Posted by Reygahnci on Monday, July 18, 2011
I have not posted in a while, but I came across this on Reddit today and felt it deserved to be brought up. Swifty (a long time wow-er) was banned rather recently for accidentally causing a world server crash due to his popularity and streaming live causing people to log on and find him in game. In this YouTube video he goes into detail over how it is not "just a game" to him or his online friends. He even mentioned that he could roll a new toon and it just would not be the same. I think this was the biggest tell concerning how WoW's player-base has changed over the years. Many well known players feel attached to their characters beyond the basic game-play elements; they are part of whom they play.
I tried playing different toons a number of times. I had fun on my Warlock, enjoyed my Rogue a lot, and thoroughly enjoyed being overpowered on my Hunter. There is no denying that the game is still FUN for these reasons... if I had an end-goal for which was worth striving, I would play one of my other toons. Unfortunately, I only played WoW from the get-go to PvP. Early on, I played it for World PvP, and when BGs were introduced I started hating the game. BGs are just another system of control; more grinding to keep us paying our $15/month. When Arenas came along, they were in their simplest design and arguably their best at an infrastructure level.
Let me be extremely clear on that last bit: the arenas, initially, were extremely unbalanced. They provided a crucible for finding everything imbalanced in the game amongst all classes. I can remember War+HPal from season one, and let me tell you, that was the penultimate overpowered team (War+Druid from season three edging it out slightly). HOWEVER, the arenas were NOT another grind system in place to keep us paying. The arenas were honestly a fun environment which pitted players versus players to attain a higher goal. Be it a title, a mount, fame, or just having fun for hours on end, there existed a goal that was outside the scope of gear or grinding ratings (in most cases; the r1s had to grind, but that was part of their goal and the best loved it).
It was for this reason that Guntir and I picked up and continued playing the game. Guntir has always been something of a grinder; he actually enjoys grinding up new alts and grinding honor under the old system (his undead priest hit r10 as did his pally on a different server... as ret... when it was awful). I, however, have always been a "fun the lulz" kind of player. I played Counter Strike back in the 1.5 days and well into the 1.6 setting, and the game started to fall apart for me when I started doing the Cal league competitively; the goal was not to be the best or have fun - it was to rank the highest and to hell with friendship. I remember having screaming matches over Vent at the time about strats and who missed their rotation and everything else... it simply was no longer fun.
Similarly, the first season or two of the arenas, I had fun trying to climb the ladder as high as I could. The "rewards" were simply part of the balancing system. We got gear the more we played and eventually we were geared out and playing on the same level as our rivals. We were not the best, we did not have the best comps, but we were having fun competing regardless. We did not need an overly complicated system to keep abusers in line, we did not need restrictions on who could attain what gear, we did not need everyone to know how awesome we were with titles. These things came, in time, but that was not the reason behind us playing the game.
It was fun.
At this point, I feel I have exhausted this topic. I know, I know... I have said all this before, but I feel that as time goes on the more notable players will continue being removed from the game, either under their own volition or by the "man". Swifty was a lot of fun to watch and argue with on the forums. I already miss him (and I will throw shout-outs to Elle and Datah while I am naming names) and I am saddened by Blizzard's banning because I felt he was a kindred spirit toward the game at heart; that is, he enjoyed the game as his toon and a newer-and-better one simply will not suffice.
I am still a subscriber to Squanky's (squanky9) YouTube channel because he had not posted anything for a long time, then posted TONS of videos over the weekend (it seems). The first of which was a Survival+Feral unedited 2v2 session, and I could not resist the old urge to see Feral in action on the latest patch. I was so tempted to re-up my account to test it out after hearing some of their skype conversations, but after the dust had settled and I thought about it a bit, I decided to not. I heard something along the lines of "I dropped a 47k Ravage on that Rogue" and thought "WoW, maybe Ferals are actually at a decent spot, now!" However, the more I thought of this, the more I was reminded of season eight and how simply doing more burst damage is just a way to win, not necessarily a fun way. Additionally, I continued hearing things that dissuaded me further: "I only do 2s to help my friends get points; I do rBGs for mine", "I hit 2750 and only got a Duelist title", and the like. Once again, I was reminded of why I stopped - the goal is gone. No one plays 2s anymore except when helping their friends, and everyone must do rBGs for points to get the gear they MUST have to compete.
When the goal is to attain everything you need to compete but there are no rewards for competing itself, competition dies. The game becomes another grind-fest no worthy of participation.