Has World of Warcraft Raiding Become Just Another Rat Race?

WoW raids can be a lot of fun. Mastering a new boss fight, and getting epic gear can both be rewarding. Whether you’re in it for the gear, or just for the experience, raids can also be extremely frustrating if you’re with an unprepared group. For this reason it’s common for raid leaders to be rather strict on who they bring to raids. All you need to do is spend five minutes in your server’s trade channel to see “PST ilvl and link achievement.” It’s extremely difficult to get into a raid unless you’ve already completed the raid! This is uncannily similar to how it’s often difficult to get a job unless you have experience doing that job. If everyone demands experience, and very few are willing help you obtain that experience, this begs the question – isn’t WoW just another rat race?

During the WoW Burning Crusade expansion, I was first introduced to raiding. My guild spent an endless amount of time preparing people for Karazhan through dungeon runs, and we spent hours wiping on bosses like Moroes and The Curator. Any hardcore WoW player would laugh at this, as Karazhan was a cakewalk compared to the higher tier BC raids such as SSC and TK. Nonetheless, after a few weeks of wiping on Moroes and not progressing farther, the guild I was in quickly fell apart. I later joined a few other guilds, and eventually cleared Karazhan with a good group, but by that time everyone was overgeared and it was a joke!

Fast forward to Cataclysm. During prime time, trade channel is full of raids forming with “PST ilvl and achievement.” While gearing up is easily done on your own, and does not require a guild by any means, getting an achievement for completing a raid isn’t as simple. In order to do this, you’ll need to be part of a guild raid team. You’ll need to spend weeks learning the fights along with other potentially inexperienced raiders, possibly wiping a lot and getting very frustrated. Then, and only then, will you earn the privilege of joining a pick-up-group raid in trade channel. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not.

In real life, most of us grind away our time at a 9 to 5 job, trading our time for a reliable paycheck. It’s not the greatest system, but for most people it works. Working at your job isn’t always enjoyable, but the reward of a steady paycheck is why we do it. In WoW, the “9 to 5 job” is progression raiding and the paycheck is purple pixels. But there is one big difference. WoW is just a game, and you should play games to have fun and relax!

Don’t get me wrong. If you have a good guild, with a highly prepared and intelligent raid team, raiding can be an awesome experience. However, it’s not the only fun experience you can have in WoW. Many people reach level 85, and think their only goal in the game is to obtain epics and get into the highest tier raid possible. Sometimes people will join my guild, ask if we’re raiding Firelands, and quit when I tell them we aren’t there yet. If they were pro raiders, they’d already be in a hardcore raiding guild. But since they joined my guild, I can only assume they do not have a raid team.

The gap between “fresh 85” and “experienced raider” is a tough gap to fill. The problem is twofold – not only do raid leaders expect you to have completed the raid before inviting you, but the raiders themselves expect a guild to have completed the content before they are willing to join the raid team! So it’s difficult for a raider to get experience learning a raid, but it’s often equally difficult to find raiders who are willing to get experience because they want everything handed to them. (Kind of like employees who want a paycheck handed to them without having to work for it!)

In my opinion, World of Warcraft raids have just become another rat race. For many, it’s a race to obtain the highest level epics and tier items, just a form of “e-peen stroking.” Having raided a lot in BC and WotLK, and a small amount at the beginning of Cataclysm, I have very little desire to do progression raiding anymore. But, I enjoy World of Warcraft more than I have ever enjoyed it before. I’ve got some great guildies to play with – whether we’re doing old dungeons or just chatting it up in the guild, it’s always a great time.

The bottom line – it’s the people who make WoW great, not the purples! Don’t get stuck in the WoW rat race.