Jan 11, 2013

Myth-conceptions about Casuals

Part of the problem casuals have is that there is a perception about what they are that is wholly removed from the reality of what they are. Unfortunately, that's the just the way it is, and it's human nature to put stock in such myth-conceptions, until it is proven to them otherwise. As a casual, you are fighting against not only those myths, but also against the impressions that have been left in the minds of those you meet by the complete doofuses that are all too common in the game. Yes, you're suffering the consequences of there being other casuals in the game who don't know how to play and aren't interested in learning. All we can do is try to show people that we're not all like that.

Before you can solve a problem, though, you have to understand the problem. You have to know its scope. Here are some myths that I'm aware of and have had to personally deal with. The list isn't exhaustive, but it'll give you an idea of what not to do.

Myth: Casuals want everything given to them for nothing.
The reality is that casuals aren't any more (or less) susceptible to wanting something for nothing than anyone else. The perception, however, is based on something that is quite true: we aren't willing to put in 30 hours/week in the game, and at least some significant portion of that spent in rather intensive activities like raiding heroic modes. The solution here is a two-parter. First, recognize that more intense effort in the game provides opportunities for more/better/cooler cash and prizes than less intense effort. That just means that, as a casual player, your odds of rocking a full set of current tier gear has been practically nil since way back in Wrath (Tier 9 was something you could get using points earned solely by running 5-man heroics). Accepting that will allow you to do the second part, which is to not complain, in the game or in the forums, about not being able to have the coolest, most powerful gear. The bottom line is that if you want all that top-tier bling, you should have to work for it. If you (like me) are unwilling to pay the price, you don't get to have the big glowy shoulders. If you have an opportunity to express your understanding of this fact, it will go a long way in dispelling the myth, at least as far as you're concerned. Sadly, that's the best we're going to be able to do, given how many folks are out there still clamoring at Blizz to make it so raid gear can be bought off the wrack for doing dailies.

Myth: Casuals aren't reliable.
Casuals generally don't commit to a raid schedule. We like to play when we want, for as long as we want, preserving the ability to stop what we're doing and get out of the chair to deal with something non-WoW-related, like the kids. Pets, too. Spousal-unit, maybe. This is where the perception of unreliability comes from: the idea that we might up and logoff at any moment when the whim strikes us. Most of the casuals I know don't do this, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who do bail without warning. The solution here is to develop a reputation for reliability, if you do anything group-related at all. Don't bail at the first sign of something going wrong. Even in a scenario, going AFK and letting others carry you is a dick move, so don't do it. Now, if you mostly play the game solo, or only with a couple guildies, you're not going to do much about the "unreliable" label. Just be aware it exists, and is believed by many.

Myth: Casuals aren't interested in playing the game right.

Myth: Casuals refuse to learn better ways of doing things.

After originally planning to write about these separately, I realized that they're just so integrated they have to be taken together.

The perception that casuals are bad players, aren't interested in playing it right, and won't learn from more skilled players is probably at the very heart of why the "casuals" is spit like an insult by those who play the game more intensely. Of course, it's a fallacy. Many of us casuals are former hardcore players whose main toons still bear the scars of weeks wiping to bosses, of late nights and more than a few "tense" Ventrilo conversations. (Thankfully, none that I experienced were ever as bad as the storied Onyxia Wipe.) We know very well how to play the class(es) we bring out, and are always willing to learn better ways to do things. It's just that the motive is very different.

Casuals tend to seek improvement in their ability/gear/rotation/spec so that we can be even more casual! If we can kill things faster, take less damage, have more health, it means we can take an even more relaxed stance when out playing the game.

For this reason, and the fact that you should really try to avoid doing something that reinforces the myths, take the opportunity to learn from other players to improve your own gameplay. You'll enjoy it more if you're struggling less.

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