Why do people boost?

Boosting is the local term for when a high level character runs lower level characters through an instance so that they can get some free xp, quest rewards, and possibly other stuff like drops also. Certainly in WoW and presumably in other games too, if you stand around in a city you will hear people asking for boosts through instances. If you get really lucky some of them might whisper you personally to ask.

Now, I have no real idea why anyone would ever agree to do this. I guess it’s just possible that you wanted to go to that low-level instance anyway for nefarious reasons of your own and figure it’s no extra  hassle to take a random hanger on.

Or maybe if it’s a friend who is feeling down in real life or going through a rough levelling patch in game, I could see taking 30 mins out to run them through an instance to cheer them up and give them a boost (in the wider sense of the word.) But what I cannot figure is why anyone would do that for a random beggar.

Yet, I assume some people must answer those plaintive ‘will u boost me through zul’farrek’ (or the even more pathetic ‘will pay u 10g for boost through scholo, you can keep all the drops’) whispers with a cheery ‘Yes, let’s go!’ In fact, even me answering with a mild ‘Haha, nice try but no’ seems to be met with a bruised response, as if somehow that wasn’t what they were expecting.

All I can imagine is that some people are so bored that running a random instance to help a random beggar sounds like something interesting to do, they’re lonely and the random person is being friendly, or they just aren’t good at saying no.

I’d love to know more about the dynamics of boosting and why it happens. I can’t help feeling that somewhere in there lies the answer to getting experienced players to help out newbies, and that there’s a section of the player base who specifically enjoy taking their high level characters and helping (aka showing off to) lower level guys.

Why I boost

I generally get frustrated with running halfway around the world to low level instances to help people who could perfectly well just skip the instance, and who won’t really experience it in any meaningful way when I’m performing a perfectly executed one-woman zerg.

This weekend, I made an exception. I’m  busy working on my city reps (as per last Friday’s post) and I had a bunch of quests to do in Blackrock Depths. I knew that one of my friends and my husband both had an alt in the right sort of level range, and asking around in guild threw up another appropriate level alt also. So I told them that I was planning to zerg BRD and offered that they could bring their alts along. And that I’d like to take the runecloth (for rep) but everything else was fair game.

So we went off and did this, and it was good fun. We chatted on Teamspeak, the guys got good great xp for their alts (in WoW, you get more xp in instances if the group size is larger so it was actually good for all of them that we had a few alts with us), I picked up a load of city rep for quests and a few stacks of runecloth.

It just doesn’t really feel like boosting when you’re in a win-win situation like that. But it was definitely more fun for me to have people along with whom to chat than it would have been to go on my own (I know, social player etc). And I’m glad to be able to help my husband out from time to time with his alts, he does the same for me.

Also it turned out that one of the other guys collects runecloth as a hobby (!) and sent me about 10 stacks afterwards as a thank you. It’s by this kind of gesture that my guild ‘enforces’ a helpful culture.

The appeal of long distance travel

The other thing I’ve grown to appreciate over the weekend’s rep gathering is what long distance travel can add to a game. Zipping around the old world in search of various quests really made me think about working out the best routes, how long I had left on my hearthstone, where the nearest inter-continent zeppelin base was located, and so on.

It was an interesting (if time consuming) mini game of its own, and I enjoyed the minor added challenge. I think this is the appeal of the holiday quests WoW sometimes throws in that ask you to visit every town in the game. It’s a DIY travelling salesman problem.

I don’t want new games to let me just teleport straight to anywhere I want to go. I enjoyed working out my routes and using my world knowledge to plot out the best time savers.