I Was A Conquest Point Prostitute aka Why Community Doesn’t Matter
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’ve not been playing WoW for the past few days. Oh I’ll go back (already started thinking about a Paladin alt) but I just needed some time out, y’know? Aside from the fact that I’d hit a bit of a brick wall at level 85 and didn’t fancy the PvE item grind circus much I was getting fed up with PvP. I’d collected every piece of Honour Point armour possible and was getting in deep with the arena crowd. In fact, I’d made “friends” with a few peeps who wanted to get up the arena ladder and I ended up being their go to guy. Eventually I started to realise something though. As much as I was looking for fun and camaraderie, they were just looking for someone to help advance their own characters. Yep, I’d become a little Conquest Point prostitute.
I’m by no means a PvP pro but I know my way around keyboard shortcuts with fingers so nimble they make my wife giggle in delight and when combined with 3.1k Resilience and an overpowered Arms spec, my Warrior was a furious force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. I learned fast and killed faster, never dropping my smile or good humour even when we lost. It’s part of the fun, I said. It’s just a game, I said. Making friends with folk is more important, I said. But my words fell on deaf ears as my companions were only interested in one thing – getting more gear. And oh how that become apparent as we were matched up against tougher and tougher opponents every night. Turns out a sense of community doesn’t matter so long as every individual is getting their progression fix.
And it’s everywhere. The guy who abandons his old guild to join a new one because he wants to raid more. The person who runs PUGs and never speaks, completely uninterested in those players he’s forced to group with. The annoying fellow who shouts and moans and complains during battlegrounds because everyone else is supposedly a noob in one form or another. Those folk aren’t interested in creating community, they’re just interested in progressing individually.
So I need to disagree with Raph (note to self: Raph not Ralph) here when he says that “community ties are the single biggest predictor of retention” in MMOs. If WoW wasn’t on the scene then I might have been inclined to agree but right now, I don’t think building a strong community is really the top agenda for any MMORPG. Micro-achievements are the new tyrant that we are enslaved too, the constant need for us to complete those silly little goals and feel that momentary and utterly fake sense of worth. That is the thing that retains players, that is the thing that builds a huge audience, that is the thing that makes a MMO money. Not community.
But this isn’t the say that I don’t believe in a better (virtual) world. I know we can create it. It’s simple social engineering really. Take away the driving urge to constantly progress and achieve and instead replace it with… nothing. Make things take longer, make them tougher, make them require team work and cooperation. Let the game, y’know, the massively multiplayer game, be all about interaction and collaboration with others instead of individual advancement. These things will build character, I promise, both literally and metaphorically.
And it’s that it’s not that I mean to pick on the WoW community nor infer that it’s all absolutely terrible (I swear I’ve been in at least two groups where someone took the split-second to look at the UI and refer to me by name instead of simply as “tank”) and I wouldn’t play if I didn’t enjoy it but it does make for a very good crucible in which to discuss theoretical topics. Plus I got to analogize myself to a prostitute which isn’t something that happens very often.
Anyway, I gotta get back to farming my Conquest Points.