Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Toxic Behaviour, Retail vs Classic

Apparently toxic behaviour is enough of a problem in retail to warrant the inclusion of a "social contract"? Just another reason to stay away from it, but it's really too bad.

I can't remember if toxic behaviour was a big problem back in old WoW, maybe my rose-tinted goggles are blinding me from all the douche-bags I came across. I definitely had to deal with a few, and even the occasional ninja. And I was definitely the object of some really annoying ganking-sprees. But not so much that it ever ruined my fun of the game (ok, the ganking PvP was actually really annoying. So much so that I vowed to never play on a PvP server again).

I really have not come across any angry players in Classic though. Everyone is so lovey-dovey it's almost a bit eerie. It might be partially because of the above-mentioned reason of me not being on a PvP server anymore, that definitely eliminates a lot of possibilities for people to wind me up. Also, maybe, Classic has managed to attract a bunch of more mature players. Not that I could point at what exactly makes a player mature, I know it's nothing as simple as age, necessarily. 

Yet there is something. The people I talk to don't get angry when we wipe even to the most stupid things. I wiped an entire pugged raid on Malacrass in Zul'aman by simply running into the boss when no one was ready. How is it even possible? I can't explain. But we all horribly died and not a single mean word, however well deserved it would've been, was said. Kudos to those people (they all probably secretly blocked me)!

It would be so interesting to make a study on why toxic behaviour is a massive issue in some games and not in others, and especially when you've got two games that are essentially the same (retail and Classic)! Understanding group psychology like this is a major reason to why I went into studying psychology in the first place.

The people I pug with now will tell me what music they're listening to, or talk about their favorite foods. They'll excuse each other if someone needs to deal with a kid or a pet or has a bad computer. They'll talk about the good old times or tell me this is their first time playing WoW. They'll group up to make sure everyone gets the quest mob. They'll help you with a quest in the middle of nowhere because they were in the neighborhood. I've received so much good from random people in WoW I have a massive payload of pay-it-forward to deal with. I can't even imagine what retail must be like, but I picture some sort of social wasteland of angry radscorpions, ready to turn on you and sting you even if you offer them a lift over a stream.

"I can't help it, it's in my nature".

I think a social contract can be a good thing though. It really doesn't change anything about the game, it just tells people the obvious, but also gives Blizzard something to point at when things aren't going the way they want. We do this some times at my work actually (I work with people with intellectual disabilities). We'll discuss what kind of work space do we want this to be, agree on something together and when something happens we can say "hey there, you were part of deciding on how we treat each other, remember?".

It won't reach the people it needs to reach. If someone needs a social contract to act nice to randomz on the internet, I think a social contract is never going to be enough. But like I said it will give Blizzard something to point at and say "you've agreed not to behave this way when you decided to play this game". And maybe, hopefully, that will be enough.


  1. My TL;DR of my potential post on the subject is that the contract allows Blizz a measure of cover to throw the ban hammer on asshats. By being more explicit, they can push out the bad apples without worrying about retaliation.

    1. Yes precisely! In fact, companies do this all the time. Every time they update their EULA they put in stuff like this.

  2. I've already seen some shots of people bitching about the 'social contract' and saying they're leaving because of it. "It's already working!", I think to myself.

    1. Totally agree. If they want to behave like that, they should go to League.

    2. Haha that is brilliant. Completely agree.