Monday, January 14, 2008

WoW Temptations: Comparing Ourselves to Others

In real life there are many people who feel an irrational need to have the beauty of a professional model, the physical fitness of a professional athlete, or the net worth of a professional investor.

Not me! I'm quite content being mediocre.

In World of Warcraft there is a level of elite equipment available for the sake of professional gladiators. Some players like pitting their characters against each other in arena combat. As with real life wrestling matches there are competition brackets (but based on experience rather than weight). It is advantageous to get an arena character to the top of his or her experience bracket, stop questing for experience, and shift to getting the best equipment available for that bracket.

There are two kinds elite equipment. Most of it is can only be obtained by traveling to a certain enemy, defeating the enemy, and being lucky that the enemy drops the desired item instead of one of the other three or four possible items that the enemy's defeat could yield as treasure. Other, rarer elite equipment could randomly be found among any treasure and is usually sold at the auction house for exorbitant prices.

For a normal character doing quests the elite equipment is complete irrelevant. As I mentioned earlier almost all quests become trivial by teaming up with even one other character. Having an unusually powerful weapon or piece of armor is never necessary.

Moreover, characters gain experience quickly and a character doing quests is soon eligible to use the next tier of equipment. It seems a waste of time to spend time getting the best possible equipment for a (non-arena) character's current level of experience. Time spent repeatedly traveling to and defeating a certain foe until it yields the desired treasure item could be more significantly used to complete quests and gain more experience.

Despite how clearly irrelevant elite gear is to most characters I meet many players who long for it. As with other temptations, the game itself does not promote this vice of feeling unhappy unless you can "keep up with the Joneses" who are the professionals at what they do. But if a player is susceptible to that temptation then the game can feed the fuel of that kind of desire.

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