Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Consumer-producer paradigm

There is a series of posts on Death Knight Spree about consumer-producer paradigm.

I did not even read it until an e-mail asked for opinion. The reason for ignoring it was its introducing post, offering:
- find a better guild
- become a better player
- recruit and befriend better players
- eliminate certain pointless and boring activities
- (game designers only) design a better game

Good advice: if you want intelligent people to even consider your idea don't advertise it with offering world peace and free beer. They will consider it a scam and ignore it. Obviously if you are a telemarketer trying to sell your stuff to housewives you should advertise it with world peace and free beer, plus an extra toaster if she buys two.

Back to the topic: he says that besides "kill 10 wolves" and other single-player content, we need other players to produce content. "Producers make player-enhanced content happen. They start groups, form guilds, lead raids, invite other to battleground pre-mades." The "producers" create these content, while the "consumers" just attend to it. The producers collect and summon the consumers to the PuG instance. The "They are reasonably well-geared for the instance and competent players so even if the others suck they can probably get them through." line already rise some alarms, but let's carry on.

"Producers are very careful to let everyone know if they afk. They assume the group is depending on them. Consumers aren't bothered about going afk. They assume the group can cope regardless of whether they do anything to help or not." We already know that "consumer" stands for M&S, but let's still read on, to catch how the system is wrong. Important to note that you noticing a bad system does not mean that others notice it too. So it worth to prove it, even if it's so obvious to you that it's wrong.

"It's ok to have some consumers. You do however require a minimum number of producers. ... If you don't have enough producers investigate the following: do you have unrecognised producers? ie people who are comfortable helping out but simply have not yet been asked to" "helping out" is crucial here. There are not even an illusion of symbiotic relations anymore. "Helping out" is the code-word of parasitizm.

In his following article he does not only reveals his completely mistaken idea, but also gives some background on himself, allowing us to find out how can an otherwise intelligent person come up with such nonsense. "With CPP what I'm trying for is a paradigm that is win-win. Both roles are positive. Each role help the other role. It's not fun to be a chief without indians." So the "consumers" provide the "producers" feel good in return for leeching on them. This is the perfect example of social parasitism.

Now let's see where his life experiences go wrong: he is a librarian of a public library, a producer. His job is: "I might have to help a homeless person figure out how to google a charity he wants to contact, to find a copy of a Horrid Henry dvd for a seven year old, and then to help someone whose roof is leaking find emergency help as well as an idea of where to start legal process for damages." He handles his consumers as: "I don't shout at them, I don't deduct fifty dkp, I don't make them sit through long boring explanations, I don't in fact behave anything at all like a traditional WoW raid leader." And he sees his mission as "You are, if a producer, trying to produce a service you are proud of, if a consumer you hope to be educated, entertained and empowered."

Beautiful isn't it? Well, it is! It is just incomplete. After all, there is no free lunch. The library needs heating, electricity, maintenance, and above all: staff. He himself is a payed employee to do his fulfilling job of educating, entertaining and empowering.

Who pays him? NOT his "consumers", but the taxpayers of his country. For him the basic law of economics: "you pay for creating the goods you consume / you get paid for the product you produce" are not existing.

He does not see his "consumers" as "leeches" since they don't leech on him. They leech on the taxpayers. Would he work in the library if he would not be paid? I think not. Well, news here: no one is paid to organize raids. No one is paid to summon you to a meeting stone. No one is paid to carry you in an instance. We play in our free time.

Costumers in the real world pay for the services they enjoy. This payment is the reward of the producers, not the "feeling of empowerment". I will be a customer of a topguild, for 5000G/week.

Someone who does not contribute to group content and does not pay for it either is not a customer, but a leech! Someone who produce content and gives it to the M&S is a social who will eventually burn out, as he finally (slowly but still) realizes that he just gives, gives, gives while the M&S just takes, takes, takes.


Tsiar said...

Just my own opinion, and probably mistaken. But it sounds almost like he's trying to rationalize it to himself, not just the reader. Not something I can prove certainly, but just what it sounds like to me.

One thing I'd like to ask you Mr. Goblin :P

If you asked someone to your group (Regardless of if you would actually ask someone directly) and they are about 75% enchanted, in decent gear but just above the bare minimum of what would be needed to do their role. They are polite, respectful, and have a minimum of spelling errors, as they point out their possible gear deficiency.

Would you take a chance with this player?

Anonymous said...

"Well, news here: no one is paid to organize raids. No one is paid to summon you to a meeting stone. No one is paid to carry you in an instance. We play in our free time."

So why do you think people take on the roles of organisers in game? You're right, they don't get paid. In fact they pay the same amount as everyone else. Why take on the extra hassle of organising a raid or a guild?

Assuming two people, neither of whom are M&S, is the one who does all the extra unpaid work the stupid one?

Gevlon said...

@spinks: if he always do the extra work, yes, he is the stupid one.

In well functioning organizations everyone does work. One may do the organizing, other manages the guild bank, the third tops the DPS chart, the fourth is always first by the meeting stone and so on.

Everybody does something useful as payment for the useful things he get.

Anonymous said...

Agree with gevlon's comment, the raid should work like parnterships, everyone input something, and get what they want. (fun/chance for loot).
And yes, if you do the orgranizing, people will more forgive on what gear/skill you may lack to some extend, since you do your part.

But being "well socialize" is not the payment acceptable for most raiders, and the worst part about socials are, they accept that themselve, but force others to take that as well.

If any raider do not think it's "fair" for work for some of the slacker. They'll argue or just stop comming, and the raid will fall apart.

Wyrm said...

feck wow...

what i really wanted to know from you is:

are poor people stupid and lazy?

if a person has cancer and the private insurance he/she has is cancelled in the middle of the treatment for reaching the plafond, does that person deserves to die?


Marek said...

While you have done a great job in making money, I'm a bit confused about paying $5k/week to join a top raiding guild.

Essentially, you state that you are willing to pay to be a Consumer or an M&S, since the two are synonymous as you state at the top of the post.

Is it really that hard to PuG Naxx25 for a month to get geared up, use your $$ to get optimally gemmed and enchanted and just join a good guild on an even standing w/ the other raiders?

DPS are a dime a dozen, you even have scarcity working for you being a healer.

At what point are you a fully contributing raider in your own right and no longer have to pay $5k/week for the privilege of being a "Consumer"?


Entale said...

I've been reading your blog for a couple of days now and you mention M&S a lot, and I haven't got a clue what it means. Tried to google it, but it didn't return anything that would apply to the way you use the acronym. So please, what does it mean?

Joe said...

@kelson: You're missing the point. Gevlon is paying to join a top guild in order to prove that goblin raiding is better than simply PuG'ing your way to gear. Besides, maybe you can pug Naxx, but good luck finding an Ulduar pug.

Mogresh of Moon Guard said...

@kelson The way I understood it is he's not paying for just a spot. He's paying for the privelage of being able to raid when he wants. Most of the higher end raid guilds that aren't full of M&S have some kind of attendance policy when it comes to raiding. 4 nights a week and 95% raid attendance or something along those lines.

It was in the agreement that Gevlon posted that he wouldn't have the time to be a normal raider, and he also wanted to do the raids when the content isn't a first kill, and the content isn't on farm.

I think the 5000/g a week is a pretty good payment in this situation. It proves to the guild that he's willing to contribute to the success of the raid even if indirectly.

Leifo of Kargath said...

If I had the money that Our Favorite Goblin had, and didn't already have a guild support network, I would absolutely go the route he's going.

You would not believe the difference between a well-oiled guild run and a PUG. An organized guild with reasonably well-geared raiders can clear Naxx-25 in 3 hours easy. A typical Naxx-25 PUG can spend 2 hours just clearing the Construct quarter. Between wipes on Grob and Gluth, people coming and going, "Morons & Slackers" wiping the raid by standing in the wrong place, and the molasses pace of pulls and endless ready checks... it's a nightmare you avoid as much as possible once you have a steady group of raiders to run with.

Firespirit said...


I never thought I'd see the day when I would completely, utterly, and totally agree with you.

I think the *ideals* of his post is what utopian society would be all about... When there is no currency involved, and it comes down to just the person producing, and another person consuming. Since we all know that is not going to happen anytime soon (if ever, because of human nature), he really is leeching off of SOMEONE.

I am a producer in my guild, and for heavens sake, it takes a ton of work. I have an opporunity cost of loosing more money making time, not to mention all of the fun stuff I could be doing otherwise (I find the Argent Tourney to be incredibly fun).

I don't think I realized that I was burned out running heroics to help guildies get geared until recently, when I went and played on my oft neglected DK. Gosh, it was such a blast to just sit back and solo some content, not be bugged, and chat away with friends.

Gevlon said...

@lot of people: you posted lot of offtopic questions, some of them will be answered in separate posts, others will not be answered as offtopic :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread, you may want to some research into the economic theory underlying Public Goods. The reality of Public Goods tends to undermine your library analogy; primarily that consumers of that good are in some way receiving it without cost (which I suppose is possible if are a tax dodger or illegal). The overhead costs you list are attributable to public fund allocation which is in turn attributable to taxation, no free lunch.

Perhaps an analogy with a non public good, say infinite free samples of food at costco would better support your argument

@poster above M&S = morons and slackers

Sean said...

Hey Gevlon, although i haven't read the comments above me, this does concern the goblinish philosophy, take it as you may.

I stumbled across this page doing research for social studies, it may interest you, particularly the artisan/merchant/farmer relationship and what they were valued for, as it applies directly (IMO) to what goes on in WoW

Sean said...

woops, forgot link,

here it is

Stabs said...

Thanks for visiting Gevlon.

I wrote the series of posts in a deliberately confrontational way because I wanted to post them in the General section of the official WoW boards. As I'm sure you know you can't just post an opinion piece there, you have to provoke an argument to have any hope of keeping your post to the top. (It sunk pretty fast anyway).

Regarding CPP I'm both a consumer and a producer at different times and in different games. In WoW I'm currently a producer and having great fun with it. From a raid leader's viewpoint this paradigm allows me to go about the role with my eyes more open than they have been in the past.

For example earlier this week someone got really cross with the management of the guild. Our raids generally start at 8.30pm. At 8pm he said I'm going to watch telly for an hour and we all said "cya". At 8.30pm we started the raid at the usual time. At 9pm he logged back on and was really cross we started the raid without him.

A year ago I would have just laughed. Now I see him as a frustrated consumer and want to put right what went wrong so it doesn't happen again. So we will work on getting better communication to our members so they understand more about how we operate as a management team.

What I'm doing in that example and in other cases is building up a social relationship where our consumers will cut us some slack if we fail to provide a perfect service. We, the guild officers are casual and quite often real life will interrupt. Last night our GM didn't log on because his girlfriend wanted to go out with him. So without any fuss I picked up the reigns, took us raiding and we had a great time. It was Ulduar and I didn't know the fights so I just sent everyone to Youtube before each boss.

In some of my previous guilds if the raid leader didn't show for a raid there would have been an explosion of drama and recrimination.

Imagine if you'd paid 5000 gold and he didn't show up because he felt like going out with his girlfriend.

This isn't a business and we don't want to apply professional standards to our hobby. It's ok to be late to not show up.

But we are not M&S partly because we are performing well in raids considering our server only launched on Jan 30th but mainly because we see where we want to be in game terms and we are getting there while having a laugh along the way.

Lots of tolerance, great social interaction and a very friendly fun environment that has all our players extremely enthusiastic to play.

We have a very different view on M&S. I believe basically that everyone can be an A student. If people are enjoying themselves and develop enthusiasm then the play skills and gear generally follow. Our hardest hitting meleer is a new WoW player who was doing about 1k when we first started heroics - now is superb.

Incidentally fwiw reading your very thought-provoking articles here is part of the inspiration for this notion of players as consumers and producers.

Lastly I think you slightly miss the point of the paradigm. I'm not telling people to raid just the same way we do. I'm pointing people towards understanding their team. If you want high achievers go the Fusion route of all-producer but understand the implications (the most obvious problem being people may get restless if they like leading and have to follow). So really it's just a way of classifying people, very similar in fact to your own M&S paradigm. but unlike M&S where the only sensible option is to jettison anyone who doesn't make the grade CPP opens up a few more possibilities.

Lemanakmelo said...

I normally consider myself a nice person, and helpful as much as I can be. I don't even have anyone on my ignore list because I figure even idiots are people too. But it's true that eventually I got burned out, and I found that I just turned into "helpful ppl lol".

I've had to logically conclude that these people are just using me because they can. There's no reason that their 4th alt getting Sarth 25 gear is more important than me jumping around in Dalaran with a moose helm on if that's what I want to be doing at that moment. I was able to get the gear I "needed" with other people who also wanted something from the instance, so we helped each other at the same times as we helped ourselves. So I've taken a policy of being a "jerk" unless I really want to do something.