The Pressure to Be Bad

When I was younger, I heard about peer pressure all the time. Posters in my classrooms told me to stay above the influence, to think for myself, or to stand out in the crowd. School counselors came and told me to be bold and be a leader, while tons of TV shows (from Saved by the Bell to Boy Meets World) tried to demonstrate the consequences of caving to peer pressure.

Somewhere between then and now, peer pressure became much more subtle for me. No one even uses the term “peer pressure” to describe it in reference to adults, but it still very much exists. Feeling forced to bake an extra two dozen cupcakes for the bake sale because Jimmy’s mommy said she was going to? Peer pressure. Feeling bad about ignoring a coworker but doing it anyway because your office buddies think he’s stupid? Peer pressure. Or just ask any parent  you know about the “advice” he or she has been given about parenting over the years. The things we buy and say and do in our lives as adults are influenced by peer pressure every day.

World of Warcraft, at least the social aspects of it, is mostly populated by teenagers and adults, and whether we realize it or not, there is ample peer pressure in the WoW community (if you really don’t believe me, go take a close look at the forums sometime).

I’ve experienced this before and admittedly, I have caved on more than one occasion. There are lots of situations this comes into play, but today I was reminded of a particular circumstance that I have seen happen a dozen times over: the pressure to be a jerk.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care if someone’s DPS is low, and as long as you get through the instance, it’s okay. You might talk about it with your guildies, but unless the person seems open to suggestions, you’re not going to confront him or talk down to him, and unless he’s keeping you from succeeding, you probably wouldn’t be the one to initiate a vote kick for low DPS. Maybe you put him on ignore at the end of the run so you don’t end up in a group with him again, but overall, you leave him alone.

But perhaps you’re running with a group of friends who do make it a habit to berate players they deem “bad” (and sometimes they are bad, that’s the catch). Perhaps they start making snide comments at Low-DPSer until they’re straight-up insulting this person. What do you do if they try to draw you into their bashing? Do you ignore it? Do you tell them to lay off? Do you join in because it’s what’s expected of you? It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t be affected by their opinions, but it just isn’t true–if these are people in your guild or people you know in real life, their opinion is going to stick around you for a long time, and you’re going to make decisions at least partly based on that.

I’ve been in this situation many, many times. I have run with a lot of people who are exceptional players (and some who only think they are), and sometimes they forget that not everyone plays the game for the same reasons we raiders do, and sometimes they’re just full of themselves (or are so self-conscious they need to bully to feel big, just like IRL). Whatever the cause, it’s pretty easy for one or two people in a group to start a downward spiral of insults against another player who doesn’t meet their personal qualifications (protip: if you are this person, please run with guild groups and save us all the hassle of watching you be a butthead).

At the end of the run, what have you accomplished by joining in an unfriendly roast? Maybe you’ve gotten some kind of WoW street cred with your guildies, but if they’re the type to start this in the first place, their friendship is most likely fickle and definitely not worth the maintenance cost. Most likely, you’ve just made another player log off in disgust, swear off of tanking forever, or spec away from healing. Even if you haven’t affected them in that way, at the very least you made it to their ignore list. Congratulations?

It’s cheesy, it’s preachy, it’s childish, but it’s true: stay above the influence. Think for yourself. Stand out in the crowd as a leader, not a follower. Your bully buddies aren’t the only ones watching your actions and judging you on them. Your officers are watching, your class lead is watching, future guildies (or not) are watching–and so are the rest of us.

Set the tone. Greet your fellow PuGgers when they join the group. Take responsibility for the things you’ve done wrong. Be humorous, be friendly, be forgiving. It goes further than you know.

Play well, friends.

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4 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Experiences

4 responses to “The Pressure to Be Bad

  1. Absolutely agreed. Including my own, there have been several posts lately about player behavior, and I think this is one major cornerstone of that.

    Nobody wants to raid with that other [your class here] that’s constantly breathing down your neck, scanning every inch of your talents and gear, constantly reminding you of how much better they are at your class.

    People get tired of that mage that tells everyone how fail they are and how he has to carry the whole guild because he’s doing 21k dps and the Hunter at #2 is doing 19k.

    And of course nobody likes doing a random with that one group of jerks in your guild that you know is going to make the 5th PUG player’s life a living hell, (or just insult them in guild chat or Vent) regardless of how he/she performs.

    The saddest thing about it is that these people are the majority these days. It’s some kind of freak inbred thing, players seem to just get more and more contentious, arrogant and disrespectful.

    • battlechicken

      It does seem that there are more dishonorable players than honorable ones across the board these days, or maybe it’s just that the jerks stand out SO much it’s hard to remember the good ones.

      I have actually been in a run in which I had to apologize to the puggers on behalf of our guild because of the way one person was acting towards them. It embarrassed me terribly to be sharing a guild tag with that individual. So often, though; the insults are subtle at first. The digs are slight. It’s easy to get caught up in it and before you know it, you’ve caved.

  2. I love this post so hard. I try to do my best to be a better citizen of Azeroth, and I encourage my guildies and friends to do the same. Do I quietly nerdrage about things once in a while? Sure. But I try to take advantage of the little opportunities to be a decent human being in game, and I wish others would too.

    • battlechicken

      Absolutely this. There are going to be times when players are SO bad that the discussion is going to come up in guild chat (or in Twitter, names removed…DK rolling need on my agility polearm because it does more white damage, I’m looking at you), and that’s okay. But there’s never really an excuse for making someone feel like they’re two feet tall just because they aren’t as good at the game as you are (or perceive yourself to be).

      That said, I will admit that I am the first person to call out a jerk. I won’t be rude to someone who is trying their best and just not doing that well, but when someone pulls 10 mobs to try to wipe us and then leaves the group or ninjas items out of greediness, I will call them out in a heartbeat. Someone has to. 😛

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