) Do you believe that queueing as DPS spec on a hybrid class is mutually exclusive with queueing as tank/ healer on that same class/ an alt?
3) Do you believe that tanking/ healing is so easy that the hybrid does not occasionally want to take a break from it and queue as DPS?

(I could ask a great deal many more questions regarding your assumptions, but those are enough to start with.)

Your points appear to me to be built on air as you assume many things without even proving any of them.
Unfortunately, if people always compromise they often tend to have less fun. So is being immoral in this sense more fun?

Yes, being immoral generally tends to be more fun than fulfilling a duty.

But how exactly would you handle the situation if you were the coach of a football team for children and all of them would want to play Quarterback?
First time I've been here and I'm refreshed to see members of the WoW community arguing using proper sentences instead of 'lolWTF'ing their way through the blog. I have my own opinion to add as well.

We are not all capable of applying ourselves to everything in life, it is not unreasonable or wrong to expect others to do that which you are not willing to do yourself.

My main is a holy priest, my 'main alt' is a warlock and I queue him for DPS to play that role and so that I have the right to roll on DPS loot. Many people have more than one character of different roles and there should be no obligation for me to heal when I have just logged off my healer to play DPS.

Just because people are complaining it doesn't mean the system is broken, the weighting of healers to tanks to DPS is exactly what I would expect it to be considering the difficulty of each role and the way people work. There is an understanding in groups that the tank and healer are more valuable than the DPS, there is an understanding that DPS have significantly longer queue times, there is an understanding that we can not all be astronauts.


PS. lolWTF L2P nubs.
However, this is not a closed ecosystem. It would not be a problem if everyone wanted to play a DPS; Blizzard can change the incentives; if there were bonus JP for the tank. E.g., dynamic say every day if the DPS queues are "too long" the tank JP bonus goes up by a JP or 2. After a while, award chance at valor points or tank-only chaos orb. Especially since dual-spec is negligible cost and two hybrid classes can even tank and heal. My shaman DPS in LFD has a 354 resto; I am just not interested in healing pugs in Cata, certainly not heroics. I do sign up for heals/DPS for guild runs.

1800 hk vs 180 hk quickly got TB to change sides. It's an incentive thing. If I am going to be milling herbs for an hour, I then a 30 minute queue while doing that is not a big cost. I get the same payout. MY GM healer's comment was "DPS is a spectator sport."

Note 4.0.6 may change the calculations: if I get 40% the JP on regular as heroic from bosses in the 3 instances (and since due to the annoying-to-me mechanics I can not roll on the orbs due to being a scribe/JC) then healing a HOO/LC/GB reg may pay better JP/hour than DPSing a heroic.

Cognitive dissonance causes me to see not wanting to heal as more of a game design issue than a personal moral failing.

A related question is whether the unpleasant LFD situation is a temporary situation, a flaw, or a deliberate design goal. Is the point to take the ubiquitous LFD tool from Wrath and make it unpleasant in order to achieve their "forced grouping" - incent people to either leave the game or join a guild.
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