The Paragon Fallacy

‘Given enough raiding hours per week, any guild is comparable to Paragon’.

A few weeks ago there was a conversation in our guild’s chatbox that basically amounted to this. I’m not sure if the guildie who posted it meant it literally (I’m betting on hyperbole here), but I do think it’s a common line of thinking among raiders that if they could only raid a couple more hours, the group would be far more progressed.

There’s obviously some truth to this. More hours a week means more attempts so it’s more likely you’ll get a kill, and then you can work on the next boss earlier and you’ll get more attempts on that boss per week so you’ll kill it faster and so on and so forth. It’s certainly a pleasant thought. At an average of eight pulls per hour and ten pulls to kill a boss, you’re looking at almost an extra kill per week!

Except this fantasy fails to take into account several factors. For one, the faster you get to a certain boss, the less geared you will be for it, pushing the number of attempts required for a kill upward. Plus, the deeper you go into a tier, the more it’ll take you to do a clear up to the boss you’re working on and the harder the fights become (ostensibly, though I suspect this is only universally true when you’re doing heroics and you can pick the order, and not even then if you pick wrong), meaning your average number of pulls needed to get a kill will also go up because of that and the number of pulls you’ll get per week to work on progression will start to decrease. I’m not saying the effect of added raid time would be completely negated, but it would definitely be mitigated. And while you may be Paragon in your head, you’d realistically only be few bosses ahead of where you are currently (I guess it should be noted that if you’re working on the latter heroics on a limited schedule, you may very well be comparable to Paragon, and this generic you is not really addressing the very specific you).

But I don’t have a problem with this argument because of its inaccuracy; I have a problem with it because it becomes a mental crutch that hampers progression. There’s nothing wrong with being a little optimistic when it comes to your own skill (no one wants you to sink into a pit of despair because you’ll never be as good as a raider in a top ten guild), but this sort of thinking can lead to people forgetting that they still can improve themselves. That the skill gap between a guild far more progressed than their own is very much real, and that work can be put into shortening that gap.

I know it’s very tempting to fall into this sort of thinking (I’ve been guilty of it more than once, myself), because the time we raid is often the one thing that is out of our control (beyond just switching guilds, but even then, our own time constraints might not allow it). No one likes to think that a lack of progression is their fault, or the fault of their teammates (in the majority of cases; I’m operating under the assumption that we all like the people we raid with). Except that it always is, because we could always be doing better, we could always be working on improving something. It’s just a matter of how much effort you’re willing to put in, and how much you care about your guild’s progression.

(Sidenote: this post could very well be called ‘the Method fallacy’. I picked Paragon because it was the guild that got mentioned in the conversation. Really, just choose your favourite high-end guild.)

Fucking Mexicans (On the Language Barrier and Xenophobia)

Let me tell you a story. It was the end of Cataclysm and I was working on nerfed heroics with my guild at the time. A friend, who’d started playing right around the time I had but never made it past sixty, had just come back to the game, bought Cata, and was levelling his paladin tank mostly through dungeons. He was around level 81 at the time and his first attempt at running BRC had been disastrous. So I offered to help. I figured, even if he screwed up massively, my overlevel, overgeared disc bubbles would keep him alive, and I could explain how to do the bosses in the dungeon as we went.

Everything was going more or less fine. With a steady stream of whispered explanations, we got to Karsh Steelbender without incident. This is, by and large, the boss most likely to make a tank cry, and so, I wrote a veritable essay detailing the importance of only leaving him in the fire for a couple of seconds. This would’ve been fine, good even, except that I accidentally wrote half the explanation in party chat, and -me and my friend being Mexicans- I wrote it in Spanish. And that was, apparently, the worst offense I could’ve comitted. Our hunter exploded (a hunter who had taken me chastising him for standing in the crap during the first boss relatively well), and no amount of ‘sorry, mt’s would deter him. His response was ‘SPEAK FUCKING ENGLISH YOU STUPID MEXICAN BITCH’.

This being the first instance of xenophobia directed towards me in my life, let alone my WoW career, I was more than a little upset. I reported him, tried to kick him, failed (his brother was in the group, I think), and spent the rest of the run letting him die and refusing to res him (because I am petty like that). And that was that. Except it wasn’t.

I honestly thought this would be a one-off sort of thing, just some random bigot I happened to encounter (whom I like to believe was twelve years old). I honestly wish I could say this was a one-off sort of thing. But, alas, I transferred to Lothar.

One of the quirks of being a Lotharian, is that my random groups tend to have a high concentration of people from Stormrage and a high concentration of people from Latin American realms. A lot of these people speak English (or WoW English, at least), but a lot of them don’t. And whenever a problem is identified as being attributable to the language barrier, insults follow. They range from ‘everyone in -whatever realm the perceived offender hails from- sucks’, to my favourite and the most common, ‘fucking Mexicans’.

I mean, seriously?

I get that trying to communicate something to people who do not speak your language can be frustrating. I get that, after it happens a couple of times, you might feel like you’re on your last nerve. On my tank, I had a Brazilian hunter use pack during the bunny gauntlet in Stormstout Brewery and just never take it off (this after a long series of hunters with growl on that would not turn it off, some also Brazilian). I speak no Portuguese. I have no idea what the Portuguese name of the ability is. I eventually dropped group, it annoyed me that much. But while that hunter could use some tips on how not to suck at his class, the fact that he couldn’t understand me when I politely asked him to turn it off wasn’t his fault.

The onus to learn your language isn’t on people from LA realms anymore than it is on you to learn theirs. It’s hardly their fault they’re stuck in a group with you. They paid Blizzard to pay a localised version of the game in Latin American servers, just like you paid to play on US servers.

Not only is insulting a whole group of people based on the language they speak wrong (something I would expect people old enough to play WoW to understand), it’s counter productive. If I’m one of the people from Rag or Quel’thalas, and I see you insult my whole server or call me something nasty, do you think I will be willing to engage the next time? Willing to learn new bits of English or translate for someone else? I will probably just turn off instance chat at that point.

There are other, more productive ways to go about it. There was a thread on the forums with common phrases in Spanish. You can browse the talent calculators in the community site for Brazilians and Spanish speakers (as long as you know your WoW icons, you should be able to find what you need; except for growl – I couldn’t find that.) Ask for someone who can translate. You might be surprised.

And, for God’s sake, if you feel the urge to use the phrase ‘fucking Mexicans’ do remember that a bunch of the LA realms are actually Brazilian, and the remainder have people from all over Latin America. Reducing a huge diverse group of people to one single nationality is ignorant and idiotic, and just plain wrong.