Friday, June 01, 2007

Meaningless PvP: Recipe for a Losing Mentality

So I do a lot of PvP in WoW. It's something that has always interested me in gaming, and I rarely step foot into an MMO that doesn't have some sort of PvP.

However, in WoW, PvP is essentially meaningless. You're playing inside an isolated reality, for which there are anywhere from one to two dozen of the exact same scenario playing out at any given point, just with different players. When the match is over, everyone goes their own ways and nothing has changed. The only difference is that the losing team has accumulated slightly less points than the winning team. This has lead to what I dub a Losing Mentality amongst many of my fellow gamers who participate in the Battlegrounds.

I'm a competitor at heart. I enjoy pitting my skills and intelligence against other opponents, especially when we are evenly matched and/or they can throw new tactics and strategies at me, forcing me to think on my feet. And thus, in the battlegrounds, I often find myself yelling at my teammates (randomly assembled from other servers in my battlegroup, as my guild isn't active enough to form teams very often) about not guarding flags, or running around in a big blob of ten characters while the other five of us are getting slaughtered because we have no backup, or any other of the myriad just plain stupid things that players tend to do. And more and more lately, I've been getting flak from the other players telling me to 'relax' and 'its just a game' and other sundry comments, not all of which are so pleasant. After a recent bout of this, it suddenly occurred to me that many of my 'teammates' aren't playing to win, they're just playing to accumulate their points.

In other competitive games, losing is losing. You either go home or have a mark put on your permanent record. In WoW battlegrounds, if you lose, you still get points, and you just join in for the next match. So to many players, it doesn't matter if they never get near an objective or if they just sit around in the base and rack up bonus honor points while everyone else on their team is putting forth an effort.

Now I do have to say that I definitely appreciate the fact that honor points are cumulative these days. The old decaying honor grind was just exceedingly cumbersome. But the Losing Mentality makes many of the matches not fun for me. Is there a solution to this dilemma? Not when the battleground results are virtually meaningless in the larger scope. It will be interesting to see how the instanced PvP in Warhammer Online fares, since it's being designed to have an effect on the overall war effort. Will there still be players leeching off of those who are actually putting forth blood and sweat to try and win for their side? I certainly hope not!