On Of Teeth and Claws, there is an interesting discussion going on about raid motivation classifications. Casual versus hardcore raiding is really something that doesn’t even make sense to me at this point – as neither ‘casuals’ nor ‘hardcore’ are actually a homogeneous group, and both groups seem to be unhappy with changes that are made to raiding. What matters is NOT just how much you can raid, but the attitude you bring towards raiding, and WHY you are raiding. When people can clear all the instances in 1 day or 2 days, you can’t just use # of days raiding as a metric that’s worthwhile. In the days of Naxx, “casual” raiders actually took longer to clear the instance than “hardcore” raiders because some of the “hardcore” raiders got it down to a 3 hour clear of all the hard-mode content, whereas the “casual” raiding groups just took longer because they were slower at getting through the “normal” bosses, and were more prone to wiping. However, hard-mode versus normal bosses doesn’t even really define differences in why people are raiding, or how much they dedicate themselves to it.
Here are where I see continuous categories (the first two are from Russish’s quote on the Teeth & claws post, the third one was recommended by my boyfriend when I talked to him about the article). I really don’t see just high or low scores on these dimensions, but a range where people can fall in the middle, high, or low – and this can make it hard to find a guild that is a good match for you, and can cause a lot of problems in guilds, even if you all agree to raiding the same number of hours a week:
For the looter dimension, you can care a lot about the loot you get from the instance, or very little, or somewhere in the middle. It’s not an all or nothing thing. I like upgrades, but raiding while also beta testing for 2 expansions shows me how temporary and nearly worthless striving for gear upgrades really is. So, for me, I’m usually low on the “looter” dimension, but I’m really not a “casual raider” by any sense of the term. If we really didn’t care about the looter dimension, we’d all be off running Molten Core with our buddies just because we could. So, somewhere, most of us care at least a little about the gear upgrades in the highest level content – it’s just a matter of how much it drives your playing.
For the challenger dimension, it’s all about how much you enjoy the thill of harder content where you are more likely to wipe, and how well you are willing to prepare for the instance. I actually would rank myself pretty high. I really hate the fact that even Ulduar can be run with PUGs, and I frequently get in arguments with my RL friends who would score very low on the challenger dimension. It’s not that I have endless time to dedicate to raiding, it’s that I want it to cost people time & effort to get their rewards, and I hate the feeling of loot just being thrown around for anyone with a pulse, and I dislike the idea of super easy content. However, at the same time, due to being in graduate school, I’m not ranked as high on this dimension as some other people who do have endless amounts of time to raid. However, I expect to wipe on bosses, and get a thrill out of seeing “new” content, and strive for really challenging fights that put my skills to the test. I’m willing to farm reputations, materials – I spend time reading as many boss strategy guides as I can. I spend time learning the ins and outs of my class and my spec so that I can bring the highest quality to whatever I do in the raid instance. It’s not about killing all the hard-mode Ulduars, but about the attitude you bring even to 10-man raids – it’s the thrill of knowing what you are doing and battling against what feels like something that isn’t possible. Easy one-shot kills are boring to people scoring high on the challenger dimension. I like to think that the thrill of seeing “new content” comes in as part of the challenger dimension, even though “new” doesn’t have to mean “hard”.
On the social dimension, it really comes down to how many people you are willing to raid with, and how closely you feel the need to be attached to a guild. Some people want all the stuff from raid instances without ever stepping foot in a dungeon with more than 5 people (and they would even sometimes prefer to have crafting equivalents, or to get gear out of 2v2 arenas to lower the number of people they have to interact with). People low on the social dimension could even want a lot of loot and want challenges, but really just not like raiding. On the other hand, I’m very high on the social dimension. I want to raid with as many people as possible, so I really like the 25-man instances, and I miss the days of 40-man instances. As a healer, I get more fun out of having more health bars to watch, and I like the epic grand scale of having a lot of people in the raid instance with me. I also really just like being around other people in the game – I like the social aspect of it all. Other people really like raiding in the 10-man dungeons, even if they enjoy challenges and want access to high quality loot, because they fall more somewhere in the middle of the social dimension. Perhaps they’re only willing to raid with their close personal friends. There are also people who want to raid with a bunch of people they don’t even know, so long as it fits their time schedule. Some of the group of people who love the fact that you can PUG Naxx & Ulduar are sometimes driven by where they fall on the social dimension – they just can’t commit to a certain guild and group of people to raid the same content week after week, even if they fall higher on the challenge & loot continuums that are sometimes considered more “hard core”.
Conclusions – What makes developing this game hard is that all 11 million players have a different reason for wanting to play this game, and everyone who raids has a different set of goals and reasons for wanting to raid (and people who hate raiding have just as many reasons why). It’s really not possible to cater to everyone if you think of these dimensions (and all the other motivating factors) that people bring to this game (for raiding, leveling, PvP, farming, crafting, etc).