Boathammer : Age of Bloggening

July 9, 2008

Losers always whine about their gear. Winners capture a castle and kill the king.

Filed under: Theory — boatorious @ 3:06 am

*** This blog has moved, it is now hosted at ***

With apologies to Sean Connery in The Rock (“Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and **** the prom queen.”)

Skill, for whatever reason, is probably one of the biggest forum preoccupations in WoW. Who has skill. What kind of play style requires skill. I have skill. You don’t have skill. Why doesn’t having skill automatically make me a millionaire assassin rock star monk. Etc.

Probably the most popular type of skill discussion is the “skill vs. gear” discussion. The issue is that players with less “skill” can often defeat players with less “gear”, and this seems wrong and upsets everyone a great deal.

I had almost forgotten until the topic was inevitably raised in the context of WAR. Bo at The Greenskin kicked it off with a piece on skill vs. gear (part 1 and part 2 up today) and stormcrow over at The White Tower of Hoeth wrote up a couple of pieces as well (part 1 and part 2).

Both seem to agree on certain things. Among others, they agree that inequality is inevitable, and that nobody wants to win due to gear. I agree only with the first.

The problem of MMORPG’s and player inequality

Video game RPG’s (we’ll exclude the table top here) come in all different shapes and sizes, with vastly different gaming mechanics, art, and stories. There’s really only one common characteristic that every video game RPG shares : advancement. You spend time playing the game and your character gets more powerful.

So it seems pretty straightforward to assume that PvP in an MMORPG would involve characters of unequal power. Bo and stormcrow both agree on this point, as do I.

Surprisingly many people don’t feel this way. You can always find a dozen posts on the WoW forums lamenting that gear matters in PvP.

But Bo and stormcrow are right on when they say that inequality in PvP is inevitable.

Nobody wants to win due to gear

Bo and stormcrow also posit that nobody wants to win because they had better gear. I’ll disagree. I just want to win. Play to Win is the best essay ever written about competitive gaming and it is my mantra. According to the essay, the “scrub” is one who

is bound up by an intricate construct of fictitious rules that prevent him from ever truly competing

While a good player wants to develop their skill, they’ll also gladly take any advantage they can get. The wanton desire for “skill” is just devotion to a fictional rule. A good player will instead pursue the combination of skill and advancement (gear) that will lead them to victory.



  1. I’ll agree with you on part 2 there. They wouldn’t make games with increasingly powerful gear that was increasingly difficult to obtain if the game designers didn’t believe people would put in the extra time to get the advantage.

    Comment by Snafzg — July 9, 2008 @ 11:47 am

  2. Welcome to the community! I’m glad you’re weighing in on, what I consider, a very important topic. It’s definately true that I would rather win than lose, and if that win comes from gear, I’m okay with that. On the other hand, I would much rather beat someone because I out played them or out thought them, rather than out gear them. Great article though, keep them coming!

    Comment by Stormcrow — July 10, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  3. Thanks!

    Everybody who writes WAR blogs seems so nice and courteous.

    Comment by boatorious — July 10, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

  4. I think part of skill in a MMORPG includes knowing what gear is good for your character and how to get it. So you can’t say ‘just gear or skill’, if you wanted ‘pure’ skill you’d be playing a fighting game.

    Comment by spinks — July 11, 2008 @ 3:24 am

  5. ^ Truth

    Comment by brainclutter — July 14, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

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