It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame.

Football analogy incoming. You have been warned.

Goalkeepers are the MMO healers of football. In the England match this weekend past, goalkeeper Robert Green made a mistake and gifted the opposition a goal. Of course the English media, being the mindless ranting bunch of hooting apes that it is, vilified him to the public in such a way that you’d think he’d committed a crime worse than the murder of twelve people, an event already fading from the media’s effluent pipes as the shock and drama factor subsides and these misery sharks move on to feed on the sufferings of the next human tragedy.

Yet, in amongst the coverage, common sense has prevailed in some quarters: yes the goalkeeper made an embarrassing mistake which allowed the opposition to draw a game that we should perhaps have otherwise won, but at the other end of the pitch England’s strikers (the DPS of the team) missed a number of easy chances that would have put the team back in front, and yet little is said of these numerous mistakes because, at the end of the day, it’s all the fault of the goalkeeper and his one mistake.

So it’s not unique to MMOs, it seems to be human nature to vilify the most obvious point of failure while singularly ignoring the fact that really the team as a whole has failed; the strikers failed to score from opportunities that they should have scored from; the defenders failed to prevent the opposition player from getting a shot on goal; and, yes, the goalkeeper failed to save a shot that he should have saved. Unfortunately the latter is the easiest failure to categorically identify, to point to and say ‘that was a major mistake’. It’s the same with healing in an MMO, players are either dead or alive, and if they’re dead then the healer – whose job it is to keep players alive – has failed. Never mind that the DPS failed to use appropriate cool-downs to avoid drawing aggro, or failed to not stand in the fire. If someone dies and the party wipes it is always the healer’s mistake first.

Like goalkeeping, healing is one of those tasks where you often cannot win, you are the last line of defence in the success of your group, and when things go smoothly your efforts go unnoticed, but heaven forefend if you should make a mistake.

As with the English media, MMO players are prone to make a mountain out of a molehill, and blame the easy, obvious point of failure without any consideration to the performance of the team as a whole. As with football, in the minds of the fanatical, games are always won by the people standing at the front, and lost by the people standing at the back.

Melmoth likes to play healers in MMOs, and played as a goalkeeper throughout his amateur careers in both football and hockey. Any accusations of bitterness and barely suppressed rage are entirely substantiated.

11 thoughts on “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame.

  1. Caspian

    Ice Hockey (rather than soccer) is my game of choice, and I’m reminded of a famous ice hockey quote around goal-tending:

    ‘”How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”
    Jacques Plante’

    Perhaps we could apply a simialr thing to MMO’s – Every time 10 players die under a healer’s care, there’s a server wide announcement proclaiming their ineptness – we could also expand the same thing to Tanks (every time they fail to stop others getting killed) and DPS (Every time they fail to achieve a perfect damage rotation).

    That would sort the men out from the boys, and would (perhaps) remind people that we’re fragile, fallible human beings playing, and not some ‘Ultrabot’ that can react in an instant to every situation, especially when the cat jumps on the keyboard or the wife insists that you remove the moth from the bathroom *right now*…

    Incidentally, I play a healer (Arch Mage in WAR) and love it… You know what, if someone bitches me out for not healing… They then don’t get healed…

    Capture: xesturgy – I had to look it up, and consider myself more educated than when I woke up this morning. I’m off to buy a stone-tumbling machine, thank you, KiaSA.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    Either a siren and red light, or change the mechanic slightly.

    Instead of a pool of fire that kills the DPS when they stand in it (where any death automatically translates into it being the healer’s fault), have a giant springboard that flings the DPS out of the dungeon when they stand on it for too long.

    Comedy SPROING and SPLAT sound effects optional.

  3. Poneria

    I was a goalkeeper in youth soccer, and when I got yelled at for missing a ball, the coach would turn to my accusers and say, “But the ball has to get past all ten of you before it even gets to her. All of you failed at your jobs, too.”

    So I play with the same in mind as a warlock DPS; I can’t blame the healers if I let myself die without properly “defending” myself.

  4. Melmoth Post author

    Very wise.

    It’s not to say that healers should be blameless, just that they shouldn’t be burdened with all the responsibility of blame all the time.

    At the end of the day everybody makes mistakes, but players should try to avoid getting quite so angry with healers just because they happen to have a role that makes their mistakes more transparent to others.

  5. Tam

    And I just associated myself with the wrong website, because I win like that…that’s what I get for letting other people use my computer, messing up my Firefox settings, bastards.

  6. Melmoth Post author

    The Football Analogy burns away all illusions and sees all, it’s like the Sauron’s Eye of analogies.

    (Association fixed to preserve anonymity of the innocent, however)

  7. nugget

    I remember the exact moment when I looked at Guild Wars, and I knew it was Love.

    As a newbie monk, in Random Arena. (Well, ok, I’m STILL a newbie monk in pvp, but slightly less new…)

    A warrior ran waaaaaaaaay over thaaar. Overextension FTL! Got ganked!

    Like most of us healerfolk, I apologised to him for letting him die, while cursing him inside.

    He replied, ‘No, no. I’m sorry, that was my fault. I overextended.’

    And just like that, I knew it was Love.

    (Your antispam, it’s magic. It knew that I was ‘gruntled’.)

  8. Melmoth Post author

    It’s even better in APB: there are no healers, and friendly fire is enabled within your group.

    The first time a PuG person dies and shouts at you for whatever reason, you just park a car on them.


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