It’s been quite some time since I think Tobold really made a seriously controversial statement but he seems to have stepped in it earlier in the week by claiming we players have “social responsibilities” to play tanks and healers and by extension, those who are not playing those roles are neglecting our responsibility to do so. If nothing else, this is an example of Tobold’s European “sensibilities” coming to the fore and speaking for him. In any MMO based upon the “holy trinity” there must necessarily be a percentage of the player base that plays tanks and healers. But my own “sensibilities” say that is entirely a personal choice. I owe no other player any explanation for my play style choices, nor do I have any responsibility to anyone to play any specific class or talent spec. It’s purely through self-interest and one’s self enjoyment that anyone should play a tank or healer yet Tobold doubled down inviting everyone to consider the “categorical imperative” as a means to bolster his argument.
In Tobold’s view we all individually have a responsibility to each other for each other’s enjoyment of the game. While that touches on truth in some respects, the gross generality could never dictate such specific direction to every player that X must play a tank and Y must play a healer, and A, B, and C will play DPS classes. Tobold’s use of categorical imperative is simply off-base as right and wrong don’t factor into this discussion at all as there is no “right” or “wrong” action in personal choice. The player base is made up entirely of individuals who make personal choices that either do work in favor of the whole or do not. If they do tend to work in the favor of the whole, great, but if they tend not to that isn’t a problem or issue with the player but an issue with game design. And that is the issue that Tobold seemingly lost sight of in all this. An MMO is not reality and unlike in societies, the player base did not form a social compact with one another.
If there is no real responsibility to others to play a specific role in an MMO then self interest alone is the determinant and comes down to acceptance of consequence. On a personal level If I’m not happy with the consequences of playing a DPS class then I would either need to play another class that doesn’t tend to have those consequences or perhaps I would have to stop playing the MMO entirely. I know of no one that is happy with the 40-minute queues for DPS in WoW right now, including myself, yet I refuse to heal or tank. I don’t complain about the predicament because I know I have options that could alleviate the situation, yet I chose not to exercise them. Even if I didn’t have options I still wouldn’t complain about it because I understand the situation is one created entirely by the player base and is simply a reaction to game design which we as individuals can’t change.
I would also disagree with Tobold’s assessment for other reasons. In my view, it’s far better to have fewer “good” tanks/healers than more “bad” tanks/healers as having an opportunity to queue in 20 minutes instead of 40 minutes in no way would make up for the number of wipes and failed groups that would likely occur were there to be an influx of new tanks and healers that either had no inclination to the tasks or that didn’t want to perform those tasks. What I do agree with Tobold on, however, is the premise that if you play a DPS class you shouldn’t complain about the “consequences” that go along with it.