Do you even hear yourselves? (Or, why people complaining about the lack of a “gap” in WoW need to re-examine their arguments and then just stop)


The “Gap”

In World of Warcraft the “gap” refers to the noticeable difference between what some players can do/get and others cannot. This gap has been closing more noticeably as the years go by. The farther back you go in WoW’s history, the fewer people you find with end-game items.

Some players are indifferent about the “gap”. What someone else has or has done has no relevance in their enjoyment of the game. It has no affect on their feeling of epicness, achievement, fun, value, or self-worth.

Other players find the closing of the gap to be a turn-off, and to an extent quite alarming. From what I have read/seen, these players tend to be people that made up the smaller playerbase that were the “haves” instead of the “have nots”. With no simple distinguishable way of noticing their greatness, uberness, skill, devotion, time commitment- whatever the specific case may be- they feel like the wind has been taken out of their sails.

Blizzard has posed a question numerous times to its upset minority of players along the lines of “why is it bad for everyone to experience all portions of gameplay.” This is met with a mixed bag of responses. Things along the lines of “you diminish our achievements”, “people need players to admire and heights to aspire to”, “you’re making the game too easy”, “I spend an awful lot of time and energy on this and you practically give it away weeks/months later”, just to name a handful. These rationales evolve over time as Blizzard neatly offers a counter-arguments.

The one thing that Blizzard hasn’t brought up, and I don’t blame them from a business standpoint, is that the majority of these players likely have an exterior locus of identity- meaning that they are only as valuable as other people believe they are. Driven by extrinsic instead of intrinsic motivation, these players need the “gap” to exist or their value diminishes exponentially.

That’s cool, dude! Where did you get that?

We’ve all said it at some point: “Where did you get that?” You see a player in WoW with something really cool looking and you want to know what it takes to get one for yourself. Some responses are short and simple replies naming a dungeon or quest. Some answers include a cool story including long quest lines and weeks upon weeks of work. A big part of WoW is the visual component. We can even transmogrify our gear these days to obtain a specific look.

Throughout the history of WoW what a player has accomplished can often be observed visually. One of my favorite personal examples was the Fandral’s Flamescythe from Firelands. The weapon had the ability to turn Cat-form Druids into flaming versions of the animal form. I was one of the first players on my server to have one and it was fun to turn into a firecat and then just hang out around town. I enjoyed talking to people about it. Admittedly, it made me feel like something of a big shot.

I CAN HAZ FIRECAT.

I CAN HAZ FIRECAT.

One of the differences between me and some of the more vocal “gap” opponents is that how other people see me and my character has nothing to do with why I enjoy the game. I worked really hard to get that staff and while I did enjoy the adulation it got me for a brief time, it was a non-issue when pretty much anyone with enough time and energy could get one. Conspicuous consumption relies on the rarity of the things you own and when that’s gone, you need to have something better. The drawback of having an exterior locus of identity.

Having an exterior locus of identity is a very common thing. A simple trip to Facebook will prove that. While we criticize people for posting pictures of themselves seeking attention and approval, how can we then turn around and show off our in-game goodies seeking similar attention and approval? We can tell ourselves that we’re not engaging in the same behavior, but it’s something Blizzard has undoubtedly already noticed. Imagine people petitioning Facebook’s admins to stop allowing people to share funny pictures because “I worked days to Photoshop that joke, and only I should be able to share it, I don’t want anyone else posting it to their profile and benefiting from something they didn’t put the same amount of work into.”

Have your fun and eat it too

This is a such a great time to be considering this idea, with the world engaged in the Olympics. Why can’t we enjoy what we’ve done simply on the merits of the journey? Winning the gold and setting the world record is the best you can do in any given event. Does that make a gold medal without setting a record any less great? How about winning a silver or bronze medal? What about all the people that don’t medal? They made it to the Olympics! It’s a great achievement even if you get last place.

If you really did have that gear first- you had it first. If you put in hour after hour to get that world/server/faction first kill- you had it first. If you replied first to this blog post, you had it first.

Did you have fun?

Is it cool if everyone else has fun now?

-w3rd-

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About nofuneral

I say things. You say things.

Posted on July 20, 2012, in educational, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’m one of the have-nots, I’ve never really been one of the haves, only a little in TBC. I prefer there to be a gap, although calling it a gap is almost incorrect, the gap is not empty, it’s populated with all kinds of players all the way from the bottom to the top.

    I guess you could say I used to be in the gap myself, the gap was a great place to be, I loved it.

    I am not an American myself, but think about the American Dream, it’s built on this whole idea of the direct causation of hard work = success. I like for some things to be grand in the game, I don’t care if I’m not a grand player myself, but I want to aspire, and I like seeing others with treasures I’d never get and imagine the hard trials they’ve been through. I think it adds depth to the game.

    I do get your message and it’s a noble one, but I believe you are arguing against human nature.

    • I think the definition of “gap” being used is this one:
      “3. a wide divergence or difference; disparity: the gap between expenses and income; the gap between ideals and actions.
      4. a difference or disparity in attitudes, perceptions, character, or development, or a lack of confidence or understanding, perceived as creating a problem: the technology gap; a communications gap. ”

      Not necessarily empty space.

      If you want to aspire to something in WoW, my suggestion is to get into PVP. There are so few people with the “Gladiator” title that you probably have never met one.

      I also understand where people are coming from, wanting the game to feel grander and have more depth, what have you. I just don’t think it’s a good idea, from a business standpoint or a benevolent standpoint, to make some things virtually impossible to get. It might seem cool, but at the end of the day are you going to tell people “oh, man, you should come play WoW with me. There’s all this cool gear and dungeons and questlines that you’ll never really have a chance to enjoy unless you join a really serious guild and make a large time commitment.”? I highly doubt it.

  2. While I agree with the majority of the point you’re making here, I disagree with some of it too. I definitely see the exterior locus of identity being a big concern here. That people who complain feel they should be allowed to be special at the expense of others. However, I am definitely not in the camp of everyone who plays needs to experience all areas of the game. I just can’t be.

    For example: I am a terrible FPS player. I suck at games like Halo, Call of Duty and Gears of War. Generally speaking, these games don’t appeal to me, but I just don’t have the kind of coordination that’s needed to be better at these types of games. I fumble through easy modes and never dare try online play. It’s not a lack of practice, because I keep trying. I am just terrible at those types of games. The argument should be made that those games should bridge the gap between me and the more advanced players so that I can online play with the best of them, but not with the same skill or experience level. Again, this is where I disagree.

    I don’t agree that a game should be developed for the lowest common denominator. There are people who play casually, there are new players, there are hardcore raiders, there are casual raiders, there are people who cap their levels at 14 to PvP and smash faces, there are people who don’t PvP at all. Not all aspects of the game will appeal to all players. Not all aspects of the game should be available to all players. Maybe that makes me an elitist because I feel that way, but I’m certainly not the best at my class, nor am I the best player ever. But I’m also not butthurt when I don’t have the best of the best or server first kills either. I definitely don’t continue to play WoW so others will oooh and ahhh over my accomplishments. I just don’t feel those who are better at the game than I am should be punished either.

    • Also, it’s tricky to compare games that are fundamentally different. Making the game easier for bad players doesn’t affect the good ones in WoW, from a gameplay standpoint. The nerfs can be turned off and you can play just like they never existed. The only difference is that other players have access to the content. If you really want to compare apples and raptors though, FPS games do have online games that can be tailored to less skilled players, thus leveling the playing field.

      I ask what is the harm in letting this occur in WoW? What exactly is the punishment?

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