Thursday, March 12, 2009

Individual community

There was an interesting editorial in the local newspaper today. And quite surprisingly I started thinking the editorial in terms of WoW guilds and social surroundings.

Because the editorial discussed the current trend of individual benefit over the benefit of the community. Mainly the editor was viewing this western phenomenon from the viewpoint of nationalism, governments and the individual in these contexts. Overall, the editorial was very well written and pointed out the problems arising from the instant gratification culture which emphasizes the individuality over the communality.

I hope I'm making sense, as the language barrier is bothering be at the moment.

The more people are taught that their personal happiness, gain and individuality matters more than the general good of the many, the more the societies split and splinter, causing even more hardships to the government because how do you satisfy the needs of several splintered groups having different needs and demands? The democratic power of the majority gets split into quarreling sub-groups and thus the democratic decision making gets jeopardized alltogether.

This goes extremely well into MMO's, WoW being excellent example of this.

As the personal benefit -soloability, loot- becomes the main motivator, even the easy content becomes hard in the end as the group effort needed for raiding becomes secondary to the personal gain: the 'strong' will survive, but the community suffers. The guild system in WoW doesn't encourage people to support the guild, the guild hopping is an excellent example of that. This guild cannot offer me anything more, so I'll move to the next one.

It's a question of what the guild can offer to me, rather than what can I give to the guild to make it succeed.

Instead, the guild system should encourage the people to do more for the guild and advance as guild. If we're thinking about the Middle-Ages, that was the reason for the guilds and orders in the first place: to advance their common good instead of the good of the one artisan or knight.

The splintered communality has shown it's ugly face twice in a couple of days: the Alabama shooting and the Germany's school shootings prove that the individuality can go too far for the human animal to cope with. 

The Vulcan saying is considered a joke nowadays, but I think it would be good to start valuing that. "The needs of the many outweight the needs of one." Well, maybe not in as strong context, but it would be high time for the Western civilization to realize the Zen-kind of thinking that even though everything starts from the individual, everything is connected and effects everyone.

Community is not a bogey to be shunned from. If we consider the games being one way of educating the young about the proper code of conduct, the developers are in a pretty influential position in this sense.

This is a very messed up post. I hope you get something out of it. At least it made sense to me.

EDIT: As it happens, Tobold wrote about the games and the learning from them. Same issue, different approach.


Anonymous said...

It made sense to me, too -- the language barrier isn't as high as you think.

And I agree! As regards MMOs and WOW specifically though, I think the underlying design of the game is individual-oriented. There isn't much even a dedicated community can do to change that. Hopefully RL isn't the same...

Azariell said...

WoW is one of those games that does not only tries to cater for the individual player, but also for the group player. This results in a game in which there is a little bit of everything. But is that really a bad thing?

I think it is a bad thing when you really want to make the WoW world into a story, a content driven game based on 'reality' where forming groups and communities is natural. This often leads to much more involvement in the game, and much more time spent in the game.

On the other hand, individual players, who just want to enjoy the game without having any obligations can also find their place in WoW, but get the constant feeling that they are missing out.

The Need-Greed system is a great example from blizzard for the individualism point of view. It gives everybody a fair chance, and reduces the odds of somebody stealing the item and just running of with it. On the other hand if it was just a group effort, nobody would have to worry about such things and could just divide it as they saw fit.

But on the other hand, Blizzard has created content only available to the groups (offcourse all raids instances are open to anyone, but who will find a group of 25 and get it to work as a team)

So, the individualists will be left out, missing a large part of the game. Time investments are manditory to experience that part of the game.

Again, it all has to do with the fact that WoW is made for the masses

Anonymous said...

Couldn't even tell there was a language barrier ;)

I think you made some good correlations between society and Warcraft. Your post really hit home since I left my old guild a while ago, so it gave me some food for thought regarding my new guild.

"Ask not what your guild can do for you, ask what you can do for your guild." (With apologies to President Kennedy.)

Crucifer said...

Let's see now. You can change, with ease, your:

- Face
- Name
- Gender
- Server
- Guild
- Mount
- Spec

Is there any doubt why there is no community any more? Perhaps because there is no responsibility for your choice.

Just as in the real world where political correctness stands shoulder to shoulder to Orwellian Big Brother gone mad. Where instant gratification by the Western Industrialised Nations has caused an almost complete collapse of the global economic system.