Rivs got me thinking about something in his post “Why I Raid”…
I wasn’t really a huge raiding kind of guy, but I’ve been falling into it a bit more than usual lately. It’s mostly because I was invited on a run, the guys liked me and asked me to come back the next week. Making it a commitment wasn’t a big deal since I usually play at that time anyway, but things quickly got much deeper than that. This may or may not be due to the fact that I have 4 toons in greater wards which grant me access to all the top dungeons, but I digress. Relating to non-gamers about your in-game activities is daunting. More often than not I stumble about with my tounge trying to make it seem less like a game, and more like a commitment. Telling people that your gaming is a commitment can draw some taunting and laughter. So instead of making a statement about how I need to play WAR on the weekends, I relate it more to a sports team.
Raiding is something I consider a kind of e-sport. Planned “matches” on a given day, “practice” during the week, and hopefully a “win” at the end of it all. The most challenging part is finding the like-minded people that can treat it as such. Gamers are a fickle sort from my experience and having any kind of set schedule is pretty taboo. I don’t mind it at all, though if you use the wrong terminology, it’s hard to describe the justification of being busy to those RL friends and family. Telling a friend that you’re playing an MMO on a Friday night with some guildies is a quick path to taunts and jeers. Tell that same friend you’re on a team, and you have a match on Friday night is a whole different story. Granted, they’ll be interested in what the hell you’re playing that they’re totally unaware of, but a bit of creativity to avoid full disclosure helps.
Changing the subject while making it clear that yes, I am indeed busy at that time seems to work well enough.
When I was in school and on a handful of sports teams I don’t recall missing a game, match, meet, tournament or even practice aside from a serious illness or vacation time. Typically I was looking at 3-5 practices during the week of 4 hours a piece, and then 1-2 matches on top of it. Sports are serious business! No one ever questioned you if there was a sport taking up your time, they just accepted it, wished you good luck, and adjusted to your schedule. While gaming you don’t actually need to practice per se, but leveling your toon during the week while preparing for your run on the weekend is a kind of practice. Not as intensive, but you also do it to have fun. It’s a game after all, something to never lose sight of. The flexibility of it being a game means practice is much more casual. Your toon is never really out of shape, it’s just progression to better yourself and make you more effective for the next match.
I suppose I’m on the Hardcore side of things considering my mentality about it all. A lot of it has to do with fulfilling commitments as well. If I tell my team that I’ll be there on Friday at 9pm, well, I’m there. Hopefully a bit early to group up and get situated. When someone doesn’t show up I get a little irritated. I still want my damn match, and if that means I have to sub in a few random people, then so be it. If they’re any good, than someone just lost their spot on the team as far as I’m concerned. Especially if you don’t have any reason coming from the missing player. People come and go more often than we like, eventually we’ll have a solid 6 people to show up every week and we can really start working things out. In the meantime it’s a struggle to find reliable, hardcore, like-minded players to join up.
It’s a double edged sword. One side, you’re playing an MMO with loads of casual players that all want a piece of the glorious loot at the end of a run. Sure, everyone is relatively competent, but a lot of the raid content takes a step up towards the end. The other side is having the mentality that while it’s a game, it’s also serious business. Assembling a team, committing to dates and times, making forward progression each week, helping each other get loot and gear during practice, is all anything but casual. The two simply don’t mix well at all, and the casual players quickly take one side of the blade, while the team is hit by the other. Every week that the same players aren’t ready to go is another chance we have to take into dipping into the casual pool and hope to find someone that’s a step up from the rest.
So good luck to all of you that have solid hardcore raiding groups. That’s an accomplishement in itself to get rolling. For the casual players, try not to make commitments you’re not sure of. It’s not just loot you’re missing out on, but possibly the chance to run with that particular group again.