That Terrible WoW Community

Community in the old days involved sitting around for hours. Lots of hours.

Community in the old days involved sitting around for hours. Lots of long hours.

Unless you’re member of the Taliban on the run from the long arm of the Feds, you’re probably aware of the controversial article that veteran blogger Wolfshead wrote about his feelings towards World of Warcraft and how he blames Blizzard for damaging the genre. Of course his points are subjective but it’s a very interesting and enjoyable post nonetheless and hearing other people’s opinions and thoughts on subjects is part of the fun of reading blogs. While I don’t agree with everything Wolfshead said, the one thing we do completely concur on is just how bad World of Warcraft’s community is. In fact, it’s downright awful. If you have any doubt over this fact, I’d urge you to take a few days to try out another MMORPG and see what a real MMO community should be like.

Of course this blanket statement has to be taken with a pinch of salt because there are great players in WoW, a lot of fantastic guilds and it’s not like everyone you meet is going to call you a dick straight away. But, as I’m sure most players would readily agree, the normal, exposed and free community (i.e. the folks you bump into whilst out roaming the countryside or get placed into a random group with) are usually terribly rude, not interested in your personality, and obsessed with stats and achievements. In fact, the whole thing has become a running joke that most bloggers poke fun at, so much so that the term Pick Up Group is now always associated with a negative and derogatory meaning.

I’ve played MMOs since Everquest in 1999 and, out of every single one I’ve tried, WoW is the only MMORPG that I’ve had consistent terrible community-related experiences with. Form a PUG and the first thing you’re likely to hear anyone say is either “buff me”, “more BoK” or “Go go go”. It is, unfortunately, almost as funny as it is depressing and so common is practically predictable. Does it really require a lot of effort to type a few words during a PUG, not call everyone in the BG a bunch of assholes or actually bother to look at the name of the Druid healer rather than just refer to them for the entire duration of the raid as “Tree”?

Wolfshead puts the blame squarely on Blizzard’s shoulders for all of this and, to some degree, I think he’s right. They’ve created a game that requires very little inter-dependence between players, where rude actions are hard to penalise (what exactly can you do against a rude player from another server?), and a game that constantly pushes and prods its player with the temptation of achievements and statistics. They’ve even exposed mechanics like iLvl which is just prime material for being exploited and turning players from people into numbers.

However, at the end of the day though I believe that we, the players, are ultimately at fault for this lack of community spirit and not Blizzard. Their the gods who have provided us with an amazing virtual world to inhabit and we’re the spoilt children who have tarnished it with anarchy. We’re lost our senses of camaraderie and community and instead reserve our good behavior for our cliques, our guilds, and chosen to completely ignore our social responsibilities outside them.

Ultimately WoW is a victim of it’s own success and it’s massive popularity and other MMORPGs should remain thankful that they have smaller niche communities that are able to maintain order and manners. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anyway to force better behaviour in players as it’s most likely an unavoidable side effect of a swollen population. If I knew what I was talking about I’d probably put it down to crowd psychology. Or something.

Of course, having a bad community doesn’t make WoW a bad game. Warcraft is still a great product and lots of fun and something that I enjoy and it seems like it’s community is just one of its little imperfections. However, I do find myself wishing sometimes that I could pick-up and transpose the Everquest 2 player base in WoW just to make my time in random groups better. But, alas, I cannot so I find myself stuck playing WoW with its terrible community. I’m not trying to be negative, it’s just a fact of the game and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

-Gordon

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  5. A Year Of World of Warcraft

58 Comments

  1. Achloryn says:

    I agree and disagree with you. It’s a really touchy subject, and it’s hard to explain a lot of points. Do the players tarnish the world that Blizz has created? Absolutely. 30 seconds in trade will tell you that. The problem is, I don’t feel like Blizzard does enough to counteract this. The best example of this i’ve heard was given on the Twisted Nether blogcast, episode 84 (aptly named Tradechatocalypse). The hosts of the Inside Azeroth podcast were guests on the show, and one of them went off on a tirade about how disgusting trade chat has become, and i’m sure most people would agree. However, he proposed a unique way of counteracting this. Blizzard has -just- made millions of dollars on L’il XT pets and sparkly ponies. They should invest that in a few more GMs to just go around and sit in trade channels for 20 minutes at a time, patrol maybe 5 servers each or something like that, and just start handing out ban-hammers for stupid crap. I could guarantee that if Blizzard started cracking down on the stupid anal game, or the idiotic trolls that go on in trade chat, the message would be heard loud and clear, and it would start to turn into a real TRADE channel.

    • Klepsacovic says:

      The saddest part is that the anal spam, the stupid politics and whatnot in trade chat, that’s almost all we have left of a community. Spam is the last stand of human interaction.

    • Mycroft says:

      I completely agree, Achloryn. If Blizz made even a token effort to enforce their own standards, I suspect that things would dramatically improve.

      Myself, I turn off the chat channels, including Trade, it’s not worth the disruption to remain in them.

      I wonder if that’s the next area for Blizz to charge extra for, playing on a server where Blizz actively enforces the botting, naming, and chat restrictions, etc.?

    • Numtini says:

      I couldn’t agree more–the tolerance for mayhem and foolishness in the public sets a tone for what kind of behavior is expected. Get an intern to hit five or ten servers a day and make announcements that it’s not tolerated along with the bans. It really wouldn’t be hard and public displays like that make a big statement.

      I’d also suggest a delay in how often one can send to a public chat. If someone’s spamming for a group or trade, let them post once a minute or 90 seconds. That frustrates the back and forth stupidity.

    • Gordon says:

      Some more active GMs would definitely go a long way towards sorting out a lot of the issues with the community. Honestly I’m perplexed as to why there aren’t more about.

      • Mycroft says:

        I concur, it is a mystery to me, as well.

        And, so much of their “enforcement” relies on reporting by the community, yet they are reluctant to provide the tools that assist in that reporting. They have now provided an easy way to report and block spammers, but they appear to have made a conscious effort to not provide those tools for reporting botters, offensive names, and other violations, despite the fact that they don’t police those areas themselves, they only respond to those reported … so much so that it appears to be their goal, to make it hard to report infractions that they would then need to respond to.

        I do enjoy WoW, but find Blizz’s enforcement of their own standards almost non-existent. Altho I have not seen the botting activity that the goblin has, I would pay extra to play on a RP server with actual enforcement to allow more usable chat channels along with a more immersive and less disruptive environment.

    • Phaedra says:

      More GMs is a great answer on paper, but logically, it wouldn’t work.

      1)Since it released WoW, Blizzard has been hiring GMs constantly. They cannot force talented people to apply.

      2) If they did hire 500 more GMs, where would they go? That’s an entire new facility that would have to be built.

      One costly option would be to build a brand new GM facility somewhere in the country where people would be willing to relocate to and that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for real estate (sorry NYC and Boston).

      • Gordon says:

        GMs could quite easily work remotely from home so there’s no need for a new facility. I just feel that WoW needs some sort of police force to help maintain order and jump on the spammers more quickly. I mean, how great would it be if they could spot gold spammers as soon as they abused general chat and then froze that entire account immediately?

  2. You summed up why WOW no longer holds anything for me. Everytime I’ve played, it feels like the community is trying to eat you alive on it’s way to level 75. Bad enough the enemy faction does not like you as is. Before burning crusade, finding a group of cool ppl was easy. Now? Nearly impossible. But, this is the evolution of WOW

  3. Scarybooster says:

    Most of the time when you get 12 million people in one area they are killing each other. The % of dicks to players is really low when you think of it. I really don’t think there is more than 50% asshats per server. It might seem that way sometimes, but it is because everybody is different. If the person complaining about WoW being a horrible community and has a problem with most players, maybe that player is the elitist dick.

    I have been playing WoW since beta and yes, the player base has gotten worse, but it has also gotten bigger. Blizzard can’t be blamed for trying to make so many people happy. It is the players fault. Blizzard does not have an asshat check box during character creation. The players complaining about the players complaining about the players, makes the whole thing worse. How does the saying go… Don’t feed the troll. You draw attention to it and it just gets worse. Just be nice and if that fails, leave the group and put those people on ignore. The DFS will not group you with them again.

    It is our choice to change it and not complain more about it.

  4. Carson says:

    I thought WoW had a pretty poor community. But then I checked out some free to play games. It’s amazing how many more annoying children you can get into a game when you don’t have the barrier-to-entry of a box purchase and a $15/month subscription.

  5. These problems go hand in hand with a large populations, period. In small communities where everyone knows each other, you’re more likely to think before you do and say things, repercussions and consequences seem more real, and so you’re less likely to act like a dick.

    On the other hand, WoW is like a big city. Everyone sort of minds their own business, people are rude because the chances of ever running into each other again are slim to nil, and as with any big population you’ll have your share of jerks and crazies.

    Good communities still exist in WoW though, small pockets of familiarity in the form of guilds, etc. You just have to work at making your surrounding community feel warm and cozy again.

    • Gordon says:

      Totally agree. WoW really is just one big city where everyone’s forgotten what it’s like to civil to each other. I know that great little hubs exist within the metropolis, it’s just trying to find them that’s difficult sometimes!

  6. Rhii says:

    The community is so incredibly different in LOTRO.

    When I first started over there I was avoiding joining a kinship, because of the terrible reputation that large social/leveling guilds have in WoW. I shouldn’t have worried, the community there is largely adult, and overwhelmingly civil. There’s elitism, but not much of this asshat behavior we see every day in WoW.

    And you would never NEVER see the sort of blatant racism/antisemitism/sexism/horrifying slurs of all kinds in a public chat channel that you see every ten minutes in trade chat.

    I agree that if they hired one gm per server to just monitor trade for a few hours a day, things would improve drastically in a very short time period. It’s not like WoW is losing money… hire some fricking staff already and make our lives better!

    • Gordon says:

      The community is better in, well, every other MMO I’ve tried :( It’s a real shame and, like I said, sometimes I wish I could just pick everyone from another game and migrate them over to WoW so I could enjoy playing with them ;)

  7. [...] Spitfires (One of my very favorite Blogs)  Has just posted a very interesting Op-ed  entitled “That Terrible WoW Community.” Read it you will not be sorry. Right now we are seeing some incredibly poignant commentary by the [...]

  8. Toralon says:

    “Does it really require a lot of effort to type a few words during a PUG”

    Yes, it really is.

    I consider myself quite pleasant, and would love to speak more in 5-mans and raids… but that means taking my fingers of the RUN button. Standing still and typing, while everyone else is already two rooms ahead of me.

  9. Everblue says:

    It’s just that the idiots are more visible. For every 20 or 30 decent people chatting amongst friends in their guilds or via whispers, it just takes 2 idiots arguing in trade, and everyone thinks that the community is bad.

    PUG behaviour is sometimes an issue (rarely in my experience) but that’s because heroics are boring and we are only doing them for the loot. We’ve done them dozens of times before.

    Levelling PUGs are usually better in my experience because either people are seeing content for the first time, or they are getting XP, or they are learning their class mechanics and playing something new. As the guy in Groundhog Day said – “Anything new is good.”

    • Gordon says:

      Part of the problem with PUGs seems that everyone just sees them as a means to an end rather than a stage of enjoyment. Instead of wanting to have fun, a lot of folk just want to race through the instance as quickly as possible in order to get exp and/or loot. They don’t care about the fun of the moment or creating friendships… and why should they if, chances are, they’ll never see anyone else from the group again!

      • Rhii says:

        This is true for lowbie PuGs too. I don’t know whether my battlegroup is just especially bad or if it’s very widespread everywhere, but people just gogogo straight through Wailing Caverns just like they would through Halls of Stone.

        Leveling fast is one thing, but do we have to hate every minute of it?

  10. Nah I don’t think it’s fair to pin this specifically on WoW. It’s the sort of problem you’ll have in any community that is ridiculously large, whether around a video game or a forum about cats. In sufficient enough numbers, people just become complete tools whether or not the managers and community gods try and control it.

    I do wish that Blizzard did more about it, but I don’t really know what they could do short of hire a lot more staff to simply sit 24/7 in the public chat channels and read. That would be a considerable amount of individuals to just watch the trade and city channels, per server, throughout the day.

    I don’t think the WoW community is bad because of WoW, but it’s bad because there’s such a high concentration of people using the game at any given time. Big communities tend to have this problem, where (as others pointed out above) smaller communities can do a better job of policing themselves. Smaller communities tend to look at one another as a family, and when an outsider with an attitude comes into that family they can clearly and forcefully tell them to shut up. When you have more people with attitude problems than people who are mature and respectful, the mature and respectful people have their voices drowned out.

    WoW does have a piss-poor community, but it’s not WoW’s fault. It’s simply the largest, and that’s going to attract the highest cross-section of individuals (which will sadly also include a lot of jerks.) Xbox Live is appalling as well for the same reason; it’s the largest community, so a lot of undesirables will fall into that bucket just the same as the nice ones.

    When WoW’s sub numbers inevitably fall in favour of the Next Big Thing you’ll see the community get nicer as a result, and people will compare how wonderful and polite everyone is here compared to the rude jerks over on Big 29139812398 Million Sub MMOG Du Jour. :P

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s Blizzards fault and, if anything, I think WoW is just a victim of it’s own success. It’s become so big that it can’t stop the momentum behind it’s rude community.

  11. Oh, I agree with you, Gordon. But you already knew that. ;)

    The main reason I stayed in SWG as long as I did was because I loved the people I played with. The same for UO; even after the game started sucking, I kept on because I had friends there. In many ways, my WoW career is the same. I don’t particularly like the game anymore, but I have too much time invested and want to keep up with people and play with them a while longer.

    I think part of the problem with WoW’s community is that it’s so big. It’s almost too mainstream. There are wonderful pockets of people who gather around in guilds, but no guild is an island (see what I did there?). The world, like you mention, is too full of the idiots and jerks to really ever coagulate into a true community. I never have the feeling that the world I play in is populated; I feel like I’m playing a game with some other people.

    I thought the LFD tool would help with that, but it hasn’t. I never group while leveling. I don’t need to. I never speak to people in the world, why would I? Their questing isn’t part and parcel of mine. In UO, EQ, and SWG, it was. And I hope it is in SW:TOR, too. I don’t want to be just a player, nor do I want anyone else to be. I want to be an inhabitant. Only then, when we actually share the world, will there be the foundation of a real community.

    • Gordon says:

      I think what you said goes into a lot of what Wolfshead was trying to get across and, even to some degree, what folk like Brad McQuaid were trying to do with VG. They want to create situations in the game that force people to play together and cooperate and be friendly rather than allowing them to misbehave because there’s no form of punishment or negative consequence.

  12. boatorious says:

    I’ve dabbled in many online games and none of them have ever lacked jerks. In fact, I find that WoW jerks have much less opportunity to wreck your gaming experience than in other massive games. In WoW someone can say something you don’t like, and possibly kick you from a group. That’s about it, and if you ignore them that’s usually the end of it. Griefing in WoW is fairly difficult compared to what can/could be done in games like UO or EQ or FFXI, not to mention deliberately griefing-friendly games like EVE and Darkfall.

    I’m not saying WoW has great community or that there are no jerks in WoW (or even fewer jerks). I just think they have less opportunity to ruin your fun than in other MMO’s.

    • Gordon says:

      I’m sure people could grief just as badly in WoW if they wanted to but, personally, I think it’s rare because most people are too busy trying to get ahead of themselves to even notice anyone else in the world :)

  13. Rob says:

    Wow is nothing compared to the lack of maturity and downright Vitriol that I have encountered on xbox live. That said, I do see your point. I have a screen shot collection of all the people who have used the N word at me in WoW.

    I have never run into a jerk in EQ2, however, I am a terrible benchmark because:

    - I play WoW at least an hour or two every night.
    - I have never played EQ2 for a longer stretch than 6 months. My average is about 2.5 months.

  14. Tesh says:

    Oog, Rob. XBox live is septic.

    I made a note at Ixobelle’s place (in another article on the sociality of WoW), and I’ll do it here, too: Wolfshead isn’t just complaining about the community, he has some real gripes with the game design. Also, it’s worth noting, as Achloryn did, that Blizzard really could get a better handle on things as devs, whether it’s community management or game design. People can be stupid jerks, but if the devs either allow or foster that behavior, the blame should be shared.

    • Gordon says:

      Ultimately yes, Blizzard have created a game that allows bad behavior to take place because there are no negative consequences. Whether they are responsible for how we act in the WoW community though is not something I’m so sure about it. I don’t know if it’s a case of let people make their own decisions or blame the parent for the badly behaved kids!

      • Tesh says:

        It’s a bit of both, really. The blame lies with the idiots who either had bad parents or didn’t listen to good ones, *and* with the devs who don’t lay down the law in their little pocket universe. When there is no punishment for being “too obnoxious to fail”, people will naturally push the limits.

  15. Judging wow’s community by pugging and trade chat??? Isn’t that like judging the USA by its celebrities? The USA isn’t full of crack addict whores who will do anything and anyone to get their name in the light just like WoW’s community isn’t full of mouthbreathers and angsty tweens starved for attention. Yes they do exist in both situations… but they make up a very small number of the population.

    Judging an entire community based off a small vocal minority is a really bad way to look at things. The face of pugging in WoW has always been a toss up. In BC it was because you actually needed skilled players so the risk was not being able to complete the dungeon… now the risk is you won’t be able to complete the dungeon because you want to shoot yourself. In both situations the people you were trying to avoid in BC are the people you get stuck with in a random dungeon today.

    So the solution is… to stop pugging. Or to realize that the other people going into the dungeon just want to get it over with so they can hopefully do something more entertaining. The LFD tool has been taking over by the generation of gamers that play counterstrike De_Dust for 10 hours straight. But just because that crack head moved into the house down the street from you doesn’t mean you have to let them into your community.

    • Gordon says:

      “Isn’t that like judging the USA by its celebrities?”

      Not quite. I take your point but I’d say a PUG is more like a random sampling of the US population. In your analogy I’d say that elite raiders are more akin to celebrities and that actually the people who use the LFG tool are just the “normal” every day folk.

      I do sometimes get dismayed and stop using the LFG tool but it’s sad to think that I can’t take advantage of an aspect of the game just to avoid rude players.

  16. illtree says:

    But my name is tree…

  17. [...] to get into group content. People point out that the most common phrase you're likely to here is "Go go go", or that your group mates are more likely to treat you as a glorified NPC or a gearscore number. [...]

  18. Xeross says:

    The community is one of the reasons I’m not playing WoW anymore, it’s just completely full of immature acting people.

    When I first started playing EVE I was surprised how friendly people were, I’ve touched WoW again once since I started playing EVE, and was quickly bored by it, no community.

    And even if you do find guilds with a sort of camaraderie you need to be level 80 for them.

    ~Xeross

    • Gordon says:

      Indeed. Compared to WoW almost every other MMO has a good community. I think it’s certainly something to do with the size of the player base because WoW is considerably larger than even the next biggest MMO and, as a result, seems to have a much worse community :(

  19. [...] very accessible and popular game seems like an almost impossible task. However, in a comment on my ‘terrible community’ article, fellow blogger Mycroft suggested a beautifully simple solution: premium [...]

  20. [...] post though whilst I don’t believe the communities in MMO’s are over, I do agree with Weflyspitfires that WoW’s is awful. I have only seen WoW’s from a friend that plays but that was [...]

  21. ant1ph0n says:

    they should have put a requirement of at least having played daoc or any of the big 3 mmos of the 90s before you can play WoW =b

    that’s my biased 2 cents ;]

    luckily i fall under Asheron’s Call.

    just recently, i got a backhand compliment from dueling a warrior (only been playing wow 2 weeks) anyway, he was 41 and i was a 39 rogue. he hated warhammer, gee, and didn’t know wtf realm vs realm was (or the joy associated with it) “oh lawdy”

    as for the whole wow thing in general, accessibility is a double edged sword in reference to the genre. i sometimes wish it was still a niche market/genre but low pop servers are boring as hell. meh, what are you gonna do? me? i just /ignore who i find unpleasant and enjoy my $15 a month sub.

    • Gordon says:

      It is indeed a very tough thing to balance. The more accessible something becomes, the less players have to risk and the more they abuse the system, turning other players into resources to use rather that people to enjoy the company off. I often wonder if the LFD system took WoW over the edge and, honestly, I can’t come to any conclusion because before it I never did any grouping as it was too difficult to find one!

  22. Jessica says:

    I agree that a majority of the WoW community sucks, and I play it. Blizz has all these rules for conduct in place but never enforces them. Ever tried reporting someone for repeated spam, threats, etc? Nothing ever gets done about it.

  23. [...] while back Gordon at We Fly Spitfires wrote a post about the WoW community, and in one of the comments MMOGamerChick wrote that: WoW is like a [...]

  24. herve says:

    the community is terrible because WoW offers very little challenge and instant gratification so it caters the very young players, those who want it all right now. Dungeon offers very little challenge and very little team play. For a lot of players, WoW was their first MMO so they have nothing to compare ; compare the difficulty of your average EQ1 and WoW dungeon, its like comparing night and day.
    When you want to attract a lot of players, you have to tune down the challenge in your game, thats what Blizzard did and its really a shame because the world is beautifull, there is a lot of attention to details and the gameplay is pretty good however there is absolutely no sense of achievement or community because there is no real risk, no risk of loosing your stuff, no risk of loosing xp, no risk of dying unless you mess up badly and so forth and so on,

    Features like dungeon finder emphatize the lack of community, its just like playing instancing onlline. I really feel sorry for those players who never knew games likme UO or Everquest, it was really something different, im not saying that all people were nice and easy but you never had that lvl of “rundeness”

  25. burr says:

    “However, at the end of the day though I believe that we, the players, are ultimately at fault for this lack of community spirit and not Blizzard.”

    Agreed, because if you are a decent person you should have left WoW long ago to find a real MMO community.

  26. Darling says:

    Its since gotten worse to the point I browse the web looking for a decent WoW guild instead of trying desperately in-game.

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