Yesterday I finally hit 80 on my priest. It’s been a long journey, from slow horde-side leveling pre-LFG, pre-heirloom, to somehow accomplishing my goals to get through the horde Wrathgate before Cata, to her faction transfer from Blood Elf to Night Elf. I was thrilled to finally have her ready for Cataclysm content.
I ported back to Stormwind after abandoning all my Northrend quests, relieved to leave the cold continent of the undead. I spent some time working on my professions – disenchanting some greens my Jewelcrafter had made for her cheaply.
Not five minutes after my return to Stormwind, standing in the Enchanting trainer’s shop, I received a whisper. “don’t you know that heirlooms don’t work from 80-85?” It was from an 85 mage. A little irritated, I replied, “I just dinged 5 minutes ago.”
This encounter left me a bit annoyed, and got me thinking. Who the hell walks around Stormwind inspecting people and telling them what to wear? What if I was wearing RP gear, or my fishing outfit? And so what if heirloom gear no longer scales after 80 – it’s still the best gear I have until I start questing in Hyjal or Vashj’ir? What the hell does it matter to this random person what I am wearing while leveling enchanting?
I get that this mage was trying to be “helpful”, but instead it just rubbed me the wrong way.
If I was in a Cataclysm instance, and wearing the heirloom chest/shoulders, I feel like the whisper would have been more justified. Having everyone in the group contribute fully is important. Seeing someone wearing sub-par gear in a group setting to get a non-existent XP bonus might be reason enough to give them a gentle nudge.
In Stormwind though? I can’t remember the last time I inspected someone wandering around a city. I suppose I might, if their outfit or weapon looked cool. But even if I inspected a hunter wearing cloth and strength rings, I wouldn’t find it necessary to tell them they were wearing the wrong gear. It might be a joke, or RP gear, or perhaps they’re just a solo player that likes doing things their own way. When someone is wandering around a city, they’re not actually doing anything combat related, so gear is irrelevant.
The problem I suppose I have with these kind of whispers, is that it’s hard to determine the intent. There are two basic types of people who give others unsolicited “advice”, and which type you’re speaking to makes all the difference.
First is the genuinely helpful, knowledgeable player who answers questions in trade chat and goes out of their way to assist others. They feel like they are contributing and improving the knowledge and skill of the general WOW populace. I’ve heard many bloggers/podcasters say that they feel that it’s their obligation to teach others and encourage others to play correctly. These people are genuinely trying to be altruistic or friendly.
Second is the guy that just gets a kick out of being “better” or knowing more than other people. This person laughs at other players gear and criticizes their spell choices. This type of player is not trying to be helpful, they just get off on feeling superior. They’re judging everyone around them and making comments to cut others down.
Unfortunately the second category of people seems to be much larger, as evidenced by numerous PUG conversations. WOW is filled with trolls (not just the Horde race) that continue to prove the “Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory“. When we run into the first type of person, it’s hard for us to believe that they are genuine. We’re so used to people being jerks, that everyone we meet is automatically lumped into that category. How do you tell the difference? Let’s not even get into the fact that even some people who believe they are being nice, are really motivated by an unconscious superiority complex.
It’s very hard to determine motivation from a few short typed words. Misspelling and swearing can certainly help identify the incompetent asshat, but sometimes even asshats know how to type.
On the other side of things, it’s very common for the receiver of the advice to get defensive, responding rudely and causing a conflict where there was none. This spirals out of control until you have a bunch of normally decent people acting like asshats.
I’d like to leave you with some questions to ponder.
How do you react when someone tells you that you’re doing something wrong in WOW ? Do you ever want unsolicited advice, or does it always piss you off?
What about outside of the game - do you like receiving unsolicited advice from co-workers, or strangers in the grocery store? Is this different or the same as in-game, and why?
Are you the type of person to whisper other players with tips? Do you only do this in a group setting, or when randomly wandering around? How do you expect a player to react when you give them advice? Would you ever do this outside the game?