Weekly Dose of Etiquette Part 2

Tip #2 is don’t pick on the newbies.

Tip #2 is something that is near and dear to my heart. As an avid altaholic, it feels like I am always learning something new about one class or another. Though I wouldn’t consider myself an absolute newbie to any of the classes (I do an extraordinary amount of reading trying to prepare for a new toon), I can relate with those learning their first class or learning a new role for the first time. There’s an awful lot of information to absorb about your class if you want to play it to its fullest. The problem is, most of that information isn’t available within the game, no matter how closely you pay attention. The closest you get to an in-game tutorial is those first 10 or so levels, when everything is still yellow and hits like a (parked) truck so you can experiment with your spells and abilities to see what they all do without any serious risk of death. Except that this is a double-edge sword: the same leniency means that there’s so little danger of death that just about anything, no matter how wrong or simple, is bound to work well enough to kill the mob. Furthermore, the dynamics of solo play put the focus on your survivability mechanics, not maximizing your dps or your usefulness to a group. This leads to a lot of people who managed to muddle their way to 80 with no idea as to what they should be doing to get the most dps in a dungeon or raid situation.

The way I see it, if someone doesn’t know what he is doing, there are three ways you can go about things: ignore it, make it worse, or fix it. Personally, I try to be helpful. Name-calling and blacklisting doesn’t help anybody. You were new once, too. Instead of being a jerk, let the new generation learn from your experience. Don’t just limit it to friends, family, and guild members, either. If somebody is asking for help in trade, I try to direct them to Wowhead, either by simply stating it in trade or whispering them about it. If somebody in a random pug is struggling with a class I know, I whisper them to stay in group after the run if they’d like some friendly tips and advice to improve their performance.

I think sometimes people forget that World of Warcraft is just a game. Certainly, sites like Wowhead, Tankspot, and Elitist Jerks can help you improve your skill, but how often do newbies get told about these sites? “I learned it on my own” or “I found them on my own” is a fairly common sentiment on the WoW forums. While that’s all well and good for most people, some people need a little help. I also can’t help but think that perhaps I would have grown more (and more quickly) as a player if I had learned more earlier, rather than being left so long to figure things out on my own. Finding Wowhead was an accident of Google. Add-ons, Cookiecutter specs, and strategy guides/videos were equally accidental discoveries. It became a matter of “hey, I’ll bet if I google [whatever]” I’ll find something to help me. But this all brings us back to my original caveat: none of this information was found within the game.  How often have you played a game that required you spend a significant amount of time reading about it rather than playing it. Furthermore, when you do ask people what the best sites are to help learn your class, you’ll get a nice list that usually goes something like this: Elitist Jerks, Wowhead, perhaps some class-specific site (shadowpanther.net, the Warlock’s Den, or shadowpriest.com, for example), and maybe a blog or two. You know what you almost never see? An official Blizzard site. Even if somebody does mention one, it’s the forums, where players, not Blizzard, do all the work of providing the information.

The point is, that while Blizzard has made an excellent game, they’ve done very little by way of disseminating information about that game. It’s sort of like Blizzard has set up a swimming pool. Everyone is welcome in the shallow end, but if you want to go where your feet can’t touch you have to have taken swimming lessons… but they don’t offer swimming lessons at this pool. Maybe a lot of newbies are lost, confused, or heck, even just lazy, but it’s not entirely their own fault. The system is stacked against even the most motivated amongst them. It seems to me the least we can do, if we truly wish to act like a community, is to help tip the scales in their favor when we have the chance.

As a sort of Jerry Springer-esque final thought, I’ll submit to you the case of a warlock from one of my raiding groups. Nobody wanted to take him on raids. His gear was pretty good: he’d gotten all of the badge gear he could get, including a lot of t10 from frost emblems, gemmed and enchanted it the way he was told was best, and gotten a few drops from the 25-man raids he was taken on simply because there weren’t enough people to turn him away. The problem was, his dps sucked. Big time. Nobody wanted to take him on the raid because he would make 3-4k dps if he was lucky (that was fully raid-buffed, including the Strength of Wrynn boost). Heck, nobody even wanted to take him into the raiding portion of the guild. Then, one day, a certain raid group full of ‘rejects’ needed new people to make up for some recent losses, and the guild gave us the warlock nobody wanted. So we looked at his gear and it was fine (heck, better than mine), and we looked at his spec, and it was fine, too, and so we determined it was a skill issue, and we told him to talk to a more experienced warlock and sort out his rotation. So he did, and now he’s one of the top dps in the raid, putting out more than double his old output. He hit 10k on several fights. 3,500 dps versus 10,000 dps. That’s the difference that one conversation with a veteran of the class made for one little newbie. He wasn’t lazy or stubborn or stupid, he just didn’t know how to maximize his potential until somebody taught him.

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