Is There Too Much Focus on Progress Rankings?   4 comments

Keeva over at Tree Bark Jacket had a post today about 10 man rankings that got me thinking about something that has been bothering me for quite some time.  It’s something that I have complained about to friends with growing frequency.  I thought that perhaps I’d articulate my thoughts on it, and see where other people stood on the subject.

Yea, yea…I know!  WTF are you babbling on about?!  Beru do you have a point?  Give me a minute!  I’m gettin’ there!

I think progress ranking, and progress ranking sites, are killing the fun in WoW for a lot of people.

I know it’s a fairly bold statement, but it’s how I feel.  I really dislike where so much of the raid game is going…it’s a lot less about having fun and a lot more about how you stack up against everyone else.  About who gets there first and fastest.  Riddle me this:  If you are having fun, who cares?

I have long felt that sites like WoWProgress and GuildOx are unhealthy for not only the game, but people who play the game.  Unless you are a purely social guild where raiding is just something random you do, these “rankings” and sites have become increasingly more important to the progression raiding game.  I feel that it has made progression raiding more about “being the best” than progressing at a healthy pace and just plain ol’ having fun while seeing new content.

I am even guilty of going to the sites to see where we rank…and getting disappointed if our progress slows or falls.  I found that it made me somewhat unpleasant and brought out my huge competitive streak.  It made me less tolerant of our performance as a guild, but not in a healthy way.  In a “Beru is a total bitch” way.  I didn’t relish my fellow guild’s achievements and award them congratulations that they deserved, it made me stress about how we didn’t achieve that.  I didn’t like how it made me feel to compare us to everyone else by some arbitrary system that some computer would decide who was better.  And I didn’t like who I was becoming as a result.  I’ve made a concerted effort to stop checking them so frequently, and when I do check them to try to put my emotions into place.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with realm progress being updated on your realm thread, or a little healthy (but friendly) competition from those people that are on your server day in and day out.  I long for the days of Vanilla WoW, before everyone knew everyone else’s business.  Before being “world ranked” became more important than having fun.  I miss the days when I was a member of a progressing guild, on a mid-progressed server, and not just a number on a ranking site.

Here are some of the reasons that I’m off on guild progression rankings:

  • They cause unneeded pressure, leading to stress, in something that is supposed to be about “fun”.  Guilds don’t only have to worry about progressing, but now how they stack up against everyone else in the world.  Like anything in life, when you start worrying about where you stack up with everyone else, and if you’re inferior, it’s stressful.
  • It causes progression to become a bigger focus than perhaps it should be.  There are certainly stories out there that for some people progress takes over their lives.  There are accounts that being first has become more important than a job, getting sleep, or just plain out taking care of yourself.
    • Now, I know this isn’t the case for everyone, and is more the exception than the rule.  But the fact that it does occur only bolsters the argument that there is too much focus on rankings.
  • It causes hostility between people where it shouldn’t.  How many people have been flamed in some fashion for being successful?
    •  A great example of this is Kyth over at Stratfu.  I’ve heard that she’s an incredibly nice person from those that raid with her.  And we know from everything that she has provided to the community, she’s extremely helpful.  I’ve never seen her fail to answer a question asked of her from those seeking advice.  Yet everytime she provides an update on Fusion’s achievements or an opinion on something that she feels strongly about, someone from other “competitive” guilds posts nasty things about her or her guild.

      What I don’t understand is why, as a community, we let things like this become acceptable?  Are we boxers in a ring where trash talk boosts our morale or makes us feel tougher?  Or have we just become so insecure that instead of offering someone kudos for their accomplishments we have to criticise them to make us feel better?

  • There are vast disparities in the sites on how they rank a guild.  Which way is right?  Are they accurate?
    • GuildOx ranks based solely on what you have killed, with little or no regard to when you killed it.  It also fails to rank varying degrees of difficulty as progression (i.e. Sarth +drakes, Freya +guardians, Yogg +keepers), that are progress.  It arbitrarily assigns “points” for achievements that the developer thinks are things that are worth noting.
    • WoWProgress ranks based on what you killed and when you killed it.  If you killed it earlier you get more of the alloted points than if you killed it later.  But again, the dev is arbitrarily picking what it feels is important, assigns what he feels are a requisite amount of points, and then ranks you based on that.
    • Of the two, I tend to favor how WoWProgress records progress better than how GuildOx records it.  But I don’t think that either are stellar.
  • It complicates recruiting.  There is now more focus on your “rank” than who you are as a guild.  Look at the WoW recruiting forums, and look at how many “Top 100 guild” type of messages you see trying to draw recruits.  It makes it increasingly harder to recruit.
    • Some people might argue that this is a good thing for those looking for a guild.  But I disagree.  I’ve said it before, but progress is not the only thing that measures a guild.  More focus should be placed on you as a guild than the number assigned to you to tell you how good you are.
  • It’s a game.  It’s not a professional sport, and it’s not a job.  Competition is fine, until it becomes all everything is about.  I expect football teams to be ranked.  I expect Boxers to be ranked.  I guess I just don’t expect something that I’m doing for fun…and not solely on a competitive basis, to be all about competition.
  • It creates assholes.  No, really.  I have experienced plenty of instances where people think they are superior because they have been ranked higher.  They feel entitled because they are “better”.  In a game where we already have the internet/anonymity factor, we really don’t need to breed more assholes.
    • I don’t mean to state that everyone becomes an ass.  That is certainly untrue…and again is likely the exception and not the rule.  But it cannot be denied that some people become bigger jerks the better they feel they are.
    • The funniest thing about this to me, is that sometimes these people just aren’t even the best players.  These are the same people that blindly look down on lesser progressed/geared players who may far exceed them in skill.  The same people that won’t accept solidly researched advice because they have firmly set in their mind that “that person can’t know anything, because they haven’t done xyz”.
  • I’d like to think that I’m more than a number.  I’d like to think that the guild I spend so much time on is more than a number.  We have a face, and that face should be more than “World 2500”.  I feel that so many times that is where the buck stops.  More and more frequently people care less about what your guild is and more about what number your guild is.  To me, there is something inherently wrong about that.

I don’t know, perhaps I am just a bit backwards in my thinking.  Maybe this is the way of the future of gaming, although I’d like to think that it’s not.  I have no clue if I’m in the majority or the minority in this thinking.  I’m sure that are plenty of people that enjoy the ranking systems.  I’m just not one of them.  In my personal experience they have caused me nothing but stress.  Stress I don’t need, especially for something I do as a hobby and for fun.  Sure, I’d like to be successful, but I don’t need some website telling the world how it thinks I suck or comparing me to other people even though I never asked to be compared.

What do you think:  Is there too much focus on progress rankings?

Posted September 9, 2009 by Beruthiel in Progress Rankings

4 responses to “Is There Too Much Focus on Progress Rankings?

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  1. I agree. Competition between guilds often in my experience reaches the point which is unhealthy for everyone concerned. Back in TBC my guild had a bit of feud going on with a similarly progressed guild as we both raced for Illidan (they hated us because of something our GM had said in passing months previously). So in the end we just sneaked the win and they that was the final straw for this guild.. they hated us that much that the guild collapsed.

    • I have to agree. I certainly see a lot of unhealthy competition come to light as a result, and I’ve seen it turn some very lovely people very, very nasty. It really just bothers me.

      Competition has its place, I’m just not sure that this is one of them. I guess plenty of people feel differently. I guess I’d just much rather have fun than stress constantly about “how are we doing”.

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