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I was talking about guild drama the other night and stumbled into the middle of a conspiracy theory. I don’t have any time for conspiracy theories but they are fun, sometimes coincidence is a cruel mistress. In the following account only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I was in a guild some time ago, let’s call them Duality, not that they figure much in this story. A friend of mine in Duality, let’s call her Velvetbringer (thank you Blood Elf Name Generator) told me that she had had some weird experiences online with some random guy. Apparently he really wanted to marry Velvetbringer who he has never met in real life or seen photos of. Draenor-EU isn’t a RP server either so that’s just weird. Nothing really unusual about this: woman on Internet creeped out by a man. He we shall name Phalluspate©.

Meanwhile in another time, another place, you find me a guild officer (again) and looking after the shop. Now, after the release of an expansion and a few weeks before raiding is due to get underway again I start to become aware that a small group of four are gearing faster than anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with this, it will happen in any guild, someone has to be the quickest, someone the slowest. I believe this is called maths. The only problem I had was that one of the four, Treestream, was an officer and another, Nightfall, held a senior position in the guild.

Now for most of you this still won’t sound odd. However, in this particular guild we had a very clear policy of inclusion, cooperation and unity. I tried my best, along with the other officers, to gently hint and encourage these four try to engage in the project of gearing everyone, so that the entire team would be ready to raid when, or shortly after, the tier opened. The best response I got was sarcastic and dismissive.

Treestream was invited to (actually two) officer meetings to sort this “misunderstanding” out. He needed to address making unilateral decisions about promotions, whole guild meetings about raiding, focussing his efforts on gearing only himself and a tiny clique and not communicating with the other officers and ignoring meeting invites. We needed to plan how we could systematically gear up everyone that wanted to raid. It takes two seconds to get on Discord and post “Sorry I cannot make it tonight RL.” There’s even a phone app. So not turning up and not sending apologies is at best rude at worst arrogant and overly confident of your position.

In Treestream‘s awkward absence we confronted Nightfall about running all these mythics back to back when we, the other officers and many members, were trying to get everyone to max level and an ilevel that allowed queuing for heroic 5 mans. She gave me a lot of flannel. One piece caught my attention, in a nutshell she liked doing mythic and wanted to gear up to “help the raid” as much as possible “with progress”. She would get to this other “shit” when she’d geared. Now the shit, as she referred to it, was either a) helping other guild members or b) other guild members themselves. We chose to believe a) and we still didn’t like it.

It bothered us that she was running mythic with only three others. While Nightfall claims she’d only run a couple of mythics (ever) with Treestream and didn’t really know him we thought it odd he would unilaterally promote her to “Ranged DPS Leader”. She didn’t know what she had done wrong. It’s not what you’ve done, there is nothing wrong with what you’ve done per se, it’s what you haven’t done. Having a senior guild rank and not helping other guildies out wasn’t compatible so we had to demote her, busting her down to er…full member rank. She didn’t respect that decision and /ragequit.

I’ve played this MMO for thirteen years, Some phrases are coded and carry, often unspoken assumptions with them. So arguments in favour of having some people push to be better geared to make progress easier is code for having better geared people to carry the rest of the raid. When they get tired of carrying (immediately) you can implement two tier raiding with the “better” (read better geared) players in Team A. The rest of the people can raid on “a non-progress” night.

So a core of four apparently more raid and gear focused individuals in your guild can be problematic. Sooner or later they will being making statements that include most of the following; progress, frustration, repairs, wiping all night, carrying, less skilled, more DPS. It’s worse when two of the four are tanks and one is an officer. You can accuse me of paranoia and control freakery if you will but I see a coup brewing. It’s difficult to topple a Guild Master, it’s not difficult to hijack a raid and steal all the “best (geared) raiders”. The unspoken threat these people posed was of being too important to the guild to risk losing. Two well geared tanks and the (self appointed) Raid Leader.

The attitude of this clique, the sarcasm and dismissiveness towards officers, the outright lies in Nightfall‘s self justification (that made us question everything she said), Treestream’s arrogance and refusal to attend meetings or even message his regrets just irked me. After thirteen years I have seem all kinds of bullshit you just wouldn’t believe. Guild splits with the ex-GM leaving to form a raid guild with the best raiders. Tanks from other guilds stealthing into a guild and poaching the “best raiders”. It all boils down to the same asshatery in the end, adults playing a game and behaving like children. In a community guild that places equal value on all its members, no one person, or raid tank, is any more important than another. Sometimes you’re better off without these people.

Nighfall left and we kicked Treestream, then we kicked the others for their obnoxious attitude and being part of a little cancer in the guild that I hoped wouldn’t spread. Sometimes you make these decisions and no matter how sound you think they are you worry about the fall out and long term consequences anyway. So it was with some trepidation that I logged on the next day, I took a deep breath as I logged in. I expected a barrage of questions, a few people complaining about he loss, in one fell swoop, of the four best geared raiders, a few guild quits, complaints, sullenness.

I was staggered by the guild’s response. All that day, that evening and the whole next day guild chat was buzzing with vivacity and activity. Not one single person asked me what had occurred but the atmosphere in the guild was one of laughter, amiableness and togetherness. As I wrote on Discord the night before “Inclusion and community are easy concepts to grasp and pay lip service to. We’re not doing that, we’re serious.” It seems like people really took that to heart. Since then we’ve all, and I do mean all, been pushing hard to level and gear each other. Some people have run mythics too…there never was anything wrong running mythics.

So we’re reflecting on how things work out and Velvetbringer is poking around on wowprogress.com and points my attention to a newly formed guild: PenisEnlargement. With Treestream as GM, well I guess that kinda confirms my worst fears and sorts out who the ring leader was. Nightfall is an officer of course. I wonder who will be grinding herbs and ore for the entire guild and when he will get sick of doing it? We can’t imagine who will lower themselves to do recruitment in a guild full of narcissists? Good luck. You’ll need it. When people join and gear themselves then leave, taking some of your raid with them, remember you can’t bitch and complain.

LOL It comes to my attention as I write this that PenisEnlargement are whispering guild members trying to poach. If anyone wants to join you you’re welcome to them mate. Really. No problem, Il advertised your guild in guild chat and encourage anyone who puts progress before people to try you first. There are a lot of guilds out there like that, that’s fine, I say join one, please don’t try to change us. Apparently the whisper (as posted in to guild chat) runs something like “Your[sic] in a gratzing guild that recruits in Trade and has had a raid leader kicked and is losing members hand over fist.” One small point, Raid Leader was a self-appointed aggrandisement, I thought we’d agreed to share that role…but whatever.

Then we discover something even weirder. Treestream was in a guild called (er…) Hydrophobia. our ex-GM and good friend shouts: “Hydrophoba! I know their GM!”
“How come?”
“Well I was recruiting and spamming Trade chat one afternoon and she was asking all her ex-members to come back to the guild. It turns off it was her birthday and she logged on in the morning to say hi and see you all tomorrow, I won’t be on all day – birthday celebrating. People said happy birthday. Some time that day, after she logged off, one of the officers started kicking everyone I felt so sorry for her I offered mine and Duality‘s help, if could in any way.”
“Wow! Hydrophobia is the guild Phalluspate© was in!”
“Phalluspate©! That was the officer that kicked everyone.”
“What? Your stalker, your GM friend and Treestream were all in the same guild?”

It’s a small world, and the WoW Community is smaller. Hey, funny coincidence though. It would be more scary than funny if Treestream turned out to be an alt of Phalluspate© though…

I’ve blogged about my guild history before. In Wrath I flirted with hardcore raidering for a while. I don’t know how good I was. I was never the top DPS, but sometimes I put out the most damage. I don’t die and I don’t take a lot of healing which is what you want from a warlock really. It doesn’t matter if you can cheese the metre at points in the fight, but it really helps if you’re alive deep into the encounter to lay down some damage and push the team over the line. I decided after Wrath that I was less interested in the higher levels of raiding than I was in making friends and having fun. I was recruited in Cata for a very specific role: to fill out a bench / “Team B” roster and bring some experience. I actually liked the sound of this.

Mid tier the officer that recruited me went on a break, Team B decided it would continue pushing and progress into Firelands, then the current tier. We voted on a name, a banner to rally behind, foolishly I joked “Team Ruta” and that was their choice. The first / progression team selected Team A as their name. Losing the officer we lost our raid leader, so we decided we wouldn’t have one. With no raid leader there was no one to shout at people, get sarcastic, complain about wiping, ask who fucked up. Many in Team Ruta said they’d never had as much fun raiding and would never, ever raid with Team A‘s raid leader again. Occasionally, Team A members who couldn’t raid on their nights that week came along with us, they’d try to “raid lead” for us which meant calling out all the stuff that Boss Mods announce. We didn’t want or need that, so we stopped them. Without blamestorming and finger-pointing the team gelled and started taking individual responsibility for any mistakes they made. This made other team members confide in us when they messed up and offer advice if they’d solved a particular problem themselves.

So we supported and encouraged each other and played as hard as we could because we genuinely didn’t want to let the rest of the team down. Relying on ourselves and our boss mod addons we became better, more independent raiders. No one could forget or be too busy to call out massive boss damage incoming or all stack on the left so ten people had to remember for themselves…and did. I’d like to tell you we trounced Team A and Team Ruta cruised to a comfortable first guild defeat of The Madness of Deathwing. Sadly that would be bullshit. However, for a team existing to fill gaps in the first team, a reserve pool to call on if first teamers were missing or couldn’t turn up, backups, we did give them a good run.

So recently I got arm twisted into forming my own guild, it didn’t take that much pressure, but it is still Mori’s fault. I think it’s our guild, but she seems to want to distance herself from that idea. If I am going to do this and get to be the GM this time, I can write the rules and this time implement them too. Being the only one around during days I get to do all the recruitment too, which can be an annoying, tedious chore, but does allow you to be very selective. Particularly satisfying when poor huntard, ex-guildies ask to join. Of course you too would decline them because you have too many people they wouldn’t like: “hypercrytes”, people who don’t play the game any more and having rules banning backstabbers.

So what is the great experiment we’re running? Well, I’ve been dismissed as a casual on many occasions since Cata by people who aspire to skip through Flex (normal) and then stumble through Heroic level raids trying to keep their raid team together. Define casual? These same people have argued that I’m living in a dream world believing that 10+ adults can motivate themselves to complete an heroic raid. That without a guy (and it usually is a man) shouting or growling, chastising mistakes and bullying the team along there would be no progress. There would also be no progress if you insisted on having any and all guild members that want to attend a raid in your raid. Some people are so bad they have to be excluded. Or if you want to be more inclusive and push for any progression you have to have two raid tiers: the progress team and the others who are shit and need carrying. The language is usually different but that is what they mean.

So the experiment is that our new guild is to be inclusive on all levels. We don’t tolerate intolerance or prejudice, we welcome all races, genders and sexualities. We also welcome all guild members to our raid, no one is excluded. We have a raid leader, but his job is to impart tactics and advise. Not to duplicate the boss mod announcements or tell off adults for “standing in the fire” in a video game. I swear to you I’ve told managers to fuck off and quit job(s) where I’ve been treated with more respect than I’ve had from some GMs and Raid Leaders. Does anyone believe that I can happily walk out of paid employment when given unreasonable shit but I will stay in a guild that treats its members like children who need hand holding and/or some shouting at? Not happening. We may be rolling dice with progress but who cares?

Inevitably some people won’t like what I’m trying to do. I’ve been called a feminazi, a snowflake, a fascist, a communist, a cuck, a race traitor and accused of trying to create a safe safe or imposing the tyranny of male oppression (LOL) on poor mistreated while, heterosexual men. Just stating that we have rules underlining that we don’t tolerate racism, sexism or homophobia has been descried as politics, which have no place in a guild. That’s not politics, it’s not left or right, only one political grouping espouse racism, sexism and homophobia: the alt- or extreme right. Tolerance is not political it’s ethical. If you do not treat equally any who is not male, white or heterosexual then you’re excluded from our guild. That’s isn’t politics, I’m not excluding a political group or their ideas, I’m excluding hatred and the people that peddle it. Cunts.

Currently we’ve got about 100 characters and more than half that many people in our guild. They all seem friendly, helpful and supportive, whoever you are and wherever you’re from. I call that winning. We’ve cleared Antorus Normal too, the second time with a team of ten guildies for the achievement. In Battle for Azeroth we’re going to keep on doing what we do and being who we are. I also hope we’re going to clear each raid tier on heroic. However, I won’t be too disappointed if we don’t. I’d rather raid with good people that clear Mythic with cunts. You can quote me.

There was some drama in our guild last night and I have to own up that I started it. I mentioned politics in jest and someone responded…badly. To an extent I agree with the idea that politics has no place in a game. Politics is important and informs all aspects of life. Politics isn’t something that happens elsewhere, in Westminster say, politics is the stuff of everyday lives. However, politics can potential be (though it doesn’t actually need to be) very divisive. Some issues, while they are political, have very important moral and ethical dimensions. I may be happy to tolerate Tories, UKIPers and Brexiteers in my guild. I cannot accept racists, sexists, homophobes and misogynists.

Now ‘Centrist Dad‘ would have you believe many things that are simply not true. “The political centre ground is the best place to be, a place of balance and sanity between two crazed and extreme views.” “There is no such thing as class any more, we’re all working, so we’re all working class.” “Extremes” of left and right wing politics are by no means the same. Politics is not a colour wheel that goes around in a circle with extreme left and right wing views sitting next to each other.

The political centre is often simply an articulation of the status quo and the views of the vested interests that weild power. The Left and Right are opposed fundamentally and disagree on almost everything. Also, some things aren’t a matter of opinion, they’re a matter of fact.  Some ethical ideas leak into the political sphere and become more than simple disagreements about party politics. For example, there are many arguments for a left wing EU exit, or Lexit, arguments that are class-based and not founded on racism or anti-immigrant sentiments. However racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric is morally bankrupt and unethical.

There are ideals and beliefs, and their political expressions, that I will have no truck with. These are deeply help principles that have cost me employment. So rejecting them, on a much lesser stage in a guild, and the people that carry them is small beer. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber and curtail anyone’s freedom of speech, I would defend the expression and discussion of ideals, while disagreeing strongly and condemning their proponents. There are public platforms for expressions of free speech, the private realm of a guild is not one of them. I’m happy to reject, exclude and forcibly remove anyone who express racism, sexism or homophobia.

Immigration can be a divisive political issue and I’m happy to debate immigration policies, strengthening or relaxing immigration controls, but I cannot tolerate anti-immigrant or refuge sentiments, forcible repatriation, especially of people who have lived in our country for over sixty years since the Windrush, sentiments based on pure racism. I cannot tolerate anything that seeks to exclude, damage or other people. I cannot condone physically or verbal attacking groups of people and telling them to “go home” (what to Peckham?) Talking about controlling immigration often grows out of racism, but that isn’t necessarily the case, hatred of Jews, Muslims and other non-white British people that’s more straight forward.

The new or alt-Right in politics has appropriated the language of Liberalism, co-opting Centrist Dad‘s everywhere, to legitimise it’s race hatred, gender oppression and has sought to turn these things on their heads. Racism is now defence of the “oppressed white majority” and patriotism, anti-feminist rhetoric claims it is men who are actually oppressed which is ‘an inversion of the natural order‘. Islamophobia isn’t racist because Islam is not a race, it’s a religion. Multiculturalism is a perversion that breeds racism bringing incompatible cultures together and promotes the mixing of races that are and should remain distinct. Underpinning these lies and distortions are appeals to free speech and tolerance of ideas. The very things the Right stands against. Make no mistake, if the Right achieves power again (and it is beginning to do so in Germany, with the AfD, and already has with the Fidesz victory in Hungary) then criticism of the state, the white majority and patriarchy will be repressed and marginalised, as it is in Russia.

“Politics” perhaps shouldn’t be discussed in a guild context or any mixed company. However, ethical rejections of racism, oppression and the distortions of truth perpetrated by fascists, both overt and declared or disguised and politically correct, should be discussed in any fora including guilds. Fascism and all oppressive, discriminatory, anti-democratic ideas do need to be dragged out into the light of day, rejected and ultimately removed. Even if you lose guild members. I’ll take 10 non-sexist, non-racist, non-homophobic inclusive egalitarians over 50 fascists any day.

Call me what you like I’m a Marxist.

/2 “A word to the wise ain’t necessary- it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” <The Coffin Dodgers> We don’t tolerate intolerance or shouty raid leaders. Socials are always needed, melee particularly sought for laid back raiding.

My recruitment spam may not be to your taste. That may actually be by design. I do not want just anyone in my guild. We’re a community and most of us are over 35 so I don’t want any twenty- or thirty-somethings who believe (quite erroneously) that they are right, very mature and ‘fully growed up now’. That kind of drama and opinionated smugness I can do without, I have opinated smugness and drama all of my own.

This needs no commentary:

Expect a comment about the track selection being “hot garbage”. Don’t give a shit what you think mate.

I’ve made the pitch before (several times) that Looking For Raid should be removed from the game. Blizzard coined the term ‘tourist mode’ to describe LFR’s raison d’être, it allows everyone to access the lore and content of Warcraft. As I’ve often said the only problem is it’s negative effect on other aspects of the game. However, LFR is an easy source of symbolic in game value: gear. Often only suggesting there is something detrimental about LFR provokes a rabid response. “How dare anyone suggest taking our source of gear, elitist…Guilds are toxic, bullying environments full of gaming nerds…I have a limited time to play…I should get epic gear and…er…oh yeah, I want to see all the content or something.” Yeah whatever.

Please, I’m not an elitist, I don’t want to exclude anyone from content or gear. Any argument about the democratisation of Legendary gear, for example, is simply absurd, Legendaries are everywhere, everyone has at least one and that’s fine. My only objection to Legendaries has been making them random drops. If you need raid gear you’re raiding, if you’re not raiding you do not need raid gear. If you want raid gear go raiding. With dumbed down boss mechanics and little or no need to follow any tactics there is no need for the extra gear or tier of LFR. Especially 4 piece tier sets! Gear exists not for it’s own sake, gearing up is a pathway to access more challenging content, not an end in iteself.

Flexible sized and scaling, ‘normal’ raids can service the same audience as LFR without dumbing down raid bosses so much that people simply cannot transition into raids of higher difficulty. You can experience the lore and see all the content. It’s easy to organise on the fly and people do, they’re listed in the group finder all day. People dip in when they like and certainly dip out when they’ve had enough. If you have time to queue for LFR and clear a wing you have time to do a few bosses with a pug group. Time constraints are no a real issue. In fact if Blizzard were to remove LFR the should divide normal raids into four wings. Why not? This would make it even easier for LFRers to simply move to normal raids. The increase in difficulty is minimal, but normal raids do actually introduce mechanics and tactics. Normal has a very rudimentary level of mechanics with requisite tactics: a perfect entry level to raiding and even a stepping stone into heroic and even mythic level raiding.

Guilds were frequently toxic edged, particular around 40 man raiding in vanilla and 25 man in TBC, elitism was the norm. However, times have changed and if your guild is in any way toxic shame on you for staying in it. Quit and find a friendlier one, there are plenty of guilds out there and many, many friendly ones. If you don’t want to interact with a community on any level perhaps an MMO isn’t really for you? World of Warcraft is a massive online, social community. If your only contribution is log on and play solo are you really getting the most out of the game, should the game be tailored to your needs. I’m not arguing that you should be sidelined or left out of consideration, only that the game should be designed around those who are fully invested in all the aspects of the MMO – including participation in vast online community.

We currently have four raid difficulties with corresponding item level gear: LFR; Normal; Heroic: Mythic. Spreading the raider player base thinner, that’s not good for the game. Losing the lowest level would naturally encourage people into Normal, flexible raid groups. What is new in Legion is World Quests and Mythic+, especially with no or very low level (1 – 4) keys, which actually drop better gear than LFR now. World Quests and Mythic+ 5 mans completely address any want in the player base for gear. Normal raid level custom groups completely address the need of all LFR content consumers to access all the lore and content, without damaging the wider game.

Will Blizzard Remove Looking For Raid, I can’t see it. There would be a massive casual backlash. I didn’t raid much in WoD or Legion and I do a lot of pet battling, if you feel insulted by being called a casual ask yourself how I class myself these days?

Filthy, pet battling casuals…

Some of you will have read elsewhere whether or not this expansion contains a new continent or not. In retrospect many of the changes introduced in Cataclysm were very impressive and I loved the Twilight Highlands. It didn’t matter to me that the new zones were cheek by jowl with old zones, however it did feel fragmented and scattered across the map, but is that really a major problem? Look at Scholazar Basin, just one example of a zone that looks odd next it’s neighbours: Icecrown; Wintergrasp; and Borean Tundra. Perhaps being able to scatter zones across the map actually promotes variety of design. Unfortunately. if you take a look at the map of Azeroth and you’ll see we have no expansion room. If we want 7 or 8 new zones we will need a new continent. Blizzard will need to be very clever about reusing old zones, but if the Horde do try to smash Stormwind City and, perhaps, destroyed the front keep and the Alliance destroy their own main bridge into the city to deny us entry that would be something to see. You can see the scope for completely phasing Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms and having max level players lead vanguards of troops into zones, taking the other faction’s outposts and establishing new ones of their own. This is just the kind of design shake up Warcraft needs. Let’s get radical.

The Burning Crusade fixed the faction disparity and we got Alliance Shamen and Horde Paladins. The factions were expanded, Alliance with Draenai and the Horde was strengthened by Blood Elves. Wrath of the Lich King gave us the a whole new character class: the Death Knight. In Cataclysm we were gifted two more new races Goblin and (don’t laugh) Worgen. Mists of Panderia delivered a new cross faction race for the first time: Pandarens and a new class: the Monk. Not surprisingly in retrospect Warlords of Draenor gave us nothing in this respect. In Legion were were back on track with another class choice when the Demon Hunter was added. We’re not getting new races as such, but Battle for Azeroth is introducing Allied Races. Current race re-skins, but if we get new lore and starter areas I don’t see a problem, it’s like getting a new race. If Blizzard put their efforts into new starter areas and appropriate lore-rich quest lines that add flavour and character to the new Allied Races then that will be very good. If this is just a lazy short cut to delivering more recycled content then the warnings of Legion will cast a long shadow over this expansion.

Being based in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms may present some design problems for the questing and levelling, but my real fear is for raid design. Legion looked like a very tired cut and paste of instance textures. The Tomb of Sargeras and Antorus, the Burning Throne were indistinguishable from Hellfire Citadel, with a few design elements from Ulduar tossed in. The Emerald Nightmare was a lazy portal hub with zones ripped from old Azeroth then warped around a little. The Nighthold was the only raid tier in Legion where Blizzard seemed to make an effort. Suramar City and the architecture of that zone most definitely needs to be utilised further. Post Legion I think there is mileage in telling the story of the rebuilding of the Nightbourne‘s home. I also don’t think it’s too much to ask that the devs try to design some new raid interiors and stop the heavy reuse of the same mechanics across the expansion. Warcraft has a long and proud history, I’m not suggesting there should be no reuse of boss mechanics, just make it more subtle and vary it some.

Pet Battles are the ultimate in casual content. Get involved, don’t get involved it has absolutely no bearing on lore, narrative, player power or indeed any other aspect of the game. If you are not interested in PBs, whatever I was to put on my wish list, even if Blizzard delivered it all, it would make no impact on your game whatsoever. I’ve given up on anything that can rival the Celestial Tournament we were given in the Timeless Isle patch of Mists of Pandaria. So why not recycle it Blizzard? Swap in some new Pet Masters, with new pets and make sure you maintain the same level of difficulty. You could actually introduce new Pet Masters with every patch, that’s three or four new groups across the expansion. Can’t beat the Celestial Tournament centent? Then just do what you’ve done with everything else: recycle it and update it. Just don’t nerf the difficulty and we’ll be golden. As it’s instanced you can add four new Tamers with every patch, but maintain all the old groups. Easy to do and fun play.

Questing and levelling processes have already had a major, and post 7.3.5, a worldwide overhaul. The dynamic scaling technology has made every zone, every activity relevant in terms of levelling experience. This means Blizzard get’s concrete feedback about the success or failure of individual quest lines, hub and zones. If any quest line is particularly bad, tedious or onerous people will now vote with their feet, skipping the content completely. There is not feeling of being locked into level specific zone or quest line, you can go anywhere and do anything within the zone of your current expansion bracket. I hear a lot of dislike expressed for Dread Wastes, Spires of Arrak and latterly Suramar (three zones that, perversely perhaps, I really enjoyed, I absolutely loved Spires of Arrak). If everyone really dislikes those zones only a few of us will stay and play there. Perhaps Blizzard will even be able to patch new questing content into those zones during an expansion life-cycle, but they will certainly know what people like, what is working and what isn’t and the design direction they should take going forward.

 This will be good if they keep taking risks, trying new things, keeping what we like, refining and recasting what we don’t. Pretty much everyone reacted negatively to the garrison, Order halls and mission table tech are pretty much the same as in Garrisions, just rebalanced. Most agreed that Order Halls are much stronger and champion missions less intrusive. If Blizzard keep refining this game mechanic it can get better and really blossom. They will get the feedback they need to keep Warcraft relevant for some time to come.

Player housing is back on the community agenda and perhaps it’s time this was incorporated into the game. All the phasing tech now exists, if it’s structured in a manner similar to Order Halls, or even Guild Halls, rather that the solo player, facebook game of garrison farming then this could be a valuable introduction. At it’s core all of these activities need to be strictly optional. The best thing about Pet Battles are they are potential limitless you can add new content constantly, new pets, new battle, now tournaments and fundamentally the sub-game has no effect and any other aspect of the game. Raiders are not complaining that Pet Battles are content they don’t want to do to be able to raid, equally people doing pet battles has no detrimental effect on raiding.

Housing falls into that category, it extends the number of things to do in game, it is potentially limitless in it’s where it can go, it does not need (and should not be) linked to any other game play system. It could be linked to guilds and finally give back something personalised and a means of creating cohesion and providing group goals to work towards. Banking, auction house and profession trainers should be kept well away from this player housing so players have compelling reasons to leave. However, it might even be possible to provide individuated, phased rooms within a Guild Hall for players to personalise with invite mechanic (à la garrisons) to show them off to guildies. Pet Battles or other mini-games could be built into player housing to incentivise them without detracting from other core gameplay activities.

Fundamentally, Battle for Azeroth needs to do something Blizzard have failed at recently. It needs to utilise their excellent tech systems, like dynamic scaling, to create compelling and interesting content. Scaling has already had a marvelous effect on Timewalking, making those old dungeons not only reward relevent, but content relevent as they still present some of the challenge, therefore fun, we had when they were current. Indeed, I needed to try to remember tactics and work them the last Timewalking I did. Which is in sharp contrast to the abject faceroll they were before.

With just a little imagination and some fresh thinking about old ideas Battle for Azeroth could be a game changing expansion. We need that change.

Always think twice about placing a guild in a Stand-in GM’s hands. Even if no one else is prepared to step up,. It’s simply better to hold on to the GM-ship yourself, and go long term AFK, than make someone not-fit-for-purpose GM. Wonder if GMs think they’ll be able to to take over again if and when they comes back? I’m not so sure that always happens.

Weird shit happens in guilds all the time because half the people behave like the structures matter and sensible people don’t. Veteran ranks,  Officers and GMs, it’s all BS. We’re all just adults playing online games. We group up and put some people in charge simply because we don’t want to have to organise anything ourselves. So if one of the people we accepted as in charge starts behaving like they are in charge and everyone should listen to them and forget the very limited nature of their remit…things will not turn out well.

I’m surprised anyone could forgot, or put to one side, the whole “Thou shalt not swear, it will put off all the new people and offend existing members, so sayeth grandma Stand-in GM.” The GM, God love him, and I do,responded in a priceless manner and is worth quoting again. “Stand-in GM, no one fucking tells me when I can and can’t fucking swear.” Oh and all the new members you’re talking about? Your friend, the prick and his wife, who don’t like the bad language, and the other new member who is currently in the “Social Night” Discord channel with us swearing like a sailor?

So, the prick who keeps whispering officers to have people kicked just because he doesn’t like them? Or his wife who crashed a social night and bitched about the wiping in Timewalking? She did nothing but moan then force queued us for another dungeon. At which point all the four of the group silently and without coordination left the group and re-formed in another, quietly invited a fifth and carried on. Lovely woman, I hope her massive ego wasn’t brusied too fucking much. They’re the only people offended by anyone’s fucking swearing. Are you aware that psychologists have demonstrated, through rigorous scientific testing, that people who swear a lot are objectively more intelligent than average and they have a larger vocubulary (which also correlates to higher intelligence)?

So Stand-in GM and Huntard had a chat? Who initated it and what the content of the chat actually was nobody but them knows. However, we know they had a chat, they’ve both admitted as much. We also know that whatever was said and whatever was promised, Stand-in GM asked Huntard not to say anything to My Mate, the other officer, until he’d spoken to her himself. We also know Stand-in GM was so angry that Huntard did talk to My Mate that he dragged Huntard out of the Social Night channel into another Discord room and tore a strip off her, leaving her in tears. Bo hooo. We all know Huntard’s solution to that. It’s on her Facebok page.

Huntard says “Stand-in GM wants me back. He wants me to run social night.” Now I have no idea whether that was said. Huntard could easily be inventing that, or she misunderstood. Misunderstanding and not listening is after all her modus operandi. But clearly she wanted to take over social night and make it her “Wine Night” again. So whether or not she misunderstood Stand-in GM, she was certainly very happy to take over an organised guild event from an officer and pretended friend and deliver a gloating kick in the teeth on the way through.

When Huntard was talking about taking over Friday night she was completely at ease with kicking My Mate in the teeth because she would be back in control and could decide who did and didn’t attend. Yeah, I know you didn’t want me to attend your Wine Night Huntard. To be honest, if you were ever to run another Wine Night I for one wouldn’t wish to be involved. Neither would most of the people who have left Wine Night (taken you off Battle.net Friends and hide from you online) and WoW as an unattractive way to spend any time. However, excluding our friend because “She isn’t in the guild and not even in the game any more,” that’s rude and ironic since you haven’t stopped whispering her since you crashed so spectacularly out of the guild. So who are you going to organise a Wine Night with? Our Friend seems to be the only person you’re whispering on a Friday Night, apart from My Mate, which is hilarious since you’ve been dismissive of one and stabbed the other in the back. Apparently I’m the hypocrite? What is so hard to understand? Social Nights were supposed to be about having fun, doing content in a relaxed, laid back environment, parhaps enjoying a glass of your favourite beverage. It was never supposed be about carrying a beligerent drunk through content while she snaps at people who are trying to help. I got tried of being told to “fuck off, steve” for telling you the right thing and I’d have to say “Mate, tell her,” to have my remarks confirmed and reiterated.

If this reminiscence serves any puropse, other than to drag out into the cold light of day more guild BS that has no place anywhere, it demonstrates that once more the same two people have undermined a guild officer and made their position so untenable that they have reluctantly guild quit and left behind people they genuinely like. Huntard has stoked a shit storm around two officers and the now-Stand in GM has taken the bait. The same two people. Perhaps it’s “Social Officers” the Stand in GM doesn’t like. He always hated “Wine Night” even when it was still relatively drunk-free. With an absence of social officers perhaps there will now be an absence of social events. So everyone can really concentrate on they only thing that matters Raids. And farming mats for raids, especially Slabs of Bacon. Stop having fun and socialising and get out their and win the bacon. So this is what went down. I know there are people who’d prefer to let BS like this, or drama if you will, stay hidden, with as few people as possible having any idea what the hell happened. Secrets whsipered about, left festering and rotting in the dark. That can only benefit one person.

This Friday I spent the evening with the people I like most in World of Warcraft and a new soul who seems to be friendly and spot on. We ran dungeons for this new arrival, normals, just to help gear her, she’s 102, and we genuinely enjoy helping out (helping not carry-dragging lazy drunks arounds). We agreed that this “Social Night” was the best we’d had in we don’t know how long. Friends say things to your face, until they’re blue in the face. Then they might blog about about what they’ve said publicly to your face. Hypocrites say they’re your friend then engage in BS plots behind your back to push you out of your given role. So how are you spending your Friday Nights, because mine have improved and no one was excluded (only self-excluded)?

 

Wait…you took Nowhere to Hide?!

I just played 3 Heroes of the Storm matches with Illidan.

I was getting ordered around the map by a Jaina (Mighty) for no discernable reason. I was solo defending the bottom lane for a while which may have given them the impression that I was pushing the lane, quite rightly they noted “You’re too slow pushing a lane…” so I should “…go top.” I only went bottom to capture the zerg beacon and stayed because Alarak and Sylvanas were going to kick it in otherwise. I was holding them.

Jaina (Mighty) kept urging me away, they came bot and we had a 2 v 2, which I was happy with. The next beacon pop I reamed out three opponents trying to take bot off us, so I was pleased with how things were going. During a death phase I asked Jaina (Mighty) why the grief when we were two levels ahead and I was doing OK, our zerg wave was larger in part because I took out three trying to take bot, which left a 3 v 2 top with weight of numbers on our side. Mighty gave a little. Asking if it was my first time, since Illidan is on free rotation, no offence like. OK, well I could’ve taken offence, but what is the point? Now as I freely admited “I am not the best Illidan in the world. However, I can play OK for a level 4.”

We owned the next zerg wave too. Then the opposition grabbed a boss and I did a pretty fine job, with Jaina, of trouncing it top, fast. She even said “Nice xD”. Fair play, doffs cap. I drew a breath looked around and because I’m a n00b Illidan I’d taken the discouraged Nowhere to Hide at level 20. I saw a half health Chromie pushing bot. Hunt is such a joy. After smashing across the map and taking her completely unawares I then promptly cast Sweeping Strikes and smacked Sylvanas round the head for trying to take a Merc camp with Kel’Thuzad. with them both on half health it was small matter to terminate her and chase him down.

I got a LOL and “Not bad for a level 4” from our Jaina. Thanks Mighty.

Drink it in, neither of us will ever see the like again. Illidan is 5.

..and another thing, relativism is fucking up our culture.

“Cultural relativism is the ever-popular theory claiming that, “any set of customs and institutions, or way of life, is as valid as any other”. In its appeal to tolerance-the seemingly incontrovertible “virtue” of the modern era-it has gained wide appeal amongst myriad disciplines, most notably in the social sciences. However, the theory is destructive in both theory and practice. In theory, cultural relativism emphatically denies rea­son and objective reality. In practice, it sanctions the worst manifestations of violence and oppression.” 1

Postmodern culture is inveigled by relativism, on the surface the doctrine appeals to moderate views and tolerance, but offers no means to counter intolerance and oppression. There are many problems with relativism’s uncritical assimilation into popular culture. Generally, people are ignorant and equally uncaring about the full implications of their ideas. Internal consistency is not and has never been a feature of popular thinking. So when you point out the logical conclusions of given ideas people will either shrug or simply seek to limit the application of their idea to restricted spheres. Relativism, however, seems to have become applied to all aspects of life and culture, the great danger of this is it disempowers challenges to it and reveals at it’s core a doctrine that both anti-discourse and anti-rational.

In ethics relativists argue that no one moral viewpoint is more privileged than another and that all moral and social norms arise out of the culture of our upbringing. While this may seem be a powerful response to cultural imperialism it does leave the relativist in a position where they are unable to support or condemn the ethical and social norms of their own or other cultures. The relativist may feel that preventing women access to abortion services in Ireland or the massacre and displacement of Rohingya Muslims by Aung San Suu Kyi‘s regime in Burma is wrong, but their feelings arise from their culture and as no one point of view is better than another they have no basis on which to challenge, object or even to feel that what happens in another cultural setting is wrong.

While it may seem fashionably broad minded to accept difference in matters of taste, way of life and sexuality or gender identity relativism has no reason to champion the rights and freedoms of people within these groups or condemn their denial. If all viewpoints are of equal validity then a true relativist has no grounds to argue that culture tolerance and equality are moral goods or that his viewpoint is correct and others, with views rejecting freedom and equality, are wrong. It is muddled and inconsistent thinking to advocate that all viewpoints have equal validity and moral rightness then to defend oppressed minorities and reject and critique the cultural majority for their oppressive and normative views. One person’s moral viewpoint is not less than yours because you are able to label it: “mainstream”; or uncritical; or social or individually damaging.

Perhaps if we introduce another moral concept, ethical utilitarian which at it simplest level suggests that what is moral is to be motivated to try create the greatest good for the greatest number. We can then argue that damage and religious or cultural offence caused by legalising homosexuality in the UK has been outweighed by the good  it has done for the LGBTQ+ community. However, the simple problem with this piecemeal adoption of philosophical ideas is that they contradict one another fundamentally. This is a good example where mainstream culture attempts to appropriate technical ideas to pull a shroud over it’s confused and contradictory norms and beliefs. Resorting to an appeal to a rational, universal principle, such as utilitarianism, is fundamentally rejected by ethical relativists who argue there is no universal basis from which morals arise, which is why all cultures have different taboos and goods. Furthermore, it is simple culture imperialism to believe that one set of moral ideas arising from one culture are better than another set arising in another culture, it is only possible to assert moral supremacy by reference to universal values which do not exist. To accept a universal moral concept like utilitarianism’s that what is right is to try to create the greatest good for the greatest number is to fundamentally reject relativism.

In terms of taste, art, music, sexuality, gender and other elements of manufactured, human culture this is no bad thing. Acceptance of other viewpoints and other modes of expression has mostly positive affects. If we accept the relativist argument that all is viewpoint, then while one thing may seem a certain way from one perspective it will inevitably appear differently viewed from by another, from another place or perspective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the viewer or reader constructs meaning through a complex interaction of sensory impression and experience. This is true for objects judged to exist external to the viewer and ideas and theories constructed imaginatively and intellectually by the viewer.

“Relativism holds that no opinion is better than any other opinion. Taken to its logical conclusion, it destroys the whole enterprise of rational discussion. If every opinion is as good as any other, then the opinion I come to at the end of a long, informative and rigorous debate is no better than the one I started with—so, what good did the debate do? Worse, relativism says that the opinion of a world-renowned expert on some topic is no better than that of the least informed person.” 2

“Independence of mind, politeness and objectivity are the virtues that we…need in order to look for [truth]. Relativist ‘true-for-you/false-for-me’ talk undermines these virtues. Let us banish it…without delay!” 3 The relativist theory that all knowledge is subjective has it’s foundations in idealism, whether or not people who, superficially, accept relativism agree with idealism or not.

“In philosophy, Idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a scepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing…Beginning with Kant, German idealists such as Hegel, Fichte, Schelling and Schopenhauer dominated 19th-century philosophy. This tradition, which emphasized the mental or “ideal” character of all phenomena, gave birth to idealistic and subjectivist schools ranging from British idealism to phenomenalism to existentialism. The historical influence of this branch of idealism remains central even to the schools that rejected its metaphysical assumptions, such as Marxism, pragmatism and positivism.”4

At a very fundamental level relativism depends on idealism to refute objectivity in all it’s forms. If we cannot know whether the non-mental, physical, “real” world does in fact exist or that we cannot know it directly (since the sensory organs, which are non-sentient, collect the raw data from our surroundings and then pass that information to the brain which then ‘constructs’ a picture of the world which is demonstrably shaped by our experience and beliefs). Then not knowing this concrete, physical world beyond our mental construction of it, our experiences of reality are not only shaped by our viewpoint but our viewpoint is not open to question by another. No one can stand in our place and see the universe through our particular experiences. Furthermore, how can one viewpoint be more privileged than another? In this way it is incompatible with relativism to assert the truth of any proposition. There is no authority we can go to to validate our theories or beliefs about the nature of the real world. There isn’t even the real world, or an object therein, to refer to since the only information was can have of the real world comes to us, at best, from a secondary source (our own sensory experience).

In popular discourse idealism is generally rejected: “Of course their is a real, physical world. That’s just common sense. A real world that exists, even if I have no consciousness of it.” However, many of the corollary ideas of relativism are widely accepted. “My point of view is no more or less privileged then another’s. So my opinions are just as valid as any other’s.” You can only assert such a view by rejecting reason, science and expertise. You can only rationally reject study, science and reason if you deny the possibility of going to an object in question and directly assessing it.

Relativism may seem like a very reasonable and well intentioned theory. However, as we all know ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Granting equal respect to everyone’s views sounds laudable but in reality it leaves the relativist with a moral and ethical framework he has no business defending or promoting as better than any other. Confronted with a relativist, I will take, at random, a stone from ground and place it on the table between us. “That,” I will say, “is a stone. You are a relativist and are unable to argue otherwise. From my viewpoint that is a stone and according to you neither my viewpoint or yours is better.”, “Indeed,” this relativist should reply, “and I agree that this is a stone.” I pick up another stone, in size, shape, weight and colour much the same as the first, with the further stipulation that is should in no sense be shaped or bear any other resemblance to a feline. “That, ” I say, “is a cat.” Sadly, as inane as my assertion clearly is, the relativist has no answer but to agree to disagree. Relativism is the death of discourse and the rejection of scientific progress.

“You can call a cat a dog, but you can’t make it bark.” This is not just a question of language usage. If we can agree the definition of terms we still cannot agree that my stone is not a cat. We can directly interact with a stone to establish whether it does or does not conform to our definition of stone or cat. We can in certain circumstances refer to a cat as dog, but it does not become what is defined as a dog, it will not bark. We could change the definition of what constitutes a bark to contain the noises that cats make and refining meaning and redefining objects is all very well, but if we do this constantly and without widespread agreement about the new definition and adequate grounds for changing we will never understand one another, communication will be impossible as will the transmission of knowledge, all academic endeavour and progress. You can call a cat a dog, but you have contributed nothing to our understanding of either cats or dogs and more importantly you have undermined what we do know.

All this philosophical discussion seems academic and uninteresting. On the contrary, this is not some abstract thought experiment. People you know are applying piecemeal parts of relativism everyday, whether they agree with everything that relativism means or not is immaterial: the effect is the same. “Let’s just agree to disagree; I don’t care if you are a world renowned expert who has spent their life studying this subject, your opinion is no better than mine; it is just your opinion that certain behaviours are moral reprehensible and other are morally neutral; you can bring out as many statistics, testimonies and direct experiences as evidence to support your point of view as you like, you can prove anything with facts, I don’t agree and you cannot tell me I’m wrong to believe what I do.”

Relativism has positioned itself as the opponent of authoritarianism and cultural imperialism. Asserting that no one viewpoint is, or should be privileged above another is characterised as a grounds for tolerance and acceptance. However, by actively denying the possibility of knowing external reality objectively it discounts the possibility of truth. When there is no truth, logically there are no lies, all is opinion. If we agree to disagree, since there is no objective measure to verify truth, then we have no grounds to defend or attack anything. Whatever the actual powers that be in society, the people who pull the levers of state, you can be sure they would  like nothing more than to be have a relativist opposition to their rule. Relativism is a disempowering cancer that society would do well to remove before it kills its host.

Further reading: The Guardian “The death of truth…”

 

1‘Critiquing Cultural Relativism’ Jaret Kanarek (The Intellectual Standard, Volume 2 Issue 2).
2‘Relativism Explained’ Brendan Larvor (Humanist Philosophers’ Group, 2005).
3Larvor, ibid.
4‘Idealism’, Wikipedia

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