How do you judge the level of knowledge and skill a player has? Do you go off their progression so far? Or do you go off things they say and do? Do you go off past progression perhaps? There are so many ways that we judge the depth and breadth of knowledge that a player has, often without even thinking about it. I am not sure how many times I have suddenly ‘lifted’ a person in my esteem when they mention that their main is in x guild, or has killed x boss. Of course, they quite often plummet right afterwards because they follow this up with bragging, which makes me feel just a bit ill. I find it amazing though that we immediately assume that a person is a good player because they have a hefty amount of shiny purples, or have killed a certain amount of end game bosses. I have always been a loud and firm advocator of ‘the person before the gear’, but I too quite often judge people superficially.

Now, this superficial judgement rarely leads us astray. Generally, those people in the shiny purples do have a great level of skill. You often need to have this level of skill to even get near one of the bosses in most cases. However, it is easy for an occasional person to ‘slip through the cracks’. Especially in the good old days of 40 man raiding. To get the gear without the skill. Generally these people are easy to spot. They will be the ones where people mutter ‘ebay!’ under their breath.

However, it is incredibly easy to be confused and mistaken in the other direction. To look at someone’s gear and progression, and undervalue their knowledge on this basis. I’ll give you an example that I heard over Vent the other day.

Basically, one of our paladin healers are respeccing to prot (because we have a total utter lack of prot pallies). He was asking some questions about how much dodge he would need. Since the people who were in vent were unable to provide him with a satisfactory answer, he decided to ask an old friend.

Pally: Well, I asked my good friend, and he said I should aim for this much dodge. (I don’t remember the number, cut me some slack!)

Elitist person: Oh, I wouldn’t listen to him.

Pally: Why not? My good friend knows heaps about Prot Pallies. He has been playing since launch!

Elitist Person: Yes, but it’s not like he has exactly progressed very far… at all

Pally: Well, he has got personal circumstances which mean he can’t raid. He used to do old end game raiding, but he can’t anymore. He has a family and things.

Elitist Person: I just don’t think he knows enough. You should try Elitist Jerks or something. Look at the paladins in Afterlife.

This exchange did get on my nerves a little bit. I know the ‘good friend’ in question, which is why it got to me. We aren’t the best of friends, but he is one of the best Paladin tanks I have ever met. I’ll put it this way – Kalf is also one of the most elitist, judgemental people I know (sorry dear, but it’s true :P). Even HE likes this pally tank! Sure, he is still in Kara epics. Maybe a piece or two from Gruul’s. I think that his skill is evidenced though the fact we were desperate for a Pally tank for Hyjal. I asked if he could help out. For someone in such ‘low’ gear, he held aggro off us admirably. The healers had to work a little harder to keep him up, I’ll admit. But he did do incredibly well. I have seen well geared Pally tanks fail in there.

So the assumption that people do not know their class based entirely on gear does get on my nerves a bit. I think this is also reflected in the blogging world – we are all in different states of progression. Some of the WoW bloggers who are still in Karazhan know so much about their class – they know how to play various specs, they know the benefits and disadvantages of each, and they are able to give sound advice about most everything. Progression isn’t a sole indicator of skill and knowledge.

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4 Responses to “Elitism – Azeroth Says No!”
  1. I think you’ve made a very good point that often less progression isn’t tied to less skill as much as it is less time invested. And vice versa. But I did want to say that at different levels of progression sometimes the numbers you need or the specs you use based on what gear is available and the mechanics of that raid zone.

    For example, the buff on the Sunwell bosses makes tank stats weight differently than the same gear against a BT or Hyjal boss. This isn’t to say that someone who hasn’t experienced Sunwell can’t know the weighting, or do the math. But it may mean they aren’t thinking about the class or stats in that context.

    On the other side of the coin, further progressed players aren’t always elitist snobs either. I think often if someone is expecting someone to be elitist or condescending they will interpret things said in that light, even when it isn’t what the speaker intended. I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but I’ve seen it happen too many times in my WoW career to leave it unsaid.

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  2. Re-reading this now, I definitely wasn’t clear in my writing (the problem with having a cold is that it makes it ten times harder to think!). Basically, I was just making the point that it frustrates me when people can not see past someone’s gear, and say that they ‘probably don’t know very much/aren’t very skilled’. Thank goodness it doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen :(

    Oh yes, I definitely know that progression does not necessarily equal being a jerk :). I do just get tired of hearing things like “Oh, they don’t know anything, they aren’t even out of Kara!” or vice versa “I am with the best tank ever, because their gear is awesome!” (before they even start running lol).

    Certainly, different areas need different things. The differences between gear and zones are even noticeable on a DPS level (where very little tends to change from place to place as a rule).

    Basically though, I try to stick to my mantra of seeing the person before the gear. And, of course, doing a little research here and there! Generally I tell my friends that one of the best places to look for this stuff is WoW blogs – they look at me a little funny… then they find out I was right :)

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  3. Kalfurion says:

    I’m not that bad…

    Everyone ignore that blog of Sar’s about that peace keeping incident…

    Please? I’ll heal real good for you if you’re on Cenarius!

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  4. I’m going to have to disagree slightly here. If you don’t know anything about a person at all, if you’ve never talked to them, or interacted with them in any way, it’s very hard to judge a player on their progression knowledge. The only way to know for a fact is based purely on their gear, gem, and enchant choices. The level of gear they’re wearing is based on the experience they have. If I’m wearing ZA and T5 level gear, then you know I’ve been at that level and have done those instances successfully.

    However, a closer inspection my reveal that this toon is my alt and that I have a T6 geared healer as my main.

    So you can never truly know how much players know based on their gear alone. But the gear can be a good measure of what they at LEAST know.

    While there may not be a full fledged relationship between skill and gear, I’d argue that there is a slight connection.

    Matticuss last blog post..Introducing the Drama Advisory System

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