Warcraft: Right of Exit

A political conversation I’ve seen since childhood, and going on well before that I’m sure, is how much various under-performing people should be tolerated. In the past, a conservative of some sort would say that schools are too easy on kids, and don’t push them harder, like you would find in the military or at a real job. More recently we see cultural liberals saying the same thing, about the sort of “tough love” that should be shown to violator of the social contract (particularly with regards to racist actions or harassment.)

And the obvious rejoinder was always “Well yeah, schools don’t do that, they can’t kick people out. They’re stuck with them. So they have to do the best they can to encourage these people to improve, instead of threatening them with expulsion.”

(Okay, schools clearly can expel people, but only in dire circumstances. It’s very different than failing to meet your quarterly performance targets.)

And so schools treat their students differently. Yes they can enact harsher in-system punishments than any job where the worker can just leave… but they also need to avoid a confrontational dynamic involving, and so will be less interested in ever

It’s interesting how World of Warcraft has mirrored this split with their dungeon groups in the Legion expansion. As discussed before, the basic heroic group is random strangers thrown together, who can vote each other out if someone is a problem, and if the group fails, they can just queue for another one quickly. This is the LFG, and is similar to modern social commodification.

In Legion they also added a Mythic system, for truly hard version of dungeons that you are trying to beat under a harsh timer. In order to even run a Mythic, you need to spend a “key” attuned to a certain difficulty. If you beat the dungeon under the timer, you key replenishes and it upgrades to a harder level – but if you fail the timer, you still get loot, but your key is depleted. This creates a lot of pressure for everyone to perform quickly and reliably in a dungeon, and to communicate even less due to the time constraints.

And, you can’t get rid of anyone. If someone disconnects, or just trolls you, you’re screwed and you can’t finish the Mythic. Your key is used up, and that may have been your one chance to run this sort of content for the week. That can really suck.

And what does this say for harassment? If someone is taunting you and saying crude slurs and being horrible, now you can’t vote them out without giving up your own run as well. So there’s now a much higher bar to object to in-group harassment.

You would think then, with the pressure and the inability to get rid of harassers, that Mythic+ culture would be a lot more hostile and unpleasant.

 

But it’s not. It’s a lot calmer. The other night we had a pick-up member join our group, who just went Away From Keyboard for five minutes in the middle of the run. In LFG, this would have gotten them booted, and cursed out. But in Mythic, what even was the point of complaining? Your group couldn’t get rid of them anyway, so there was no point in creating social pressure to remove them, so there was no performative anger. Just resignation and pushing on. The guy eventually came back, and we completed the dungeon just five minutes slower.

That’s a somewhat extreme example. But do you have a damage-dealer who does very little damage (compared to what you think they should be able to do?) Do you have a tank that pulls less quickly than you’d like? Well that’s a pity but your only option is to give up the whole run and your key too. No amount of social shaming will get the group to get rid of them.

And so there’s no escalation. There might be some casual complaints… but they don’t feed on each other, into a war of words where two people are trying to convince everyone that the other person is a troll and a liar and a burden on the group.

There’s less harassment, even though you can’t get rid of harassers, because the dynamics that feed harassment are removed. People actually have security that no judgment can fall on them, and everyone chills the fuck down.

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