That Terrible WoW Community
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.