Interestingly enough, Blizzard has finally decided to take a more active role in the media community, this time by choosing to make their own beginner guides. I suppose one could say this all started with their use of Twitter as a choice of displaying a lot of thoughts and ideas instead of their previous official website.
Regardless of the source, this presents an interesting predicament for essentially everyone aside from Blizzard. Let’s first examine these videos, and then discuss my paranoia and why I feel its justified.
For those who haven’t read the post or article or whatever its considered, you should start there:
Now hopefully you have returned from at least a gloss-over, and no doubt have some thoughts in your head already. I’ll expand on those thoughts with a few of my own, if you don’t mind!
The first thing that immediately strikes me is how much effort they have put into each of these guides. To speak clearly: they are extremely well made, start to finish. Even the thumbnail is amazing. I’m not sure where they are pulling the art for those class crests, but each is really impressive. Maybe they are recycled, but I’ve not seen them, so its pretty much assured that the people the video is targeting would not have either. This is a huge part of my worry, but we will touch on it later.
The second thing that immediately takes my attention is the lack of diversity. Unfortunately, pigeon-holed is the only way to describe this sort of tactic, and its quite unfortunate. The reason I am saying this is because they are essentially choosing to represent only ONE DPS spec for each class, regardless of options. This doesn’t seem like a big deal for a class like a Priest or Paladin, but its a major concern for two different reasons.
Reason 1 – Pure DPS classes
Rogues, Mages, Hunters, Warlocks.
This is the more simplistic reason, and even I can argue against it. I’ll start by acknowledging that when you first learn a class you pretty much stick to one spec, and then as you improve you learn the others. This makes sense, and its reasonable to believe that an exceptional mage can master all three specs and apply them for their best situation, while a beginner should start only with 1.
While this of course does make sense, I find it to be entirely the wrong direction to send new players on. You might ask why, but the answer you receive is quite obvious, at least to me.
When you first learn to play a class like these, you NEED to be exposed to all the specs. It HAS to happen, otherwise you will never understand the depth of the class. People who ONLY want to DPS are incredibly different then those wanting to try their hand at them all. If people grow up ONLY learning combat rogue, then they will never attempt to learn the other specs, and likely write them off as “pvp spec” or something silly like that. This is especially concerning of those wanting to play a Mage for the first time. Its quite common to hear that Mage is the most prolific of the classes the game features, but if people only learn one spec they won’t understand why. Their absolute strength comes in the diversity of the specs and extreme niche each fills. They need to know that Arcane is incredible front loaded single target, frost is incredibly durable AOE, and Fire is most rewarding to those with flawless execution and gear.
Blizzard refusing to acknowledge this is not surprising though. They would feign ignorance and say its too much complexity, but if you are making guides for beginners, and only showing one spec, then its only going to make them less knowledgeable as they go. This is an issue, but not nearly as bad as the second reason.
Reason 2 – Hybrid Option Specs
THIS is the real concern here. Hopefully it is immediate obvious why; everyone should realize that the multiple damaging specs both classes have vary from ranged to melee. Why on this earth would you only show one!? A person picks up a shaman because he knows of Thrall or Goel or whatever the hell he is called now, and knows him to be up in the front lines battling like a warrior, but using the elements as his tools. This person wants to play melee, but they see this video of some ranged spec, and either entirely lose interest in the class or neglect their previous inklings and assume the melee spec is not worth playing. Enhancement is a brilliant spec and one of the most complex and engaging to learn! The same goes for Bombkin to Feral. They are entirely different, and the issue here isn’t just about establishing diversity…
Its about cementing the fact that this is the epitome of a Hybrid class and they SHOULD explore both, especially when they are first learning. Many players I know HATE bombkin, and only play Feral. If they were taught early that Bombkin was the only option, they probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the class at all, and might not even be playing the game.
Now once again, I recognize the antithesis to this argument, but must stand firm in impressing upon those learning the game to learn it fully before advancing. Too few people ever do, and its what exacerbates this “Gamez two ez” notion we have been prancing around for the past 6 months. Its absurd, and does not get addressed enough. Players like this are the future of the video game, and if we aren’t doing everything we can to better its future for them, then numbers will continue to dwindle. Too many already refuse the game do to simplicity when they haven’t tried any of the content the expansions release…
Let’s wrap up with a more grand view, and discuss why this can effect not just players, but the media like ourselves.
A Grim Future:
Doom-saying, likely, but its hard to ignore from my position. Through the game’s early years, they let the community entirely handle this type of process, and left those without the capacity for learning or the thirst for it, to die a painful death at the hands of those who were more experienced. Of course, this is a horrible thing. Don’t get me wrong, hopefully you know me better then that by now. It was a HORRIBLE past this game had, and now that more technology is implemented into the game, it is much much better off. You can’t convince me otherwise.
What is troubling is when Blizzard takes the media’s job and starts creating content such as this. A smart man would have already banked on this concept, and likely has completed an entire series teaching those who boosted the basics. But then Blizzard comes along and releases these, which likely puts that previous fellow right out of business. Not only are they well made, but they have the audience already. There is no google searching, or youtube filings. It is on the main Blizzard website, and will continue to be promoted likely in game and on their launcher.
I’ll leave the rest up the imagination, but I do quake at the notion. If Blizzard decides to start making full fledged guides, they would own the market entirely. They actually know what is happening behind the scenes, unlike some one like me who is just compiling information for a best guess.
Only time will tell…