Back in the bad old days of Molten Core, I was a hunter. I was also totally new to raiding, and had done very little/no grouping or instancing as I was leveling. WoW was my first MMO, and because of some issues I’d run into early on, I decided instances were awful and eye-stabbing, so I just never went. Once I hit 60, though, I started raiding, first in Zul’Gurub and then in Molten Core with a newly formed 40 man raid group in my guild. I was one of /seven/ hunters in that raid.
I was very, very new. Shiny, squeaky new. Freshly baked noob-pie new.
But I stuck with it.
I discovered I kind of liked raiding, especially at the beginning. I slowly picked up information about pulling instances and shot rotations and controlling my pet. The internet wasn’t nearly as full of WoW information as it is now, and I didn’t even know that such a thing as boss strategies /existed/ until we started learning fights like Garr.
Unfortunately, in our group was another hunter, experienced in the ways of MMOs and quite possibly raiding on another character at the time. My performance as a hunter did not meet his standards, and he expressed that to me – repeatedly, and in several forms: in whispers, and by complaining to the raid leaders, and by spamming Damage Meters parses at me. He went so far as to say that I didn’t deserve the loot that I was getting (even though I too had earned the DKP for it). No matter what I did, how prepared I felt I was, or what my placement was on the DPS chart, it wasn’t good enough.
When I got my Ancient Petrified Leaf, he told me (and the rest of the hunters) that I was a disappointment and not worth my raid spot when I didn’t have a completed Rhok’delar the next week (I didn’t complete my Rhok until 2.0 talents released and I moved to a new apartment, because lag really was not a good thing for two of the demon fights). He kept his raid spot because he topped the damage meters each week, and I guess the raid leaders didn’t think it was worth asking him not to come back or whatever. Either way, it went on for awhile, even though my class lead knew about the problem.
To this day, I still get irrationally furious any time someone links damage meters in chat, and when that raid fell apart, I decided I was done with being a hunter in a raid instance. Fortunately by then I was also raiding as a priest, and I’d discovered that there was a totally different measure of how to be a healer (and that the raid I subbed into did not have an antagonistic jerk in it).
If someone were to act that way today, I would tell them exactly where to go and how to get there. I know how raiding works in WoW, and I know when someone is legitimately saying “hey you could do X better” and when they’re just being an asshat. But I didn’t know that then.
And I almost quit raiding because of it.
So what’s the point?
The point is that experience, like the abilities you train and the boss fights you learn, is a skill that aids with raiding. That skill is something a lot of us take for granted, especially if we’ve been raiding awhile. But every new expansion comes with a new raid reset, and each raid reset brings new players to raiding. I’ve been raiding since UBRS was the “intro” to raids. Some people cut their teeth on Karazhan. Still others on Naxxramas. A whole new group of players will earn their raiding stripes on whatever the first raid instance is in Cataclysm (I don’t know what it will be and don’t care to know yet).
Raid experience is not just about having seen the inside of a dungeon either.
There are skills you learn, certainly, and boss fights. But you also learn group coordination, what to expect when you show up for a raid, how things usually work, what it’s like to wipe on a new boss for hours or weeks. You learn how to read patch notes, look up strategies, and learn to be effective at your class. You pick up raiding jargon (like tank, crowd control, adds, line of sight, DKP) as well as picking up on little jokes that later become Raid Tropes to refer back to and laugh about. Some jokes become universal – The Safety Dance, Don’t stand in fire, Merely a setback, IN THE MOUNTAINS, 50 DKP Minus, Many Whelps Handle It, Leroy Jenkins. Other things will be raid specific in-jokes – Prydion’s hair, 17 is less than 30, Don’t talk to Akama, Suddenly all the world was Bear, Things and Stuff, the Trinagle.
Every one of those little jokes, bits of jargon, raiding skills and coordination skills get filed away in your brain under “Raids”, and you become an experienced raider.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s your job to be responsible for everyone in your raid.
Is it your job to teach a new player how to play? Of course not. As a rank-and-file raider you are only responsible for yourself. But you should know the power of your words and actions towards other people, especially if they’re new.
Everyone has to learn somewhere, and everyone sucks when they’re new and starting out, and experienced raiders (whether they recognize it or not) have the power to make or break someone who is just trying out this “raid” thing.
Whether that means knowing where to point someone on the internet for great advice, how to walk someone through a new spec and rotation, who they should talk with to get that information, or simply when to shut up or suggest to your role/class leader that a discussion might be necessary, being supportive isn’t hard. It requires a modicum of patience, sure, but not everyone wants (or needs) to be a walking raid encyclopedia. Even though lots of resources do exist, not everyone instinctively knows about them. Being able to point someone at a Heigan youtube video that you found when you were learning to do the Safety Dance can save a wipe or five, repair bills, and frustration later on.
Perhaps the solution is to have a Troubleshooting and Complaints officer in your guild or raid, who can specifically be there for these types of situations.
If nothing else, follow the rule of DBAD (Don’t Be A Dick). Unless it is your job as a raid leader or officer to call out players for performing poorly… don’t. Trashing someone who is new can end up pushing them out of the game entirely. Most people are willing to learn, if approached in a way that doesn’t make them feel stupid or defensive.
Now, let me tell you another story (this one is shorter and happier).
When I first started raiding with Totally Raids, I was an enhancement shaman – for one raid. They desperately needed healers, specifically resto shaman flavored healers, so I decided to suck it up and try healing as a shaman. My first week in, I cast chain heal exactly twice, went OOM from trying to cast Healing Wave all the time, hardly used Earth Shield, and probably had my talents in all the wrong places.
After that raid, someone (I think it was Tarquin) sat me down, pointed me at Elitist Jerks and suggested I read up on healing strategies because I’d had some trouble and he thought maybe I needed better information.
Within a week, I was performing at levels that were up to par with the other healers. I learned.
The difference was all in the approach.
Tarquin was my raid leader – he had a voice of some authority, and also was someone that I trusted wasn’t just being overly competitive or a jerk. He spoke to me like I was intelligent, pointed me towards good resources, showed me how to read WoW WebStats, and sent me on my way. One of the other healers may have said “Wow, Annorah really doesn’t know how to play, and she’s making this harder on all of us,” and they would have been absolutely right. But rather than attack me for it, the TRI raid group decided to see if maybe I just needed to learn, instead of assuming I was just stupid.
In a few months, Cataclysm is going to come out and with it will come a whole swarm of new players.
Some of them will have raided in other games; for others, like I was, WoW will be their first MMO and/or their first time raiding. Everyone who runs raids right now in Wrath will become an “old” player – we’ll be the voices of experience, even if we don’t feel qualified.
How will we – the experienced raiders of Wrath – take on the challenge of working with new raiders in Cataclysm?
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