Friday, September 4, 2009

Social War; MMORPG Society in PVP Situations

For those of you who don't battleground and group PVP, I must say you are probably missing out on some of the most frustrating, and hilarious social interactions of MMORPGs. My main experience is with battlegrounds, and not world PVP, so I will be primarily talking about that.

Battlegrounds are, in the best cases, very fun. In the worst cases they are frustratingly difficult. In either case, things usually are fast-paced, and there is usually little time for chatting except when action isn't happening. In my experiences, there are two kinds of BG chatting: Productive and Non-Productive. Productive chatting involves things like saying good game, congratulating on a good defense, talking strategy (legitimate strategy), and posting or asking for intelligence (i.e. incomings, or location of Enemy Flag Carriers). Non-Productive chatting involves smack-talk, whining, complaining about any part of the battleground, and other non-helpful noise (please turn off those "funny" macroes, I'm tired of hearing them every time you cast a spell).

Productive chatting is all too rare in most battlegrounds (I will use WoW as an example, because I have experience with it). This can also be correlated with the amount of people on a team that actually work with one another instead of trying to solo the game. Soloers will typically be quiet, or perform non-productive chatting, while team players will call out incomings, even if it doesn't directly benefit them (i.e. they won't get honorable kills for it). The sad part is that Productive chatting is the most useful (obviously) kind for battlegrounds. Intelligence is one of the factors that wins battles, and knowing that there is a rogue in the tunnel (because he just killed you) is vital if your flag carrier is nearby (and hence, vulnerable to said rogue). Being able to react, and the counter-attack is of vital importance.

For example, in a recent Warsong Gulch (Capture the flag) battleground, my team was close to capturing the flag. Someone reported that a lot of enemies were coming up the tunnel. While they were not close enough to kill our flag carrier before he could capture, they were close enough to grab the flag when it respawned. Instead of dispersing ourselves once the flag was captured, and trying to grab theirs quickly, someone suggested we "Hold in flag room for the alliance and counter-attack." The Alliance, not expecting a counter-attack did not react swiftly, and were quickly crushed. Their organized attack broke down, and they lost momentum, which allowed us to get another flag shortly after. Without both the reported intelligence *and* the suggestion/order to hold and counter-attack, the Alliance would have probably captured our flag immediatly after we captured theirs. This is the difference between a quick victory and a drawn-out battle.

Non-Productive chatting is far more prevalent, especially when the chatter's team is loosing. It is generally useless and gets more frequent the worse a team is doing (especially if the chatter is dying more often than they think they should). Essentially this type of chatting is a venting system, and allows players to blame everyone but themselves for failing to stay alive/capture the flag/pwning a noob/etc. Being dead makes this type of chatting easy, especially as the failure probably caused their death, and chatting in the middle of battle is, as said before, not easy or productive. This type of chatting really irritates me, and I'd rather people just not talk. Frankly, it is not Blizzard's fault if the team is unable to work together, or if the other side has more/higher level players. Perhaps I am venting myself about it, but I just don't see this as helpful.

What does this say about MMORPG society? Well, not much really. People who communicate tend to work well together. People who blame everyone else for their problems tend to not be helped by members of their team. Frankly, we like people who don't bitch, and we all roll our eyes at bitchers. This is true in real society as with virtual ones. Of course, it is self-serving as well. If I want to win, I will report tactical information hoping someone uses it. If I start acting that way, perhaps others will too. Of course, I'm probably just kidding myself.

In any rate, I don't battleground to win, I battleground to have fun. Listening to whiners isn't fun, nor does it help us win. Up next, the dreaded general chat channel. For veterans of the Barrens chat, please tune in tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely been going through this a lot in League of Legends. There's a very strong correlation with people who complain the most and react the most angrily to short-term failures and a general lack of skill and useful communication on their part. Conversely, players that communicate with the team well and give lighthearted comments or congratulations to the opponent(s) on a good maneuver also tend to make the strongest personal showing.

    I'm not exactly sure why this is, but my working theory is that players approach a game with different attitudes, and attitudes that don't allow players to take failure in stride also do not promote good learning of the game systems and the actions required to excel in them.