Let’s get one thing out of the way: I hate GearScore. I hate it. Hate it. HATE it. It sucks. It’s an arbitrary number that an addon assigns to my character in order to determine my worth as a player. Not to mention that it’s a broken system that is too easy to exploit.
And yet somehow it has managed to be the be-all/end-all of social interaction in World of Warcraft. Please make note of the “end-all” portion of that sentence. Because GearScore might have finally pushed me past the point of no return.
Unless something changes, I think I may be done with WoW until Cataclysm, if not forever. The accessibility that I have praised numerous times as being WoW’s savior has turned out to be quite the opposite.
Just What Happened?
I can’t get a group, is what happened.
I’ve worked on getting my Paladin leveled and geared for the last few months. I have been pretty casual about it, even taking a break to level my Priest, but eventually I was able to get him to right at 5000 GearScore, which is plenty enough to raid any non-hardmode content in the game.
While I don’t like GearScore, I do understand its place. I get that people use it to help determine whether or not puggers are geared. The problem comes in when players running these groups want a higher GearScore than is attainable outside of running the instance itself.
A 5000 GearScore should mean that the player is ready for a 10-player Icecrown Citadel (ICC), not that he or she has been raiding it for months and does not need any more upgrades. Unfortunately, PuG leaders want higher than that to facilitate guaranteed success. They also demand that players already have their ICC Achievements before they can get into the group, which eliminates anyone who has not already cleared the dungeons at least partially.
But in my case, I can’t get the Achievement because I have to PuG raids. My schedule doesn’t line up with my guild’s raid nights, so I am left high and dry on being able to get my achievement that way. So on the occasions I can play WoW for any lengthy period of time, I have to PuG; it is the my only real way of seeing end-game content. But to get into those raids, I have to already have done the instance.
And since I can’t get into the dungeon to get the achievement in the first place, I’m screwed.
If this were an isolated incident, I’d write it off. But I have tried extensively to get into ICC groups, both 10 and 25-person, with no luck. I keep being told “GS too low.” I was even booted from an Archavon PuG on an alt because apparently 4k GearScore is just too low to even exist as a human being. I believe one guy told me to kill myself (seriously). I now understand that I should be ashamed of myself for being so undedicated to gearing my characters.
I Work Hard For the Money
I worked hard to get my Paladin’s gear to the level where he would be able to actually contribute to a group. I spent a lot of time grinding Heroics for badges (boring!) or queuing for Battlegrounds for Honor to be able to make sure I had passable gear.
And then I’m told I can’t play with the big boys because I’m too casual. Because my schedule doesn’t line up. And that groups—and I quote—“can’t take that chance on [me].”
All my work to prove myself as an adequate and dedicated group member has been for nothing.
I can’t get into the groups because I have never been in the groups. I get told that I need to have the experience in the dungeon to be able to succeed, and yet I can never get into the dungeon for one main reason:
I understand needing a system to tell how geared someone is for an instance. That’s just part of an equipment-based MMO. “Oh, look, this guy has his 4-piece T9 bonus; he’s geared” would be fine. “She has 2-pc T10? Bring her along!” is dandy.
I remember back in the day if a person had AQ40/Naxx gear at all, they were a Godsend for a pick-up-group. But no longer. Now, it doesn’t matter what your gear looks like or how much you have of it. If it doesn’t fall above some asinine cutoff, you (as both a player and a human being) are not worth playing with.
Handing an arbitrary rating system to the unwashed masses is a recipe for disaster. Real life has proven again and again that giving unsupervised statistics to the general population means they will be misread, misused, and misunderstood. Children are cruel; adults know that when given the opportunity, some children generally ostracize others based on superfluous criteria, just to avoid that ostracization themselves.
And I’m done with that kind of behavior taking over the game I play for fun.
The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back?
Right now, I don’t see a lot of reason to stick around in WoW. I don’t have fun gearing up through Heroics for no reason. Leveling content is simply not fun on its own, and I only have fun in PvP when I have friends do it with me; however, our schedules don’t line up like they used to.
Maybe Cataclysm will be better. GearScore will still be around, but maybe the changes to raid structure will help even the playing field a little. Maybe rated Battlegrounds will be the bee’s knees. And maybe not. Maybe Cataclysm will just be more of the same.
Either way, Cataclysm is not now. There’s a whole summer to burn before it is released. And unless something drastically changes (or I can find a way to get into some ICC raids and fill my gaming time by not being ostracized), WoW appears to be on the backburner…indefinitely.
And it’s all GearScore’s fault.
GearScore and anti-casual elitism are my pet peeves that have potentially ruined my favorite game. What about you? What frustrates you enough to think about leaving your MMO/hobby of choice?