Information Overload

I put myself on the block this week for Blog Azeroth’s weekly topic (even though I think I formatted the topic and question incorrectly).  Please make sure to check out other contributions to this topic, and support the bloggers of WoW.

World of Warcraft is a long-standing game — in the MMO community it has become a standard of what an MMO should provide to its player-base; if you disagree, you can merely look at the plethora of MMO’s that have sprung up following the release of WoW that follow many of the models — from the action bar to the quest tracker — that were first introduced here.

WoW’s impact hasn’t stopped with other MMO’s, however, it has also affected how gaming, its player base, and the online community (the interwebs people!) talk about, view and dissect a game that affects millions of people.  In the early days of WoW, it was just another MMO on the scene — the Blizzard tag caught player’s like me who had played it before, but gradually word was getting past the computer gaming community into the larger gaming community, and then, even to non-gamers.

As such, the initial impact on internet activity was pretty much non-existent.  Like other MMO’s, if people wanted guild websites, they built them, or found a free forum host.  If people wanted to know a strat for a monster, they might create ties with other guilds, talk to a raid leader for a more progressed guild, or even roll up on another server to speak with a guild that HAD downed the beast.  Entire websites dedicated to WoW topics were nil — boss strategies were not readily available, and class sites were few and far between — Shadowpanther is one of the oldest information websites that I am aware of, and I still have it bookmarked for great *ninja-vanish* information.

Oh, the times they have a changed.  Thottbot was the first real outside information service for quests, item drops, and the like.  If it wasn’t on Thottbot, chances were, it hadn’t been discovered… yet!  Popularity for this type of information became readily apparently, and other services started to provide item and spell databases, forums became dedicated to different World of Warcraft classes, and bloggers stretched their toes, relating their experiences and offering advice to new players.

In essence, the WoW community has spawned websites all over the internet — and some of it, is simply too much!

The Good

I love forums, blogs, and community sites for sharing information.  Part of the allure of the early thottbot, and the continuing model found in Wowhead is the ability for players to manage the information — to share their experiences, frustrations, and tips with other players.  Players helping players = awesome.

The fact that there is so much information available about specs, gems, glyphs, quests, rep grinding and the like is a great boon to me and I’m sure many other players.  Do we always follow this advice?  Hell no!  But at least in having a baseline for understanding why people are making the choices they do with their characters, we can be better leaders, players, and friends.

Likewise, the news sites that filter through the mess that is the WoW forums in order to bring me relevant blue responses — I cherish these.  When a mod makes the choice to share information with the community I want to know about it!  However, I don’t want to spend my life ciphering through posts attempting to make sure I don’t miss a good response because the last 50 were “We’ll see.”

I also read a ton of articles on how new sets will look, or how the user interface is changing.  You wear set gear a LONG time.  While it’s not that important — I can wear my party dress in town if I hate it — how I look is integral to how I feel about my character, and I want to know I’m going to be happy!  Same thing with UI changes — I run a lot of addons, I’ve made pretty substantial changes to the ‘intended’ look and feel of my user interface, and I love to see when Blizzard follows the community and implements my well-loved friends into the default UI.

The Bad

That being said, oh how I hate the endless parade of information that is readily available some days.

Like many others, I played on the Wrath beta — I wanted to take a look at the paladin changes (which were extensive) and I also played around with a DK… well more than played, I dinged 80.  However, because of my experiences in beta, I have yet to play a DK more than a couple of levels since release.  I already “leveled” the character, tanked and dps’ed in instances, and really, feel no need to play another until I get bored leveling those alts I haven’t done yet — the beta experience took away some of the glitter of playing a DK live.

In the same way, the massive amount of sharing can destroy some of the fun of new dungeon experiences.  Our guild did not play PTR prior to Ulduar, even knowing we wanted to progress quickly.  Why, oh why would we do that with so many guilds offering insights on bosses, strats, even videos on how the mechanics of fights work?  Because we wanted to experience the game!  Understanding every mechanic of a fight before looking the monster in the face is a lot like reading Game FAQs to me.

I like Game FAQs, I’m happy the service is available, but I don’t read up on a game until I’ve beaten it once.  I want to beat the game — I want to accomplish that feat on my own.  While you can’t ‘beat’ an MMO, you sure as heck can beat a boss!  And figuring out a viable strategy and mechanics of a fight is part of that experience for me.  Frankly, nothing irks me more than stopping at a boss and the raid lead saying “go check out the tankspot video before we start.”  No sir, I will not!  If we can’t get him down tonight, I’ll do some reading and come back prepared tomorrow, but I do not spend my first night on a boss “prepared” — I play the game to learn the fights, not have them mastered when I walk in.

In the same way I assiduously avoid loot lists.  As a min-maxer, this is very hard for me — I want to evaluate and plan out my gear sets as much as possible.  On the other hand, it feels like — cheatery.  It may not be, I know many will feel that it is not, but honestly, what the boss drops, the boss drops, and I am capable of making gearing decisions based on what I have available, what I have in my bags, and what the raid just retrieved off the smelly guy on the floor.  I love to go “oh…my….God….” when I see something truly epic drop, but when you read a loot list — you’re not surprised, you don’t get to be shocked and awed and excited — you’re just looking to see if that piece of loot is on your list.

What Do You Think?

I don’t often ask for reader feedback, because, well, I’m expounding my views most days 😛 However, on this issue, I really feel like I’m an odd fish as it were in the sea of information.

What do you see as the pros and cons of the information sites available about WoW?  Which type of sites do you prefer for your WoW information?  Do you want to be prepared before you see a boss or loot, or does it feel like rampant cheatery?


One thought on “Information Overload

  1. Pingback: The name of the game: Information « The Angry Alt

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