Saturday, February 28, 2009

Time vs. Skill: The Gear Facade

I was reading the last GoW post again, one I had read but didn't have time, at the time, to comment on. After leaving my own congratulatory comment, I noticed someone else's congratulatory comment had a link to a post after it.

Part Time Druid posted about Time Versus Skill.

I can't recall if I've ever posted about this issue before, but PTD hit my nail on the head with his post.

Er, minus the factor of children, that is.

It's something that bothered me a whole bunch and still does, not because I necessarily begrudge the people with more time the gear that I only wish I could get, but because I sit there and stew with the fact that if I had more time and if I had gotten into that raid, that I'd be the one with the phat lewtz. And if I'm already a good player, how MUCH better could I be if I had the gear? If I'm already competing with DPS that outgear me in amount of damage I can put out, how much better would I be if I had their gear?

People assume that I have skads of time to play because of my alts, but honestly, leveling is cake compared to end-game stuff. I can log in for no more than 10 minutes and complete a quest and continue to level. But grinding for gear, instancing, raiding, etc... that takes time.

And then what really upsets me is that people who see me standing side by side with another (insert class here) will inspect the two of us, and think that the other person is a better player because they have better gear.

Gear is a trap. It fools you into thinking that someone is a skilled player if they have really good gear.

How often do you pull in a PuG member to a raid or a heroic and you armory them and say, "Oh, wow... look at his gear! Grab HIM!" and he turns out to be a total dippitydoo? Can't tank, can't heal, can't DPS... and you realize that he only got that gear because his sorry ass got supported all the way through raids X, Y and Z.

That isn't the case with everyone. Some people with lots of time on their hands ARE very skilled, be it that they're a "natural", or all that time they have they actually spent not just on getting gear but also on learning how to play their class.

Gearists annoy me. You can have someone with a zillion and ten mana and spell power healing you and run out of mana before the fight is over with because they don't know how to play their class. You can have someone else with limited mana and spell power do just fine because they do know how to play their class.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather take option #2 and have a sense of satisfaction over the accomplishment, rather than option #1 and be frustrated that zomgepic boy (or girl) can be outplayed by my Guild Leader's 1 year old daughter.

Anyway, thank you PTD for causing my rant! We all appreciate it. :)


  1. I think also people use "best player" when they mean "most effective toon" I really don't care who is the best player, I want the most effective toon. You could take the best human player on the planet and if they are level 60 in greens, my toons would probably be more effective in the raid. Or you could be a great player with great gear but not an effective toon if your internet/computer causes you to d/c as soon as any AoE happens.

    My cynical nature is that I do not expect a lot from strangers, so why not take the bad player with the better gear? Crighton once wrote that ability, intelligence and desire are about equal factors for success and it is so much easier to measure desire. Better gear does not mean a better player. But if you are choosing between two strangers, why not take the one with better gear?

  2. @Hagu: I don't disagree with the fact that if you're picking between two strangers, the stereotype is that the person with the better gear is the better player. So why not take the person you think is better?

    I'm arguing that the stereotype is incorrect a good portion of the time!

  3. I agree with both of you here. I'm a big fan of finding good players and sticking with them (to the point of detriment sometimes). Thus, PuGging for me usually means perusing the friends list or allied guilds for people I know.

    However, there has to be a balance. As a raid leader, you know when someone is geared well enough to be "successful" or to have a decent shot at a particular encounter. Different leaders will set different bars, but if they clear that bar, then of course you bring the player.

    The point is that you can't judge based solely on gear, but you can't choose based solely on skill... it really is a double edged sword (2H).

  4. I do agree that simply taking the toon with better gear does not guarantee the better player. But if you have two strangers, one with vastly better gear than the other, what else other than gear can you use to determine which to take?

    Your choices become possibly horrible player with good gear OR possibly horrible player with bad gear. ?

  5. @Ron: Unfortunately, that is the decision most people are left with. The success of WoW has been not just due to the end-game content that the uber-people get to play in, but the fact that the game is playable by face-rolling monkeys as well as by grandfathers with their grandkids. Or grandmothers, let's not be sexist here...

    My point is that the stereotype drives me nuts. :)