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The People-Free Zone

April 18, 2010

Sometimes people will just be People.

And People are idiots. As in the original latin, non-medical sense: they’re ignorant. People generally have no idea what they’re doing, thus: idiots.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not “People”. Unless you post a badly-worded comment here that conveniently skips all the content of the post just to insult me, you’re not People. You’re a minority: a thinking user, whether you agree with me or not. And here lies our problem: we read blogs and guides, and we start interesting and enlightening (a dwarf can dream) discussions on forums and other media. People don’t. Unfortunately, on the Internet People are simply a big, anonymous, seething mass of bad grammar and the natural human need to feel successful and superior through the least expenditure of energy.

People, when they decide to spend the effort, just gloss over whatever is on the front pages, learn what will bring them the most DPS for least effort. Why DPS, specifically? Because the pressure of tanking and healing doesn’t usually interest People. Sure, you sometimes find them dabbling on those two roles, but unless they go through the process of sundering themselves from the mass of People, they’re not going anywhere. Even more: healers and tanks are the minority in any group, be it a 5-man or a raid. It’s nowhere as satisfying to be the “best” when you are the only one competing, as opposed to doing so when you have three, six or seventeen other names on the Recount list.

People are harmful to the game

Before someone starts getting ideas, this is not yet another “Casual vs Hardcore” whine post. Someone being an idiot has absolutely no correlation with how much gear they have and how seriously they play the game. You can have Casuals who try to play to the best of their abilities within their limited time frames, while you can also have Hardcore players who top the charts but are also completely clueless about the nuances of the game (or simply the nuances of social contact). We’ve all seen it: the guy in full ICC-25 gear, pulling numbers we only feverishly dream to pull, but who also stands on the fire, rushes ahead to the next pack of mobs, complains whenever someone is below 5K on Recount in Heroic Utgarde Keep and so on…

With that out of the way, here comes the less obvious statement: idiots are harmful to the game in more ways than you’d expect. They’re not just annoying you while you run your daily dungeon and never being seen again. They are doing that day after day after day: annoying people across the entire gear spectrum, from ilvl 178 blues to 264 purples. Even if you don’t take it personally, a sequence of idiots when you’re trying to gear up can put you off the game. Maybe not so much when you’re DPSing, as your job generally depends on your own skill, but as a healer or a tank? Oh, boy…

I’m a patient guy. I’m not an imbecile who takes everything in without reacting, but I am rather patient with stupid people most of the time. Yet while gearing my Warrior up I seriously considered giving up on tanking altogether more than once before a good group brought me back faith that better times would be just a few T9 pieces ahead. And hey, I’m persistent (some would say stubborn). If I nearly gave up tanking and had to stop playing for a couple weeks until the taste of bile left my mouth, can you imagine how the freshly Defense-capped Tank is going to feel when presented with such a situation? Or what is the Healer in the best blues she could find desperately trying to heal stupid players pulling entire rooms without waiting for Mana, then getting the blame when wipe ensues is going to think?

Those guys are responsible for the long queue times as DPS. They make having to rely on others to get the job done (as we have to do on dungeons) insufferable. And we have to get rid of them.

Creating a People-free zone

There’s a reason PuGs were universally derided before the Dungeon Finder was implemented. Funny thing, that reason is still there, and stronger than ever. How do we get rid of the idiots in this game, or at least avoid contact with them? Well… there are a couple measures you can take.

Get yourself a good Guild and run with them: Guilds have lost cohesion, and this is a problem partially brought by the Dungeon Finder. Before, we always had people on Guild chat asking “who’s interested in running the daily heroic today, as long as it’s not Occulus?” (spelling and grammar may vary). Nowadays, the only ones talking about running dungeons with their Guildmates are Tanks offering quick rides on the Tank Train. Choo-choo.

Break this pattern: ask people who’s up for Heroics. You’d be surprised as to how much easier/enjoyable a dungeon gets when you have someone you know working with you. If anything, you can make snarky comments on Guild chat while things are going south (not that I’ve ever done that, of course…). A pre-made group of four good players running a dungeon together is a vastly different experience to a full PuG, specially if both Tank and Healer are not pugged.

Kick ’em out: simply put, if someone starts showing signs of being an idiot, kick them off the group as soon as you can. And no, I’m not talking about someone doing only 2k DPS when their gear could afford 3.5k, I’m talking about hardcore Paladins standing on Goo (it’s the new Fire!) and DPS the Boss while there’s a Nova attack coming in, and Hunters DPSing the entire instance in Viper because they “dont wana run out of mana”. Call them out once. If they don’t change their ways, kick ’em.

If you’re already in a group, finding a replacement is a lot faster than when the Dungeon Finder is still trying to assemble the group. DPS are nearly instantaneous, Healers often take less than two minutes to be added, and I’ve rarely had to wait more than five minutes to get a new Tank in prime time. No, you’re not being harsh by kicking someone. Idiots don’t care for how you feel. They don’t even care about playing well, why should you care for them?

And of course, if you see a glimmer of intelligent thought in their eyes, stop and explain: not all idiots want to be idiots. Some of them want to learn but are simply ignorant of what they need to do, and thus benefit greatly from in-game guidance. Taking two minutes to explain something to a “weak” group member and watching their performance jump up as a result is very satisfying. Of course, don’t handhold them too much: teach them how to fish instead of giving them the fish.

Judicious use of the Kick feature (whenever available, which is unfortunately not very often) and running dungeons with people I know (and who are thus not protected by the mantle of cross-server anonimity) have improved my Tanking experience in ways I would have not thought possible. Spending two minutes explaining to that Rogue why he should be using Tricks of the Trade on me if he wants to unload his Adrenaline Rush + Fan of Knives combo at every opportunity also made things a lot easier. Even when I get a guy who has no idea of what he’s doing and doesn’t want to learn, it’s easier to cope with it when you have at least one other person working with you instead of against you.

Do the right thing: work towards a People-Free World of Warcraft!

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