I have always been of the opinion that the social aspect Warcraft is a microcosm of the real world, with it's good points and it's bad points. This last week, I have seen some of the worst points mirroring the apparent threats to our society.
Identity Theft - The Case of the Miscreant Brother
Our guild had a new member, called Gungajin, skillful level 60 Warrior, very knowledgeable about the game and apparently the reason for this was that his Alliance alt is Gromagrim. Who? Gromagrim is one of those 'active' realm members - a person who is in the battlegrounds a lot, on the boards a lot. I believe he is the off-tank of Inner Sanctum, the best guild on the server in terms of progression. A true 'star'. Gungajin was given props for this and we all felt a little touched by this and then someone questioned whether he was actually Gromogrim, or whether he was lying. This second guessing continued for some days until the inevitable happened - Gungajin was playing in an instance and our guild master downed a dwarf in WSG... and it was Gromagrim. The scam was up! The pretense was exposed! BUT... that was not the end of it.
When confronted, Gungajin span out that oldest and best of anonymous excuses - that wasn't me, it was my brother playing my account. And yes, indeed, the voice of Gungajin had never admitted that he was Gromagrim - only the words typed into the screen. The guild decided to offer Gungajin the benefit of the doubt and kept him as a member - and a damned good member he is.
However, now, I have noticed that a number of other players have began to react to this - my brother threatened to quit the guild, my brother was messing with my mic, lend me money because my g/f has changed my talents etc. It is a very pleasant excuse.
Another upshot is that certain players are watching other players and waiting for them to make a mistake. Any claim of previous guild activities are dealt with in a 'guilty until proven innocent' manner. Someone even said to Gungajin last night 'Last time you said that, it was Dementation not Praetorians...at least keep your lies coordinated'. It's a level of distrust that I find distasteful and also niaive. After all, we are all simply personalities hidden behind pixelated avatars on a screen. The anonimity of the internet provides the perfect facade for someone to create a new identity....or to steal another one!
Social Responsibility - the Patch 1.11 Drip Feed
Patch 1.11 has arrived to the starved masses of Silvermoon's level 60s. I think this was probably the most anticipated patch I can remember for a long time, even though the big inclusion, the necropolis of Naxxaramas is essentially about six months off for many of us....if at all. 1.11 has been on the cards for weeks now and the patch notes have been available for a month. A full MONTH. So we have all had some time to peruse them, disgest them and generally understand the way they work, right? WRONG!
Last night was a literal cacophony of people in chat, ventrillo and in /general simply bumbling around wondering what was happening! How could the game have changed so much? How could this new content not be BLINDINGLY obvious? Why did they have to search out the new questing targets? Couldn't someone just take time to explain everything to them and spoon feed them the answers?
My annoyance with this is two fold. Firstly, a number of the complaints about the game revolve around it not having enough new content and that the new content that is added is targetted at the very best players. Poppicock is what I say! How can someone who has never set foot in Blackwing Lair say that there is no new content? They have at least three entire instanced dungeons that they have never even entered! That smells like new to me?! Similarly, they devour any new content that is available like rabid animals - I wonder how many people have completed the Midsummer quests already? And yet on the flip side of that, we have the tactic that Blizzard uses to give these events a little longevity - they make them into extended 'grinds'. Now, the new attacks on the cities are quite exciting I think, and have a definite script, but they are essentially grinds in the same way that the elemental lords in Silithus are. For some people, starved of so-called new content, these quests do not deliver quickly enough, For others, they are zoomed through. You cannot have your cake and eat it I'm afraid.
And secondly, there are the people who never learn. The perennial spongers of information who rely on others to spoonfeed them their entertainment on one hand and the people for whom the expectations of great things that have never occured and thus disappoint, are so easily raised as to be annoying! Look, how obvious is it that dancing around a Maypole is NOT going to give you any sort of phat epix? It's a bit of fun. And yes, the rewards for visiting a load of bonfires will be 'chaff' - it's supposed to be a bit of fun, to add depth to the game. Of course, it doesn't help you with your plunge into Molten Core... but it might save your soul.
(News just in - dancing around the maypole gives you a +FR buff....so it will be mandatory for MC. *shakes head*)
ASBOs - The Horror of Global Barrens Chat
A while ago a number of players complained that the Looking For Group channel (LFG) was restricted to the area you were stood in. Therefore if you wanted to say, start the Battle of Darrowshire, you would be unable to because there were not enough people to help even though in Orgrimar there were dozens of happy recruits. Blizzard decided to solve this by introducing the Global LFG channel - a worldwide channel for seeking help with quests.
You can see what was coming, right?
There is no other global channel. Even /general is kept within your area. Thus every simple minded little fucktard in the game had an open channel to expose their specific brand of fucktardery to the masses. Why annoy maybe 100 people in the Barrens with your opinion that 'teh rouges r teh ghey!' when you can spam 5000 people?
However, the worse thing is that when people try to stop them, they realise that they are indeed, holding the channel to ransom! The only real avenue that players have to avoid these imbeciles is the /leave! And indeed, thats what people have done in their droves. In our guild after only a couple of hours of play, the default answer to anyone complaining about the channel was 'it's your own fault for not leaving already'.
So there we have it - a society where your identity can be stolen and the anonimity of the system creates a viable blame avoidance culture, a society where people want someone to always be helping them to greater, free-er rewards with minimal effort on their parts and a society where the slightest of freedoms for the masses are spoiled by the actions of a few idiots.