Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Title at What Cost?

Years ago when I was young and in shape, I was an avid player of Deck Hockey (a form of floor hockey played on a special rink with boards, regulation-size goals, referees). I played for many years with a tightly-knit group of friends. We had some great seasons and some forgettable seasons, but I always had a lot of fun playing, and I miss the competitiveness, the activity, and the camaraderie of playing on a team.

One magical season everything came together for us and we won our League Championship. Unfortunately for me I took a (very deliberate) knee to the side while diving to keep a ball in the offensive zone during the second round of the playoffs. The blow ended up cracking 3 of my ribs and ended my season. In WoW, it’s akin eating a Shadowcleave from a nasty Igor-type in the first wave of adds on the Deathwhisper fight without a Soulstone, and Battle Rez on cooldown. Still, I came down to every game of the playoffs and contributed how I could: I sat on the end of the bench, opened the door for line changes, shouted encouragement, offered my observations, handed sticks over the boards if someone broke one, I even tied a couple of shoe laces. When the final horn sounded during our championship-winning game, I ran out on the deck with everyone, jumped up and down (painful), gave and received hugs (even more painful). I had beer poured over my head, hoisted the trophy like it was the Stanley Cup itself, and partied into the wee hours of the morning. Despite my lack of playing, this championship was as much mine as it was anyone’s on the team, and while there was a touch of regret over not being able to play, it was tiny compared to the joy I had for me and my team.

Something happened last night that made me think on this a bit today. A guild member mentioned that the top guild on our server was selling Lich King 25 kills for 25,000 gold a pop (seems like they could do better; I recall guilds selling Amani War Bears for 25K in the not-as-long-ago-as-my-hockey-story). According to my guild member, their instructions to the buyers were to be as follows (and I’m not sure how he knew this):
‘When the encounter starts, jump off the ledge.’
Knowing the kind of people that are in this guild (a number of first-class assholes, which was further confirmed in an incident in a ToC-25 pug later that night), I quipped ‘And for an extra 25K, they WON’T shout all over trade and the official forums how you got your title’.

In terms of my hockey championship, I could be happy despite not playing in the Finals, because these were my teammates and friends. I had contributed to our drive to the playoffs; I had played a key role in our first-round victory and, even though I was sitting on the bench for 4 games, I contributed something to the team during our eventual victory. It sucks to be dead on the floor for ¾ of a fight, but you can still be happy when that boss goes down for the first time, and you can take pride in your group, even if your own contribution was small.

How much pride can you take in a title that you buy? At least Gevlon, who bought himself into a top-raiding guild, was a competent player who was able to contribute to his guild’s success. Maybe he only got into the guild in the first place because of his cash supply and business acumen, but they wouldn’t have tolerated his presence if he was a complete and utter failure (or would they?). The Kingslayer-selling guild is assuming that their ‘customer’ would be a hindrance alive, incapable of making a positive contribution (and maybe they're right); it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll treat that person with the contempt and disdain that I witnessed last night, wherein one of their members joined the group, zoned in, and immediately asked ‘Who’s dick did [undergeared player] suck to get in this raid?’ In my view, any title or ‘achievement’ that is ‘earned’ by deliberately killing yourself so that you don’t fuck up is not worth having. I personally don’t even feel comfortable wearing the ‘Of the Nightfall’ since we zerged it a month ago. Having people congratulate me on my ‘Kingslayer’ title, or my ‘Glory of the …’ mount if I had to get it this way would be worse than hollow, it’s downright humiliating, and I will not debase myself like that for a mere title or mount.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I don't see how anyone could be proud of anything that he/she hasn't worked for. Granted, you would have to have the gold and that too comes from somewhere, but still. I don't have the Kingslayer title yet, I plan to get it, but I'll be damned if I don't get it myself! I'm a proud player, and act as such. I hate to be carried through raids, I always want to contribute in some way. Not by dying to prevent fuck-ups. I proudly use my Black War Bear mount whenever I can because I'm darn proud of it! I just can't imagine doing the same with a title I haven't worked for.