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"It's only a game"

I still remember my first run in Hellfire Ramparts for exactly this reason. It was a new instance for all of us, the healer and mage were new to the game and hadn't instanced much (having just hit 59 when the expansion came out in the case of the priest) and the rogue kept berating everyone for not being up to his standard of play. As you might expect, he also didn't seem very good, but it was late and I just wanted to get the quests done.

It was endurable, although not terribly fun. We finally got to the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar, and thanks to some really nice work on the part of the priest and hunter, got him down our first try. He did not drop the Bracers of Finesse, however, and the rogue went ballistic. Note that neither I nor anyone else in the party can control what the bosses drop. While we were discussing if anyone in the party was an enchanter, as no one needed the Light-Touched Breastplate, our rogue went off stealthed, deliberately pulled several groups of mobs onto us, vanished and hearthed out while I tried desperately to keep aggro long enough and not die with enough time for the rest of the party to escape. They didn't make it, and between that wipe and the loss of a DPS, we were effectively done for the evening.

Since I knew his guild reasonably well (I'd been in it) I sent the GM a tell expressing my dissatisfaction with what had happened. I mean, who exactly was he angry at? How was it anyone's fault that the bracers didn't drop? The answer I got back was one of my first exposures to the "It's only a game" mentality, as this is the tell our rogue sent to me after his GM got done ripping him a new one. It was 'uncool' of me to have brought it to his GM, it seems, as it's just a game after all. Apparently it's not just a game when you don't get your drop, but it is when you wipe an entire group over it.

There are few things I find more annoying than to run into what I call "Ioag griefers". These are the men and women, boys and girls who trot that old saw out every time someone deliberately wipes a PuG because he didn't get the drop he wanted, or ninja's a tanking drop for PvP and then makes a nasty forum post about it. His or her defenders always come along and say "It's only a game, get over it." It's as if they think they're playing a campaign or a first person shooter, that the concept that the other people in the instance or server are actually real, live people just doesn't occur to them.

To make my position clear: hockey is also only a game. I am not allowed to kick people in the face while playing it, and if I do, I can't just tell the ref "It's only a game." Everyone there was already aware that it was a game. The fact that it is a game does not excuse asinine, juvenile or hateful behavior. The person who needs to grow up is the person who views playing a game with other people as the optimum time to lash out at others. Dodgeball is only a game, and I guarantee you if you take the ball and crash it into another player's genitalia with as much force as you can muster, there will be no amount of saying "It's only a game" that will simply wipe that particular action out of existence. We know it's a game. The problem here is, the people trying to make this particular pig wear a housecoat for us don't understand that the point of playing games is to have fun socially. The point isn't that you have fun, it's that we have fun. A lot of people have trouble with that part. Again, if you don't want to play with other people, there are a great many single person RPG's on the market.

In World of Warcraft, it is a thankful truth that you can't physically hurt the people playing with you. All you can do is ruin their good time. That does not make it any more excusable. It's not okay to pull before the healer has mana because you think it's funny, or spam trade chat with racist messages because they amuse you, because 'it's just a game'. When you play Monopoly, do you urinate on the board? I'd hope not, and if the answer is yes, I can't imagine you get many games of Monopoly anymore. Heck, I'd pretty much avoid any and all board games if I found out that Dribbles was going to be playing. It's not funny or excusable for the rogue to roll need on the spell damage robes the mage was praying would drop and then DE them in front of him, and if you're going to be a mean spirited jerk about it, just be a jerk, don't hide behind the "It's only a game" excuse. You're a bad person, we should avoid you, and that's all there is to it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

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