Sunday, October 26, 2008

When expectations are not met

Title actually describes the varied reactions of people towards the WoW zombie infestation and 'Invasion' world event. Tobold wrote about it in a pretty nice way, and the comments on that post really show how different views people have on this.

I'm mixed. When I entered today with my Horde lv62 druid to run through the Halloween event quests, zombies and zombified players ruined the fun. Then again, when I entered the game with my lv16 Alliance warlock, I had the time of my life. And in Friday I had a blast running Stockades as a zombie with my lv45 warrior and my brother. Absolutely hilarious session with loads of 'BRRRAAIIINS'-shouting and fury. 

This difference in experience got me thinking the reason.

It's all about expectations. About the activity you are about to engage with. About the fun you are about to experience. About the entertainment. If these expectations are not met, but are altered in a way the player cannot change, the reality doesn't conform with the expectations and most probably the overall experience is ruined. If you go to a movie to see a light comedy and end up watching Coen brothers' "Fargo", I bet you are not going to be very happy. Fargo is a great movie, but it isn't exactly light comedy.

I loved to play as zombie on my lv16 toon, because there were other people engaging in the similar activity. It was a bliss, and I could easily get away from it. My expectations were different with my horde toon. I expected to be able to do the Halloween quests -for the achievements, I admit- but was denied of the fun. With the Ally warrior I expected to be running as a zombie and eating brains, and it was hilarious.

This can be taken a step further. Players are like any consumers in that they are ready to tell different things in surveys than what they really want. AoC was marketed as a completely different experience than WoW, and players were jumping in joy. In the end, it proved to be too different, causing the game to be next to abandoned (yea, yea, nevermind the technical issues etc. It's a simplifying example, ok?). War didn't even try to change the mechanics, but made the change in the way the game was played. And was very much easier to digest.

We are slaves to our expectations. When they are not met in full, we feel cheated.

But I also came into a conclusion with the world event. I just love the unexpectedness of them. Nevermind the fact that the Invasion is in fact aimed for the bored level capped people: I couldn't touch the Lich Kings stormtroopers with the Druid (well, I could but not solo). Never the less, I had fun with the fact that everything had to be taken as it came.

I'm off to see if I can contribute in the Ally side. CHARGE!!!


Azariell said...

I am not sure if all expectations need to be met in order to enjoy a game. I believe it requires a certain willingness from the player.

When you enter a game with a single mindset, and find that it is completely opposing to what you expected and as a result leave, then you will never discover new things.

If you enter a game with a single mind set, find something different, and decide to give it a try, then it might turn out as something you would have otherwise never ventured into, but absolutely love.

I think its all about the rigidness of a players mind, the desire to badmouth a game when it is not exactly what they said it would be. In that aspect I think that reviewers tend to get stuck at times.

They take a game, put their expectations next to it and start to compare. If they do not match up, then chances are that they will not like the game. Professional reviewers often do know better and write accordingly, but can bloggers also be seen as reviewers? And are all bloggers professional enough to not be thrown off by a different experience compared to what they were expecting?

A nice thing to think about: Is the trendsetting nature of bloggers (as you already talked about in a previous post) 'ruining' the gaming experience of others because they enter the game with certain expectation and opinions they got from bloggers?

Unknown said...

If you have planned to do something in the game -aka created your expectations and prepared to go through with it- something minor ruining that planning may well put you off balance.

It would take next to a miracle to bring up the smile on your face after that.

However, if you enter the game with 'let's see what the world holds for me today', you are going to be very, very happily surprised by the zombie rampage.

People levelling the game with the 'end game' promise gleaming in their minds will find this very disruptive. And as it seems, it's more aimed to the bored know-it-alls at the cap, anyhow... :P