Afraid To Befriend

WoW - Dancing Bears

Sometimes you get those rare PuGs in which bears dance. Treasure them.

I’ve noticed a bit of an odd trend in WoW PuGs recently – everyone I meet is afraid to be friendly. Notice I said ‘afraid’ and not unwilling or unable. I’m no psychologist it’s true (please don’t tell the veterans hospital where I moonlight on the weekends), but the lack kinship that’s occurring seems to be more than just plain rude manners or late of netiquette. In fact, I think it boils down to players being a) reluctant to form lasting relationships because they know that they’ll probably never see any of the other party member’s again and b) they’re scared they’ll be insulted or derided if they come out of their shell too much. It’s all a rather sad state of affairs.

There are remedies to this situation though that I think are worth exploring. Real ID, although I have my issues with it, does actually got a long way towards solving the problem of being friends with someone on another server. Still, most peeps are quite reluctant at giving out their email addresses to strangers (rightly so) so maybe a more traditional in-game cross-realm friend system would be better, perhaps with the ability to pick them for automated groups. Just a thought but it would be nice to do something to overcome the temporary nature of cross-server PuGs.

Drawing players out of their shells more and making them less afraid to contribute to the banter in groups is somewhat harder to do. Perhaps Blizz could create an achievement for actively partaking in several conversations with a random PuG? They could even call it the Chatterbox or something equally sickening (see Blizzard, I’ve already done most of the work for you!). I know it’s very difficult to try and guide player’s behaviours but I’m sure we could all come up with ways if we put our minds to it.

Groups are not only far too quiet these days for my liking but people are also incredibly defensive now. For example, this entire post your reading was spurred on by a situation last week when I complimented the healer in my group for what a fine job he was doing. He assumed I was being sarcastic and got incredibly upset, spouting off remarks about how it was hard to heal clothies who kept stealing aggro etc. It rather spoiled the atmosphere. Of course, I suppose I shouldn’t have made the comment right after someone in the group had died but, well, no one’s perfect.

-Gordon

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35 Comments

  1. Scopique says:

    This kind of thing makes me sigh heavily.

    The boilerplate response to soloing in MMOs is “if you want to play alone, go play a single player game”. As if the silence or outright paranoia is any better then a single player game these days.

    Alone together.

    • Gordon says:

      Odd isn’t it. I’ve always been far more interested in the social aspect of MMOs than the acquisition elements. I could acquire items for a virtual character in any single player game… the point of MMOs is the other people!

  2. River says:

    I make friends just fine, most of these people are on servers I’ll never play on. So “screw them” for lack of a better phrase. Honestly I just want my tokens and be done with it. I don’t need anymore WoW friends. Got enough as it is.

    Then again, I’m a jerk..and proud of it. ;)

  3. Longasc says:

    I wonder that you and many others are still playing WoW!

  4. Ziboo says:

    Agree. I tend to say something, light and friendly when ‘we’ start, but if goes nowhere I just let it go. The lower level randoms seem friendlier than the lvl 80 ones in general.

    As for the RealID, until ‘we’ have control over it as far as a username and which toons can be seen – pass. Won’t be using it.

  5. amcl says:

    I’m usually the first to agree that most people in WoW are unfriendly, yet I persist on asking people if they’d like to help me out with quests or even wave to fellow players as they pass-by. In the last day or two I’ve been surprised; I grouped with a Level 80 (I’m just 26) who happened to be looking for a dungeon in the same area as I was questing and tonight I grouped with a nice wee dark elf girlie, because I asked her nicely ;)

    I play WoW, because it’s “supposed to be” sociable and like a lonely puppy I keep asking people to play. Ironically, my brother seems to have moved off to grander pastures and isn’t interested in playing with me anymore.

    • Gordon says:

      I know how you feel! My brother keeps starting new characters even though I’ve already invested dozens of hours leveling his old ones! And now he rarely plays yet when he does he demands I sacrifice my time to help him!

  6. Jeff says:

    I dunno, it’s a mixed bag of nuts really, sometimes you get the most friendly, super nice group of people You want to add them all to your friends list, invite them to your guild, Friend them on facebook, hell even invite them over to a BBQ.

    But really most of the time you have; Grumpy gamer dude, paranoid gamer dude, elitist gamer dude, and *LOL! Gamer dude. You just want the run to end so you can get your tokens. I really think this affects old school Pen and Paper gamers, and former guild leaders like me the worst, I’m use to that camaraderie that you had in your weekly D&D game or MMO guild.

    It seems even the decent folks just don’t want to bother because everyone is on a different server, and you probably will never be grouped with this set of people again.
    Dungeon Finder and the Raid Browsers , are taking longer and longer to fill…I think that is saying something for the popularity of pugging with strangers.

    ( *begins and ends each sentence with LOL!)

    • Gordon says:

      I hoped the random LFD tool would help increase grouping and make it more common – which it has done – but I’m rather shocked at how it’s affect the community… or rather how the community are abusing it. The problem was that before it came out, everyone just soloed. Now everyone groups with strangers and resents it deeply.

    • Michal (Mic) says:

      You make a great point. I joined WoW after the patch that incorporated the Random Dungeon Finder- so I only hear stories of the “good ol’ days” when people had to either solo or go make friends & be generally pleasant- otherwise no one would want to run all the way to the meeting stone to group with you! I like the “Gamer Dude” personalities- Jeff, you nailed it! That’s the basic breakdown. (The only addition would be the No English Gamer Dude who doesn’t talk when addressed and you wonder if he even speaks English) When I get into a group, I immediately toss out buffs and say “Hi all” and maybe I’ll get a response. Usually it’s just people demanding druid/pally buffs before they get a chance to dish them out… and a rogue asking if we can hurry up bc he’s about to level and wants to go eat the PB&J sandwich his mom made him. I like to make jokes along the way, I love emotes and sometimes I get the “Why do you talk so much” from the Grumpy Gamer. Being in a PUG is about good communication- you don’t know if they’ve all run the dungeon before. I almost wish we could give player feedback and the 5-Star guy/girl who’s helpful and nice (bc they ARE out there and not being rewarded) would get first dibs on PUGs. Of course, it only works in theory. Kinda like communism. Heh.

      • Gordon says:

        Hehe, y’know a 5 start or rating system could be pretty cool for WoW :) I think it would really help out with a lot of issues and help people decide on how ‘good’ someone is before inviting them into a group.

  7. Wolfshead says:

    I’m afraid with so-called innovations like the “Dungeon Finder” tool your MMO fellow players have become disposable. People in MMOs have become an means to an end. The end being getting more “phat lewt” all in the name of character advancement.

    People are inconsequential now in MMOs. Players are nothing more than NPCs but with a bit more intelligence.

    Chances are you’ll never see these random players that have joined your random dungeon group because most likely they’re from a different server. Why bother to make friends with them? Why bother to talk to them or show signs of friendship?

    As usual Blizzard has failed to consider the unintended consequences of their actions by opting for short term solutions and not caring about the long term damage that their decisions will cause.

    Why even have a chat interface now? All of the random heroics that I used to join back when I played WoW almost nobody chatted. It was eerie. Is this what a massively multiplayer online role-playing game has been reduced to?

    It’s just a matter of time before MMOs become so dumbed down and anti-social that they will be a perfect fit for console gaming. Trust me, that day is closer than you think.

    • Tesh says:

      Seems to me, then, that the bigger problem is the core design focusing on loot and “the endgame”. If the journey were the whole point of playing, might we see a change in behavior? I know that when I stop to smell the roses, and find other players who are content to just *play* rather than *acquire*, things change.

      • Bootleg says:

        You’re almost exactly right. The core design focusing on loot is the problem. There is no focus on community building, or anything else. It’s entirely focused on me me me. If I don’t get anything out of it, directly, why bother?

        Making the journey a focus absolutely changes peoples behavior. Eve Online is successful, because there is no endgame, then entire game is the journey. But there a lot of people Eve doesn’t appeal to. People like goals and having something to show for their efforts.

        EQ2 and WAR had much more advanced community building tools than WoW. In both cases, your guild meant something. The player could take some sort of pride in something other than themselves.

        Is it really any surprise that people are jerks, don’t want to socialize, or help others in WoW? There simply isn’t any incentive to do so, WoW is a selfish players game. Or at least it fosters that mentality.

      • Gordon says:

        Totally agree. I think the problem with game design though is how to get players to act that way because they naturally seemed to drawn towards acquiring items and not caring about the journey on the way.

        • Tesh says:

          You have to radically change the core game design so that loot itself doesn’t matter. But yeah, that’s not going to appeal to a lot of people.

          WoW is partially popular because of what it is. A game that deprioritizes loot would almost certainly be smaller.

      • Colerejuste says:

        That’s an interesting point, about the journey vs destination.

        When WoW is down for maintenance, I often give Battle of the Immortals a whirl. I’m not sure if there’s a level cap, and I’ve seen world chats, congratulating someone for getting to level 90. So far, I’m level 54, and I’ve never done a dungeon. Every 5 levels or so, I get access to a gift pack that provides at least 1 item of level appropriate armor, and a few quests after that also give level appropriate upgrades.

        In BoI, you’re always leveling. So why not do it socially, join a guild and run instances. The same opportunities are there for WoW, although the level cap is there, and the raiding begins, turning a 20 – 40 minute dungeon instance run into a 2 – 3 hour commitment.

        Hmm, I think it’s time I looked for a casual guild that doesn’t require you to be an elite raider to join.

    • Gordon says:

      I agree that the dungeon finder has definitely not helped the issue but I can understand why it was introduced. The problem was that before it no one grouped at all and just soloed alone. Blizzard wanted to encourage grouping and thus made it incredibly convenient to do but ironically as a result has killed a lot of the purpose behind it. I suppose in many ways it was a lose-lose situation for them. It’s not their fault the community sucks ;)

      • Ama says:

        Posts like this make me sad, and comments like this even more so.

        I find it frustrating that so many people go off bashing the community. We are the community. I don’t suck. There is a lot of not-suck out there. It may be a little more difficult to wade through the suck to get to the not-suck, but the not-suck is so worth it.

        • Gordon says:

          That’s the odd thing – we are the community and, as individuals, we are all nice and friendly people yet for some reason when we combine together in PUGs in WoW, we all turn into horrible morons :)

  8. Zahraah says:

    When I get someone saying “Blow me” when I ask them nicely to do something they should have been doing anyway – its not worth the effort sometimes to be friendly.

  9. When I first read the title of your post, my first thought was “Afraid to befriend? Not me!” But then I REALLY thought about it, and yeah I guess sometimes I can be a little standoffish as well, but the weird thing is, only in WoW. I’ve been burned so many times in that game, I’ve become especially wary of random strangers. I’m trying to open up a little bit though, because I don’t like being a jerk and if I thought I was one, I do end up feeling guilty about it.

  10. nugget says:

    Well… I’ve noticed if you are naturally crazed and show it, then similarly crazed folk who have been hiding it from PUGs will sometimes slip up and REVEAL THEMSELVES!!!!one!11OneEleven!!

    I’ve been pugging a lot of a particular fight in GW lately, and for some reason, over the course of my 1.5 years of play, I’ve developed a very strong attachment to my Rot Wallow minipet.

    A rot wallow is an um… extremely rotund reptomammal (I don’t know which it is), with a spikey back, huge tusks and a fat ratty tail. Because my Rot Wallow (Rotty) is so small, he can only reach toes. Which have therefore become his default diet. He has eaten the toes of all three continents!

    …so anyway, I always pull out Rotty (because I feel sad when I don’t have him around) when pottering around in GW. And since this mission has a LOT of mobs… well – you’d be surprised how many people come out of their shells after I declare, ‘Come Rotty! Toes to eat!’

    …I think I rambled off point here as usual. *waddles away, hiding toes from Rotty*

  11. I’ll admit to being afraid of it for many of the reasons you mention in addition to wanting to avoid socializing with some of the dregs of the WoW community, as bad as it sounds.

    But I’m working on getting out of my shell more because I want to start a PvP guild in Cat, and there’s no way to do that without being friendly. And awesome, but I’ve got that covered.

  12. [...] a wailin’  going up just over the horizon; Gordon at WeFlySpitfires recently posted his reckonings on the LFD group system. But he wasn’t a grouse; rather than droning on about how it was back [...]

  13. [...] a wailin’ going up just over the horizon; Gordon at WeFlySpitfires recently posted his reckonings on the LFD group system. But he wasn’t a grouse; rather than droning on about how it was back [...]

  14. Phaedra says:

    One thing no one has mentioned: the speed of the run. When I tank, the first thing I say is “Hello” to the rest of the group and possibly exchange small pleasantries at the beginning. Once everyone is buffed and stated they are ready, the only talking I then do is asking if people are ready for bosses/gauntlets. Not because I’m not social, but because I don’t have time to stop tanking to talk. Maybe towards the end of a boss fight when I have a good threat lead. Otherwise, it’s spamming maul and swipe and planning the next trash pull.

    I love runs where the DPS/heals can chitchat and enjoy that conversation – it shows me everyone is having a good time. At the end, if the run was good, I’ll say “Good group” and thank everyone for the run. If people haven’t dropped group right away, I’ll happily engage in more small talk. Heck – I’ve stayed in groups 10 minutes after the last boss dies, chitchatting with random people I just met.

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, when I tank I don’t have a lot of time to chat either because I’m constantly having to press keys. It’s funny when you compare that to old games like Everquest when tanks only had “Auto Attack” and “Taunt” abilities :D Plenty of time for chatting ;)

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