It’s a word that comes up quite a bit in discussions of raiding guild and WoW. Elitist, elitism, and it’s often combined with those jerks that we all rely on. Often we associate elitism with progressive raiding guilds, those that go for world/server firsts and have those persnickity guild applications. I’ve seen players accused of elitism for mentioning their standings, their latest boss kills, or even their newest piece of loot. So how do you express pride in yourself, your guild and your accomplishments without coming off as a jerk?

And even more than that, how do you keep from rolling your eyes at players in a position of being in a less-progressed guild who wave the flag of the elitist. What makes an elitist, and how can you spot them in the wilds of Azeroth saving yourself grief?

I’d like to think I’ve never come across as an elitist who poo-poos the achievements of others, and seeks to bar them from experiencing the same pleasures that I do in their time in Azeroth, whether it be raiding, PvP or collecting many, many things. However, I know it’s not always been the case. I’ve been told my expectations of others was too high, my criticism of their failures too severe, and that I was an elitist. On the other hand, I rarely agreed with these people, and I think it’s because of my own personal definition of elitism.

There are quite a few things I consider necessary to being in a competitive progressive oriented guild. I’ve always tried to keep these standards even when I didn’t feel that I was in that type of environment. My personal achievement and standards had nothing to do with those of my guild. When I was in a guild with raiding standards, I’ve always tried to exceed those and view new applicants and raiders through those eyes. I’ve taken pride in my accomplishments, achieved solely and with a group as meager as they may seem to some, because I know the effort, time, and dedication that I have put into those efforts. I’m happy to share those experiences because I am proud of them, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having pride in your accomplishments.

Where I draw the line between an exuberant player and an elitist is when you cross the line into other players space. That could be offering your opinion on their raiding environment or standards. It could be belittling other people’s accomplishments because yours is so much “better.” And while I can’t define a braggart for you in exacting terms, bragging vs. exulting is a distasteful thing to watch.

Sadly, as much as this behavior is ascribed to the “elite” of the raiding community, in my experience it’s rare. I more often see elitism among players seeking to join higher-rated guilds or middling type guilds trying to fan their own enthusiasm and desire to succeed.

I had an applicant interested in a guild I was in. This player hadn’t been playing that long (less than 6 months) but had reached cap, geared up, and joined a casual raiding guild that *might* raid. The casual guild started to raid, and they told the player it’d probably take her a couple of weeks to be geared enough. The player was ready in 2 days. She ended up on the “core” raiding team. And then, the player started to get antsy. They wanted more progression than their guild was able to provide. I think this story is familiar to many: I know I see echoes of my early raiding experiences when I came back in BC and was vetting a new character for raiding.

Where this tale skitters off track into a horrifying debacle is as the player discussed her previous guild, her experience, and her goals. You see, her guild was at fault for everything. If we questioned a talent choice, it was because her guild made her follow a certain model. If we questioned why she wasn’t at a particular cap, that was her guild’s fault too. If we asked about her experience (or lack thereof) well by God, her guild was keeping her back.

Even worse, in my eyes at least, was her lack of appreciation, or even nice things to say about this guild that had taken her in and nurtured her while she worked towards meeting her goals. They were too casual, too jokey, not serious enough in raids. They didn’t roster properly, they didn’t appreciate her monumental effort to get geared in a short amount of time. In short, her guild was full of losers that couldn’t contain her awesome any longer.

At first we found ourselves amazed that this creature  player could have such a sense of entitlement. It’s one thing to aspire, to wish for better things for yourself. It’s quite another to expect everything to fall into place on your exact time schedule at the very moment you feel prepared and ready to step up to the next level. By the end of our questions, we weren’t even trying to screen her for our guild, we were honestly more interested in how far she would go, how much blame she could shift to others, and how grandiose and inflated we could gauge her ego to be. While it finally reached into such realms as to be ridiculous, it was honestly sad as well. A player with 6 months experience had already been turned.

She was an elitist.

Where do you draw the line between pride and elitism? What kind of behavior makes you view another player as “elitist”?


19 thoughts on “Elitist

  1. I tend to try and avoid branding anyone an elitist, having had my shyness taken as just that several times when I was in hardcore guilds. However, I hate people who start down the “I’ve got more experience than you at X, therefore you suck and I’m awesome” route, often encountered in random dungeons and battlegrounds. Oh and people who are far too quick to try and vote kick people, without even giving them a chance in dungeons.

  2. Hello! An actual elitist here. Good article but I disagree with the last line.

    I believe that being an elitist is something you need to earn. I would wager that she is just a moron. A moron who is one of those wanna-be elitists that give the true elitists bad names (As if we need help with that!)

    Blaming past guilds on failures could be legitimate excuses, but only time will tell whether or not that is the case. Of course, the most likely explanation is that she is just a self-entitled whiner with far too much time on her hands. But who knows? If she actually turns out to be good at the game she might earn her elitist stripes one day.

    Basically I don’t consider people elitist unless they’re actually…elite. Elite to me with the current level of content available would have been killing H-Rag pre-firelands nerf. So approximately ~1% of the raiding population. The rest of the self-proclaimed “elitists” are just pretenders that think they’re good because they can farm welfare epics by facerolling heroics for a couple of days.

  3. Anyone who forgets where they came from… is an elitist.

    Had a guild member who faction transferred most of his characters to horde side but still had one with us come on the other day while we where wiping on Shannox with some new players and he started to make crude remarks like, he is glad he left the guild on his main because we all suck and no one should be wiping on such an easy boss.

    He neglected to mention that the guild he left us for is actually lower ranked on the server then we are. I could have rubbed that in his face, but I didn’t.

    I simply said, we all have to learn somewhere, some new people are getting their first experience in here and we will get it down in time. (and we did after about 6 wipes)

    He said, it is old content, they suck.

    I let it slide.

    That, is an elitist.

    You do not need to be good to be an elitist, you just need to forget where you came from.

    I’ve noticed that most people that have the elitist attitude are usually the ones that are not very good players.

  4. I think your definition hits it right on the head, a person that starts to cross the line into others performance or accomplishments without it being asked for.

    I have been a casual my whole WoW career and Elitist I have encountered really soured my experience trying to get to the progression raiding level. It seems that frustration always wins the battle with their patience.

    That said, I don’t think I have interacted with more than a handful actual top 100 players and they all seemed to be decent people. I don’t consider them elitist at all, it is the ones that are in the middle of the pack that seem to have that attitude of “I am better than you, therefore I should talk down to you.”

    A behavior that I see as elitist is the verbal abuse to a player that cannot execute tasks such as interrupts, cooldown usage, or getting out of the fire. I have always labeled even whole guilds as elitist when I pug and see them doing that to someone. The saddest thing is that 9/10 times they do it to someone that told them to begin with that they did not know a fight… I guess weakness opens it up for them to feel like they can verbally abuse others.

    I am not sure how prevalent this behavior is, but I have certainly seen it in a couple of servers. Not sure where people get the sense that verbally abusing another human being is going to have any kind of positive results.

    • A behavior that I see as elitist is the verbal abuse to a player that cannot execute tasks such as interrupts, cooldown usage, or getting out of the fire [when they’ve said] that they did not know a fight.

      Using interrupts, cooldowns and getting out the fire is the _entirety_ of raiding. There really is nothing else to it. If you can do those 3 things well and nothing else, you will succeed at raiding. (There’s also the guild/social aspect of raiding but LFR means you can avoid that entirely if you wish.) Even things like knowing your class or throwing big numbers is secondary. Even Patchwerk (the simplest boss mechanic in the game) still required the proper use of coolodowns and fire (slime). Every single boss encounter in the game has some combination of those 3 things. That _is_ raiding.

      In a game or in real life I don’t expect people to know a task they’ve never done before. But in the same way I expect people to show up to work sober and wearing pants I also expect people who play a max level character to know the basic core mechanics of the game. I’ll freely admit to being an elitest that way. If someone can’t handle those things, then they may have to suffer verbal abuse. Just the same as if they forgot to wear pants.

      I’ll even admit that I’m “talking down” more than a little in this reply. But I just can’t think of anything that bothers me more in all of Warcraft than the attitude Iogtar expressed in his comment.

      • Brunpal, not sure what you define as my attitude… that everyone deserves respect?

        If you think that the only thing there is to raiding is perfect execution, I think you should play a single player game where only you are accountable or don’t pug. I Have played with players of all experience levels, and it seems that the “elitist” always go for the weak player to get out their “frustration.” It is excusable to people like than that their buddy just hit 85 and is still wearing greens be carried through a raid because he is also “elite” but not taking 5 minutes to explain a boss mechanic for the person that is there for the first time.

        While the argument that they should do their homework is one that I agree with and adhere to, I don’t think just not being proficient on every boss fight in the game warrants verbal abuse.

        I find those that find it necessary to verbally abuse others sad, because it is most likely a learned behavior. So someone, somewhere made them learn something through brute force rather than actually teaching them.

        I am lucky that I am not at the end of the verbal abuse, but it still makes me uncomfortable when I do find it and don’t group with those kind of people after that. To me, joking and having a good time raiding, the social aspect of WoW is more important than having a heroic piece of loot.

        I rather down regular rag with a group of buddies than H Rag with a bunch of “elisits.”

        • Actually I think progression raiding is all about imperfect execution and doing it again and again until you get it right. However there’s a big difference between execution issues and what you were talking about.

          Not knowing a boss fight isn’t a deal killer. Like I said above, I do not expect people to know a fight they’ve never done before. And even if they’ve done it before I still wouldn’t expect perfect execution. Unless given specific instructions otherwise, these are the things I expect from everyone in a raid regardless of the situation:

          –Move out of an unknown spell effect. (fire)
          –Mirror the rest of the raid. If they collapse, you collapse with them. If they spread out, you spread out. (fire)
          –Stand in the healing rain. Click the lightwell. (negative fire/ CDs)
          –If you are low on hp, or see the boss winding up a large cast, then do something to mitigate it. Every class has something. (cooldowns)
          –If it’s not immune, use a stun, or other CC when appropriate. (cooldowns)
          –Interrupt hostile casts. Dispel hostile effects. (interrupt)

          1)Fire. 2)Cooldowns. 3)Interrupts. That’s it.

          Player 1 has quest greens, never reads up on fights, and puts out middling numbers… but is great at the Big Three.

          Player 2 has BiS for all slots, has read and done every fight in the game, and puts out excellent numbers… but can’t handle the Big Three.

          I will always take Player 1 over Player 2. He knows how to play the game. The other guy needs to stay out of my way. All he’s going to do is jab himself in the eye with a spork. There’s no difference between him and someone who’s purchased their character on eBay.

          It is excusable to people like than that their buddy just hit 85 and is still wearing greens be carried through a raid because he is also “elite” but not taking 5 minutes to explain a boss mechanic for the person that is there for the first time.

          Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. Case in point. I believe that the entire boss fight explanation given to Windsor was “Don’t stab yourself in the eye with a spork, and you’ll be fine.”

          My attitude is that everyone deserves respect, up until the point that they demonstrate that walking and chewing gum at the same time is too much for them. Sadly that’s becoming far too common. The last pug I was in I had to inform the raid not to click “yes” to a readycheck when they weren’t ready. The people who’s benefit that was for did not have nor deserve my respect.

          • I am amazed at your sense of entitlement simply because you think you can execute a series of tasks quicker than others. You seriously think that because you can play a game you can categorize people into those that can “stab themselves with a spork” and those that are better than average at hand eye coordination. I seriously hope you are just trolling me.

            I present you of two examples of people that I have had a lot of fun with playing the game over the years and don’t meet your criteria.

            One was deaf and therefore not able to use voice chat, he was an excellent healer but sometimes was not the best at reacting to situations that required coordination and adjustment (when poo hits the fan). Granted after he was familiar with the fight and the strategy he did great, but to someone like you, in a pug he would have been someone that “stab themselves with a spork.”

            The second one was someone that had a sub par computer and the graphics card became inadequate when Cata hit. Even though this person was amazing during wrath and knew their class, their reaction to spell effects that either lag or could not see like the rest of us did, would die to then more than most people would like.

            I enjoyed playing with both of those people and many others that don’t fit your criteria. Like I said, what you are talking about in terms of skill might be realistic for your circle but wow has over 10 million players and I would bet not even 10% of them are capable of what you think they should be able to do. That does not make them stupid or not worthy of respect. That you can tell if people can walk and chew gum at the same time from a video game is amazing.

            I guess a solution to this issue would be to have a rating level for players based on skill. A system where you have to pass an individual test to get a badge or something that lets you chose the level of experience you are willing to deal with. Maybe that way you can play with only the most “elite” players ever. Good luck waiting on that que.

            Don’t get me wrong, I do get frustrated when a hunter tries to mele or a warrior tries to range with their bow (last night, it happened and I am not even joking, a warrior pulled out his bow and just shot the rogue before benedictus almost the whole time.) However, I don’t think that those people deserve to be verbally abused by anyone. It could be someone’s grandpa or someone’s kid. We all have our limits, I just don’t think it entitles us to verbally abusing others. Everyone that has paid for their subscription can play the game, not just the people close enough to my skill level not to call me fail.

            • I’m not trolling. I earnestly believe everything I’ve said, but I don’t think you are getting the gist of what I’m saying and why. You might be surprised that your examples apply to me too. I used to raid on dial up and that means no voice chat and there’s no other lag quite like it. But I’m not talking about reaction times, out of game research, nor the number of times you’ve done an encounter before. I am talking about an expectation of common sense given the raw number of hours played.

              There will be a guest post going into further details.

  5. I get your message about elitism here, but I think that elitism in and of itself isn’t a problem. Wanting to be part of a solid team, expecting others to be informed and practiced, and wanting the best for your hard work are all honorable goals. It’s the arrogance, the “jerks” part (knowing full and well that the title “elitist jerks” is intended to be ironic) that’s the problem. It’s letting that elitism make you feel better than someone else, make your think your goals are more worthy, or make you talk down to someone who has been your friend in the past. That’s the problem. It’s not elitism, though being elite can produce it; it’s arrogance, self-centeredness, and egotism. Like a previous commentator said, you can be “elite” and not be good. Well, that’s the problem with the term; if you’re not good, you’re not elite. You’re arrogant, and I think that’s why that twist of thought is possible.

    Elitism has gotten a bad name in MMOs, and I’m as guilty as the next blogger for using it as a term for “jerky behavior,” but really it’s the jerks we have a problem with, not the quiet individual who works hard, expects others to do the same, and keeps his head down.

    That said, yeah, elitist jerks (not the site) suck, and I’ve had plenty of run-ins with them, though at times I’ve laughed along with them, too, though it was only in retaliation for something said to them first. Let’s just say my buddy and I still joke that “I don’t spec bad” because of a shammy who’d been given some crap about his spec choice by a PuG who he’d later outdps’ed, and when then PuG asked how he’d done it, that was his reply. I don’t spec bad.

    Then again, i got a lot of crap about my lightwell, but that’s well documented.

    Great post, and remember, don’t elitism, hate the arrogance.

  6. (Supporting figure: http://endgamefarming.blogspot.com/2011/11/striding-with-toes-pointed.html )
    Two people can be standing at the same point, but have their location be defined in completely opposing ways. Enter the mathematical concept of the vector. It is not where I am standing, but the direction I am oriented, along with the drive behind me, that defines me.
    As an example: finances. Enter two people with scant amounts in savings. One is frugal, the other frivolous. Although presently standing in the same situation, the one will end up rich, the other will never move. The inverse holds as well. Those with a hefty sum- when dealt with frugally vs frivolously will either remain rich, or end up poor.

    You and I are in a high-end guild together. We are both core raiders. My expectation is that of a restaurant: to be served. Yours is that of a family: everyone serves each other. I’m the elitist, you’re the realist. I offer critiques in service without care for self-critique, you engage in mutual criticism.

    Consider also just the simple perspective. When you’re not in a club that does activities you are interested in, and are denied membership (regardless of reasoning), it’s perceived as elitism. When you’re part of the board that denied membership to an undeserving (no applicable experience, severe gear shortage, no spots available regardless of competency etc), it’s known as accountability.

    Let’s say I want to be vice-president of Lockheed Martin. How do I know what it takes? I look at the current (and past) VPs and their resumes. What it takes is having a resume at the level of, or most probably exceeding, that of the current chair. Their 5 languages, their 2 M.S. degrees and 1 Ph.D, their thirty-plus years of turbine-technology expertise spread across 4 companies and a stint at Skunk-works. That’s the road-map.

    Cue: the guild aspirant. If they want to be value added to the organization, then need to bring something not already present. They need to look at the current raiding core and understand that they need that gear, that experience, that patience, that loyalty etc. And obtaining all of the above isn’t enough to kick someone else out of their chair, because they don’t have longevity (another thing to acquire). “But what about catch-22 of situation x, situation y, situation z?” Irrelevant, everyone sitting at the table was in the shoes they are in, and progressed beyond, because of their VECTOR, not their position proper. Those that slap a name and connotation on the situation just don’t have the vector. It isn’t being elitist, it’s being a realist. And sometimes, the reality hurts.

  7. Yeesh. This is a tough one.

    I’ve been called an elitist more times than I have called someone else an elitist. Honestly, I can’t say what I define as an elitist as, but I can say that I have more experience with people who say that they’re not an elitist as an excuse to getting out of things they should be doing anyway – if that makes sense.

    For example, people like to start statements off with “I’m not in Elitist Jerks, so why should I ____ .” Or, “I’m not in a top 250 guild, so what does it matter if I take this talent?” I think that’s almost worst than being an elitist. Not being in a top tier guild doesn’t give you the righ to shirk you responsibilities or to do the right thing. You eat from the fish feast because it makes you better, not because it’s something that only the “pros” do. You flask because they are usually provided for you and why would you turn something down that could improve your character, even if you may not see the immediate benefit of this.

    I agree with what Stubborn said. If asking you to do your job and do what’s best for yourself and your group is elitist, then I’ll be your elitist. I don’t feel wanting the best for myself and my group makes me a bad person.

    Regarding that person in your story, Windsoar, that’s a doozy. Maybe her guild really was that disastrous. I think if you’re going to do that much criticizing of your previous situation, you should at least balance it out with some criticism of yourself. No one is ever 100% to blame for something going wrong. If she took none of the blame, I would be concerned, but even then I don’t think that deserves an elitist tag. She’s just what we call “delusional.”


  8. Elite = Pre nerf H Rag
    Elitist = Someone who wants to be at that level but uses their current status (H 6/7 or 7/7 post nerf) to praise themselves or belittle others to justify they are as good as an elite.

    For me it comes down to a definition such as the difference between and advice vs opinion. Giving someone advice means they asked you for it, giving someone an opinion (even if it is a fact) borders on elitist. I always try to tell myself opinions are like ass holes and everyone has one, I just don’t want anyone looking at mine.

    I would agree with GrumpyElf as far as my philosophy when approaching others. I am in a 6/7 Heroic FL guild that is progression focused but not at the cost of treating others as sub-human or not having fun. I have played a Hunter since just after release, I continue to play the class because its fun for me. I only have 1 alt at cap so I have never switched mains. I have run across many Hunters that could use some advice, imo the delivery is everything. My reason for having some one improve is not based on my knowledge of my class but honestly the view of my class as a whole. I played thru the Huntard moments in BC when you could spam a macro and it would = #1 dps whole watching TV. Then after that changed the class had a huge void of hunters that did not know the class. I never took this as a mission to save my class or anything but in my journey’s across Azeroth I ran into a few Hunters that obviously did not undertand fundamentals.

    When I choose to reach out to someone imo the delivery and timing is key. I typically wait until they have seen my performance and then whisper them would they like any advice or if they would like me to review their toon. I have recieved all types of responses and made some good ingame connections. I choose my level of involvement bassed on their response. I hope this does not make me an elitist as my goal has never been self gratification, but just making the world of Azeroth a better place.

    In my mind I know I am not elite or an elitest but as most things in life it is all based on perspective. The point at which the defining person is basing their definiton. During my first year anyone in my guild would have been defined as an elite in my eyes as they were so far ahead of where I wanted to be. Now for where my perspective is an elite is the less then 1% pre nerf kills.

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  10. Sorry I missed jumping into the conversation this week, but I enjoyed everyone’s comments. Labels are definitely hard things to get around, but I find that in going out into the world and discussing these issues with others, it’s much easier to know that I’ve defined these terms *for myself*

    I must say, in the context of gaming, I disagree that you must be elite to be an elitist. Elite players can be easily categorized (with some minor squabbling as to where the line of the elite ultimately stands) but anyone can view themselves, individually or as a group, as being more able than those around them. These metrics, unlike flat Elite status, are harder to define, as we often find exceptional players who are not playing to their “maximum potential” but still have tons of information or insight to offer.

    As I’ve intimated, I’ve run across a number of players I would consider elite, some in situations where it’s apparent to the world, and some who choose not to be easily recognized. But in most cases, these players were not elitist: they did not expect special treatment, power, or recognition for their skill. They just wanted to play the game and be awesome ^^

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