Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bane of measuring

I spent last weekend on my primary hobby, that being dog sports. Lure-coursing, to be exact. While I was working in the event, I got the time to study the dog owners and their ways once again, and despite of this being the first event of the season (next one due in May...), I saw the same symptoms as over the last season.

In short, it's all fun and games until someone starts to evaluate and measure the performance. Some want to win at all costs and are very agitated in the event, the closer the start comes, the more agitated they are. If they do not win - or rank as high as they think they ought to - they leave from the event and start bashing the organizers, judges and the personnel in the event because their dog didn't get the results...

It was so easy to draw the parallels to the issues in MMOs, WoW especially. I think that these things just have condensed in WoW because of it's age: the player base has had time to tweak stuff to the optimal max and are thus breaking the numbers as far as possible. The same can be seen in the event I participated: the ones with the most competitive spirit are the most eager to restrict the rights of the others with not-so-strong need to win.

In fact, the discussions about competitivity, performance, the elite and noobs and so on can be read from both groups, with similar intensity, with similar hate.

All in all, it's all human, and while it is so, it's very hard for me to understand it being so. Sure, a hobby is something you want to excel, be the best you can. But does it have to come out of the fun of others? The performance is as important to the high end winner/elite as it is to the person playing for fun or coming into the event for the first time.

I have never understood the impression how people who see themselves as being at the top of the chain look down on the rest. Even less I understand people who at the top have the need to put others down to enhance their sense of being at the top.

That is the way I see 'raiders' do when they mock and call the other group in names. In a way it's the same the other way around, when the 'non-raiders' call the other group as no-lifers.

Because WoW has been dissected down to the min-max paradise, forgetting the roleplaying game aspect and seeing only something to beat, crush and win, it has lost the soul of an adventure. More or less it is the same if it was a browser based game with some neat animations in the mix, where you could min-max your character on a text/number based interface. What's the difference? The amount of moving pixels?

The bane of this all is our inherent need to measure, dissect and best everything we touch. I think I get enough of this in my work and thus look for something completely different from a MMO passtime I have than the average gamer at the age range of 18-33. It doesn't mean I don't want to perform better within the game, but it means that I have enough of min-maxing in real to bother with it in the game. If the game doesn't provide the information freely from within the game itself, I can't be arsed to seek for the information from off game sources, really: the character couldn't do it, so why should I do it?

I'm very happy with Rift, still, but I fear the moment they start breaking down the stats and start measuring the dps. That will state the beginning of the end of the community for sure.

The bane of measuring performance.