On being a N00b

As I have immersed myself back into the experience that is World of Warcraft, I feel as though I am really not a part of the environment sometimes. Let me explain: I don’t really play any other games like WoW and my interests are mainly in playing “party” games like Guitar Hero, Mario Party, Rayman, etc–which to me are not like Call of Duty franchise or Mass Effect or BioShock.

So, in other words, I don’t feel like a gamer and when I play WoW I am often asked questions such as, “What’s your spec? Profs? Port to Org? LF1M DPS ST!” and pretty much feel lost when it comes to communicating with people I consider part of my cohort (since we are all gathering in the same place to pursue a common goal–making it to the Outlands!).

I don’t feel that playing Call of Duty 4 will somehow alleviate the problems I have communicating in-game with other WoW players. Perhaps experience within the game/playing the game and a dedication to reading blogs, forums, and other sites that would help demystify some of the aspects of WoW that have caused me turmoil.

One recent example comes from participating in a pick-up group, a group which one player (in this case, a stranger) collects 4 other players to enter a dungeon that cannot be successfully penetrated without the right combination of players who play different classes and are of similar level. I was sent a “pst” or a “whisper” or a direct message sent to me that only I and the person who sent it could see asking me if I’d like to be in their group to raid Sunken Temple.

Sunken Temple can be successfully navigated with a “tank” or someone who can take a lot of damage (I had to ask Tyler what that means, because I wasn’t sure. See???), a “healer” or someone who can restore health, a “dps” or a character who can issue damage over an extended period of time, a “cc” which I am TOLD is something different to everyone, but essentially means a character who can “crowd control” (again…???) and a 5th member that assists another party member with any of the aforementioned tasks.

From what I understand, I was to go in and kill stuff, get loot, finish quests–all in all, a lot of fun. Upon entering the temple, I was told the following “len=triangle zolo=star”and before I could type, “What in the heck does that mean?” the other 4 members of my party had charged into the place and I stood there stupefied. It was at this point that I was called “the worst mage ever” and a “tearabel mage.” (yes, it was obvious to me that I was in a group with intellectually defunct individuals, or 13 year old boys who have an excuse to act like immature idiots because they lack the cognitive skills to do otherwise)

The point being that communication is key when entering into any endeavor and World of Warcraft is not different in that respect. It is a language for which I do not have a pocket traveler’s translation guide but is one that I need to learn quickly if I am to excel in this environment.


  1. Tyler Pace

    I wonder if Blizzard (producers of World of Warcraft) is expediting or solving this problem by drastically reducing the time to lvl from 1-60. Essentially all of the players in the Outlands (60-70) got there through the old leveling curve and spent at least 2x the time leveling from 1-60. An increased leveling curve will flood the Outlands will “noob” players.

    Flooding the Outlands with “noobs” isn’t a bad thing. A fresh crop of players in the Outlands will make it easier for people to level and offer the learning experiences players missed in the old world (1-60) because so few people play/group in those regions. However, what if the expectations of current Outlands players are too high and it frustrates the wave of new 60+ players and they all leave or they continue to avoid group situations and miss out on the core of MMO gaming?

    I don’t think this is just an MMO problem, either. This seems systemic of interaction culture in general. When your system (WoW, Facebook, forum, etc) is full of mature users, how do you still encourage and develop new users? How do you get new users up to speed on the cultural norms/expectations/languages/etc before they hit a wall of frustration and move to another system?

  2. jeffreybardzell

    It was at this point that I was called “the worst mage ever” and a “tearabel mage.”

    I have no doubt that you were indeed a tearabel mage, but I’m wondering whether you were, in fact, torn. Because if you weren’t torn, then I don’t see how being tearable is all that terrible.

  3. houssian

    @jeff lol
    @tyler I just read a little article about how ppl can become a “perpetual super novice” see my google shared items for the link. I think this fits in somewhat with what you are saying. Although I think it’s interesting that you (and probably the majority) think that the “core” of MMO gaming is the group experience, and I assume doing high-level instances and raids. IS that the core of MMO? What about the guild drama (like our loss of everything in the guild bank, the perpetual lone wolf player who comes into a group then disappears) the addiction of playing with the economy on the AH, and of course questing! So much of which (especially in the old world) can be done solo now. Very few quests require help, those with elite mobs have been changed to normal in most cases.
    @natalie I think what you are feeling is like an outsider? A community is often defined, at least in part, by the way they talk. I have grouped several times in the last week with a woman in her mid 20s who is from Quebec and has a toddler. After she found a fellow quebequoi for our group we all started speaking French. I think I felt some of what you were talking about. Although my conversational French is great, writing it and some of the game lingo (a lot of it was simply English words thrown in there) totally threw me.

    Overall can we start to talk about games as communities of practice and language communities? I would say we’ve seen strong evidence for the latter, and for the former we could make a pretty good case.

    As for your problem in learning…. I would say, ask questions, declare your ignorance early on and ask for a little help. I am certain the 12 y/os won’t cut you much slack, sorry, but most people will. I know that I still ask questions about the game and the lingo to people, especially my secret resource (AKA Tyler).

  4. houssian

    Oh yeah, and don’t forget that just playing will teach you, no need to scour the forums and all that. It can help, but just playing reflectively should lead to the deepest learning.

  5. Natalie


    I have that secret game resource (Tyler) sitting no more than 2.5 feet from me, and I can ask him anything at any time for the most part.

    I think it lies deeper … I can ask him, and I often do, but I have issues asking for help sometimes. And I’m impatient, which would make you think that I’d want to use abbreviations so I don’t have to type as much. Hm, a circle of contradiction on which I must reflect.

    I am also very interested in the community aspect of the game and the use of language( created or other).

    The other night someone in guild chat used the term “fag” in an attempt to express their dislike of a person. I feel empowered enough within our guild community to express my dislike for the use of that word to describe a feeling when there are much more appropriate and specific words that can be used, but I cannot tell others in general channel not to use such derogatory language without the response of “ur gay” or “thanks mommy” We discussed the use of the word in guild chat, there was an apology, and no hard feelings! We are using the term “douche” now, of which I approve because douching is indeed a medically irresponsible thing to do and that sense of “badness” can be applied to someone who steals things from the guild vault.

    In RL people act as they do in game (its that white to gray to black continuum–some are deviant, some are more socially responsible, but most people act as they normally would). Playing WoW is not going to make you want to say “I am upset by what you are saying” instead of “Fag”–it might actually increase your use of the word because no one but Blizzard, with their account termination powers, can make you stop.


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