Don’t Blame The Noob, Blame The Game
We’ve all had bad group experiences with players who don’t have a clue what their doing. Healers who don’t heal, tanks who haven’t even placed taunt on their action bar and DPS classes who ninja AFK and loot everything in sight (not that I’m pointing fingers or anything). In fact, bad players are so common and that they’ve become, at best, a running joke in MMORPGs and, at worst, a story used to scare your kids away from ever joining random pick-up groups and thus scarring them for life about the horrors that lurk on the Internet. But have we ever thought about why these bad players actually exist?
As you may know, my brother recently started playing World of Warcraft and whilst he’s been busy learning the ropes of the game, I’ve been busy exercising my patience and anthropological skills. I’m grouping with him on a regular basis in order to impart my Yoda like MMORPG wisdom and mock his lack of knowledge at the same time. The whole process is like toilet training a puppy. Yesterday’s lesson? What a tank is.
He’s a Warrior so I figured it best to explain to him, sooner rather than later, the whole concept of tanking/healer/DPSing (y’know, the Holy Trinity of MMOs) and why it’s important. I lectured him on the general MMO concepts of being a meatshield, duties and responsibilities and the like, and more specific stuff relating to WoW like Defensive Stance, using a shield and taunting. He’s a bright kid, I think he got it, but it made me wonder: if I hadn’t been there to explain this, what would’ve happened?
Chances are my bro would’ve continued to climb his way up the Warcraft leveling tree all by himself like a happy little chimpanzee only to discover that when he tries to group with the other monkeys at the top, life is suddenly a whole different ball game. The bottom line is that pretty much every MMORPG I’ve ever had played has neglected to actually teach players how to be whatever role they’ve undertaken. In the past this duty has fallen on our gaming brethren to school us as we level but in more modern MMOs, were soloing is so convenient, grouping is almost a rare occurrence. And even then people just storm off with a “you suck” comment under their breath if you expose your own noobiness.
We can’t, and shouldn’t, blame noobs for being, well, noobs. It’s not their fault. Most MMORPGs assume that players are either already familiar with the genre and know what they’re doing or will pick it up as they go along. The latter is not very structured or sensible and doesn’t really work at all with games like WoW that have a learning curve which goes from Solo King to Group Joker in one instance. Players are slowly introduced to the world of questing and soloing but when it comes to grouping, we’re all just thrown into the deep end.
So next time you end up with a bad tank in your group, instead of muttering obscenities about their mother towards them, why not take a moment to chat with them, explain to them what they’re doing wrong, and try to teach them how to play. I’d bet you no one else has ever tried.