Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Admitting mistakes

A long time ago I did a post on immature behavior in WoW and how we all engage in it some times. Eventhough I can totally nerdrage on people who snaffle a vein that was clearly mine, I occasionally do these kinds of things myself (ok I don't take veins from people actually, but I have done my fair share of immature things). Interestingly enough these kinds of behaviors aren't really things that I want to get rid of. I do feel ashamed when I do them, at least afterwards, but at the time they give me a sense of self-righteousness and "hah!" that I think we all need to feel from time to time. Sure I wish I could always turn the other cheek, but I'm just not that perfect. I need to feel like I've "won" over people who act like twats from time to time.

But, as the topic of this post, there are some game-behaviors that I do feel like I want to get rid of. Things I do that annoy me. There are probably a thousand things I do that I should practice on doing better, many of them include being a better gamer overall and learn more about how to play my class. That is also what I enjoy doing in the game. Then there are a couple of things I'm not aware of probably. But I have identified at least one problem area, and most people "suffer" from this to varying degrees.

I'm talking about excuses. Usually bad ones. But we all have one. How often do we just say "yeah ok, I messed up"? Instead we go "Oh well I was doing this instead" or "I was thinking that maybe he would do this and then I do that" or "I thought that other guy was going to take care of it". Yeah ok, we can all misunderstand things, or be the honest victims of bad luck or misinformation. But that is rarely the case. Still we wish to make it look like it wasn't our fault. Or that it was our fault, but not so much. We did what we could in a bad circumstance. The odds were not on our sides. And so on.

It's always annoyed me when people slip up and don't admit it. Or they admit it but with a million "buts". It's not like we don't do them all the time, everyone of us. Although some might make less mistakes than others, we definitely all make them from time to time. So why is it so difficult to admit that this one time, we actually didn't do the right thing. We probably had the best intentions, and we didn't mean to wipe the raid, but we did.

There are mistakes we can't hide from.
Love released an Unchained Magic in the raid on Sindragosa and did some 50k damage to everyone, effectively wiping us (this was back when casters only had 30k hp). Fortunately enough it was just after the boss had died, but still, it could as easily not have been. Those mistakes are difficult to try to make an excuse for, and people will remind you of it forever. I bet most of us have made huge mistakes like that, that haunt us still today. Like when I started cleansing people left and right on my first try at Grobbulus. I obviously hadn't read the tactics very well *ahem*. And then there are the mistakes that are so minor, it's difficult to say if they were the factor that lead to the wipe or something completely else. In fact I think it is the accumulation of minor mistakes throughout a raid that is the main reason people wipe. I run a second in the wrong direction while the other healer uses the "wrong" spell for the situation, the tank forgets to use a cooldown so a third healer has to go heal him and suddenly a couple of people died due to aoe. It's difficult to say whos mistake was the tipping factor, since probably none of them would've been if it had been the only mistake made.

But there are plenty of mistakes made that have a relatively clear nametag, without having the benefit of being so disastrous that they're more fun than annoying. You dpsed the wrong target, you ran the wrong way, you healed the wrong target, you didn't interrupt, you stood in fire. Another favorite of mine are all the excuses a dps could have for accidentally snatching aggro from the tank. It is rarely an accident in the first place. We all use Omen, or an equivalent, don't we? Love used to be an expert on both snatching aggro, and having an excuse for why it wasn't his fault. I will quote a shaman healer in my guild on this one "just let go of the keyboard, there is no better way to lose threat". Instead people go on about stuff like "oh dang, a crit strike" or "well if I don't do my rotation this way I won't do any damage" or "I can't very well remove my dots, can I?". Not grabbing aggro is part of your rotation, do whatever you have to do avoid getting threat from the boss. And trust me on this one, dying will be far worse to your damage than any rotation-breaks you might have to make. Unless the tank dcd during the pull you have no reason not to admit you did a mistake.

I present to you - my Blame-o-Chart™

 Even if we don't have to openly admit every single thing we do wrong, we should at least admit them to ourselves, but do we even go that far? Or do we just wipe up and go at it again without much thought? We should really be thinking - what did I do this try that lead to the wipe, and how can I make sure it doesn't happen again?

Instead we just try to forget about it. Ah the mistake wasn't so big anyway, who cares? I know I do this all the time, and everytime I try to slap myself. You did a mistake, just admit it. I get assigned to heal the tank, I heal something else and the tank dies. Who's fault is it? Mostly mine. What do I say? I don't say "oh yeah, I was healing something else instead of my assignment so I messed up completely". Instead I say "but he just suddenly took shitloads of damage and I wasn't ready for it!". Which also partially is true. I wouldn't stray from my assigned targets for just any reason. My target probably doesn't take much damage and someone else is and the temptation to help out is just too strong. It's not a great excuse, I know. But tell me what healer finds it easy not to heal a target that is going low? I just remember what trouble we had having healer not to top people off on Anub'Arak. This is the new way of healing however, and I am learning. Slowly. But it doesn't matter, I didn't do what I was told to do and we failed because of my mistake. Learn from it.

Or if I die from standing in fire.
Saying stuff like "well I had really bad lags suddenly" or "I was so focused on something else" or "the tank was going really low so I just had to save him". The last reason might be half-decent, because it is generally more trouble to lose the tank than to lose one healer. But otherwise it really doesn't matter why you died in the fire. Don't do it again! How difficult is it to just say "yeah sorry, my bad"? Only if the dying is re-ocurring could you expect people to want an explanation. Why do we want to excuse and explain ourselves right away? We made a mistake, does it matter why? If you died due to someone elses mistake, most people will know already, so why try to white-wash the obvious - you failed.

The reason I am going on about this is because I feel like if we don't take our mistakes to heart immediately, it might take longer for us to learn from them. Even if we know something was our mistake, by not openly admitting it, publicly or at least to ourselves, have we really become any better? Won't we just repeat the same mistake the next try? There's nothing wrong with doing a mistake once in a while, like I said we all do them. I haven't encountered a single player so far that hasn't stood in fire at least once. And if I admit my own mistakes, it'll be easier for me to ask people about their mistakes. Maybe people won't see it as a personal offense if you ask them why they're failing, if failing isn't the end of the world. Failing is ultimately yet another (game) mechanic we have to conquer. So I'm not saying we should start a self-criticising movement, where you'll write an apology letter each time you die in a fire. Just maybe a little less excuses.

Or am I the only one whos having a hard time admitting mistakes?


  1. Not only You, for sure... I have that problem aswell, as most (if not all) people. We always try to white-wash ourselves instead of admiting mistake, I guess the problem lies within human's nature. Mistakes aren't accepted anywhere in general, thus we always try to make excuses, even in real life! :)

  2. I work the other way around, I usually am very fast taking the blame. Sometimes this is a good thing since it keeps peeps from casting blame around over a period of several minutes. I only point out the errors if it is the only way to keep progress going.

  3. I LOVE the chart! To be honest, I think admitting mistakes is inherently difficult BUT I also think the culture of WoW discourages it. I mean, we have someone in our guild who is a great analyser of her own performance and usually the first to step up and say "I didn't do this enough" or "I need to do more of this" and a consequence a lot of the cockier guild members concluded, early on, that she wasn't a "good enough" player. This was bollocks, of course, and they learned after a bit of a wake-up call but the point is WoW culture encourages you to make excuses, rather than man up and take responsibility.

  4. Heh, guilty as charged.
    Lately I've been trying to just say "Damn, sorry" and move on with it. I'm dead, so I got plenty of time to figure out what killed me, and then that's that. I usually don't do it again.
    It's when I start to try to rationalise and explain why I did it and why it wasn't my fault that I forget to try to find the real culprit - most likely me, and a friendly neighbourhood boss mechanic who were a little too intimate.
    Admitting mistakes not only makes you a better player imo, it also makes you easier to raid with.

  5. @Gabbek
    Yeah I suppose so. WoW is only an extension if irl anyway ;)

    Wow, I wonder what would happen if everyone did what you did!

    Thanks! I just noticed a typo in it tho <.< Yeah I think that can be what is holding people back. Therefore having someone with a little "authoritae" (ala Cartman) could help people learn that it doesn't have to mean that you're a bad player when you admit mistakes. Clearly that is what people think today.

    Quite right hun!