Ghostcrawler brought up the notion of fun 15 times in the most recent edition of the Dev Watercooler series. In my opinion, this was about 14 times too many.
Let me explain.
There are many different kinds of fun. There is the kind of fun that you have when you are going down the steep hill of a rollercoaster. Or the kind of fun that you have when you’re in the car with your friends and you’re all loudly singing along to your favorite song on the radio. Or the sense of fun that comes from trying out an exotic new type of food at a restaurant.
Fun can also be subjective. Not everyone would find the examples that I mentioned above to be fun. Personally, I don’t enjoy rollercoasters and I tend to take the safe, predictable route whenever I go to a new restaurant. I do, however, enjoying singing along with my friends in the car (albeit poorly).
At the same time, not everything in life is meant to be fun. You don’t decide that you want to have a baby with your partner because it’s going to be fun. You don’t volunteer to give a speech in front of a room full of people because it will be fun. You don’t clean the cat’s litter box because it’s fun.
Sometimes you do things because they are necessary or because they are expected of you. It’s a means to an end, a way to get past an obstacle that you wouldn’t be able to overcome, otherwise. It could be something that you need to do, in order to get it out of the way, so you can have some real fun later on down the line. You do it because nobody else can or nobody else will. Fun has nothing to do with it.
I would have supported the changes to threat and to tanking, had the groundwork for such a change been rooted in theorycrafting or number crunching. But having Ghostcrawler’s proposal be based primarily on fun and using numerous examples of what constitutes fun to support this seemed wrong to me. To me, fun should not be that much of a factor in a decision as groundbreaking as this one.
For as far back as I can remember, everything in the game came with some amount of work involved. It didn’t matter if you were circling the globe to get the Explorer achievement, or you were grinding Netherwing rep to get your drake, or even fishing. You were working to some degree to get ahead, to get something that you wanted, and fun most likely didn’t factor too highly into that equation. Fun may have been an inevitable byproduct of those situations, but you most likely didn’t go into them thinking “I’m going to do a dozen laps around Nagrand to uncover every zone on the map because it’s fun,” or “I’m going to farm up enough fish for a month’s worth of fish feasts because it’s fun.”
No, you got enjoyment from achieving the goals that came with said actions. Like when you were able to park yourself in Shattrath and show off your new drake. Or like when the raid leader calls out your name on Vent before the first pull of the night and thanks you for contributing so much to the raid. Those things feel good. You weren’t having fun at the time, but you sure were having a lot of fun after the fact.
I guess that’s my point. People tanked because they loved to tank. Others heal because that’s what they love to do. It’s what they were meant to do. Fun is certainly a part of it, but it’s not why people usually step up to the plate. It was never about that, at least until recently.
Fun has become the sole motivation for people to place themselves in various situations and if they don’t have as much fun as they feel they deserve or that they were anticipating, they won’t do that certain something anymore. Fun has become an excuse to ostracize people that you don’t like running with, because they are either having more fun than you or not enough fun as you are.
Nothing made me more sad than seeing talk of the transmogrifying service dominate my Twitter feed and recent blog posts by those I follow closely. Here we had all of these other developments to discuss, though some were not nearly as fleshed out as this one, and all people could talk about was which classic instances they were going to farm for which particular gear set. I think people chose to focus on this change, rather than the others (i.e. the last raid of the expansion, the Deathwing encounter) because it’s fun. Or at least what the mass majority would consider fun.
How did we get here? How did we get to a point where we place so much emphasis on fun that we have let it blot out hard work and looking forward to a challenge? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we outlaw fun altogether. I just feel that if we were to create a hierarchy of priorities, in terms of what drives us to do things in the game and what drives the developers to do things, that fun should not be nearly as high on the list as it is right now. It should still have a place, just not as prevalent of one as it does currently and as it seems that it will continue to have.
I like having something to work for and to work towards. I was raised with the notion that if I want something in this life that I have to go after it and take it for myself, that I have to make it happen. Nothing should be given to you. Nobody owes you that. Some people may not find this to be fun, but I do. I just wish others felt the same way. Maybe the game would be in a different place if everyone took a step back and really thought about the motivations for why they do what they do and how realistic their expectations concerning fun really are.
I think that would be fun.