Antisocial: That word doesn’t mean what you think it means

Tobold kicked up a stir yesterday by opining that dps deserve their long LFD heroic queues (40 mins or so, compared with much shorter queues for healers or tanks) because they are shirking their social responsibility. Commenters on the post have been even stronger, claiming that dps are antisocial and that it’s all because hybrids aren’t using their socially responsible roles.

Apparently socially responsible people play tanks and healers because those roles are more in demand. I just wanted to point out the words ‘socially responsible’ and ‘demand’ in the same sentence. Because it shows that there are two ways of trying to use game mechanics to equalise the roles, and neither are working.

  • Social responsibility. This is the stick. The idea is to guilt people into playing the little used roles. And to suggest that people who value how they are seen by ‘society’ will tend to veer towards them.
  • Demand. This is the carrot. And this angle is all about letting ‘the market’ correct itself. Tanks and healers get rewarded via smaller queues so more people will play those roles, is the argument.

Personally I’d rather have people playing tanks or healers because they enjoy it, but there you go.

Anyhow, I have a few issues with this argument:

1. Social makeup isn’t the same in LFD as it is in guilds. In guilds or raids, a good dps is at least as valuable as a good tank or healer. Arguably top dps are currently the rockstars of the game. (Actually in LFD a good dps is at least as valuable as a tank or healer too, as you will find out if you end up in a group without any.)

Gevlon noted in an earlier post that the better players had tended to gravitate towards tanking and healing in his raids. Similarly, we have lots of good healers in guild at the moment. In that case, it’s probably just as socially responsible if not more to roll what your guild needs.

2. You have to be a bit crazy (or at least have tons of time and enjoy herding cats) to tank LFD heroics right now. Hats off to those of you who do it. Lots of tanks don’t. It’s not because of being socially irresponsible, it’s because it isn’t fun. Does socially responsible have to mean not fun?

So in this case, it doesn’t really matter how great the reward is, it’s not enough. People are making their choices, and that choice is that they’d rather wait 40 mins than run a random heroic as a tank or healer.

As to those pure dps who don’t have a role choice. Well, if you did, you’d probably make the same choice as everyone else for the same reasons.

3. It’s another angle on the old argument that hybrids shouldn’t be allowed to play as dps. Apparently it’s socially irresponsible. Never mind if you hate it, or if you’ve just run an instance with your guild as a tank/healer and would like a rest.

4. The ‘thin end of the wedge’ argument. It’s only a short step from saying that people should play more socially responsible roles to saying that only good players should be allowed to use LFD. I’m sure a lot of people would be down with that. And it would make queues even longer than they are already.

In any case, the bottom line is that if people are faced with playing a role they dislike or waiting hours for a group, they will probably go play another game. The reason this is more marked now than in previous WoW expansions is partly because of the availablity if the random dungeon finder, and partly because everything in the game seems less permanent than it used to do.

When you feel that what you can accomplish matters longterm, you’ll be more willing to weigh that up against a few stressy dungeon runs. Or rather, if you could get a permanent benefit to your character, it would be worth a bit of grind or ‘pain’. Nothing is worth anything, so no one can be bothered.