Raiding Research Online

Exploring and mapping the MMO raiding culture
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Archive for October, 2010

How we value our clothing and kit (AKA gear)

October 24, 2010 By: Ladan Category: class spec, clothing and kit, raiding gear

So I have closed the latest micro poll and the results are interesting. In response to the statement that  “Having the right clothing and kit (gear) are essential to my experience as a raider”, the majority (61%) either strongly agreed or agreed, with an additional 19% saying they somewhat agreed with the statement. This suggests that a significant majority of respondents (80%) feel that their gear has a role to play in their raiding experience. Twenty percent, however, are less convinced. They either somewhat disagreed (11%) or disagreed (9%) with gear being essential to their raiding experience. This could mean that they find other elements to be more essential (and thus diminishing the impact and importance of gear) to their raiding or find that the “right gear” does not make that much difference. The breakdown is below.

  • Strongly agree (5) (36%)
  • Agree (4) (25%)
  • Somewhat agree (3) (19%,)
  • Somewhat disagree (2) (11%)
  • Disagree (1) (9%)

I find myself not entirely surprised by this result. From my observation, we are often judged and viewed by the gear we have on. If someone is wearing all PVP gear and blues on a PUGged raid, for example, we tend to raise our eyebrows at the least and at the worst, we might try to kick the person out of the group. They can’t possibly be prepared, we might argue, if they haven’t even done the work of getting the basics of the right gear sorted.  So gear can often lead us to question a player’s ability to participate in the raid constructively. Is this fair? Perhaps not, but I think it’s one of our few ways of attempting to judge skill before we’ve seen the player perform. I would say this happens far more frequently in the PUG environment, but I know that a player’s inability to know what the right gear is for their class and spec can have an adverse impact on a new trial member in a raiding guild, as well. I’m going to comment on this more in my next post, but I’m also very amused by our passion for discussing gear. For a world that’s largely populated by guys, we sure do like to talk about our clothes a lot! :)

Bringing back an old poll on the importance of gear

October 18, 2010 By: Ladan Category: Uncategorized

So I have reactivated an old poll that could use some more responses. It’s also related to my next post, about the role that gear plays in our subculture. Vote away, if you haven’t already. :)

Patch day poll

October 17, 2010 By: Ladan Category: Cataclysm, class spec, patch day, Polls

I’ve not kept this poll up for long as we’re now, mostly, post-patch day and it’s quite a different experience to think about things after something has happened versus thinking about them in anticipation.

But the results are interesting, suffice it to say!

  • Figuring out the best spec, glyphs, new rotation I can before Cataclysm. (55%)
  • Keeping on top of the information and changes so I don’t lag behind. (34%)
  • Trying to relearn how to play my class. Again. (21%)
  • No concerns, it’s all good. (10%)
  • That the changes from patch could throw off our raiding or achievement progress. (0%)

At least more about what you did not vote for in comparison to what you did vote for. A whole whopping 0% of you voted for the following: “That the changes from patch could throw off our raiding or achievement progress.” I would imagine that’s partly due to the current state of game content, the removal of that throne debuff, and the fact that for most of us, I imagine patch day is a more personal experience. The idea of how we’re going to manage post-patch, what we need to redo and re-learn.

I, for one, did probably less than I should have in advance to understand what was going to happen to my main class and spec. And what a surprise when I logged in. My own prediction–that I’d have to do a lot to keep on top of these changes to my class and spec–came true for me. I think it feels like a game that’s had a makeover. It’s the same thing, but many details are very different. It’s also a very interesting pre-software release strategy by Blizzard. Global beta testing! But I digress. Let’s continue to review the results here.

The literal work of managing the details of one’s main character (and spec) was the leading response to the poll questions, with 55% of respondents. After that, keeping on top of information and changes was the second highest response (34%), with learning how to play your character again the third response (21%).  Only a few of you (10%) were completely unconcerned about the changes. Could that be because you were already well versed in the changes? Could it be because of your current attitude and perception of playing? And I wonder now how those responses would have shifted in the aftermath of the patch. Would that small minority still feel that the patch was no big deal and would the number of those who have felt they’ve had to relearn how to play rise?

Regardless, anticipation of a big patch like the one we’ve had this past week leads the majority of us to expect to have some work to do to navigate the game successfully. This often involves a sense of urgency so that we only have a short bump in the road. It also creates an interesting reaction amongst gamers. Not to say that those who were engaged in the dialogue are regular raiders, but I was amused when I logged into WoW after the patch went live and saw the annoyed responses to those people on general chat who were asking patch-related questions. “Check Google” was the common response. That being said, no one likes an unprepared gamer. We have little patience for ignorance.

Post your raiding computer space set up!

October 13, 2010 By: Ladan Category: computer, play space, screenshots, user interface, World of Warcraft

So if you have a chance, go and peek over at the forums. You can post a screen shot of your interface, describe which addons you use, and link any photos of the game space you’ve set up. Less frequented are the discussions on raiding culture and raiding experiences. I’d love to encourage anyone to participate if you’d like. It expands the quality of the research I’ve been collecting this year.

Our latest discussion is about our raiding space set up, more of a way for us to share examples of how we’ve set up our own space for raiding. Feel like showing off?

New poll: “Patch day” comes to WoW

October 13, 2010 By: Ladan Category: Cataclysm, class spec, patch day, progress raiding, talents

Last night, in my EU server guild raid, we ended up doing something fun (some old school raids), partly to diffuse the extra pent up energy that comes in anticipation of a big patch like what’s been happening this week to WoW servers all over the world. I commented that it felt like the night before the first day of school…. everyone reminding me to check my talents, spec, glyphs, reagents… yes, Mum, it’s all in my school bag. :P

So it’s back again–patch day. This one is quite significant, with changes to our classes and talent trees. It’s giving us a taste of what’s to come with Cataclysm in December. Everyone wants to be prepared, no one wants to fall behind.

So what is important to you when you are preparing for patch day? Select the choices in my latest poll so we can see where our focus tends to lie when we’ve got a new patch to prep for. If I forgot something, add a comment! This is a new type of poll, so I’m experimenting here.

Reflecting on the raiding computer set up poll

October 11, 2010 By: Ladan Category: computer, play space, raiding, subculture

Thanks to all who voted in the poll!

I suppose I should not be surprised by the results here. We’re a demographically varied group, with all of us living in different situations and housing arrangements. The votes may reflect this. Topping the charts was the raiding computer set up in the bedroom (49%). This is probably the most logical one, particularly in light of who tends to raid regularly. Some of us may still be at home with our parents, thus we need to game in the bedroom. (This may also be preferred as it gives the raider a precious dose of privacy.) Some may be students or living in a shared accommodation and using their bedrooms as their offices/living spaces. We don’t all have that much in common with our housemates to do all that much together. It’s a rarer event to have the communal raiding set up, at least according to our poll with only 11% of respondents having their set up in such a public or group-oriented space. Again, I don’t think I’m surprised by this. The main reason I found Alex’s (see the blog entry below) living situation so interesting was the fact that it’s quite unusual.

I was particularly heartened by the living room vote (16%). Not because it’s an overwhelming winner amongst voters, but because it suggests to me that some of us like to do our raiding closer to the other action of the house. Now I know it’s possible that we live alone so gaming in the living room is no different from gaming in the bedroom; although I think there is a difference. The bedroom is an inherently private location, while a living room (even in a house with only 1 resident) is a place where we receive and entertain guests. Does that mean that we like to be engaged, not just in our raiding, but in the peripheral experiences around us?

One result that surprised me (but I would also consider it in relation to the living room result)  was the laptop vote. 18% of respondents use a laptop to raid. It’s usually frowned on by our community, so the somewhat high result was not what I would have expected. But, like the living room respondents, having a laptop does provide the potential for flexibility in where you raid and how you raid.

And, finally, the 6% of respondents having their raiding computer set up in a separate office may also not be surprising. While I have not seen research or researched it myself, I’m not sure if the majority of our raiding demographic would have the type of housing that allows for a separate dedicated office space. But perhaps another reason the result on this vote is low is that those who could have a separate office space have opted to use a laptop or raid in their living rooms.

Either way, I think this poll has confirmed my point of view: that we are not necessarily a subculture that fits neatly into the media-driven stereotype that they love to latch onto (the image of the computer gamer who is a spot-faced teenage boy who games alone in a dark room). And besides, while almost half of respondents do raid from their bedrooms, I’m quite certain that not all of them fit into that stereotype.

Raiding computer set up

October 01, 2010 By: Ladan Category: computer, play space, Polls, raiding

So I was mulling over what to put up as our next poll topic… and Alex saved me. She and I have chatted quite a bit in the past about spaces for gaming (and she even allowed me to interview her and her partner, Andy, about this). It’s been mostly focused on where we play, how we set up our spaces of play, and ways in which people play communally. There are two points of interest in relation to Alex and her partner’s playing set up:

1. They are avid LAN gamers. That’s local area network gaming to you uninitiated–where people gather in huge spaces to play together or share files over local networks for a whole weekend (or longer) . It’s a phenomenal spectacle and, according to my friends who keep encouraging me to go to one, an awesome gaming experience as well.

2. They happen to utilise a communal space to set up their computers and play. It’s not unheard of for a couple who raids together to literally set their computers up in the same space together. In fact I know quite a few cohabiting couples (married or living together) who generally prefer this mode of game play. The interesting feature with Alex is that it’s not just her and her boyfriend who have their computers set up next to each other, but their housemate has his computer set up next to them too!

So today, Alex sent me a photo of her, Andy, and their housemate all sitting together, side by side, playing computer games. And this triggered a question.

Do we really always game alone in those dark, isolated rooms, hiding from the world?

I think that’s the general perception of what a computer gamer is like. I definitely have personal experience being asked questions along these lines.

I firmly believe that in every stereotype there are some kernels of truth–meaning that in this case there are individuals who probably do isolate themselves socially and geographically in order to game–but I also believe that in general, stereotypes never hold up.

I tend to run into more and more cases of people who prefer to be near each other while they raid–or at least near other people. One person I interviewed, Mark, explained that because he has a family and wants to interact with them, he would actually not raid at all if it meant he had to be removed (aka in a separate office) from where his family hangs out in the evenings. In the case of Mark’s family, that’s in the living room. In order to bring together his desire to still raid (it’s way better, he says, than watching the reality tv his wife likes to watch) while still seeing and interacting with his family, he has set up a computer in the living room.

This need for social interaction and connection–within and without the game–does not resonate with this stereotypical image of the spot-faced, antisocial, reclusive young male who hides in a dark room in order to game.

So where do we like to set up our computers to raid? In our bedrooms? In a communal setting? Do we use laptops and float about? Add your input to the poll!