Thursday, July 31, 2014

Don't Be That Player: The Beggar Police

Shoeless Bob is in need.
Many of us have been That Player at one time or another. From toxic players, oblivious raiders, elitist jerks and beyond, Don't Be That Player is a series that looks at different scenarios we've all encountered, and how they might be approached differently. 

You're at the mailbox in front of your faction capital's auction house, cleaning out expired items and sales from the day before. Trade chat is buzzing, your mailbox empties, so you head into the auction house. You notice a level 9 character trailing you, and he stops just behind you as you interact with the auctioneer.

"Can u spare some gold," reads the white text above the player's head. Before you have a chance to respond, several nearby players do it for you with the likes of  "lazy noob is lazy" and "go quest and get it yourself getting gold is easy." Ah yes. That age-old MMO sin called laziness.

Don't be any of those players. Well, if you've gotta be one of them, be the beggar. But don't throw in with the Beggar Police.

Before I get into it, please know I'm not oblivious to the fact that the act of begging is perceived negatively. I recall one instance where I'd simply logged on to post auctions only to be hounded by a low-level player who wanted me to run them through Molten Core. That was mildly annoying.

On the flip side, I've given away tens of thousands of gold to so-called beggars, sometimes thousands of gold at once, mainly because I can remember what it was like to be in their shoes: facing either a return to town or the destruction of items mid-quest because of inadequate bag space; being unable to train a certain riding/flying skill because gold reserves wouldn't allow it; seeing the chasm between point A and point B and having no idea how to reach the destination.

So what is the difference between the beggar and the person in genuine need? There usually isn't one...

Could they reach their goal on their own without a handout? Unequivocally, yes. Could you assist them in reaching that goal much faster than they would've alone? For most of us, yes. Sure, the begging player could really be a sleaze who preys on the kindness of others with the intent of saving up enough money for a Grand Expedition Yak. But how likely is that? If that's what keeping you from helping another player out, that's some Alex-Jones-level paranoia*. If you're worried about it, fine, but by god don't try to prevent someone else from helping because you see things a certain way.

In fact, I dare you to help out next time you encounter a beggar, but don't just give your money away. Ask them what it's for. Gear? Maybe they aren't aware that they're better off questing and running dungeons since any purchased gear would be quickly replaced. Gold? Turns out they want to buy bags, and you've got a tailor sitting on a ton of extra cloth. Either way, nobody gets hurt, a random player gets a little help, and you get to go to bed knowing you've made Azeroth better place for at least one person.

Occasionally, I'll hear back from a player I helped. One returned two and a half years later to repay a substantial sum I'd given him to train flying (back when it was expensive). The other told me how my generosity inspired him to do the same when he encountered other players in need.

The intended takeaway, and this can apply to many other scenarios: if you're actively going to try to prevent a player from doing something you don't like, but causes no harm to another player...just don't. Especially if all they really want is help.

On the Flip: Becoming a Better Beggar

Begging for stuff will be inherently seen as a bad thing in a game where nearly anything you'd possibly want to acquire can be earned through a bit of work. Being an MMO though, there's still a lot of room for players to rely on others, and asking for some assistance via way of a few gold coins or satchels doesn't seem outrageous to me.

So beggars, next time, don't beg---which in Warcraft we've loosely defined as the act of asking a stranger for something that you could easily acquire or achieve by yourself. Instead, ask for help. Going from player to player with a direct question tends not to yield positive results. Unless you're lucky enough to find me. Instead, make your appeal a general one. What you'd really like: four 16-slot bags and maybe 10g. How you ask for it:

"Just re-rolled on this server, curious if anyone would be able to help me with a couple of things. PST!"

Though you didn't ask for bags and coinage directly in the question above, you've positioned yourself as a player in need instead of as a beggar. This is an extremely important distinction. By controlling this small-but-significant perception, I find you're much more likely to get help. And if you are a player in need, remember the kindness done to you when you have the opportunity to help someone else out later on down the road.

Is there a subject you'd like to see me tackle in Don't Be That Player? Email me.

*no true offense meant by the Alex Jones dig. Occasionally the man produces a content gem, he's just a bit too antagonistic for my tastes. 

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