As someone who used to raid in vanilla World of Warcraft, got burnt out, stopped doing group content in MMOs in general, and whose “primary game” is now Final Fantasy XIV . . . this video is just. Feels. So many feels.
Incidentally, I once worked with a guy who had been in a progression raiding guild so on top of the meta they they’d gotten invited to BlizzCon. At the time I worked with him — long after his “peak” raiding days — I’d been soloing old content raids in WoW just to have experienced them. Most encounters were pretty straightforward; being twenty-plus levels above where the raid was aimed at meant you could just cheese through most mechanics.
And then I got to Deathwing’s Spine.
I watched some YouTube videos and eventually got it done and, yes, soloing this encounter has an arguably different difficulty curve than doing it in a group in that you only get one person (i.e. you) getting the rolls wrong once to have to restart, as opposed to spreading that fail condition out across a whole raid. But still. The mechanics were just . . . so specific?
So Dude I Worked With at the time, when he’d been doing progression raiding, the progression he’d been specifically doing had been this raid. So I straight-up asked him; how the fuck did you figure out the mechanics of this? They’re just so specific and so unforgiving, even knowing in advance what they’ll be. How did anyone learn how to do them in the first instance?
And his answer?
They didn’t learn them. No-one did. Not one single WoW raid at the time figured out how to beat Deathwing’s Spine. instead, the progression raids at the time — the global progression raids, to be clear about this — struggled for weeks and weeks until someone from Blizzard contacted all the individual raid leaders and taught them how to do the raid.
In other words, there was no “fair” way to learn the raid. Literally no one in the entire world legitimately beat this encounter. Everyone “cheated.”
And, as I said, I’d already been pretty much burnt out on group content in MMOs prior to learning this information. But learning it? Yeah. Was the nail in the coffin of me ever actually giving a shit about being “good at videogames.”
Because this is the thing no-one ever talks about; you can never, actually, objectively, “be good” at videogames. You can only ever “be good” in the context of a pre-defined expectations set for you by the videogame developer; the game engine can always beat you, expect for all the ways it’s been specifically programmed not to. And, like. That’s not bad; it’s still enjoyable for a lot of people to “be good” within that set framework. But the problem is that far too many people who build their identities on “being good at videogames”, like. Don’t actually realise that? And treat “getting gud” as some kind of objective measure of worth.
And the problem is that, once you realise all of that? One you see the Matrix? How do you go back to defining “being good” at videogames in any way other than “enjoying the experience”? Whatever that means for any one person.
What even is “being good” at a videogame?
Or, really, is what what we consider “being good” not really about the game itself at all?