Monday 14 June 2010

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.

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