The truth about competency

Over the weekend, a guildmate of mine sent me a link to this video. Besides the hosts obvious talent at engaging the viewer, and his head start at making himself sound more knowledgeable by virtue of his British accent, it is a really well put together piece. The crux of the seven-minute piece is the result of a study on individual ability, and the same individuals perception of said ability. I don’t know if the study is real, fake, made up for this, or what, but the concept is sound. I can say this with assurance based on my vast array of anecdotal evidence. Do I need to put an emoticon here to show the sarcasm, or have you all started to be able to discern that by this point in my writership?

This concept of perceived ability being vastly different from real ability in those who are in actuality incompetent, can be extended to almost any activity you partake in. Whether it’s on a forum, where having a discussion with someone, and you just dissect each point with carefully worded and researched counter arguments. Or perhaps discussions of someone’s in-game skill. Of course, this is a particularly appropriate topic given the nature of this blog, and the concept that I am going to focus on.

So, have you ever been playing with someone whom you don’t know, or only barely know, and find yourself getting trounced by the enemy. Whether the enemy is another player in WAR, or mob “X” in a dungeon. Invariably, someone will decry that the person was cheating, or the dungeon is bugged. Or maybe the person has an overpowered class, or the encounter is broken, making victory impossible. Nevermind that others before you have come out successful, for you guys, it can not be done. This is where you find a disproportionate measure between ability, and perceived ability. The loser, as the title of the video decries, has an illusion of superiority.

One of the most interesting things that I have found in my MMO career, is the type of people I gravitate towards. It’s not always the most hard-core, or the top dogs of a server, it’s the people who are able to cognizantly recognize their own skills, and evaluate performance objectively. This does tend to lead to people who are skilled, and care about performing better. For many people, MMOs are just games. That approach is just fine to take to a leisure activity. However, I find enjoyment out of doing something to the fullest of my capacity.

I have two amusing anecdotes to highlight my experiences in this regards. One which directly highlights the attitude of players I tend to play with, the other that exemplifies the type I despise. I’ll start with the negative.

I was playing WoW (yes, I DID play it). I was a tanking paladin. I was in a guild with some real life friends, and a lot of their family. I had been busting my ass to play catch up, and get into tanking readiness for Karazhan. I had been through a few times as an off tank, and done so successfully. Most of the people that were going on the run were there, minus the typical main tank. I told the gathered group on vent, that I think I can easily tank the first boss solo (the horse and guy). Paladins specialized in this type of encounter, and this dungeon in general was amazing for a Paladin tank, given the nature of the mobs there. Most everyone seemed on board to try it out, except for our main healer. She refused to believe that I could handle it. I pointed out my previous experience, reminded her of our games of “try to steal aggro from the paly tank” we played last run, and explained the improvements to my gear since then. I then tried to have her explain why we should wait, and not at least start clearing the trash at the least.

She refused further. I kept pressing.

In a fit of childish immaturity, she cried out that she was too good to be dealing with incompetent noobs, who think they can do what they can’t and signed off vent and the game. I realized then, that the game was done for me most likely, and at the very least, the guild. This was a guild officers wife, and there was no way that they would ever be corrected, reprimanded, or instructed to see the error of the situation. I knew for sure at that point, that family guilds were never to be in my future. Their perception of their ability was vastly superior to the reality, and the close-knit nature of their relationships precluded them from honestly being critical in their evaluation of each other.

The positive example I want to bring up, just happened last week. Our guild has actually taken on a few new members of late. Largely to try to get enough people to create double premades in scenarios so we can farm the new weapons come patch day, but also to help fill in the gap that I leave suddenly at times due to Archer and Daddy duties. Our newest member, is a very talented Knight, and after about a week of playing with us, he started to express some frustration and dismay at this role and ability to mesh within the rest of the guild. Keep in mind, this Knight was only about two to three renown ranks lower than my own, and he felt as if he were a drag due to his lower rank. One of our Brightwizards, known for his harsh, no bullshit assessment of players on the field (guildie or not), chimed in.

“Look, we didn’t invite you to the guild because you were the best. We didn’t invite you because you were already stomping people left and right. We invited you because you have potential. You care about your gameplay, and you’ve shown you’re always willing to learn and adjust. You’ve got great battle-field awareness, and are reliable. That’s more important than your RR or your gear, that will come in time.”

Or close enough to that. The point was, we don’t only want to play with people who are RR70+. We want the player who sees the game as a hobby, and wants to always be better, and will always be striving for a way to increase their ability. In short, we want people who have no illusions to their competency. The illusion is always better than what lies behind it, and without honest assessment, improvement can never take place.

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

2 Responses to The truth about competency

  1. canazza says:

    I am in a family-friendly guild, one in which we’re all friends (and have met IRL too) and we’re not afraid to tell someone when they’re playing craply, spouse of a GM or not.
    Gear, especially in WoW, is totally over-rated compared to skill. In TBC we had a hunter join kitted out in full greens (Incidently, his name was Greenie) who could out-DPS our epically geared regulars. The regulars didn’t take offence, they took advice.

    basically. Friends don’t let friends act like arseholes 🙂

    • shadowwar says:

      That is the truth, but sadly, it rarely works out that way. My experience in a family guild was the likely end of there ever being a repeat performance. The whole “fool me once” routine perhaps.

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