MMORPGs and the 50th Percentile

Let me tell you a story. When I was at university a friend of mine scored 100% in a test. However, because the average score was “too low” in comparison to previous years results, the university decided to increase everyone’s score by 5% across the board (I have no ideas why – I’m sure there was a good reason). This of course meant my buddy scored a whopping 105% on a test, a physical impossibility. So he went and complained to the head of the department about it and demanded his result be lowered to 100%. Bizarre, esoteric and funny as hell.

Let me tell you another story. I’m 6′4″ and I don’t fit in the seats on planes, trains or automobiles. “Sorry”. “Too bad”. “Cut yer legs off, sucka”. You see I’m in something called the 95th percentile for height and I just plain don’t matter to anyone.

Turns out life is all about normal distribution and percentile ranks.

Normal distribution for comparison of percentile ranks

Normal distribution for comparison of percentile ranks

So whats this got to do with MMORPGs? Everything. Think Ulduar is too easy? Think it’s too hard? Tough. You ain’t in the 50th percentile, homes. So you can either accept it or whine about it.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Or find a game that caters to someone who wants a challenge.

  2. Gordon says:

    Challenge is a very subjective thing and thus the 50th percentile rank. Blizzard have obviously determined that certain raids are too challenging or inaccessible to the majority of players, thus the nerfs. If you find it all too easy, then you’re maybe more highly skilled and organised than the average joe.

  3. Debby says:

    Well, I think that’s what the 10-man versions and the Hard Mode are about. Back in the day, I saw Molten Core and Black Wing Lair, but many who paid the same fee I did could not. You had to be a member of a guild that could field 40 fairly competent people to see the end-game in WoW.

    Now, I’d say anyone who puts in a little effort can see all of Naxxaramas and at least some of Uldaur. For those who want more of a challenge, there is Uldaur hard-mode. Plus Blizz seems to be adopting a policy of start challenging and then dumb it down so that more can succeed.

    Maybe they should have titles like Premier Yogg-Saron Slayer, for those who defeated him in his first iteration.

    P.S. I sympathize. My husband is 6′6″ tall.

  4. Aeltyra says:

    Finally someone that understands Gauss curves.

    And you are absolutely right.
    This game isn’t for that small percentile that is too hardcore for it, and it’s not for the small percentile that is not capable of playing it.

  5. Andrew says:

    Sure – we’re not in disagreement, Gordon.

    I was just objecting to your flippant (and semi-insulting) suggestion that the only recourse of someone who out-skills the current WoW endgame is to “either accept it or whine about it.” In fact I have a third choice: leave & find something that appeals to me more.

  6. Gordon says:

    @Andrew You’re right, of course :) It wasn’t my intention to sound flippant- this blogging lark is tough!

  7. [...] Devs, if you believe that you have an interesting setting and great game world, let me look around in it.  Let me see it at my leisure and poke around the fringes.  Stop pushing me through cattle runs and Achievement galleries.  Let Team Ninja do the whole “we’re the Dev Gods, kiss our feet” routine wherein the player has to qualify via self-flagellation to see your magnum opus.  Players bought the game, let them play it and see what you made.  Some players are masochists, sure, but if you want to make money in the mainstream, realize that those players aren’t the bulge of the bell curve. [...]

  8. Scott says:

    Above 100% is NOT a “physical impossibility.” It depends what is being measured.

    While your height of 6′-4″ is in the 95th %tile, it’s even higher. More precise would be the 98th or maybe even the 99th %tile.

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