When did groups becomes PUGs?
A new post on Keen and Graev’s about Pick Up Groups (PUGs) got me thinking about how grouping with unknown players seems to have changed over the years from being the acceptable and common experience to something that people seem very negative about and reluctant to do. I first encountered the word ‘PUG’ about 2 years ago and since then it’s never been used with affection but more as a derogatory term or in-joke. I’ve even had guildies who stated they would never, ever join a PUG.
Is this outlook justified? Are random groups really that bad or have we just gotten ourselves into a whole lot of negative thinking?
Before the term PUG was invented, I never had any negative predisposition to joining a group of strangers. In fact, I considered it quite normal and enjoyed it and I could now spend hours relating fun stories about random groups I had in Everquest, DAOC, SWG, or any other MMO I tried. Sure, they didn’t all work out, but that was just accepted and it never seemed to put as people off as it does now. Even during my recent time of playing EQ2, I was always a big advocate for PUGs and never hesitated to join one or create one and I never regretted it once. I didn’t want to spend hours waiting for the right number of people in my guild to log on or free-up, I just wanted to get stuck into something and meet new people. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t joined PUGs, I would never have met most of my online friends so I cannot consider it a bad experience in any way.
But the outlook towards PUGs seems to be becoming more and more negative all of the time and I can’t help but wonder if WoW, in a round-about way, is responsible for starting it all. You see, Warcraft offers a huge amount of solo content and is very black and white with it’s talent builds which means that people tend to take the easiest approach to leveling – DPS soloing. This, of course, means that players aren’t experienced in grouping and are more likely to make mistakes when they do finally group. I also think the WoW player base is less hardcore and MMO savvy than in other MMOs. Don’t get me wrong, I think WoW is a great game but when it created an accessible focus on soloing, the inadvertent side effect was that groups in it are less likely to be successful than in other games.
Combine the lower chance of success with spiraling negativity and you end up where we are today. Everyone seems to hate those ‘PUGs’ (even though every member in one is a member of another guild and has successful guild groups) and goes into them with a predisposition for failure. Sure, maybe it’s a little harder to get good groups in WoW than it is in EQ2, but that doesn’t mean we’re justified in writing them all off. I think it’s time we were all a little more sociable and forgiving and championed the PUG a little more. You never know, you might make some new friends.