What defines a person? What is the thing that is at their core, which makes them who they are? There can be many things that do this, which can be small or large parts of their lives. As a gamer, we have a way to extend these definitions of ourselves into the virtual world through the characters we play.
Of course, not everyone does this. There are people who play only for the enjoyment of what a certain character can do or a role that is required. I believe that someone who truly enjoys playing a certain character does so because it’s something they can identify with.
Looking back at the characters I’ve played over the years, I can see a progression of how I identified with these characters and why I chose what I did. More so, I can see why I’ve stuck with my Tauren Druid so long and still really enjoy playing him.
Of my many characters, I’m only going to focus on two: my previous main, a Blood Elf Paladin and my current main, a Tauren Druid.
I stuck with my Paladin for a long time, starting on BC launch day and raiding as a healer through Tier 5 stuff (Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep). This was my first experience playing a melee oriented class that I actually enjoyed, as previously I had played only ranged/magic classes in my online gaming career. With this character, I found that I could identify with him somewhat.
In real life, I’m a very ordinary guy. I work for a living, I have a great family, I do very normal stuff. However, part of what I do in my job is help people out (since I work for a bank, it just happens to be financial help), and that is part of who I am.
When I focused on being a healer and a paladin, I could identify with what the paladin is supposed to be. A protector of others, putting other people ahead of one’s self. As I was healing my guildmates and keeping them alive through these encounters, I could see myself in that role as well. Because of this, I believe that I stayed with the character for a while.
The Paladin was a member of the Blood Knights, originally siphoning power from M’uru, and thinking that he was just doing this for his own advancement. Yet, as time went on he realized that he actually liked being able to help others out. Rather than just being another Blood Elf minion, he established himself as a member of his guild and a vital member of a raiding team. When he found out about the betrayal of Prince Kael’thas, he decided to focus on the friends he had made in his guild and only be loosely affiliated with the Blood Knights, even though the Sunwell was restored.
My current main character was born because my wife had recently started playing WoW as well, and we wanted to level characters together. She had created a Tauren Shaman, and I wanted to create a new Druid – hoping that it was better than the original time I tried to level one in Vanilla. We had a lot of fun, and made it to max level in Burning Crusade, and I eventually made him my new main.
I see my Druid’s identity as part of that original experience. He was going through the world with his wife, trying to help people out and bring glory to the Horde. His loyalty is first to his family, then to his fellow Tauren, then the Horde. This is basically how I am in my real life situation.
Our experiences shape who we are, in-game and out. Whether that is a traumatic experience that makes you cringe when you see spiders, or a smile whenever you see kittens because you just love them. If you value protecting others by keeping them safe, a healer or tank might be a good option for you because it aligns with natural personality. If you protect others by removing things that would cause others harm, there’s DPS for you. What type of DPS? Take out your frustration by stabbing things as a rogue. Enjoy setting things on fire as a warlock.
WoW’s longevity can be credited to a number of things, and I believe that relatable characters is a very big part. I wrote about this before regarding NPCs, but this definitely also applies to player-controlled characters as well. Why have a hero if you hate being that person?
It’s time for me to add to the growing group of voices in the blogosphere in regards to the upcoming change to the Looking for Dungeon group tool in 4.1 and the addition of the “Call to Arms” feature. There has been a number of posts regarding this issue, and a number of different opinions about it. From all the posts I’ve read and podcasts listened to, it seems people are pretty much split down the middle.
When the announcement first came out from Blizzard that they were adding in the “Call to Arms” feature for the LFD tool in 4.1, I have to admit I was a bit surprised that they would make such a move. Since the tool first came out in Wrath, there have been average wait times depending on your class. DPS players have long queues, healers are medium to short, and tanks are extremely short or instant. People (mainly DPS – including myself) have complained about the wait times, but nobody has had any ideas of how to fix it.
Enter Call to Arms. Basically, this feature adds an incentive for a player to queue as one of the roles that is lacking in the LFD tool at the time to help speed things up. Lots of healers and DPS in the queue but lacking tanks? The system will add CtA for tanks, and give that person an extra reward after a successful dungeon run. Basically, it’s a new version of the grab bag added at the end of The Oculus from Wrath to convince people to do something. It’s not a bribe, it’s incentive.
To break it down in a simple format, here’s what I think:
Good things about Call to Arms
- Gives people a reason to want to tank – for example: making it a dual spec, rolling an alt.
- Extra rewards are bind to Battle.net account, so the rewards aren’t just for that character.
- (Hopefully) fills roles which are needed in the queue at the time, reducing wait times all around.
Bad things about Call to Arms
- Throws money at the problem without fixing the overall issues – the tank is the expected leader of the group, whether they know the instance or not giving extra pressure.
- Increases chances of getting tanks who aren’t ready for heroics – their item level might be high from other gear, no clue how to tank.
- DPS will never get the extra reward – likely it will be tanks most of the time, healers rarely.
- Encourages people to queue solo, as there are no rewards for queuing as a needed class with a group.
I personally have my second spec set up for tanking as a bear. I tanked through Burning Crusade and Wrath, and enjoyed it. The changes that came through in Cataclysm made things different, and I wasn’t comfortable with doing it again, but I would like to try. 4.1 has some good changes for bears, which will hopefully make keeping aggro easier for AoE groups.
Altogether, I think the Call to Arms system is a good one. I just hope it works as Blizzard intended.