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WoW, and the Immediate Judgement effect

(Warning: aimless rant ahead)

Location: Baradin Hold, sometime during the first month of T13.

Reason: to face off against Alizabel. Again.

Company: a ragtag bunch of strangers from Trade.

I fell into a BH 10 pug as a tank on my DK main, Reliq, because I was bored. No other excuse. I had no real reason to be there; I didn’t really need or want the gear (and wasn’t interested in the possible PVP drops), but it was something to do.

The raid leader was, if I recall correctly, one of the healers or DPS. The other tank was a warrior, and we then had the usual mix for a typical 10m class run. We cleared the trash, and stood facing Alizabel in her many-armed glory.

“Tank #2, after her spinning attack, I’ll taunt her back”, I say. I like to make this clear just so we both know who will do the pickup duties. It’s not necessary, but I feel it helps rather than both wasting our taunts at the start of the next section of the fight.

Then the raid leader piped in: “LOL you taunt on Skewer. Do you even know this fight?”

“Umm, yes,” I said. “I’ve done it a few times now.”

“Doesn’t even know the fight,” he said again.

“Just go,” said one of the DPS, and so we did.

The fight went its usual way – the odd DPS not moving from the boss as she spins around the room doing her whirly-gig blade-spin thing. Meanwhile, the raid leader is saying, “I bet he gets the achiev after this.”

I ignore it. He’s judging me because he misunderstood my statement to the other tank. That’s not my fault, and can’t be helped.

We finish the fight; I don’t get the achievement, as I had it from the first week Alizabel was available, like many other people. I hearth home, drop group, and go about my business. But I’m pissed off.

I’m not pissed that the raid leader questioned my ability, but rather that he jumped to the conslusion that I deserved to be judged because of his own misunderstanding. He came to an immediate judgement of me based on one sentence.

  • He decided I didn’t know the fight
  • He decided therefore that I’d never done it before
  • And, no doubt, he decided I was a lesser player because of it.

The fact was: if he’d tanked the fight himself, then he would have understood why I’d said that to the other tank (as that tank did). But the tactics around this are moot — what’s important is the jumping to judgement.

This is all too common in many areas of WoW (and other games too, I’m sure).

  • Someone logs into a 5-man wearing nothing but PVP gear, therefore he’s a shit DPS who’ll fail.
  • Someone gems/reforges for X rather than Y, therefore doesn’t know his class.
  • Someone asks for clarification one a boss, therefore doesn’t know the entire instance.

Where does this get us? The PVP-geared player often out-DPS’s whoever was giving him crap. The player who prioritises other stats may well have their own reasons, and simply doesn’t follow the EJ-sheep herders. The guy asking for extra info on one boss’s tactics may have done the entire thing before, but can’t remember one tiny strat.

Why do we do this? Once someone forms a judgement of a person, it’s difficult to get that person to retreat. They’ll hold onto their opinion like a rabid dog, no matter how hard you hit them around the head with your logic shovel.

It makes the game impersonal, causes people to pull back from doing anything with strangers, and once we get to the point where people will only run content with people they know, what’s the point of playing an MMO? Why not just make the game into a single-player adventure with co-op modes?

1 Comment

  1. Good point you make there, but I think there are two effects here;

    1) The “noob projection” effect.
    2) The “gave you a chance” effect.

    The first is basically people insecure about their own quality or performance in some area expecting that aggressive behaviour is the norm to things that aren’t properly understood. That means that when they misinterpret something (or when someone shows genuine signs of not knowing what to do), they leap on a chink in a stranger’s armour like a hungry stray on a pile of haggis.

    The other effect is when – for example – someone zones in to a dungeon, obviously geared inappropriately, and you think “well, they might be a decent player, I’ll give them a chance”. I think if they do prove to be an idiot, one has every reason to treat them as one if they continue to do so after reasonable attempts at kind requests for improvement.

    Good example: idiot DPS in LFR below the level cap.

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