Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Xenophobia

We have met the enemy and he is us.
-Walt Kelly
It is so funny listening to World of Warcraft players from the Horde or Alliance faction talking about WoW players of the opposing faction as if they are some completely different, culturally alien race of beings.

Now I will give you the fact that the Horde side probably has slightly more of the young adolescent, more aggresive type players. The reason for that is the Horde’s fiction and their playable races fit in more with the type of play experience they are looking for. The Horde faction are getting the Blood Elf race in the Burning Crusade expansion to hopefully bridge some of that distance and acquire players who have a stronger tie to the more attractive races in these types of games.

Back to the point, besides that very slight demographic discrepancy… players of the other faction are just other players. Other players just like them! There is no master brain controlling them. They don’t get together to vote on some agenda. They don’t have a developmental historical or cultural anomaly inherent to them that is any different from players of the other faction. There is no real difference between either set of players!

Yet you constantly hear people saying stuff about “the insert faction does this. The insert faction can’t handle this. The insert faction always exploit that.”

I like the way players from both factions justify their bad behavior; doing exactly the same thing they are accusing the other faction of doing, as being okay because it’s paying them back for doing it first.

My personal specific favorite is the way both sides accuse the other of using some ‘auto flag pick-up exploit program/mod” in the War Song Gulch battleground. Like if there was such a program, which there isn’t, it would be keyed to only be downloadable to people who can prove they play on that faction’s side.

There has got to be behavioral scientists that could get some wonderful insights into human behavior by studying this. Xenophobia created by two pretty much identical groups of players, hidden behind the anonymity of their characters, who cannot communicate directly with each other inside of the game. Oh there has got to be a wealth of information that can be learned from this. I am sure if we could nail this down we could bring about peace in the Middle East.

4 comments:

Kafka said...

I think its worth looking at from the perspective of increasing the fun of the game by getting into the "roles". The feigned animosity helps build esprit de corps between faction members, and helps motivate greater efforts in vanquishing the opposition.

I don't think it means much more than that.

Joseph the Fourth said...

"Feigned" animosity? I would sleep much better at night if I thought it was feigned. I envy you.

Kafka said...

On further reflection, I think you may have a point actually.

It seems you have touched an aspect of the human psyche. Divisions between factions, as arbitrary as they are, generally does breed an immediate contempt and mistrust. Is it some thread of basic human nature that causes it? In those terms, such animosity would appear inevitable.

I wonder how many world conflicts escalate from such divisive conditions?

Anonymous said...

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