(This is a games post, not a World of Warcraft post, I swear.) One thing that bothers me when I'm playing (or reading about) World of Warcraft is the phrase "it's just a game." Well, yeah, sure, it's just a game, but it's also a game you're playing with other real people. I've occasionally heard this in reference to board games and sports, but I hear it all the time referring to WoW, and I hate it.
"It's just a game" is the phrase you use when you do something that you know somewhere in your mind is not acceptable, but you want to pretend that it's excused because you're playing a game. Actually, it's kind of like the phrase "just sayin'."
- "Hey, you're an ass-ugly dickface and not even your mom likes you."
- "Hey, you're an ass-ugly dickface and not even your mom likes you. Y'know, just sayin'."
Surely you've heard something like that before. Apparently you can defuse anything by adding "just sayin'" to the end of it. Anything's fine as long as you're just sayin' it.
- "Hey, I know we've been working on this dungeon for 90 minutes and it took us half an hour to get the group going and we're about ten minutes away from finishing so we can all get our rewards, but I'm kinda hungry so I'm going to go get something to eat. Bye."
- "Hey, I know we've been working on this dungeon for 90 minutes and it took us half an hour to get the group going and we're about ten minutes away from finishing so we can all get our rewards, but I'm kinda hungry so I'm going to go get something to eat. It's just a game!"
And that's pretty much how it goes. Yes, sure, it's just a game, but you're playing it with real people. If you're an asshole, World of Warcraft makes it strikingly easy to waste an hour or two of four other peoples' time.
It's a perhaps-unfortunate design decision of World of Warcraft (and from what I can tell, basically just ripped off of EverQuest) that dungeons take a group of people of a specific size (five) that includes two people filling specific roles ("tank" and healer). This increases the possibilities of tactical complexity in the various dungeons, but it also makes things a lot less flexible. In Diablo, people could pretty much come and go as they please, and the game would adjust difficulty accordingly. It takes a tank, a healer, and three other people to make their way through the Magister's Terrace and kill Kael'thas; in Diablo, you can basically do anything and everything with any kind of group. (Hellgate: London tried that in an online game, and it seemed to reasonably succeed in it, but I put it on hold since it was so crashy...)
I think that a lot of it is that the anonymous nature of the internet and games played online brings out the worst in people. There's no real accountability, so you can be as much of a jerk as you want most of the time, and it doesn't hurt you. You don't lose friends or even have to hear someone else nag you about it the next day. That's why a large number of people only play with people in their own guilds—there is a sense of accountability since you're playing with only people you know. But none of that excuses the lack of respect given to games outside of the online world. Fine, it's just a game, but that doesn't excuse you for only paying attention to your own desires and ruining someone else's leisure time.