But I Want It, Too!

Posted: June 15, 2007 by Kendricke in General Game Concepts

The word of the day is “entitlement”.  It’s the idea that you or I deserve the same or better rewards as others without having to put forth the same effort and/or resources.

Whether you’re in school, at work, or simply playing in an online virtual world, there will always be someone who feels that they are “owed” more – that they are entitled to more.  They feel they deserve more rewards for less work.  They should not have to put forth the effort of those who come before them because they feel the system, whatever that is, should be altered to fit their needs.

Generally speaking, in the MMO’s we play, raiding is available to anyone and everyone who is willing to put forth the work.  Critics of the system continue to say that this is a bad attitude – this “putting forth the effort”.  These critics continue to insist that such effort is impossible for them and they go to great lengths to prove how that is so. 

“It takes too much time”, or “It’s too much of a hassle”, or “I need to go AFK a lot” or “I never know how long I’ll have online”. 

When advice is freely given to show them how they can make this impossibility possible, such suggestions are often brushed off entirely. Some players simply want the same rewards as everyone else…without having to put in the same effort overall.  They want their work as individuals counted differently than everyone else’s work. 

Why am I bringing this up today?  Because the old “Solo vs. Raid” subject is rearing it’s ugly head once more.  Unsuprisingly, players who feel that raiders are unfairly given rewards want similar or even identical rewards…without the hassle or bother of bringing other players together to actually attain the rewards.

Apparently, online life just isn’t fair. 

What it boils down to is that equal access exists.  It’s there.  There is no game mechanic preventing anyone from raiding.  Yet, still this content is “impossible” to access by some.  It’s not fair to these critics. 

It is fair.  It’s entirely fair.  Raid content is completely accessible to anyone who can join or gather a capable raid force together.  This access is not based around numbers, but larger guilds will have the easiest time overall organizing and coordinating such efforts…primarily since there are more overall resources to work with. 

This is no different than larger companies being able to make more money than smaller companies typically.  The same basic ideas apply.  Then again, there’s no mechanic which prevents a smaller guild from raiding, either.  There’s no mechanic which prevents a player who is only on for 8 hours a week from raiding once in a while.  There’s no mechanic that stops a smaller guild from making raiding a priority for its members.

Yet, critics of the system again claim they are entitled to this content. 

No, they’re not.  They’re entitled to access to the content.  What they do with that access is up to them.  Squander it; waste it; use it – the choice is theirs.  The choice is all of ours.

Now, I know this is a controversial topic, and it almost invariably leads to defensive andd emotionally charged arguments on both sides of the aisle.  “Casuals” (read: good guys) want the same rewards (read: loot) as “Raiders” (read:  bad guys), without all that pesky hassle involved in actually…well, raiding. 

These players often cite mathematical equations to point out how X players working together for Y hours should equate to 1 player putting in XY hours – and thus, equal reward, right? 


Sometimes, you just can’t equate the work required by many into the work required by just one.  It’s like telling me that because 4 guys (X) took 15 minutes (Y) to lift a piano up 4 flights of stairs, that it should only take 1 guy to lift the same piano if he takes an hour (XY) to get it done.

The logic is irrefutable! 

Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m a fan of adding solo pathways for content.  I want to see mechanics added that make it easier to group or to form guilds or to raid.  I just don’t think that soloers should ever have access to the same rewards as players who put in the time to raid.

It’s not apples to apples.  Don’t think it is. 

You can’t make a straight comparison between time spent raiding and time spent soloing.  Even if you personally spend less effort on a raid (because you’re presumably only performing a fraction of the overall work involved), the very fact that you’re part of a team adds a built-in difficulty that can’t be replicated in solo content.  We’re back to explaining to the one guy why he can’t lift that piano just by taking more time. 

Even if we ignore the arguments about equality and entitlement, there’s still the real argument to be made regarding scarcity – you know, how rare an item is?

One of the benefits of a raid force only seeing so many drops per raid is that the raiders have to figure out who gets that item.  It’s a built in system to prevent too many top level items from entering the game too quickly. 

Add in a solo method to obtain the same loot, and suddenly even the raiders are going to be running those quest lines.  What?   You think raiders are going to ignore solo content just because they raid?   You think you know a way to prevent it from happening?  Do you think you even should? 

So, for argument’s sake, we’ve got raid and solo pathways to the same or similar gear.  So, now what?  What’s the point of raiding now when you can acquire similar rewards without the hassle.  Honestly, if an argument can be made that people already solo because it’s easier than dealing with groups, it only makes logical sense that players will solo because it’s easier than dealing with raids, right?

Which, of course, brings us full circle back around to inherent difficulties built into raids which don’t exist while soloing. 

Bottom line:  raids have better gear because raids contain variables which don’t exist while soloing.  While soloing, you have complete control over your entire side of the fight.  When raiding, you control only a small percentage of your total available forces.  Loss of personal control is a factor that can’t be equated into soloing hours or effort. 

If someone wants to make the argument that there needs to be more solo content, I’ll raise my voice right alongside them.  However, if they instead make the argument that players should be somehow entitled to the same rewards through some alternate means which requires only soloing or grouping, that’s a different story altogether…

  1. Bildo says:

    Ken, I think you’re going the very long way towards saying…

    “If it’s not what you want to do, and the game’s not changing, then don’t pay for it and move on.”

    I couldn’t agree more here.

    As long as we both agree that developers should and could do better than alienating and segmenting their playerbases.

  2. kendricke says:

    That’s not what I’m saying at all, but you’re certainly welcome to build any straw men you like while you’re here. There’s an extra pile of scarecrow clothes sitting by the barn door. 😉

  3. Xeavn says:

    Very well written, I have to agree with you on all points. I have a couple of things to add though. Darren over at Common Sense Gamer brought up the social aspect of raiding, and I think it is often times overlooked as a reward / benefit of raiding.

    How often do we get together with friends in reality and just hang out, or do some fun activity. I know that I do once in a while. For me raiding is a way of getting together with friends and hanging out. Usually they aren’t poeple that I have ever meet, but often times I have gotten to know them as we spend time playing a game that is mutually enjoyed.

    My second point is how loot focused everyone seems to be. Designers go to all the trouble of designing what they hope to be a challenging, exciting raid, and most guilds seem to jump at the chance of grabbing the first strategy that someone else got to work, read over it 5 or 10 times, and then use that strategy from there on out. Never having to learn the tricks or challenges of the instance themselves. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that you have 24 other poeple in the group and no one wants to take thier time learning a raid when the answer already exists, or perhaps it is just to easy for this infromation to get out and spread around. Still it seems like part of the adventure is missed this way, and to me the adventure and friendships gained are far greater than the loot.

  4. Tinman_au says:

    “Yet, critics of the system again claim they are entitled to this content.”

    I’m a critic of the system, but there’s NO way I think I should have access to “that” content.

    I want access to alternate content. As a paying customer I also think I’m entitled to an alternative to one style of play in the elder game.

    I’m not “anti-raid”. They obviously appeal to a decent percentage of players and I’m happy that the devs have added “their” content to the end game. I’m still waiting on my end game content.

    Any argument that raiding can be the only end game content is pretty myopic.

    Blizzard had a crack at it, they offer Battlegrounds in addition to Raiding. Asherons Call had a system where the devs could add content on a monthly basis (Out of all the MMOG’s I’ve played, AC is far and away the one I played for the longest contiguous time). Even EQ could have expanded out on the “epic” quests as an alternative end game content.

    Hopefully, with the sucess of WoW, Blizzard has started a trend where developers will look at the “end game” and think “Hmm…what else can we add here…”.

  5. […] seems to have shifted a bit. Instead of needing alternate loot systems for casual players, Kendricke proposes that the problem is an attitude of entitlement on the part of players who don’t work […]

  6. Stargrace says:

    “I just don’t think that soloers should ever have access to the same rewards as players who put in the time to raid.”

    Exactly my thoughts. Very well written article. While I am *all* for there being solo content in a game, I do not EVER expect it to be on-par to raid gear just simply due to the enormous difficulties and issues that you go through to raid. Does that mean that solo’ers don’t also have difficulties? Of course not, they do. But ask anyone who’s raided and the differences are clear. If ONE person does not bring their “a” game and knowledge of their class and zone to a raid, it can mean hours and hours of wiping, and re-learning strats. If one person is missing, it’s a huge link gone and makes the raid all that more difficult. Communication, and a thousand other factors in there are why raid gear is the way it is, and lets be honest here for a second — there is also some pretty shoddy raid gear out there, with legendary stuff that’s easily comparable (( I use EQII again as an example since that’s what I play )) from the same tier.

    “No, they’re not. They’re entitled to access to the content. What they do with that access is up to them. Squander it; waste it; use it – the choice is theirs. The choice is all of ours”

    Another excellent point. ANYONE can have access to ANY zone, but it DOES take time and work. You can spread it over a year or you can spread it over a month, it takes it no matter what. It’s not always about instant gratification.

  7. […] the rewards yielded by some content.  You know the drill, raiders vs. non-raiders.  Darren, Kendricke, Bildo, and Cameron have all been stirring the pot on this of late.  Of course, not wanting to be […]

  8. kendricke says:

    Thanks, Stargrace.

    Basically, the way I see MMO’s is often how I view amusement parks or resorts. We all pay the same amount for our monthly passes, but once inside, we all spend our time differently – and certainly some of us go to the park more than others.

    Does that mean those of us spending less time in the park are someone losing out? Does that make the price of admission less valuable? Only if you judge your fun by someone else’s standards.

    I used to have a lot of trouble in old Everquest with some members of my guild who would constantly grumble that we weren’t running enough low level or mid level raids or events. Many of these players wanted officers to run more roleplay events, or to officially sanction everything from quests to fashion shows.

    Eventually, one of our junior officers made a great post on the subject where she finally stated to all those who were complaining that “you are responsible for your own fun”.

    What Gehlain (the junior officer) meant was this: it’s no one else’s job to provide your fun for you. Don’t judge your time by someone else’s standards, and spend your time in a way that provides meaning and enjoyment for you. At the end of the day, you can’t blame someone else if you’re not having fun – because, as she stated, you are responsible for your own fun.

    This, to me, sums up quite nicely how I view my time online. If I’m not having fun, I either adapt or move on. If the game I’m playing isn’t fun, I either adjust how I play the game to create more fun for myself – or I change the game.

    It’s easy to see how this can relate to raiding. Either you enjoy raiding within a game, or you do not. If you don’t, then do not judge your enjoyment of the game by raid standards.

    In all seriousness, isn’t this like asking how I can obtain tradeskilled rewards…without tradeskilling? How about allowing me alternate paths to acquire quested gear…without questing? What if I want PVP titles…without having to PVP?

  9. Kilanna says:

    Well this is a very interesting topic and one very close to my heart at the moment.

    Solo pathways, grouping pathways and raiding pathways are all different and all have their own benefits and drawbacks. Up until a little over a month ago, I had never done an instance or a raid. I accepted as a mostly solo player that I would not see the uber loot or see all the zones. That is just the way it is.

    However, I was finding my game was beginning to feel quite UNFUN. I was feeling lonely and frustrated with the lack of quality and quantity of solo play to suit my character at higher lvls. The answer – adapt. I joined a guild that appeared to meet my gaming philosophy. I have the social contact that I enjoy, and the opportunity to enjoy some more content that I might have missed otherwise.

    It is not up to my new guildmates to provide that enjoyment, but it is nice to have some company to be able to enjoy some of the fun. And heck I am having some fun 🙂

    I will join the chorus of voices that sing the virtues of providing sufficient quality and quantity of content for different play styles. But the styles are different – and that is that. Why should I be rewarded solo with a fabled breastplate when it has taken a group of 24 players to kill epic mobs for the same loot? But I would argue that solo play should reward players with suitable loot to allow for continued meaningful and enjoyable solo play. If the only way I can have a satisfactory solo experience is to buy uber loot from raiders, then that becomes unfun.

    There are a myriad of different games, MMO and single player, that will provide enjoyment to different people and play styles It is the players responsibility to seek something that appeals to their own needs.

    I would argue that it is the responsibility of game designers/developers to set the paramaters of their game, and provide quality content within those parameters. If they try to be all things to all people the finished product could end up pleasing no one.

  10. Bildo says:

    “That’s not what I’m saying at all, but you’re certainly welcome to build any straw men you like while you’re here. There’s an extra pile of scarecrow clothes sitting by the barn door.”

    Okay, then it’s just what I’m saying. Basically, the two sides of this argument will never agree. Each will go on forever thinking they’re right, and all the while we’ll just keep playing games and arguing over how they should be designed.


  11. kendricke says:

    I’d argue that it’s all about the loot. It’s not about “alternate paths” to the loot…but about finding paths of lesser resistance to the same rewards.

    …and it is less resistance. It is easier. It is less challenging.

    I use Nizara as my yardstick to measure that. I use Mistmoore Castle. These are some of the best zones in the game for group level loot. Some of the gear in those zones is still prized by top end raiders. Yet, I almost never see non-raiders in those zones – not very often, to be sure.

    Why? The zones don’t take much time – an hour or two at most. Yet, they’re hard – really hard – remarkably hard. And thus, not a path of least resistance.

    So we’re back to “I want it too!” Rewards without the effort. Loot without the challenge.

    Oh sure, we talk about making the quest take longer or making the quests harder…but how many of those arguing for such things have put in the time on Swords of Destiny so far? What? Don’t want to collect statues? It’s not exactly a difficult quest – just tedious.

    Even then, what happens when the raiders start hitting the alternate pathways. What then? What happens when everyone in the game has “Sword of Uberendgame”? Will you finally feel the game is complete?

    So what if someone got better loot than you on a raid. Big deal. What does it matter to you? Why should it?

    Stop worrying about how others play the game and enjoy your time online for yourself. By all means, ask for more avenues of advancement, but forget about about raiding if you don’t like raiding. I had friends in old Everquest who hated tradeskilling…but you didn’t see them arguing for alternate paths to tradeskill trophies back then, either.

  12. Pixie Styx says:

    “Stop worrying about how others play the game and enjoy your time online for yourself.” I’m not worrying about how others play but how I play the game and if I want to raid on my own terms then make it possible.

    I guess you subscribe to the old adage of if its not broken dont change it. Which is wrong ….

    The carrot on the stick approach to design needs to be seriously looked and is. If you look at the true next gen mmorpgs, such as potbs, tabula rasa, the agency, war and to a lesser extent lotro they are making a big step forward to making sure the archaic ‘everquestian’ expectations of gamers get ditched and I hope so does the elitist raiding mentality it bred

    I say roll on next gen …

  13. kendricke says:

    “the elitist raiding mentality”

    It always comes back to name-calling, it seems. Raiding isn’t just a playstyle choice, like tradeskilling or questing, but somehow a mindset – and an “elitist” one at that.

    I raid. I don’t consider myself a “raider”.

    I also solo quite a bit, and actually take quite a bit of grief in the Templar official forums for spending so much time and effort to show how Templars can solo more effectively.

    I group a lot. I love grouping with my members, and spend quite a bit of time trying to think of ways to make grouping easier for players in general, and finding better ways to make grouping more – not less – of the experience.

    I quest a lot. I don’t have as many quests done as I’d like, but I love the idea of a heroic quest. I do spend quite a bit of effort trying to come up with ways to improve questing systems.

    I tradeskill once in a while. It’s not really my bag in Everquest 2, but in old Everquest, I was a top Blacksmith, Potter, Baker, and I was working pretty hard on Tailoring (but that was tough).

    I love playing merchant. I consider myself an economics buff, and dig on finding ways to “play the broker” in pretty much every game I’ve played online. If there’s a way to make money in a game, you can bet I’m there trying to figure it out.

    I play for my guild. First and foremost, I am a guild player. Even in games or on servers where I’m not leading my beloved Legion of the White Rose, I’m in someone’s guild. I love finding ways to make guildplay more fun, and live for ideas that make life easier on guild officers.

    Beyond all that, I raid occasionally. I don’t consider myself a “raider”. I certainly wouldn’t deign to start referring to players with differing lifestyles with derogatory name calling just to hammer home a point.

    I may disagree with your ideas on raiding, but you won’t see me attacking you for choosing not to raid. Is it so much to ask that you perhaps respect the fact that I do enjoy raiding, and perhaps avoid resorting to name calling due to that?

    We can’t have constructive discussions if people decide to start holding preferred playstyles against each other. We may as well start throwing around “fanboi” and “n00b” next.

    Now, beyond all that, I’d like to ask you something. If I removed raiding from Everquest 2 or World of Warcraft today – *POOF* gone! – is the solo playstyle somehow positively affected?

    I submit that removing raiding is just like removing tradeskilling. It’s simply a different metaplay within the overall game’s design. It’s like removing the roller coaster or the ferris wheel from an amusement park. The park’s still there, and the bumper cars are still just as fun as they were when there was a roller coaster in the park.

    I further submit that if players worried only about enjoying the parts of the game that they enjoy and stopped spending so much time worrying about what everyone else is doing with their playtime, we’d have much less dramatic discussions which resorted to name calling.

    Who knows? Your enjoyment of your preferred game might actually increase when you stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

  14. KingMob says:

    Several points to make, sorry they’re disconnected.

    1) It’s all very well to dislike the word ‘elitist,’ but you did start your post with the word ‘entitlement.’ Two sides of the same coin…

    2) Not everyone has the computer, equipment, time (and I mean time in continuous blocks), etc. to raid. “Raiding is available to anyone and everyone who is willing to put forth the work” – simply not true – there are plenty of out-of-game situations which would make this in-game ‘work’ impossible to accomplish.
    Does this make it fair? I think online games, like life, are not fair. You don’t start out in life with a clean slate, and you don’t sit down to play an online game without out-of-game concerns. Few of us are paid to play, after all. Rather than argue about fairness, why don’t we discuss best practices?

    3) Your point in the post above this one is very well taken. Raiding is a different part of the game, and as such, no-one is forced to play it, or even recognize that it exists. Of course it might be a bit tough to shut out the people who brag about their new gear (the gear designed to look as awesome as possible, mentioned on the front page of the game’s website, etc.)… face it, many raiders are proud of their accomplishments, and make a big deal out of it. You seem to take the word ‘elitist’ personally. Don’t you feel you’re one of the elite? Aren’t you good at playing your class, good at organizing groups of people in a raid, study strategy, etc? Do you really think anyone can do all that you do simply through hard work? You’re putting yourself down. People have different skills and talents.

    And the game-mechanics reflect that feeling. Raiders get the best gear, period. Which reinforces the perception that they’re the best players. So players with an inferiority complex (everyone else) spend a lot of time explaining it away – talking about why raiders shouldn’t get the best gear, etc. etc. When what they really want to say is – I’m good too.

    What I think Darren / others are trying to say is that they’d like to play games where the top-end activity isn’t necessarily raiding. To that end, they’re trying to suggest mechanisms to set up loot, etc. in those games. Personally I think there are a ton of ways you could do an MMO and not give the best gear for raiding, or not even use gear to measure accomplishment. Or make the raiding gear useful only in raiding areas, and pvp gear useful only in pvp areas. And while I’m at it I would wave my wand and make the endgame grinding go away.. and replace it with… what? I dunno, veering off-topic.

    So to conclude (finally). Life – and an MMO – is not fair. Raiders are not only skilled and dedicated, they also have the time and resources to raid which other players might not have. Non-raiders want gear equivalent to that of raiders, but they will probably have to find a new game where raiders aren’t automatically given the best gear in order for that to happen. Remember the industry is still very young and a lot of different options will be explored as time goes on. We’re Gutenberg – era printers arguing about the perfect size of blackletter at the moment.

  15. kendricke says:

    As I mentioned up front, the word entitlement is “the idea that you or I deserve the same or better rewards as others without having to put forth the same effort and/or resources.” Meanwhile, elitism is a feeling of superiority or favored status.

    These concepts are not “two sides of the same coin”.

    I certainly do not feel entitled to content, nor do I feel I am a member of any elite class of players.

    If anything, I hold a more egalitarian view of myself and other players – the idea that all players are inherently equal, limited only by our own skills, resources, and ability to invest time.

    Where we do agree is that no game is fair, insofar as results are concerned. We all pay for equal access and opportunity, but beyond that, we can’t expect the same experiences (and I had thought I’ve beaten that horse to death here, haven’t I?)

  16. KingMob says:

    Both words are pejorative. Thus if you use entitlement to refer to the opinion of non-raiders, you may be referred to as an elitist. This is ‘two sides of the same coin’ – if you use pejorative terms to refer to those who don’t believe as you do, don’t feel personally attacked when they use pejorative terms to refer to your opinions, stated or otherwise.

    By the way, according to American Heritage Dictionary elitism doesn’t mean “a feeling of superiority or favored status,” it means
    1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
    1. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
    2. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

    So you don’t think raiders are an elite class of players? In a gear based game, in which raiders get the best gear, don’t they end up being perceived as superior?

    I’m not attacking raiding, raiders, you, or even the type of game in which raiders are treated as the elite. But I think it’s a little silly to ignore the writing on the wall.

    If you personally feel that all players are equal, that’s very nice of you. But the feeling the game we’re playing is giving me is that you’re better than me.

  17. Kendricke says:

    I don’t use entitlement as some arbitrary label specifically for non-raiders as some form of prejudice. I use entitlement to describe an attitude of expectation.

    Since the discussion is related to raid rewards, the subject necessitates use of the word to describe non-raiders…but it also can be used to describe raiders who want rewards they haven’t yet put forth the work to earn.

    I’m not exclusionary here: anyone who wants raid rewards without putting in the necessary effort required is equally held accountable to the same label, which in this case is “entitlement”.

    As far as the response on the meaning of elitism, you’re splitting hairs with that strawman. The important words here are “superiority” and “favored” – both of which are present in my original explanation and your own quote from American Heritage. I fail to see exactly how you refute me, unless we’re counting semantical nit picks.

    As far as seeing “raiders” as an “elite class”, I do not see the one as the other. I know some pretty humble raiders. By way of contrast, some of the most elitist commentary I’ve read comes often from admittedly casual players (especially those who attempt to tell me that their $15 a month entitles them to the same rewards as those my guild members enjoy who reschedule other activities around our weekly raid times).

    Let’s share a story, shall we?

    I’ve belonged to some after-work amatuer sports leagues. It was nothing terribly serious, just some softball with friends and coworkers on our own time. Even so, there was a time committment involved – time we could have spent at home, with our families, out with other friends, or what have you. Instead, we’d get together and practice on off-nights, play a couple games each week, and from time to time get together for a beer or two before heading off home.

    One year, we were good enough to get into some local playoffs. Again, nothing fancy, but a big deal to us. We actually did pretty well, too, and got a trophy and some t-shirts.

    Suddenly, some of the guys that almost never made any of the practices or games were showing up with all sorts of requests for t-shirts and what have you. They were talking big to all of their friends about how they were on “the winning team”.

    Was it fair? You tell me. Tell me and the other guys who made the practices week after week that it’s ok for them to speak up like that. Tell me and the other guys who put in the time and effort to play those games that it was ok. Tell me and the other games that the time away from home was worth it, so that guys who spent their time watching TV could claim the same reward.

    I’m not saying raiding is for everyone. I really don’t think it is. I don’t think tradeskilling is for everyone either.

    I don’t think everyone wants to ride the tilt-a-whirl, either.

    Pay your admission and ride what you like. If you don’t think you can put in the time and effort required to raid, that’s fine. Find other avenues to take control of your own fun.

    Just don’t come over to my truck after the day is done complaining to my family that you want some giant cupie dolls too, if you didn’t bother spending any time at the Midway. If you want the rewards, put forth the effort.

  18. Illuminator says:

    Nothing happens in a vacuum.

    Suppose for instance that the 40-hour workweek were written out of existing laws. Do you think industry would maintain it anyway out of the goodness of their hearts? No. The universal pressure on workers would grow to put in 45, 50, even 60+ hours a week, and quality of life would diminish.

    Same thing with raiding. The more prevalent an endgame becomes for blow-away gear, the more pressure players will feel to gravitate this way, brownnosing and long scheduled hours and all of it, to maintain success in the rest of the game, to pursue loot that has a whole host of prerequisites long after you killed your mob. And the quality of the game diminishes for those players, and they burn out and get disgusted.

    And this is why the content investment is gravitating more and more to the lower end.

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