Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Elite versus casual explained in real terms

I felt really bad for some of my friends in my old guild last night. In my old guild we’d never extended our raid lock out up to the point I joined my new guild but they’ve now started doing that as of last night in an effort to get to the Lich King. My old guild starts their raids at 7:30 and my new guild starts at 8:30 so I was chatting at a few of them while they were raiding and I was standing around in Dalaran. They were working on Dreamwalker, which we had only downed twice before and ended up spending the entire evening on her, and never did finish the fight. The Blood Queen, Sindragosa, and the Lich King are also still standing, none of which have ever been killed. The frustration was very evident in the whispers I was getting and I felt more than a little guilty for jumping ship. Then we started our raid at 8:30 and had cleared up to Putricide in a little more than an hour and ended up clearing up to Sindragosa by the end of the night, having one-shot every boss. Point of fact I do still have characters in my old guild so it’s not a situation where I’ve abandoned them entirely, but I can’t help but feel that way at times like last night. I doubt my presence would have changed matters for them which is why I ultimately made the decision to switch back to my Druid as my main now instead of in Cataclysm and to join him to another raiding guild. In the end I made a conscious decision that I wanted to experience the end-game content I was unlikely to experience in my old guild.

It occurred to me last night that this situation accurately exposes the differences between what I like to think of as elite players and casual players. In my mind the difference between elite and casual is not entirely about the number of hours one plays. I don’t consider myself elite at all but I play WoW 4-5 hours every day during the week and all day Saturday and Sunday unless I have chores or other things to attend to. In my mind the difference between casual and elite is more accurately tied to motivation. Casuals are more social in nature and form attachments (AKA loyalties) whereas elites are tied more to personal benefit and advancement. You can have motivated and competitive casual players, but you can’t have an elite player who isn’t motivated and competitive. Many casual players will forego goals for the group but an elite will almost always place themselves first and foremost. To them the ends justify the means, whereas with the casual player that almost always isn’t the case. Casuals might leave guilds and join new guilds, like I did, but not for the same reason as an elite player would. For an elite player the guild is simply a means to the end they seek – progression. Whereas I’ve declined raid guild invites from two of the top raid guilds on our server because while I’m interested in progression it isn’t the totality of the experience I’m seeking. For me, and for casuals in general, the other factors of the guild are as important as progression. It’s why I feel guilty for leaving my other friends in my old guild to join a friend in my new guild.

It just so happens that we lost six players on Sunday because they wanted to work on Heroic ICC but because of the normal attendance issues that all guilds undergo during the Summer, the raid leader is having to recruit new players and gear them up. Instead he’s emphasizing integration of the new players (myself included) into the raid and ascertaining the raids performance issues before moving into the harder content. Of course there is the issue that we have yet to kill Lich King on 25-man either. So those players left in a huff, putting their individual desires well ahead of the raids, even though they’ve all killed Lich King on 10-man and have been working through the 10-man heroic achievements. In my mind I say good riddance even though they were all very capable players. Their capabilities simply aren’t enough to overcome the drama they introduce into the guild. Instead of sticking it out and continuing to work on Lich King phase 3 with the rest of us they chose to strike off on their own and in setting up their own guild will have to contend with others of their like that will probably abandon them for greener pastures at the earliest opportunity. I’m so glad that has never, and will never, be me.