Hardcore Elitism

I’m not a big raider. I’ve done my fair share of raids in different MMORPGs – even had a very brief stint as a raid main tank – but it’s just not something I can do very often. Why not? Simple, time. Raiding requires a degree of time which I cannot (and don’t really want to) justify. Plus, serious raiding guilds tend to also have strict policies on attendance and commitment that I can’t stick to.

I’d love to raid more often and I genuinely respect the guys who do it frequently (I’m even a little jealous of them) but there’s a world of difference between being a raider and being a ‘hardcore snob or elitist’. The latter is purely a frame of mind that exists amongst MMORPG communities and I’ve encountered it all too often. These are the folks are like to argue the cause that ‘hardcore’ means ‘more challenging’ and that somehow they are ‘better’ players because of their achievements. I’m by no means saying all raiders are like that but many out there are and their opinion is often very vocal.

The fundamental flaw with any argument revolving around being ‘better’ at MMORPGs is that the word is abstract and cannot be easily measured. In fact, the way the word better is measured is by achievement (having item X, conquered dungeon Y, having stat Z) and anything can be accomplished in a MMO given enough time. MMOs are built upon the time = challenge principle and this places a heavy burden on any true skill related gain.

If we accept that grind is just a product of poor game design then we can understand why MMORPGs are leaning towards more accessible models. World of Warcraft is a great example of this and also the backlash it has caused amongst hardcore elitists who hate the idea of things becoming too ‘easy’. Of course, I can understand their reaction. If suddenly the time barrier is removed then it immediately diminishes any accomplishments these players have made and this is why hardcore snobs don’t want this to happen and why they want games to remain inaccessible in order to validate their achievements.

MMORPGs are very emotional things and we forget they’re just games. Players love to anthromorphise their avatars (which I suppose is part of the appeal of the escapism MMOs offer) and, just like in the real world, we like to feel superior to others. And, just like the real world, it’s often totally unfounded.

So, what’s my point? Hardcore elitism or snobbery should not exist because, the reality is there, there is actually nothing to feel elite about. Players should focus more on the social, community and fun aspect of raiding rather than any feeling of superiority that results from it and they should absolutely drops the terms of ‘casual’ or ‘hardcore’. They are meaningless after all.

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7 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    You completely miss the point of why a lot of hardcore players hate the change to WoW raiding that WotLK has brought. We raid because we want to be challenged as a group to overcome truly tough content…. and removing that challenge removes our reason to engage in the activity altogether. Most of us couldn’t care less about the “we’re better than you” snobbery that you accuse raiders of having.

    Of course, you apparently remain convinced that you can beat all raid bosses in a game just by playing enough…… and I think that continues to be a major fallacy that you need to be cured of =)

  2. Debby says:

    I don’t begrudge hardcore raider’s their sense of achievement. It is a fallacy to think that it takes no skill, only the investment of time to overcome challenging content. While I am not an uber raider, I appreciate the challenge of difficult content.

    My guild still has not taken down Yogg-Saron, but we will. We won’t take him down because we go back week and do the same things over and over. We will win because we learn and change, study and try different approaches. When we finally succeed, it will be because of determination, effort and skill; not simply due to an investment of time and that will make the achievement exciting. That adrenaline over new content conquered is a big part of why I raid. That type of rush in real life often involves actual danger, heh.

    I think Blizzard is wise to release the same content in 10 and 25 man form. That way, more people get to see the end-game content. Without challenge though, the game will quickly become a boring grind. It’s a fine balancing act keeping content easy enough so most of the client base can experience it, yet challenging enough to keep most hardcore player interested.

  3. Gordon says:

    @Andrew I don’t accuse raiders of being snobs, just some of them :) Like I said, I’d love to raid more and I’m totally onboard with raiding. What I’m against is the “we’re better than you” attitude that I’ve seen prevail with some of them.

    @Debby I’m absolutely open to any feedback and education about the challenge vs time debate! You guys are pretty vehement about it so it’s definitely something I’m reconsidering.

  4. Grump says:

    Not all raiders are elitists pricks. Our guild is one of the best guilds in EQ2 and I am proud of our accomplisments. There is content in the game that requires skill, and saying skill is not required win is just false. Time is necessary, sometimes weeks are spent on mobs, just to find out that they are broken.

    EQ2 is a hobby for me, I have a full time job, and responsibilities to the real world. When some one challenges me on how much time I spend a week on playing on my computer, the question I ask is how much time do you enjoy TV? or reading books? or surfing the web?

    Our guild doesn’t take the elitist pricks them and if we do get one they will soon find out that we don’t play into the drama and they will generally find themselves with out a guild, which does make us kind of elitist in a way. Flaming in open channels, bashing other raiders or “causal” players is not allowed.

    From my experience the elitist guilds that allow drama, who do openly flame, generally fall apart from the inside. I have seen this with at least four guilds on our server over the last few years who were “top dogs” have chewed themselves up and have horrible reputations, they don’t last long.

    I just don’t understand how this mentality can be fun, I don’t get it, being mean to other people because you’ve experienced a different part boggles my mind.

  5. Andrew says:

    @Gordon:
    But likewise a lot of non-raiders can be snobs and accuse those who raid successfully/efficiently of being “no life losers who spend all their time playing the game”.

    Can’t we just ignore the lunatics in both camps?

  6. Gordon says:

    Yeah, you’re absolutely right, of course :) Plenty of casual snobs about too. Jealousy is a powerful thing!

  7. Beej says:

    I completely agree. The reason that Star Wars Galaxies will go down in my book as one of the greatest MMOs I’ve ever played is not because of the game itself. The game itself, to put it lightly, kind of sucked. But the community on my server (Wanderhome) was so fantastic that I played through all the bugs and boredom. There was little to be “snobbish” about in SWG when I played, and even those who had the highest in-game symbol of elitism, a Jedi/Force-sensitive character slot, were generally so invested in the community, they did not rub it in anyone else’s face. Our community was so closely knit the only thing that made me stop playing was a double-sided attack of WoW being released and SOE revamping EVERY single game system with the NGE.

    My RL friends and I still reminisce about the community in SWG and hope we can find another game to compare someday.

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