Thursday, November 18, 2010

RAK'em Up: Setting New Standards

Today I read a post by Miss Mediocre post called Dear Vanilla, I Miss You in which she laments the "good old days" when players were more civil, there was a spirit of community and we enjoyed playing WITH one another as much as we did AGAINST Arthas or a random boss. She got me thinking, and I have a challenge for anyone who wants to try and turn back the clock to friendlier times.  

Quite by coincidence, Miss Mediocre's post was about the same topic I posted yesterday. She was much more eloquent than I was, and she inspired me.

I agree with her completely. There was a time when players depended on one another for answers, when guilds were more than "level and gear my alt" groups, and when we could expect that a bad act might be remembered by the community and come back to haunt the purpetrator later. Just desserts we would say.

Now, we can log onto any number of websites to learn how to complete a quest so there is no reason to really depend on our guildmates as much. We can use the dungeon finder to group up and run randoms so we don't have to make friends in our guilds as often to get our runs done. We can make a bad name for ourselves by being complete asses in /trade or picking on other people or ninja'ing loot and then realm transfer if the consequences are bad enough.

Don't get me wrong: I think these are all positive changes. Used correctly, each has its place. More websites means more ideas on how to play a class. I like ideas. The dungeon finder means less time waiting to queue, and a chance to make new friends. I like short waits and more friends. 

But the unintended result has been a diffusion of community. We don't depend on relationships in game as much, and as a result, behavior has degraded. 

Bottom line: there are no more penalties to behaving badly--at least, not ones that really matter. Hell, I even see /trade chat now "I got banned for XX days" bragging by some idiots.

My challenge to you is simple. Change the world, one act at a time.

I am setting this standard for myself and ask you to do the same. 

Commit one Random Act of Kindness every day on every toon you play. The one no-no: you cannot just give away gold. It has to be an act that means something. 

Perhaps you craft a set of Barbaric Bracers and mail them to the L27 Rogue you just saw in the AH. Or a guidie. Maybe you buff everyone you pass with a Stamina or Mark of the Wild. Or maybe you take the time to help a stranger who is obviously struggling in a random. 

Or maybe you do like I did today: I camped my 80 DK near the Deadmines and advertised a free dungeon run to the first four players who joined me as long as they were on level. We had a great time, and it took about 20 minutes.

Whatever it is, don't make it cheap--make it something that matters to the other person. Something they will remember. 

And come back here from time to time and share your stories. If enough of you do, I will host a weekly column called "Best RAK of the Week" and highlight some of the best random acts.

Advertise it. Ask your guild mates to commit a RAK every day. Make a macro to /say "Who did you RAK today?"

It takes a long time to change the direction an ocean liner is traveling. It will take a long time for something like this to change the attitudes of the players who are abusive. 

But by starting now, we will make a difference for some current players, and maybe touch a whole generation of new players who we all expect to see after Cat launches. 

Let's try to make a difference for them, and who knows, we may make a difference for ourselves too.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.  ~Mahatma Ghandi


  1. I love your idea and am logging on right now to attempt my first meaningful RAK! It's getting bad enough now with trolls and jerks that if the attitude of WoW doesn't start to change, it may be time to move onto friendlier games (for me anyway). I will do my best to bring about the change I want to see so badly though, before giving up on WoW completely! RAKs to the rescue! :)

  2. I love this post, what an awesome idea. I am starting tonight to make wow a better place for all of us. Change happens one act of kindness at a time.

  3. Cool idea!
    We should do our best to spread it!
    Someone know how to make a cool banner or something like that? I can try, my I'm not at my best with graphics.

  4. I like the sentiment here, but one question: did the players you ran through Deadmines come away with new knowledge or skills to help them be successful in future dungeon runs, particularly those without a level 80 doing the heavy lifting?

  5. I saw your earlier post & followed up the Miss Mediocre post another commenter left. I agree & enjoyed both posts. Later in the day yesterday, I was in a raid group for the elemental invasion with 1 newly dinged dk. He was dying regularly so I just kept a heal on him as much as I could & ressed him when possible. He whispered thanks several times & was polite about asking for resses. After about 25 mins of intense healing, I saw him ask if anyone could loan him some money for his northrend flying (about 400g) - he only wanted a loan & explained everything was taking him so long (hah!). I thought 'oh no, another disguised beggar' but the reaction of several of the other raid members was very nasty & over the top so I whispered him & said I would lend him the money. We chatted for a while & I referred him to JMTC for some gold making help so we'll have to see whether I get my loan back & whether he keeps in touch :) I can afford to write it off & tbh, I'm not really expecting or wanting to get the gold back - it's just whether he turns out to be truthful & decent enough to make the attempt :)

    Love the idea Kammler, I'm gonna suggest this to my guildies, lets see if we can infect WoW with some smiles & general kindness :D

  6. Hi Kammler, this is the kind of blog post I love. People often refer to WoW as a virtual reality, just as the refer to their jobs like it's not a part of their lives. But these things are very much part of our lives, and I don't want to spend precious hours of my life with jerks in either setting!

    I accept your challenge. I intend to make a list of RAK to accomplish when I login and make those a priority. My hope is the time I invest now will lay the foundation for a tighter community experience in the future. Cheers!

  7. @ Miss Mediocre: I'm so glad I follow your columm. I have always enjoyed it and found the sentiment so similar to that others have expressed about the "state of the Wow union". I hope you don't get burned out and instead find RAK'ing up new players a way of staying involved.

    @ Lizzie: please keep us apprised of what happens. Would love to feature some cool RAKs from readers!

    @ Kreaton: thanks for reading, and I don't know anyone who could make a banner. I'm fairly "tech only basically literate" myself. But glad to entertain any discussion if you do find someone.

    @ Lujanera: this is a very real concern. I can only say that this was not me answering a /trade ad for a run, it was the opposite. I have no reason to believe any of the people who went through had not done so before. In fact, by the end, the group went in to the rooms and initiated combat and I came in to sweep up. It was not a typical guildie run which I just pick up all the aggro and they loot the dead. It was more social--we all talked and I tried to point out things along the way. Though I would discourage anyone from just doing DM runs all day, as a RAK, this seemed both random and fun for all. I plan to do other stuff too.

    @ Nevyn: thanks for being a regular reader, and the nice post. Although I strongly discourage the giving away of gold, I do like the sentiment and the helpfulness you displayed. I hope he gets the gold back to you. I have a hard rule about giving out gold to others, but I do like the way you pointed him to JTMC and other sites for tips. Keep up those RAKs!

  8. Thanks Winterpine. I hope to see an update from you with some good RAKs for our readers. I think we can change the tone but it will take time, no doubt.

  9. I'll do things like that on occasion, but desperately seeking such events just takes too much time.
    Two things I remember right now:

    A lowlevel troll was trying to sell his starter shirt in Trade chat (for like 1g or so).
    He did it nicely and humorous, stating that he changed server and needed some cash.
    I was on my way to VoA that day and told him I would buy it for 100g, if only he found a way to Dalaran by the time I was finished (about 10 minutes).
    So he did, and I chatted with him some time. Then I bought this ugly troll shirt for 100 gold. He was like "whoah, thought you're only kidding all the time!"
    Since then, I've seen him rarely, but I know it will help him if he ever plays that character again. Anyway 100 gold are nothing to me, but much for some players.

    The other thing was when a level 40 (or so) warrior asked for anyone to lend him 20 gold for his mount.
    He offered to pay it back in rates and really work to pay it back soon!
    I was amused, I mean... 20 gold paid back in rates, when I had like 100k gold back then...
    So, I talked with him quite some time, wanted to see whether he was just a simple beggar or something more (which I suspected to be true, but wanted to be sure of nevertheless).
    After one hour of nice talk, he had even come to the city I was in and asked me about professions and talents.
    So, for his time and effort I gave him 500 gold and told him he wouldn't have to pay it back, but he could remember be so that we'll keep in touch.
    I can only imagine what he must have thought, since he was seriously asking for 20 gold only and wanted to pay it back, too, but then got 500 gold for free. Must've been awesome though!

  10. Vayaz, sounds like you are already practicing RAKs! Both are really nice examples of how simple things can change the perspective of the person on the other side--in a positive way!

    I don't advocate giving away gold but you seem to have made it work both times. And, also, I don't think we should spend time searching for these opportunities for RAKs but instead just be aware when they present themselves. There are lots of opportunities every day.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Great Idea! One thing I always try to do is compliment people in Random's when they do an exceptional Job. I don't know how many times I've seen a Healer pull a group back from the brink of death from a bad pull, only to not have anyone utter one word of encouragement or praise. Therefore I always make a point to encourage my fellow group mates. That way they feel appricated and know that not every person in a PUG is bad.

  12. I did a bit of RAKing last night, and thought I would post another comment to share! I was bored, as I usually am on WoW after I finish posting my Auctions, so I hopped on my alliance priest, threw a few of the Netherweave bags I'd been saving to sell when Cata hits into my bags, and headed into Elwynn Forest. I started by looking for players who weren't wearing heirlooms and seemed to actually be questing. I'd ride up and /greet them, and if they did an emote back, I'd ask if they could use a Netherweave bag. As I inspected more players hunting for appropriate RAK victims, I noticed that anyone without heirlooms were usually wearing mostly grays. My priest is one of my many tailors, and my bank alt, so I whipped up some White Linen Robes and started handing them out to low level casters along with the bags. I was surprised, but everyone I gave something to was really appreciative and one person even turned down a bag because they didn't need it. The whole experience really renewed some of my hope for the average WoW player, and I'm not sure who I ended up helping more, the new characters of Elwynn, or myself!

  13. Incindia, great tip. I sometimes overlook complimenting PUGgers myself, especially now in the Pre Cat time--sort of a 'wham bam thank you mame' attitude out there. Was in one yesterday and my dps Pally could hardly run fast enough to keep up with the tank--who had a gs of 5995.

    I will be sure to remember this next time.

  14. Miss Mediocre, this is truly a wonderful idea. I am so glad that it seemed to benefit you as much as it did the lowbies out there. Way to take an idea and see it through! Thanks for the update!!

  15. My main is a L80 Night Elf Rogue that dinged cap at the end of October (new player here). I remember when I was questing through Zul'Gurub & Sholazar Basin that there was another Rogue just like me and we chatted and helped each other.

    He ended up mailing me an entire Eviscerator's PvP set without me asking and without asking for any money. He's now on my friends list. I brought him along on a couple guild runs through heroics, but he's gone in a PvP direction where I've gone in a raiding direction.

    I'll never forget that RAK, and I think it's probably about time for me to start giving something back, too. Great post, Kammler.

    Keep us updated on your RAKs, and I promise I'll try to start doing more myself, and sharing the results with everyone. I really like the idea of a weekly RAK post / update.

  16. Yo Kammler - Had to pass this story along.

    So I decided to finally setup a guild bank on my bank toon to stockpile stuff to sell in Cata. I didn't fell like waiting for sigs, so I offered 25g/sig in Trade Chat. I got a whisper from a guy who had just flown out of SW (where I was), but wanted to come back to sign.

    I didn't feel like taking a chance on him, so I got all my sigs before his flight back landed. When he met me at the step of the SW Bank, a wee L25 lowbie, I gave him the 25g and told him to hang on to it.

    I'm sure it's chump change to most people, but I was hovering at about 1.5k at the time, so it was something, however small.

  17. Love the idea. I refuse to join any "major" guilds on my server simply because they seem to only be there for one goal. Being better than everyone else. Sure there are the exceptions but for the most part I find the game more enjoyable in a guild with friends. We do content at our own pace and have no problem helping to gear others and get them through tough leveling spots.

    I have not done much in the RAK area per say. I will strike up conversations with lowbies who are looking for help in trade and offer them true advice when the trade chat trolls are at their worst. I have also given tips as to how people could go out and make quick gold when they are begging for gold. (I'm a firm believer of the "teach a man to fish" mantra.)

    As of now I will in the spirit of the season be actively looking for at least one player to help instead of just helping those who fall into my lap. If you help 10 people and in turn only 1 of those starts helping others then I believe we are well on our way to changing the mind set of the average player.