Some people play this game for the good of others, and it remains a constant joy.
There are others, however, who have only their own desires and needs at heart. Of late, you’ll hear a lot of noise from these individuals, and might erroneously believe them to be a subset of ‘entitled’ players who fit a certain criteria: selfish, constantly annoyed at design choices, judgemental and arrogant in their outlook. The thing is, these people have always been in game since Warcraft began. The current social climate may now make them more obvious and easier to spot, but this malaise is neither new or surprising. There have been dedicatedly selfish, ruthless people playing since Vanilla, and when I met the first of them head on for myself, the lessons learnt have never been forgotten.
Everybody should have at least one Nemesis in game. Let me explain why.
I was given the role of GM in my PvE Guild after the existing GM’s wife gave birth, and the pair effectively stopped playing. Before this happened, our Web Mistress had made noises that she would be a better choice, and that I clearly didn’t have the best interests of everyone at heart. When she said this, I knew that meant doing things her way having seen that attitude at first hand all the way through Vanilla. I can remember the anger when we were questing in Tanaris together as I levelled to 60 and an Epic bow came out of a chest. Even though she was a Night Elf Druid she claimed it initially, because (of course) back then Dwarves only used guns. It was only my husband’s reasoned intervention and the point made that she’d sell it for her gain alone that meant I gratefully upgraded a green item.
The moment she left the Guild, we were in Hillsbrad. There’d been a row about helping Guildies, and that she didn’t need to doing this. Then, when it became apparent I was getting the job ahead of her, the rage quit that followed was quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before or since. Within a week she’d set up her own Guild, which still remains on my server (as indeed does she.) I put her on mute at some point in TBC when I just got fed up of trying to answer questions in Trade without her chiming in with some petty abuse. Then I muted Trade completely and realised that sometimes, the noise is just that and nothing else. For a while she vanished to go play summat else, but I see an alt of hers pop up from time to time in Legion.
I heard stories from other people of how, once her own Guild failed to provide the progression she craved, she worked her way through every major Progression team on our server, before (presumably) either leaving or being thrown out. You might think this was a young woman, but she was older than me at the time: I heard other tales about her real life suffered as a result of this obsession, but have no idea whether they were true or not. Mostly, she was very angry, pretty much all the time: the game didn’t work properly, people wouldn’t do as she wanted, she couldn’t get what was needed to be happy. That was the overriding sense, in all the time we interacted. The game wasn’t about enjoyment, simply winning and being the best, and as time has gone on that attitude has become one I now find completely at odds with my approach to game play.
This game does strange things to people, of that there is no denying. You cannot blame the designers making it (although so many try and do just that) because the fantasy around the pixels that is created in individual minds can vary wildly between individuals. If you allow it to totally consume rational thought and action it becomes an obsession like any other: the trick, of course, is to find the right balance between game and life. That can be hard, as I found to my cost on several occasions, but it is undoubtedly the most important take from this experience. In essence, my Nemesis reminded me what could happen if I put the game above a sense of proportion. I still repeat that mantra, after all these years, and had this not happened I might not be as well prepared to cope with what followed than I was.
The lasting sense from my 1-60 journey was that it was an effort, a total slog, the like of which simply no longer exists in the modern game. Even doing 1-110 now is a pale shadow of those early days, because the destination was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s worth taking some time to explain this (and I will next week) but for now, I’m grateful I met someone like this early to teach the lesson and not later. Knowing that level of immersion was the norm for some players was an early salutatory lesson on what competition can do to people in a environment where the first thing that matters is how well your toon is geared. Not much has changed in that regard in 12 years, all told, and it isn’t really a surprise at all.
Being a ‘better’ player has always been defined in very binary ways.