Real Housewives of WoW

Rant Alert:The National Rant Warning System has issued a severe rant alert for areas of the blogosphere including the local one, for a period of as long as it takes you to read this piece. Blog rant radar has detected a line of severe indignation approaching, accompanied by cynical squalls and possibly damaging rhetoric. Readers should prepare for cranky irascibility and splenetic pique and should seek shelter immediately. 

Yesterday I wrote about how desperate WoW bloggers are to find anything newsworthy these days and that we should expect quite a lot of nothing, thinly disguised as real news, for the next few weeks. Would that I were less prophetic, because lo and behold I turn to MMO-C today and find not one, not two, but three — three! — featured items about ongoing drama in self-defined and Blizz-promoted “elite” guilds in the WoW world.

(Pause while I sputter for a few seconds.)

I really hardly know where to start on this. Up front, let me say I do not completely blame MMO-C for shameless pandering, after all they publish what they think their readers are interested in. (I do a little bit, though, there are such things as standards.) But honestly, has the game come to this? Is the player base no longer content to just play a virtual made-up game themselves, do they really enjoy watching others manipulate a mouse and keyboard? Are they so voyeuristic as to be fascinated by the ego-driven petty squabbles of these paid mouse pushers?


I am not completely naive about this. Gullible and idealistic, perhaps, but not completely naive. Method and its ilk are comprised of professional game players, promoted by Blizzard in order to squeeze even more money out of gaming groupies. And just because I personally don’t think “E-sports” should even be a concept doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate that there are others who are fascinated by it and willing to spend money to watch. When it comes right down to it, it is not all that different from watching professional football or baseball or even that icon of coma-inducing boredom, golf.

Whispering commentator: “Bruce, there’s been a lot of talk about the unconventional shot rotation employed by OverHype’s lead hunter, PuppyP. We’re almost certainly in for some surprises, and I see the pull countdown has started, so let’s watch.”

Bruce: “Well, they’re off to a good start. Interesting statistic here — their main healer leads the league in Fewest Overheals For a Resto Druid in the Third Wing of Helfire Citadel at Mythic Level on Thursday Nights. That’s impressive.”

WC: “Yes indeed it is. Back to the action. They have made it to the final phase, and it looks like — WHOA! I can’t believe what I am seeing! ”

Bruce (in most excited whisper): “Let’s look at the replay on that.” (Watches slo-mo of a keyboard closeup.) “Yes, that’s confirmed, PuppyP reverted to WASD movement and as a result missed his signature shot. That’s a rookie mistake that just shouldn’t happen at this level. That may cost them a wipe.”

WC: “Unbelievable! We’re going to take a commercial break, we’ll be back after this.”

People will apparently watch other people doing almost anything, it turns out, especially if the activity is hyped out the wazoo by manufactured drama dressed up as “human interest”. Even that supposed bastion of purity, the Olympics, does it, because let’s face it how else are you going to get someone interested in watching Curling? (“Curt, this team is emotionally and physically devastated by the tragic accident suffered by their Head Curler when a broom straw pierced his pinky toe.” *Cut to tear-laden interview with team member*)

So yeah, I kind of get it, sort of understand the interest in E-sports, even if I personally am not the least interested.

But what just boggles my mind is that anyone could have the slightest interest in the adolescent ego-hurt whining evident in the published excerpts from statements made by these professional guild members. Just for educational purposes, you should read them, even though it will be painful and will be three minutes of your life you will never get back.

Most of us who play this game in a guild spend a lot of time and effort to ensure that our guilds are drama-free. This round of published tantrums shows that the so-called “professional guilds” are anything but. Their raiders are spoiled, immature celebrity wannabes who happen to have faster than average finger synapses. And the guilds are run no better than any of ours are. Maybe that is an unfair characterization of the many based on the aggrieved whimpers of a few, but that is what is getting the publicity, so as far as I am concerned it is what the guilds want us to think.

Is this game sinking so low that it is becoming no better than the primitive “reality” shows on TV? Will we next be treated to published tell-alls from supposed “serious” players with names like Sco and Furty and Kuznam and Slootybag? I have no problem with what these people choose to do for a living, but I object when they assume the rest of the world is fascinated by every little perceived dissing of their august selves. Dudes, get some perspective. You play a game for money. Lots of money. More money than any soldier, police officer, teacher, or fire fighter will ever hope to see. So suck it up and keep your petty made-up drama to yourselves.

The National Rant Warning System has canceled the severe rant alert.

6 thoughts on “Real Housewives of WoW

  1. That’s pretty funny.
    I think the Next Step that Blizzard and all video gaming guys want is the Fantasy players who gamble money — that’s the rotten underbelly of professional football; the thing that drives ratings on teevee higher on bad games (viewers want to see if their player will get “points”).
    If you could create a fantasy type system for e-sports, you’d be rich .. well, beginning to be rich.
    People will gamble on anything, for some it’s an addiction and a disease; predators will hype and (okay … no more preaching, sorry).
    Good article!

    1. Absolutely. Fantasy sports are almost the holy grail of pro sports — gambling all dressed up as a mini game, legal everywhere (whereas regular gambling is not). Genius marketing. I had not thought about it in relation to virtual games until you mentioned it, but you are right that the company that figures out how to apply the principle to e-sports will rule.

  2. Ah, Blizzard’s love affair with elite Raiders. Using them to promote the only part of the game that really matters on TV to get people excited about getting to max level quickly and joining the raids themselves.

    To be fair, the viewer ratings for what I choose to do in WoW wouldn’t make great TV: although there might be a few good laughs to be had from the shapes of some of the Archaeology zones I’m visiting currently. Fishing for Felblight and Lunkers might give golf a run for its money thinking about it. Doubt if they’d bring too many new players into the game though.

    I can easily and completely ignore the hype around eSports, but I continue to worry that Blizz’s eager promotion of it will continue the raid-or-die philosophy we saw in WoD.

    1. Like you, I can ignore the eSports hype (usually, except when it gets ludicrous like the recent guild drama, then my mental state compels me to rant about it, lol). If someone can make piles of money playing a computer game, good on ’em, but I am not interested in watching them do it.

      The more insidious part, though, as you point out, is the effect it has on the game for the 99% of us. Blizz is navigating a tricky road here. People who have no interest in WoW are not likely to have an interest in the eSports part of it. So in order to promote their eSports, Blizz must make the game accessible and enjoyable to ordinary players. Mythic raiding does not provide such accessibility, and in fact end game raiding in general is not an activity that the majority of players engage in.

      The hard part for Blizz is balancing interest in an activity accessible to almost no players with an easily accessible game that appeals to a wide range of players. As usual, they have a difficult time balancing this, and thus we have had two years of raid or die for anyone reaching the end game.

      What they have failed to grasp is that just making the game fun for lots of players — whether the players actually want to raid or not — will automatically create a larger audience for their eSports ventures. But making a game that can only appeal to those who like raiding will diminish their potential audience.

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