Elitist or Elated?

So Happy Together

Many people will disagree, but I stand by the fact that I’ve had better experience with the community of Guild Wars 2 than I have had with any community in MMO gaming (other than LOTRO, before Free 2 Play). Still, there are always some things that make me step back, look, and shake my head.

One of these things was highlighted in a recent experience I had in WvW. Honestly, it was a strange experience that perhaps I misread, but I’ve seen it a few times. There were two tags running around in the particular borderlands and my wife and I, after roaming for a while, decided to run towards the tag who was taking a tower. We figured this would be a great opportunity to jump on some fun battles and capture some places for our world!

The first tag’s commander messaged us and honestly, in retrospect, they weren’t really rude (although I took it as rather rude at the time). They messaged us insisting we “join [guild tag] thx.” Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. I left them alone and we started roaming some more. Then we encountered another tag and thought: “Hey, this’ll be great.” Until we noticed it was another guild who seemed rather abrupt with us (without going into detail).

Finally, we swapped borderlands and saw repeatedly through map chat: “join Mumble on this channel, or gtfo.” I get it that people want to increase the world score; I understand that there’s a competitive element to this part of the game; I know that sometimes people can be overly insistent. Still, to angrily push that people join their channel or get lost? This is toxic.

Please note that this is not normally my experience! I usually love WvW and thoroughly enjoy it some days!

To be honest, an open Mumble, VoIP, or TS service to do WvW is an awesome idea and I wholeheartedly support. The issue is when it moves from the elation of the competition to an elitist atmosphere being created. Think of this from three angles:

1) The Newcomer

How does a person who’s brand new to the game get involved in WvW? If there’s an elitist attitude that’s pushed through, that’s going to isolate quite a few and stop them from getting involved. The thing is, WvW is a phenomenal opportunity to game with a little bit of a PvP environment, but with much less pressure to succeed. There’s often freedom and opportunity for somebody who has no clue how to play the game, to make lots of mistakes under the wing of those who are much more experienced. This is how I’ve learned a lot about the game.

Should we force (as opposed to encourage) others to join, use, or operate under a very specific set of rules, we’re going to miss out on new players that want to explore what WvW has to offer them. Once again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t encourage Mumble to be used, but with a ‘gtfo’ attitude we’re going to host a toxic community for anybody wanting to join.

A balance must be struck between competition & community.
2) The GW2 Player Who Fears PvP

I’m sensitive to this one, because I’m rather terrified by PvP. People say I do great, but I’m constantly feeling the pressure of not disappointing my team, especially if it’s a PuG of people (oh, how I adore Guild PvP nights!). WvW, being a great in-between of PvE and PvP offers less pressure. Because of my sensitivity to those who feel the same as me, I worry when the attitude is overly driven. Should we say: “oh whatever, who cares”? No. Definitely not. I want my world to succeed in WvW and be the top. Still, there is a balance that must be struck between competition and community, and WvW can make that difficult in the upper tiers.

3) The Experienced WvW Gamer

I know of many experienced WvWers (is that a word now?) who are insanely friendly and supportive. I can think of one guild in specific (who will remain nameless) that I get excited when I see them roaming. Often, they’ve allowed me to roam with their guild on and off, so long as I wasn’t getting in the way or being a jerk. Only once did they ask me to back down, and I listened immediately (all the while, I got carried away because we were all laughing so hard).

Still, there’s the reality that when high-achievers gather for a purpose, great things will happen–but at what expense? To have that out-of-left-field experience was pretty surprising, but I’ve been noticing it more and more the past few months. Sure, I get that guilds will do guild-only events in WvW and that’s great, but exclusivity on a grand-scale isn’t going to be healthy. Will we hit a point in our Guild Wars 2 community where those who are more experienced will push out those who are less experienced, all for the sake of victory? I’m not sure this is right. What’s the balance between the competition and the community? I’m not sure I have a real answer.

Elitist vs. Elated

I think it’s important that we recognize that in our passion for this amazing game that tends to bring us great joy and happiness (at least, it does for me), we don’t let our zeal become something that ruins the opportunity we have to continue building a better community. Elitism is never a healthy solution, but being competitive in a healthy manner can be. It’s all about respect. So Tyrians, let’s think outside ourselves and our passions to honestly think through the impact we have when we make ultimatums for others in their gaming. Perhaps this isn’t a solution, but it’s definitely something we ought to consider.

I guess it all comes down to remembering that, like drivers behind the wheel of a car, gamers behind the avatars are real people too.