Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What do you think?

It’s not very often that a game inspires me into some serious philosophical thinking, but that’s what happened the me today.

I was playing (you guessed it) World of Warcraft.

I’d decided to give player-versus-player a try. This works a lot like many other multiplayer games. You have two teams, the Alliance and the Horde, and win by controlling certain areas on a map for a specific length of time.

Here’s where the philosophy starts to come in.

Horde and Alliance players basically can’t interact with each other. While you can trade, talk and quest with members of your own faction, your only interaction you have with the opposing faction is to either ignore each other or fight. Even if you try to chat with a member of the opposite faction, the game will change what you type to nonsense in order to simulate different languages.

It’s also true that Alliance players outnumber Horde players by at least five to one.

What this means is that the Horde side has a much tighter-knit community. Playing on the Horde side means you’re far more likely to run into the same players over and over again.

So, when it comes to PvP, more often than not, the Horde team is made up by a group of people who know each other, have quested together and are used to working as a team. On the Alliance side, the team is made up of mostly strangers who don’t know each other at all.

What this boils down to is that the Horde team is just that…a team. They work together and use tactics to win. The Alliance team tends to devolve into one big cluster-fuck with very little tactics and absolutely no overall plan. While the Horde leave the starting gate knowing exactly where they’re going, what their individual jobs are and operate in organized balanced teams…The Alliance players run around like headless chickens.

I’m not exaggerating here. I’ve seen Alliance teams that far outnumber the Horde team lose because the Alliance attacks in ones and twos while the Horde team groups and supports each other.

However, what I noticed was occasionally the Alliance team would accept an ‘ad-hoc’ leader. Someone who would give out at least a sketch of a plan to start with (Like “group one attack this area, group two attack this area, etc etc.)

Most of the time the overall tactics would be off (a lot of the time someone would order an attack on a control point when all we had to do was dig in and defend to win). However, even when a ‘leader’ gave bad advice and ordered things that were tactical errors, as a team, the Alliance would do much better than the usual ‘headless chicken’ approach.

This is what started me thinking.

This game basically showed that any leadership, even totally incompetent leadership, is preferable to no leadership at all. An army ordered on a suicidal attack as a group will probably last longer than individuals picking their own targets and going up against an organized enemy in ones and twos.

So, what are your thoughts? Do people function better with poor leadership than with no leadership at all? Are we more successful following a bad leader than everyone just doing their own thing?


MC Etcher said...

hmn. depends on the goal, I'd say

Chief Slacker said...

What sever are you on? I have far too many characters on Deathwing. 4 70's (Dwarf Shadow Priest & Warrior, Gnome Rogue and Draenei Mage) and a 50-something shaman. Alliance as well, but our server actually has a very even faction distribution.

And yeah, it's amazing how when doing PVP, a group as small as 3 people working together and make a faction win a PVP thing. all it takes is even a tiny mount of teamwork and communication.

As for video games inspiring thought, I jsut wrote yesterday about how disturbingly close science is coming to starting a zombie outbreak...

Paulius said...

I play on Aerie Peak, but from my guild mates who play on multiple servers, they all say the same thing...Horde kick the crap out of alliance in Battleground PvP.

Basically, you get a bunch of players at the lower end of the Level cap, and I've sat in front of my computer shaking my head as the entire alliance team will spend an entire round attacking the same CP in ones and twos...despite the fact all the other Horde controlled CP's are guarded by one or two people.