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[1.Local]: WoW Insider's local chat comments this week

[1.Local] serves up a smattering of reader comments from the past week, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It was a chatty week at WoW Insider this week. More than a few posts bristled with multiple pages of comments. [1.Local] looks back at not only the popular posts, but others that may have slipped beneath your radar: the need for a global chat channel, a popular list of common in-game annoyances, and a good, old-fashioned, rough-and-tumble debate over whether or not the Mage class needs buffing.

The week continued with discussion on the new ratings balance in Season 4 PvP , WoW Insider's new weekly crossword puzzle and whether or not leveling is more enjoyable than end-game activities. Readers with an intellectual bent got a kick out of our discussion of WoW's digital culture, and readers with an phlegmatic bent got down and dirty in a lengthy debate on sexism in WoW.

Join us after the break for this week's meatiest reader comments here at WoW Insider. Be sure to dive into the comments area of each thread (not this one!) and add your own thoughts – unlike your mama, we like us some hot, fresh backtalk.

A discussion of our trade channel
Even players who wouldn't touch it with an entended-range pole seem to agree that WoW needs a global chat channel. Reader Aichon brought more than agreement to this issue, though – he brought a suggestion on how to make the Trade channel both bearable and useful again: "Trade channel on my server is virtually useless because of all the banter that goes on. In order to reclaim it, I started using GnoMoreSpam. While it's designed to handle gold spammers, I've found that it can be tailored to clean up the Trade channel rather well.

"I started out by blacklisting every single letter of the alphabet, as well as several symbols, which effectively filtered every single message in Trade. After that, I selectively whitelisted a few words I was interested in: things like 'craft,' 'ench,' 'jc,' 'tailor' and 'lw.' I also tossed in stuff like 'wt' since it handles messages that don't have the other words but do have 'WTT,' 'WTS,' 'WTB' and WTC.' Aside from a few false positives where I get messages like 'wtf is that' (because of the 'wt') or 'that's hawt' (for the same reason), I basically have a completely useful Trade channel."

Things that annoy me
WoW Insider's Allison Robert looked back at the brotherly love among Druids, in a popular thread about common in-game annoyances. "The 'druid truce,' as I said, is something of a faded concept with the rising popularity of the class, but it made a sad kind of sense in vanilla WoW when few people played them (especially Hordeside)," she says. "Druids were a fairly weak class even with all the tweaks made to their talent trees and abilities (Hurricane used to be the 31-point talent in Balance; Innervate was its Restoration counterpart) and it was extremely rare to see them specced or geared to DPS. If you were a Druid who met one of your opposition counterparts, 95% of the time they were a fellow healbot and you both knew perfectly well that you weren't threats to each other.

"Don't forget that we were also relatively weak PvP healers before BC hit and resilience gear was introduced. The players who ruled PvP in vanilla WoW were either people who raided and had gear that far outclassed the average player's at 60 (Naxx/AQ40-geared premades could destroy ZG/MC-geared premades, to say nothing of PuGs), or classes that depended on the kind of burst damage that resilience now lessens or negates entirely (one of the reasons that shaman were such feared opponents). HoTs pair well with resilience, which reduces the incoming flow of damage to a more manageable rate. They didn't do as well pre-BC when burst damage defined PvP. Druids have the slowest 'big heal' in the game, Nature's Swiftness is a 3-minute cooldown, and all of our HoTs could be dispelled or purged. This was well before the days of Cyclone and Lifebloom.

"So. If you ran across a fellow Druid, you knew they probably weren't a threat to you, were likely to be healbotting (insofar as was possible) fellow players or running flags. And there just weren't that many Druids period because most people disliked the weaknesses (some real, some imagined) of the class. Thus began the informal 'Druid truce' (you'll still see references to it around the official Druid forums today), where a plurality of the Druid population would not initiate hostilities against other Druids in world PvP or battlegrounds. You'd likely be healing the people who *were* smashing other Druids' faces, don't get me wrong, but you were unlikely to (proverbially speaking) fire the first shot.

"In most respects the truce has now vanished. BC improved the class and its itemization tremendously, a number of new people now play Druids who are either unaware of the class' pre-BC history or just don't care about it, and, well, Druids are now capable of the kind of DPS and HPS that can decide matches. But some of us are rather sorry to see the old truce go the way of the dinosaur. It was a nice, distinctive, poignant little thing for the class as a whole."

How to fix Mages
As you'd expect, a recent column on Mage balance elicited a blizzard of comments. "... At least since Blizzcon they've been clear about this -- Mages and Rogues are pure DPS classes," observes Clevins. "The differentiation is that a Mage gets to be ranged and should be the best multitarget DPS. But the Rogue is intended to be the best single-target DPS in the game.

"Think about it -- if you were the best DPS, period ... single and multi-target ... why would anyone bring a Rogue? Why have a melee class that has to worry about close boss AOE (from the whirlwind that the second boss in Arc does, to Prince's Shadow Nova on...) when you could bring a ranged class with CC that's renewable in combat, that buffs, that provides food and water for the raid... ? Right -- you wouldn't. In almost all cases can think of, if you can bring a ranged class that does the same or more damage on a boss as well as trash packs, you'd do that.

"Mages definitely deserve some DPS love, but to argue that they should top the meters in all phases of all encounters is ludicrously self-involved."

2000 means nothing in Season 4
Is 1700 the new 2000? "The truth is that, at least on my BG, personal rating is already being sold," claims Jesse. "You buy your way onto the team, and then make another payment 100 rating shy of your target PR. I'm told 3's is the best place to farm PR, because a dpriest/ssrogue combo can be made to work with almost any third to about 2k, and some can go farther depending on class.

"As a result of this, I'm not really impressed by anyone's Arena gear anymore ... gear and flavor of the month class comps trump skill."

WoW crossword
A lot of readers seemed to enjoy our new crossword puzzle feature. Some had suggestions for the feature's future, while others like Zerububble just wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty: "So who wants to start a discussion of answers somewhere? I want to check mine and I can't wait 'til Sunday."

What's wrong with leveling
Is WoW all about leveling – or is getting to 70 just the scut work before the game truly begins? "The end game is where things really come alive for me," claims Bodlar. "I like that it becomes static and you have all the abilities available to your class. Then you can start working on min-maxing. Every gear upgrade may look minor but over all your character continues to get stronger. I also find the leveling process painful and would rather work on making my character as good as possible. Then again I mostly PvP and really enjoy the system Blizzard has for it. I don't appreciate all the idiots in the battleground, but I find if you just do what you can and keep the flaming to a minimum it's not a horrible experience. You will always win some and lose some. The end game is why I still play the game. Blizzard has a great end game and has always made sure to have plenty of things to do.

"No offense, but most people that I meet that aren't into the end game just aren't that good at it. It's not a bad thing, you just don't have the attitude and/or patience to really stick it out for the tough part of the game. The end game is by far much harder than leveling. It is also much less linear. You don't have a defined bar that you can progress through any more and the responsibility for getting stronger falls to you and how well you manage yourself."

WoW from the ivory tower
Brainy types were titillated by this week's conversation with a WoW player who studies digital culture and attitudes. "this interview has inspired me to check this book out," notes mk. "i attended a conference on digital culture a few years back and the "superstar" lecturer gave a talk on how portals in wow broke up the environment and therefore made it not a seamless world...thankfully it seems like the scholarship has progressed a bit beyond that point. in addition to the interviewee's chapter (i think her thesis will resonate with most of us who play horde!), the chapters on space and names seem the most interesting.

"as a separate issue, i wonder how many of the authors have ever been in hardcore progression guilds because i know that from personal experience, doing the endgame in a competitive way changes one's experiences in wow significantly and definitely alters critical observations. this doesn't apply to dr. langer because of her topic, but so often it seems like scholarly work on wow and other game worlds is written by incredibly intelligent and accomplished people who are unfortunately noobs at the game they're writing about :)"

It's a man's WoW
Whew – the gender issue! If you like long, hot debates, you're sure to appreciate this post. "Without question, men and women are treated differently on the basis of gender," states ginka. "That can be a good or a bad thing, depending. But WoW is more than a microcosm. It's a relatively anonymous microcosm. It's a dark room full of strangers. The id and the ego have a field day in that kind of environment.

"What people *really* believe or what they *truly* want to say has a way of coming out when you're masked by an avatar. That's why inflamatory racist comments, or lewd jokes, or misogyny, or anti-gay sentiments, are so common. Just join the Trade channel.

"People play video games for a sense of escape and freedom. For many, that freedom includes freedom from social expectations and boundaries. We all have questionable urges, and many of us use games like WoW to give those urges free rein.

"I think that discussions about sexism or racism or homophobia in game are interesting; but I don't think they'll have an impact on what we see online. Racists and sexists and homophobes are already quite aware that their attitudes are unpopular. It's not that different from the attitudes of gay people, or feminists, or activists for racial equality. They know they have opposition. But as a female blood elf dancing on a mailbox, they feel that they don't have to care.

"Whatever you say against sexism in WoW, the 'offenders' will reject it. They don't want you taking away their playground of the id."

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, [1.Local]

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