Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The "magical" skill

Imagine that you start a guild in WoW. You accept people without discrimination. Anyone who cares to throw you a whisper gets an inv. No check for gear, not even for being gemmed and enchanted. Hell, there is not even check for level, one can join as lvl 1. No check for skill anyhow, there are no trial runs, there are no application questions like "what do you do in BQL HM second air phase when you must bite?". There is no fixed raid schedule, no attendance demand, no vent, no DKP, no class leaders to teach, practically nothing. There is not even a PvE mission statement that would lure serious raiders! Then you go online, grab your guildies - some in PvP gear, some in half-leveling blues - and go to ICC. What would happen?

It's not a hard question as we know these guilds too well. They are the /trade spamming "xXDethNitesXx is a new kewl raiding guld, wisper DaRkGnOmKiLlaH for inv". They are the friendly social guilds where performance does not matter and "we play for fun lol". So we know the answer: such bunch couldn't get past the first trash pack. We are - or had been - there, we know the drill. Proper application to show you are mature and motivated, trial period to test your WASD skills, attendance limit to weed out the lazy, DKP to reward doing wipe nights, class leaders to find the little mistakes, voice communication to tell you what to do, and when. That's the way. That's the only way!

Now imagine that the "/w for inv" guild would clear most ICC easily, and do serious tries on Arthas. Imagine that such guild would clear Ruby Sanctum in the top 10%. Would you find it possible? If you would see it happening, would you call it anything but magic?

That's exactly what's happening with The PuG. A guild without any WoW-related invitation rule, without any motivation to raid, without any reward for wiping again and again got to 11/12 and busy wiping itself into second remorseless winter. Only half of the guilds - including the application-trial-DKP-attendance-Vent guilds - did that. Only 10% of the whole playerbase did that. On the first week this "/w for inv" guild cleared the latest raid instance among the top 10% of the guilds, beating lot of "proper" ones. How could this happen?

The experiment with The PuG guild was carefully designed. While it has no WoW-related rules, there were strict behavioral rules to follow. These rules were designed for one thing: to force people to practice the "magical skill" without even knowing it. And simply by practicing it, random people who cared to join turned into successful raiders who could pull the above feats. (Alternatively the rules lured already successful raiders because they "magically" felt that such rules are good, without previous experience since no other guild had such rules.).

The "magical skill" is asocial behavior with peers. Every word here is important, let me explain them one by one:
  • "Asocial" is the opposite of social. A social person wants to create a positive-emotion relationship. He wants to be liked, accepted and respected. An asocial does not and merely consider the relationship a tool for a goal. It's important to emphasize that this is not anti-social. The anti-social person wants a negative-emotion relationship, wants to be feared and obeyed. As an easy example: you are having an asocial relationship with the NPCs of WoW. You neither friendly with them (social) nor grief them (anti-social). You do quests for them for reward, buy and sell to them. When you approach them, they try to socialize, telling you a story about spiders attacking their family and ask your help. You ignore this, since you can't care less about their family. You only check the quest objectives and the rewards and decide if the rewards worth the task.
  • "Behavior" is kind of obvious but it's emphasized to discriminate from "feeling" and "self". You don't have to be or feel asocial. You just have to act that way to make the "magic" work. It is the answer to the "I can't be asocial" comment. You don't have to. All you need is doing some simple actions.
  • "Peers" are crucial point here. There is nothing wrong with acting socially (aiming to be loved/respected) with your wife, kid, best friend, brother, boss, raid leader or whatever person you really like or need his respect. There is nothing wrong with acting anti-socially against your enemies or competitors. However these are with people you choose for a reason to have such relationship with. You have a goal, you have rewards and you can see your progress toward this goal. "Peer" means "some random guy who is around". You cannot have positive-emotional relationship with them, because you don't have any relationship with them.
How does asocial behavior with peers make you successful? It doesn't. Success is the normal outcome of effort. Social behavior with peers make you unsuccessful by draining all your available resources for a theoretically impossible goal: to be liked/respected by every random guy. Such guy - while claims to work for a goal - spends vast majority of his time and resources on not the goal but to gain "karma" and respect from peers. They also reject effective ways for the formal goal, if this way is not respected by real or imaginary peers.

Of course no sensible person would say "I want to be liked by every random guy". But our brain evolved in a small-group environment, where every random guy one met was a close relative and a crucial member of the community. Despite we are now living in huge cities and we don't know the people around us, our brains automatically want their love and respect. These people find bizarre and self-defeating activities "fun" or "ethical" and pursue them. "Fun" and "ethical" are a subjective, unmeasurable terms, therefore prone to be infiltrated by social nonsense. I'd like to emphasize that working for a goal, aka "playing to win" does not mean that the person feels no fun. However if someone plays for fun, I'm 99.9% sure that he is actually plays for being liked/respected.

The three ways the social behavior with peers drains all your resources:
  • "Being cool" or respect-seeking activity. It is crucial to gain the respect of people who have some form of power over us. The guy who was considered a traitor or a useless scum by the tribal leader was eaten. If your boss considers you a thief or a lazy dumb, you'll be fired. However 99.9% of the guys you bump into have absolutely no power over you. Yet you automatically want them to respect you. The problem is that the respect of random guys is unmeasurable. If your boss promotes you or praises you on the corporate meeting, you know he respects you. If he tells you to work harder or you'll have problems, you know you lost some of his respect. So you can measure the respect of your boss. However the random guy won't tell you "you are a great guy" or "you are a punk" because he is just a random guy who can't care less. So you can never be sure that he respects you, so you'll try harder and harder. You farm more gear, buy a sparkling pony, idle above the Dalaran flightpoint on a whatever-colored-proto-drake, buy a Ferrari, buy a Yacht, give $1B to charity front of the TV and you still can't be sure they respect you. There is always something more you could do. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much resources you wasted, you made no visible progress.
  • "Being nice" or helping activity. Everyone needs help, at least when he is a small child. The mankind couldn't survive without people helping each other. However you can give everything you have to the starving Africans and they will still starve. The helping should be mutual. You help your close friends and relatives and they help you in turn. The bond that forms in the wake of helping is "liking" or "love". As I already told, our brain automatically recognizes every living punk as "brother" so your gut reaction is being nice and helpful with every lazy moron who was lucky enough to get to your way. Since they are random morons, they won't help you in turn, so you won't feel loved. No matter how much you help them, you will still get no love in turn.
  • "Being ethical" or following social norms. There are rules of every game, company, organization. There are laws of every country. Breaking them makes the organization to try to punish you. It can still be profitable to break them if the gain is greater than the punishment, but the punishment is there. On the other hand the moral/ethical "rules" have no punishing organization, so if there is any gain by breaking them, they should be broken. Actually these "rules" do not exist at all. Still people keep them because they believe that other people will judge them for it, their "reputation" (overall respect by random guys around) depend on it.
Well that doesn't sound much. I mean everyone could tell you that helping random punks or trying to get their respect is stupid. However it's not easy to stop doing it. You feel compelled to do so, you feel bad if you don't do it, you feel bad when they are expressing disrespect or dislike or simply ignore you. These motivate you to be more "cool", "nice" or "ethical". Even if you know it's stupid, you can't stop.

Here comes the simple moves serving as guild rules. These moves tricks your own brain to perceive peers not as "friends" but rather as NPCs. You think you could never treat people like NPCs? You do it right now! Do you give a damn that billions of people in other countries are considering your way of life satanic? Do you give a damn that people are starving in the third world? When you are on a bus, airplane, or in a shop, do you consider the other passengers or customers "group of friends"? You don't, despite the mentioned people are no less of a person than your "friends". The "stranger vs peer" or "in-group vs out-group" decisions are made completely irrationally by ape-subroutines, mental schemes inherited from prehistoric age. You can trick them easily.

Tomorrow I'll post these simple tricks. Please note that they are just kind of first steps, like the "I am Mike, I live in New York" in your first language class. It won't make you millionaire, just like it didn't make the PuG into world top hard mode guild. But it will already elevate you above the majority of the hopeless socials.

If you want to try them out in a completely safe environment, in a video game where no one really knows you (unless you were dumb enough to accept RealID requests), join The PuG. If it doesn't work for you, you just delete/transfer away that char. See it yourself, how can people "magically" double their DPS between raids without any help from the (non-existent) guild leadership! See it yourself how your performance skyrockets and bosses you never seen fall! See how people come to a wipe raid without any form of DKP reward.

PS: Before you'd post "how can the same guy be very successful in one field and total failure in other", it will be a post next week (this week is full). The same applies to "my guild is pretty social and we chat and lol and we do hard modes".


Anonymous said...

I really have trouble understanding your dislike for social players. I play in a raid guild, we aren't top of the world, but we do have 4/12 ICC 25 HM and 11/12 ICC 10 HM down. So to speak, we are pretty decent bunch of players.

In my guild, I consider most people as friends, not as some "peers". Definately not the same as total strangers in a bus I have nothing to do with. Of course, there are some non-social members who are just a number on the recount with a name tag to me, but the big suprise is that they are the worst players we have. Everyone I consider a friend (as in, enough to give out my RealID info) there is above average, 14k+ DPS.

I am without a doubt a social player. I love to chat, to make friends and generally enjoy my non-raid time with the guild. This does not mean I go jumping through hoops if they want me to boost alts, give free stuff or something like that (although, I do give out my JC:ing skill for free. In return, I get their profs for free). They are my friends, they know not to abuse the friendship.

Am I playing the game wrong, would my DPS rise if I stopped being a social person who actually wants every random person to like me?

-The very, very confused 15k DPS feral kitty social scrub.

nonameform said...

I don't doubt that one can be successful in raiding and fail in some other things outside WoW. I doubt it has anything to do with discipline like someone mentioned in a comment yesterday, but I will wait till next week to see what you have to say.

"without any ... punishment for wiping again and again"

Didn't you implement 300g rule?

As for being asocial and being successful (at least in WoW), I probably have to agree. From my own experience (being asocial member in a "hardcore" social guild), I did have some hard time with my raid leader. Though he does have what it takes to organize people in raids, he is really biased. Once I asked him about the dead weight on our raid team and I got a response that those people are nice and that they are not that terrible. Of course people that I was asking him about probably add something to the raid team (filling the spot, dropping a heal here and there, helping us kill the boss X seconds faster), but I have different standards.

When I was still in university, I did encounter many different professors. Some of them were nice, some of them were real assholes, but that alone isn't really enough for me to measure their performance as teachers. I have met some nice people who couldn't teach and some assholes who were great professors. Of course there were nice people who were great teachers too, but that's not the point. Just because someone isn't being "nice" to me, I can't really care less about it. I come to university to be taught and not to have some "fun" time with "nice" people. I think it's the same for me in WoW: I do enjoy progression and I don't really mind wiping or accepting that everyone will do a mistake once in a while, but I can't accept that in a guild that aims for great progression we have some people who underperform a lot and who's skills differ a lot from the rest of the group.

Gevlon said...

@anonymous: read next week post, text now refers to it

@Nonamefrom: fixed, originally it was "punishment for not showing up" but was partially deleted.

Otherwise agree, the teaching activity of the professors matter, not being nice.

mark said...

I appreciate your posts, and found this one especially interesting due to its explanation of your philosophies, and while I was tempted a few times in the reading to pass you off as a sociopath, I see now what you are talking about. I agree and disagree with a few parts of your post, mainly disagreeing with the social rules being broken based upon possible gain, but I can see your point of view, I'd just like to point out something i'm sure others will also gleefully throw at you, I (nataraj, U.S. dalvengyr) am a member of a successful raiding guild, We have RS down, 25 and 10 LK down, and multiple hardmodes (besides gunship) down, and a good deal of social interaction, It is my belief that your crusade against socials is mislabeled, not all people who play Wow like you (asocial)are as successful as you, and/or as driven as you, and in the same note, not all people you label socials are failures/lazy people. So. I think you should change "social" to "failure", as the word is more fitting with your description of what a social does and how one acts, but then again you seem to have use social for so long, perhaps for some the word has changed meaning. Humans are social creatures, many of us/them derive a great deal of pleasure from socializing, and, at the same time are happy and successful people. Trying to gain prestige and respect through ways you mentioned (expensive cars, public shows of good character) are symptoms of self doubt and/or self gratification and have little to do with the act of being social. It is entirely possible to be social, keep a self image centered upon yourself and not what others think about you, be successful in whatever manner one chooses to be successful in, or however one defines success. Also, I think you should try nto to simplify your "magical skill" idea into one skill, there isn't one, there are multiple attributes (being honest with yourself, drive, motivation, and willingness to change) that set successful people apart from non successful people. In any case, keep posting, i appreciate all that you do, (especially undergeared) and have fun! (p.s.) I apologize for poor punctuation and/or spelling, as long as this is legible enough to be easily read, I don't care.

Anonymous said...

The mantra that I have followed for most of my adult life is; "You are only truly free when you are independent of the good opinion of other people."

Ironically enough, by not caring what other people think of you and being above their petty squabbles, you can come out as being "cool" in their eyes.

Squishalot said...

Mmm, yes and no. For the same reason that you suggest that "WG on some no-name server with no advertisement isn't competitive PvP, because noone knows about it", I would suggest that The PuG isn't your ordinary "/w for inv" pick-up guild either.

The fact that you're advertising its existence means that you're getting a player base that is completely different to those who would respond to a trade-chat spammed guild invite.

It's not really a correct comparison.

nonameform said...


There is nothing wrong with being "social" (whatever that means) to some people (check the original post for examples), but being "social" with everyone is a waste of your time.

It's easy for me to be asocial in WoW since I'm playing on a European realm while living in Russia. Chances that I will ever meet those people with whom I play are so slim that I don't really feel that I need to socialize much. Sure, there are several people in guild with whom I do speak in /w and sometimes we even discuss non-WoW related topics, but for say 90% of the guild I can't actually care at all. Doesn't mean that I will act like a dick to them, but if they leave the guild one day it won't be a great loss for me. Some prefer to lol in /g (that's how I see human communication in general), I prefer to browse AH and ask trade for things I need.

Quicksilver said...

I gotta say, this is something I've been teaching myself over the years, so no news for me in this post. I still think you pulled the rabbit out of the hat, because I fail to understand how this quality separates people into two categories and creating the large discrepancy you showed in your first post (the double gaussian distribution).

You could replace the "asocial behavious with peers" expression with just 1 word: professionalism.

In any case, it is a good point, clearly something lots of people should learn, but is it really so that the lack of this skill is the source of all evil in people's lives?

It somehow seems... pretty minor

Gevlon said...

@Squishalot: my blog do not contain much of PvE information, so simply being my reader does not imply you are a superior player. So recruiting here is not equal to recruiting from the EJ forums. I accept that the pure fact that my readers are READING something elevate them above the "lol i cant be assed to read for a game rolf" kids, but there are lot of blogs without similar results.

@Okrane S. "professionalizm" sound nice but tells nothing to the non-professionalist how to start fixing his life. If you are a successful person (as I assume you are), I'm not at all surprised that you found little new information. You know "magical people find this obvious and natural".

Anonymous said...

As a few commentsers already have pointed out, you can be social and succesfull at the same time. As a matter of fact, if you're playing with people you know very well and can get around with you might just have an increased chance for succes.

I think you are viewing the world in a vision that is a bit too much black and white.

I think the magic skill is the ability to make decisions based on rational arguments insteed of feelings.

Kicking an underperforming "friend" often doesn't happen because of the emotional bindings.
Rational arguments will get him kicked.
This is with most things in life. People live their lives with emotions while making rational decisions would benefit them far more.
I remember you posting about people who get mad when they see a monopolist on the AH. Instead of raging on the monopolist, you explained how to get him broke.

So you thought rational.
Again, rational thinkers would profit from the situation.

So I think your magical skill is just being able to sometimes put your emotions aside and think logic.
A lot of people are just copying AH tricks from the big guys. Because they don't have the balls to try to find out something for themselves, they are afraid to fail, and that's holding them back.

When you realize it's just a game, and you will always be able to regain what you had with abit of work, you can try things without a worry.
Again, rational thinking makes the difference...

chewy said...

A tremendous post, very enjoyable reading.

I agree with Mark, change social to failure. They may have become synonymous in your posts but for clarity of meaning it would be easier.

I'll give you my example of why I think it's more appropriate.

I'm travelling through London (could be any city but this is my example) and in the tube(subway) I walk passed a mother struggling with a baby buggy (child trolley) at the foot of stairs. I help her to carry the buggy to the top of the stairs.

It's an entirely social act on behalf of a stranger for no personal gain to me, other than perhaps my own feeling of goodwill.

It doesn't pass your test of being social only to the people in your immediate family or friends and neither does it benefit me in any material way, but I would submit that it doesn't make me a failure either. This is just one simple example of why I would distinguish the words.

Cirian said...

A number of thoughts are coming out in the comments that I thought I would comment on, perhaps my thoughts will be similar to what may be coming in next weeks post.

Regarding some of the points where we all know people who are both successful and nice and therefore they can't be asocial - that is merely a misunderstanding of what asocial means. Being the sort of person that people think of as nice does not require one to be social at all. You can act nice without being social, in fact quite often many of the nicest people you know are not actually social people. For an asocial, the way you talk to other people, the attitude you present, etc is entirely under your own control.

When you think of someone who is "nice and social" you may think of someone who does things like sharing what they have without expecting things in return, perhaps donating to charities, etc. However, it is possible to merely change the way you talk, at really no difference in effort to yourself, to make people THINK you are the sort of person who might do things like that, without actually BEING that sort of person.

In point of fact, an asocial person would never go out of their way to be "not nice". Without knowing someone well you could not accurately truly know whether they are social or not, as it is not how they seem, but rather what they DO that would determine whether they are social or not.

As far as being in a high end raiding guild and having friends, I would say that even more shows the difference between socials and asocials. I personally am in a hard core raiding guild, we are 11/12 HM ICC 25, working on H 25 RS as well as H LK, however I also find that I would count the majority of the guild members as actual friends. Comparatively however, I have been in social guilds before where theoretically the PURPOSE of the guild was just to have a large group of friends, and in that sort of guild I had a lot of trouble actually making friends.

This is because in the raiding guild, I actually respect the other members in the guild and they respect me. It is easy and beneficial to be friends with the guild mates there because such relationships are always mutually beneficial. There is no expectations of boosting or gifts etc, as we are all at the same, high, level of play and neither need, nor desire, such things. Comparatively, you really do have to be social to make many friends in a social guild, because almost all of those relationships will be lopsided and are almost never two way rewarding - its always the more skilled, or less lazy, player supporting the other.

Yaggle said...

I think a lot about this as Christmas time gets closer. I find I can only pick good gifts if I start thinking way ahead of time what sorts of things they would like, or need. The problem is that some of these things are expensive, and I find myself thinking about the likes and needs of a large number of people. That's when I have to decide which people are in my social group and which are not. My parents, my sister, and my grandmother are, so I allow myself to spend a lot if that is what will let me buy them the gift they would really like. But what about my best friend? And his wife? Then what about a few of my other friends? What about my boss? What about my cousins, nieces, aunts and uncles? I could be a really "nice" guy and buy the gifts for them that I think they would like most. But would they really appreciate me any more? Would they like me more? Then asocial reality sets in and I know I have to move them out of this group. Maybe they will just get a card. I did buy my boss an expensive gift last year. Unfortunately there were reasons for it which mostly revolve around that I argue with him quite often and I really would not like to be transferred to another location. He got a better gift than many of my relatives.

Anonymous said...

@1st Anonymous

I'm in a social guild myself and I hate the social players. Not because they are social players, but because rational arguments are not heeded. It's unsocial to kick or not take a bad player, or to remove a terrible officer. It's unsocial to point out that someone's 2K DPS in T9 is terrible, or to say it's a waste of gear giving it to such a bad person. It's unsocial to say that person has no business coming along to hard modes with the better players.

Quite simply, no matter how rational the argument, how much reasoning or evidence behind it, it is ignored if it has social repercussions. I've even pointed out that leeching off players is anti-social but that doesn't work either!

The only reason I'm in the guild is because in 10 man raids I have the opportunity to play with competent players as and when I want, instead of being forced to raid in the more skilled guilds, or put up with drooling retards in PUGs. Of course the drooling retard situation occurs in 25 man raids as well so I don't go to them.


Interesting post, but you're slightly wrong on ethics/manners etc. These can be useful, even if they sometimes misfire. For example, if I hold the door open for someone who has their hands full, even if I will never see that person again, it will likely cause them to reciprocate for another person, who does it for another, and eventually this becomes the dominant behaviour in society and it's therefore likely to be reciprocated for me. I can break these rules for short term gain, but the long-term consequences are not worth it.

Social / moral "rules" should be broken if there is no use to them, or you can ultimately gain more overall. But what can appear to be useless at first glance can actually be valuable overall. One of the easiest tests is to consider what society would be like if everyone did it.

Society can be thought of as an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. Sure, if you only play one round then it's best to defect, but with many rounds then mutual cooperation becomes more profitable.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: iterated Prisoner Dilemma works with THE SAME people. If you interact with DIFFERENT people they are just lot of one-round games.

As I wrote: it's completely OK to be social with people you have a long-term relationship (like a wife or a boss). The problem is being social with random people aka "peers".

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon - Congratulations! I almost never agree with you, but I really like this post: it puts in very few words the essence of almost everything else you say on this blog.

To me personally it also clarified that you're not advocating anti-social behaviour but what you call asocial behaviour (with which I fully agree).

Congrats again!

Anonymous said...

Surprisingly, I am social so that my family will consider me normal rather than rude. It is sort of how sometimes bosses only consider people who 'get out' for the promo.
Of course wow is different

Anonymous said...


"iterated Prisoner Dilemma works with THE SAME people. If you interact with DIFFERENT people they are just lot of one-round games."

Yes and no. Prisoner's Dilemma usually works by playing the same person repeatedly, or a large amount of people in 1 round games with no memory, but if the system has a memory this changes.

If player A cheats player B, player B remembers this in future rounds. This doesn't help B if he never plays A again.

If the system has no memory, player A can then cheat player C. However, if the system does have a memory then all other players will find out that A cheats, and the game does become iterated Prisoner's Dilemma even though A and C have never met before. It becomes A vs "society".

So even though A will never meet individual players again, it's in his interest to always cooperate, just like classic iterated Prisoner's Dilemma where A plays B over and over.

Brodster said...


What happens when the social people run the game. This is the case I feel with WoW- the social people (Blizzard, guild masters) run the world in which you play.

A quick example: I was in a raiding guild that accumulated goods and money through raiding. I was given the top guild bank permissions by the GM - 500g a day withdraw permissions, 10 stacks/day of goods. There are no other rules within the game system, and no other "social" rules were agreed upon.

I took stuff out, made profit, and got banned for "theft". Even though it was within the rules of the game. Even though I was *given* this right by the GM.

What to do when the social people run the game?

Be social? Play by *their* rules in order to win against them? (Be "friendly" just enough to garner their return "friendliness" and then abuse it as long as you can).

Gevlon said...

Comments (including mine) relating African aid removed as offtopic.

@Brodster: actually they have the logs. Somewhere you agreed that you use the gold "for the common good". Scamming and thieving is forbidden by Blizzard. Also, the "guild property" is an improperly defined thing and there is a reason for no guild bank in my guild.

The answer to your question: minimize your interaction with them. They can stop you from actions, but never from inaction. Mind your own business and leave them rot. Surprisingly socials do NOT care about people who just want to be left alone. They will NOT go after you, since you don't jeopardize their precious "respect" and "liking".

Kristine Ask said...

Your build your argument on the performance of your "Pug" guild, by claiming it is just like any random "join guild X for fun!!!".

This is a fallacy, and thus the argument built on it does not hold.

Your guild is largely recruited through your blog. Considering your topics (and by looking at your average commenter) it's obvious that this is a generally mature, goal oriented group who put high value on knowing how to be efficient and skilled during play.

This can not be said for the general public of WoW players, and particularly not the subset of players who are
a) Guildless
b) Actually think "join random guild X for super fun!!!" is a good idea

This group is highly visible cause of presence in public channels and failure to follow social or asocial norms in raids, but is not the "average" player by any standards. However, it is the group you are comparing your guild to.

In such you are comparing to widely different player groups when it comes to motivation, attitude towards the game, as well as social and cultural capital. And, it follows that conclusions based on experiences with one of these groups- cannot be transferred to the other.

To do the business analogy which is so popular on this blog: If I make a system that enhances the performance of a literate, motivated and dedicated workforce - I cannot claim that the same system would increase productivity within a illiterate, unmotivated and unskilled group of employees.
I can hope it will, but that's about it.

Good luck, please try again.

Anonymous said...

You should rename "The PuG" to "Atlas Shrugged" :)

Gevlon said...

@Kristine Ask: You don't notice but you accepted my core idea that THERE IS a "magic skill" by saying that the players recruited on my blog are superior for some reason. Since the blog does not give technical help how to become better PvE player, there cannot be cause and effect between the two. The only solution is paralell-effect, so X make people read this blog and X make people play well.

You claim that X is "mature, goal oriented group who put high value on knowing how to be efficient and skilled" however you fail to explain what "mature" means and why goal-oriented people read my blog (that serves no direct goal).

Again, I do NOT argue with you that my readership is superior to trade chat trash, but I say they are superior AND they like my blog because they have asocial or even anti-social tendencies, and don't value social love. So I simply say "mature = asocial". What is your explanation? Please note that without explanation, you are not saying anything as "mature" itself is no better than "magical".

Brian said...

I don't know if the specific behavioral rules matter, so long as you have them. And not because the rules encourage good behavior, but having them keeps out the people more likely to engage in bad behavior of any kind.

The fire-standing, raid-wiping, "lol, it's just a game" people don't like rules, especially in WoW. Having and enforcing ANY rules that require any effort to follow makes it likely that those people will be kept away.

I'm not sure "social" has anything to do with the good vs bad guild separation. What good guilds have that bad guilds don't is rule-based barriers that keep out the bad players. And because the bad players have so little tolerance for doing ANYTHING they don't want to do, the barriers don't have to be very high at all to keep them out.

Anonymous said...

eh.....i kinda dissagree with the part that "social" rules should be broken if you have a profit ALWAYS.

I have as rule-of-the-thumb that if my gain is immensly outweighted by the other guy's profit, i should help.

Example? A girl is drowning in a muddy lake. I am with my new 200$ pants. I have 0 obligation under the law to jump in and save her. Heck, if I didn't, i would save my new pants. But, in reality, even you Gevlon would jump in to save her, even if it meant that the new pants would be useless. This rule is purely a "social" rule of helping each other, even at our own cost.

So, my point is that the others actually DO matter. They shouldn't matter as much as you/family/etc but they matter, even the random girl drowning that you never met before.

Anonymous said...

I agree with my anonymous brethren.

This philosophy is scary. You would not save the drowning girl Gevlon, unless of course you'd get fame for doing it in which case you would because you are desperate for attention.

Healer24 said...

I'm not going to take the time to comment on everything you posted. Suffice to say that I think you have some interesting observations, but I don't agree with all of your conclusions. However, about you regarding "The PuG" as an experiment to prove your point:

The problem with your "experiment" is that you were already heavily selecting a certain type of person: the person who reads your blog. In many other posts you have blasted "social" behavior and derided those you called morons and slackers. Those who would read your blog and subsequently join "The PuG" are already probably in agreement with you. Then you offer them a chance to play with people who aren't morons or slackers, and they jump at the chance. That is your sampling bias.

In order for something like "The PuG" to be used as a sociology experiment, you need to at least try to eliminate some of your sampling bias. One way would be to set something like this up on an unannounced server with you as only a silent, invisible backer. Then recruit solely from trade chat; don't use your blog as a recruitment tool. Then see if you can duplicate the results you got from "The PuG".

Furthermore, as with many sociology experiments the results of "The PuG" are fairly obvious and speak for themselves. What is far more difficult to accurately nail down is the reason for such results. I'm sure people could come up with a dozen different theories, and you need to realize that your theory is but one. I'm not going to argue whether or not you're correct at this time, but I don't think that "The PuG" is anything close to sufficient proof of your theory of asocial behavior.

Gevlon said...

@Healer24: You are right that my readers are dominating The PuG. However why reading a blog about gold and "anti-social rants" make one a good player? Please note that this is not EJ, reading this blog does not directly teach you proper PvE play.

TheGrumpyElf said...

I have to agree with Squishalot in his assessment of ThePuG.

The PuG was built of competent players that either already know the fights or at least have a decent understanding of their own skills and abilities.

It is not your standard PuG. Anyone that joined were good to start out with because they most likely found out from here and they knew that it would be posted about here.

Scrubs are not going to join because of the fear that they will be "outed". As socials, as you call them, they would never want to risk losing everyone liking them and thinking they are good for the chance at getting called out as bad players on your blog.

With that in mind you are only getting the cream of the crop to join The PuG.

While I do agree with a lot of where you are going with this you are missing one huge component in your assessment of this... it is in the public view.

That will, and has already, skewed the results to an extent that makes any evidence you can present anecdotal at best.

Kristine Ask said...

@ Gevlon

Atleast we agree that comparing your reader base with the /trade-regulars is unreasonable.

To give a more general comment on the "magical" skill. A large portion of my research is trying to understand how players learn to be good players, and what kind of knowledge is needed to succeed in game.

Based on that, I have dismissed the idea of one "magical" skill a long time ago (and pretty sure I have commented to you about it).

Reducing something as complex as success (even within a MMO)to a single factor I think is quite ridiculous to be honest.

Commonalities of success in WoW have to do with leadership, motivation, sacrifice for the good of the guild, game literacy, computer literacy and commitment.
And that's still just scratching the surface. What dictates success vary depending on context and goal.

There is enough reductionist approaches to gaming as it is. I have no plans of joining. However, best of luck to you with that project.

P.S. You keep saying that this blog is not about PvE skill, and in such it shouldn't affect the skill level of those recruited to the Pug.
It doesn't really matter if your blog is PvE, PvP, money or community oriented. Those who wish to spend time outside the game reading about the game, is already from a group of players who take a more instrumental approach to the game and value a deeper understanding of their game experience.

Add to that how you are cultivating a play style where knowledge and skill is valued, even if you don't tell your readers about spell rotations and you are working with a highly game literate group.

WeekendWarrior said...

Hmmm. To be honest I believe that you have still overlooked what the "Magical Skill" really is. I believe it written about in your post. But it is appears to me to be that decision point that "switch" that someone is able to change their mind set from a more social "lol" fun with guildies to a more laser beam like focus of getting a certain goal accomplished. The asocial behavior occurs after this "switch". In the case of "The Pug" people hit this switch before joining or are more easily able to switch than others. I don't disagree with your discussion of the behavior rules leading to the success of the guild. But this magical skill can also be present in some of the members of the "social guilds" that have some success when they observe that they are casual but "serious" when they raid. They unconsciously agree to "switch" on their game face and focus on their objective raid. This would explain the drama that ensues when some of the members of the raid can't seem to find their switch. From a personal standpoint I believe it is important to find your own balance of focused switched on activity and some casual downtime to prevent burnout. Always being switched on would account for the complaints from the hardcore raiders from burnout or from lack of challenge in the game or that it "feels" like being at work. But perhaps I have missed your point... And need to reread your post...

Andru said...


I can't speak for Gevlon, but I wouldn't jump in to save the girl, regardless of whether my pants are expensive, or I have any at all.

Reason is simple. I'm not Michael Phelps. I know how to swim well enough to keep myself afloat and to go forward (relatively slow) but I'm not trained as a lifeguard, and I absolutely cannot guarantee I can keep someone else afloat who's drowning, much less myself while burdened.

The 200 $ pants are a secondary concern. What interests me most is my own safety. If I cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that both of us survive, then there's no point in jumping in. No, trading my life for theirs is not an option. I am the single most important person in the Universe from my perspective right now. Maybe that will change in the future, but I will not ever ever ever willingly risk my life for someone else.

TL;DR: You're comparing this the wrong way. It's not the $200 pants vs the girl's life. It's $200 pants + my life vs the girl's life.

Rationally, it's a bad trade. Even under 'ape-subroutine' mode it's a bad trade. It's only a good trade if you're social AND have a low risk aversion.

KhasDylar said...

Great post :)

If someone disagrees with the points in this post, please answer me this: why aren't people talking during 5man PuGs since the "invention" of the Dungeon Finder? (apart from saying "hi" and "bb" at the end and the beginning ofc)

~~a fellow Hungarian

Hassel said...

You are saying you will let anyone into the guild, but are you saying the same anyone's can raid with you on the ICC runs? Meaning a hunter who is wearing spell power gear and gemming for strength can raid in your ICC "as is" and not get ridiculed or corrected? A tank member of your raid who is not defense capped can raid with your ICC team and you are successful? You said "how can people "magically" double their DPS between raids without any help from the (non-existent) guild leadership!" So that means no one is correcting gear errors? I challenge this statement. I say there is no way in hell you are 11/12 successful while having people in jacked up gear into the raid. You may accept everyone into the guild, but that does not mean you accept everyone into the raid. I've read in past posts of yours that you kick people who are under performing, how is that NOT punishment for failure?

- Hassel (US-Whisperwind)

Yaggle said...

@anonymous: Your example about jumping in the water to save somebody isn't really fair because humans have a built-in ape subroutine to save other humans. Remember the American version of the movie "The Vanishing"? In the early part of the movie, the anti-social villain jumps into water to save somebody and breaks his own arm. Afterwards he is confused about why he did it. I think to the audience it was obvious that even an asocial or anti-social person would feel compelled to do so if they had to make a quick decision without having time to think about it. Plus, drowning in real-life is a rather extreme example; you could make the analogy between losing wealth in WoW and losing a $200 pair of pants, but what analogy exists between something in WoW and drowning in real life?

Healer24 said...

Yes this is not EJ or anything. However, you yourself have proved/are still proving with the Undergeared project that this game is not that hard on normal difficulty. It doesn't require five guides with extensive theorycrafting to kill a boss. All it requires is a brain and the will to use it.

It seems that your blog in general attracts the kind of person who would agree with that. It seems to me that the type of person to agree with that probably also does pretty well at the game. What I'm trying to say is that your blog doesn't "make good players" or even necessarily improve player performance. Your blog attracts players who are already good (they have a brain).

Infinitum said...

Well, for being a blog about "gold and anti-social rants" you have garnered a significant amount of PvE attention with your posts about under-gearing instances and buying raid spots.

While I can't see your subscriber numbers I do know this is a popular blog - your under-geared topic/blog even came up during a recent guild raid conversation... and honestly...I doubt most of the readers here wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard eventually stamped your name on an in-game goblin.

In short - if you want this PuG "experiment" to hold true do what the readers above said and recruit members without your name or blog as advertisement.

Heiligêr said...

From what I can tell, all you have said is "the more a guild focuses on progression and less about being social, the more a guild will progress." Well, yeah. But, I cannot see the point of playing a game if you're going to treat it like a job. That's exactly the scenario that you have pointed, but, instead of getting paid in dollars and cents, you get paid in epics and progression. Games are created for the purpose of entertainment- degrading people for treating it as such is stupidity.

Healer24 said...

Kristine Ask wrote: "What dictates success vary depending on context and goal."
I think is also an important point. "Success" is defined differently by different people. Also, and more importantly, context matters. It is a very tricky proposition to draw general conclusions from specific data. Gevlon's "experiment" with The PuG might prove his points about asocial behavior in World of Warcraft. Saying that it also proves something outside of the game is a more difficult leap to make.

Duskstorm said...


At first I thought you were cold, hard, and cruel, but actually you've revealed the truth I've found brings success -- when you're zoned in and raiding, you need to change everything you think you know the social norms in order to be successful.

For example, in the real world, it's not cool to call someone out in front of everyone. In a raiding situation, it's necessary.

"Hey, Duskstorm, you died to the ice beam again. You need to stop DPSing three seconds before it spawns so that you can take a look around and see where the orbs are. That goes for everyone else who died." That bit right there can honestly hurt someones' feelings if they feel publicly humiliated.

A successful raid group must establish a social environment where no one gets their feelings hurt by being told they're screwing things up.

When the raid is over, you go back to being social.

Another big thing is making sure you never get angry. You have to keep cool at all times. Every single toon in the raid is being controlled by a human, but you're in essence addressing the toons themselves.

The attitude I have is this... the guy living in California who works at Wal-mart is not the reason the raid wiped. The resto druid that is controlled by that individual caused the wipe by not keeping hots up on the tank.

I wonder.. if it became a habit to call people by their real life names when talking in vent socially out of a raid, and people still called each other by their character's names during raid, if that wouldn't subconsciously plant a seed in people's mind that distinguishes social time from asocial time.

Duskstorm said...

I also wonder if this isn't why sports teams typically assign everyone a "nickname." "Hey, Sponges, why can't you block the fullback?"

BBB said...

Long time reader, first time poster. Quick correction for your point about "ethical/moral rules" and that there is no punishment for breaking these rules. As a lawyer here in the US, I have to abide by the "ethical" rules of my profession or else I will be disbarred and can't practice my profession. The ABA here is a real organization that enforces ethical rules (though very poorly) as part of the privilege of being able to practice law in the US. They are codified and you should look them up if you are curious (though I'm sure you will disagree with many of them). This includes such lovely gems as not sleeping with my clients or taking cases where I have a conflict of interest in their outcome. There are consequences in my world for breaking ethical rules, but I agree with you the idea of applying ethical rules to WOW is rubbish. Just to prove my goblinish tendencies, a battered hilt dropped in forge of souls heroic yesterday for my warrior alt. A resto druid won it, so I immediately asked him if I could have it since it was a "lore-related rare collectors item" and that im so interested in it "because im a big lore junkie" and really "wanted to do the lore-related quest chain". I didn't think this would work, but by appealing to this guys sympathies I got an item I had no interest in besides the gold it generated from the AH. He immediately opened trade with me and traded it for nothing! I was worried that someone would call me out on it, when the trade popped up in party chat, but thankfully the druid failing to heal through bronjahm led to a wipe which resulted in everyone jumping ship. Anyway very good post today, just wanted to highlight for you that little exception to your stated "

Denethal said...

It seems that people are hellbent on the stupidity of themselves in todays topic..

Yes. Everyone is accepted into the guild. It is not an issue to join as a deathknight clad in spell-gear, but as long as you insist on being a retard, then you won't get to raid. And if you keep it up as a retard, then you might find yourself wanting to look elsewhere to raid.

Yes, people may not get to raid, even if they are in the guild. The guild is based on the pick-up-group principle, we're just excluding the m&s part of the playerbase.

Where you've gotten the notion that this whole project is about punishment of slacker or whatever, is beyond me. It is about showing the rest of the community how it would be if a server were filled with only people willing to use their brain for more than gibberish language and demanding social behavior rulesets above rational ones.

And to Heiligêr.. By your definition, let me explain it this way: It is looked upon as a JOB because MORONS and SLACKERS make it so.
These individuals usually can't be arsed to improve themselves, either by reading up on external sites or by practicing rotations for 5 minutes at the training dummies, figuring out a rotation.
And by this very doing, they are forcing those who do read up and improve themselves to do the same bosses over and over again, which takes away their fun.

To use an example: The M&S tries to open a door by running headfirst into it and will eventually open it by sheer force.
The non-M&S look at the door, examines it a little, then open it and walk through instead of breaking it or the wall next to doorframe.

Open the door, please. It's not that hard.

Justisraiser said...

Ugh -- premature send.

As I was saying, you need to stop thinking like going 11/12 in ICC 10, with a 25% and 8 months after the content was released, is anything special. Every Sunday I run a 10 man group with my friends and our alts and we easily clear 11/12 just by grabbing people via Trade Chat. This has been the case since May.

You can cite the wowprogress rankings all you want and claim you're in the top 25% of WoW players just by killing Marrowgar, or whatever, but any competent raider knows you're just a perfectly average 10 man guild.

If you were making $60,000/year (USD), you should feel happy you're above the national average and doing a lot better than a lot of other people. But would you write about how you've discovered some magic secret sauce on your blog?

Gevlon said...

@Justisraiser: Actually, I'm doing that. That's all I'm working here about. The barrier between success and failure is at Rotface and not Sindy HM. It's around $30K/year and not 200K. If someone can kite the ooze, not stand in the spray and DPS the boss, he knows the basics of every aspect of the game. Also, if someone can get and keep a job, he can support himself and also the way is open for him to move higher.

Of course an LK HM killer is better than the Rotface killer, and the $500K is better than the $50K. However their difference is now just quantitative: more practice, more reading, more working. The difference between the Rotface guy and the "lol i play the way i want i need sp lol so what im hunter lol chill" is QUALITATIVE. Like the difference between humans and apes.

Heiligêr said...


I don’t see how your M&S are entitled to do anything. If the guild rules state that you must read up on bosses, etc; then, that is the fault of the M&S for not doing so and therefore blameworthy. But, in general, no one is entitled to do anything on the game. Rant about it all you want.

If it is such a burden to endure the M&S, I suggest you reexamine why you play the game.

I hate getting into groups with people with un-gemmed, un-enchanted gear as much as the next guy. In the end, it is their $15/month and my choice to leave any group I see them in.

Tully42 said...

my blog do not contain much of PvE information, so simply being my reader does not imply you are a superior player

Yes, it does. Gevlon, your assumptions are based on skewed data. The PuG is not a random sample of players, it is most likely a set of players self-selected because of their interest in the project. How many players, chosen at random from the general population, seek information outside the game to improve their gameplay? I'm betting it's much lower than that of PuG members.

In previous comments, you claim that there is no causal relationship between reading your blog and skill. This is true, however, one could argue that there is a correlation between people that read your and skill.

Anonymous said...

the drowning-girl anonymous here:
@andru: Obviously, the reasons you gave are not valid. In this assumption is the200$ pants vs drowned girl. I could say that eg the girl is a 3 years old so, while she drowns, the water is shallow and there is no danger for a grown adult like you.

@Yaggle:But that's EXACTLY the point. Social behaviour IS a ape sub-routine. Saving the girl is a pure social action. You will gain nothing but a "thanks" and lose a 200$ pant. If you save her, you just did something social.

Gevlon DOES fight social behaviour. I don't like social behaviour. Heck, i take part in 'the pug' and admire gevlon's tenacity and greatly enjoy the people there.

But absolutes are not good in my honest opinion. I would be something like that: self-sacrificing = bad (aka, dying to save the girl or simply boosting an M&S), being selfless and friendly is NOT bad when it is strictly controlled.

Saving the girl (only these 2 factors apply), is a moral must to me.

Another, real example this time. A girl was rapped by 3 guys. 20 students watched but none acted. Do you approve them not acting? (none of the rapists had any gun).
Yes, it would be a social convention to act,but it is also a neccesary action to keep the order. If we all acted completly asocial or antisocial, the society would collapse.

Denethal said...

@Heiligêr: Way to go 180 degrees from your previous post.

izzie said...

I couldn't agree more.
During BC I was a really social player and developed close relationships with my guild, to the point where I cried when I left them.

I realized how stupid it was that I was so emotionally attached to a group of morons that talked shit about me the second I left.

After that, I made it a point to never get emotionally involved with a guild I joined and I have been so much happier about it.

I'm not a guild-hopper, by far, i rarely switch more than twice per xpac. But it's just so much easier to deal with when you don't care. Lots of guilds reach that point where they're just not getting anywhere and there's an open spot in a better progressed one. Sometimes you notice that all the loot is getting passed to someone's girlfriend even though you're doing more dps / have better attendance.

Sometimes you have to move on, but all too often people hold themselves back because of attachments.

Gevlon said...

About the drowning girl: There are many real (as opposed to social) rewards/punishments here
* the girls dad may pay me
* I may get a "lifesaver medal" with prize
* I may get into a newspaper, that's a nice reference on job interviews
* There are laws in many countries that demands you to help people in grave danger

And most importantly: I would NEVER pay $200 for throusers. Nor would I buy one that I can't wash after I went to the mud.

Nielas said...

Personally I like to work on the 'favour limit' system. Depending on how close I am to a person, I will do a number of 'favours' for that person but only up to the limit. If they return the favour in any way to make us 'even' then I will continue to do favours for them.

So I will gladly pay for my friends ticket when we go to the movies or a concert but expect that next time he pays for my ticket. If he doesn't then I will stop covering for him. If he keeps expecting more favours when he has not repaid previous ones then he is a leech and I will rethink the friendship.

In WoW, I will gladly help a guildie out but expect that he will help me out in some way. eg If I run his alt through a dungeon, I expect that if I need it he will run my alt through a dungeon. If I cut some gems for him then I expect that he will craft leather bracers when my druid needs them.

I don't keep an exact tally, but will avoid interacting with people I feel are abusing my generosity. I contribute to the group experience and I expect others to contribute equally.

Conghaile said...

Congratulations, you just took several posts to build up to and finally paraphrase the age-old adage, common knowledge amongst us Americans, that "nice guys finish last." Knowing it hasn't stopped people from being nice to each other for no reason, which leads me to believe that humans are not entirely rational creatures. What a startling conclusion! I am truly floored.

Sorry to latch on to one obscure point, but I wanted to note that in an earlier post you said that people who have the magical quality don't know they have it. I would argue it's pretty easy to realize you're being "mean" for your own advancement, and continuing being "mean" regardless. Gordon Gekko was well aware that his callous disregard for everyone but himself was the secret to his success 25 years ago in Wall Street. You should probably amend that statement.

Anonymous said...

If you're paying $200 for pants that can't be cleaned easily, you're dumb - either because you wasted that money thinking the pants were honestly that valuable, or because you're mind-bogglingly rich and have forgotten the value of a dollar.

And it's entirely possible to factor in non-monetary compensations for your actions. The good reputation you may wind up earning for saving a drowning person can help you further down the road, as Gevlon pointed out.

The difference here, however, is that the "karma" you would earn should not necessarily be sought after for its own sake. Seeking the respect/love of others in general just for its own sake, especially when it is unlikely to have any noticeable impact on your life, is what Gevlon is talking about when he says "asocial behavior among peers".

On the other hand, there are some people whose you SHOULD be concerned about, in regards to what they think of you. This includes your boss, your family, and people who may likewise affect your life (i.e. professional licensing bodies, professional associations, WHO, the IRS/equivalent thereof, etc.)

Eaten by a Grue said...


Two things. First of all, I do not believe for one second that you would save the girl for the reasons you just metioned. I believe you would save her because she is a fellow human being and it would pain you to see her suffer and die.

Second, you dismiss the sample bias criticism with the argument that this forum does not necessarily attract the skilled player, as it offers little PVE advice. I disagree here - while you do not offer much specific PvE advice, that's true, there is much general criticism here of those poor at PvE, and much reference to Elitist Jerks and other tools designed to improve performance. There is also certainly a general feeling of disdain toward those you dub as M&S, and I suspect this leads to your regular readers (i.e. those most likely to join your guild) probably being better at PvE than your average trade chat pugger.

Gevlon said...

@Eaten by Grue: you assume that simply having a blog where M&S doesn't get love get you a good player audience. However EVERY blogs are written by above average players and ALL blogs make fun or express anger of the M&S. No doubt that it's not their main focus, but show me a blog without "my terrible/funny 5-man with mister 0/0/71"!

So all bloggers must have a good guild. And they have not.

Andru said...

@ Anonymous

Interestingly enough, your second example is ALSO described by primitive behavioural patterns. No human wants to shoulder responsibility, and paradoxically even more so when in a group. Responsibility dilutes within a large group.

Every doctor that is trained in first aid knows this. If the person who's in danger yells 'Someone save me!' it has absolutely 0-effect.

Simple really, and they teach you this in first aid classes. If you need someone else's help in an emergency, identify the person whom you want help from and ask them to do something precise.

So all that girl had to do is point at someone and say: "You! Call the police! Now!"

Delegation of responsibility empowers people. You should never ever ever, delegate responsibility to a group.

Anonymous said...

well, that's interesting info, I admit, but it is not really relevant.

Do you agree with their actions? Aka, would you jump to stop them? I know I would, mainly because she was in terrible psychological pain and I have a big empathy for the others that deserve it.

I understand that gevlon sees empathy as useless in most cases. I kinda agree. A random guy that asks for a peny will get mocked by me. The girl that was raped will get my help.

I think, the difference is that this girl doesn't deserve her fate.

Izzie said...

There's a difference between being mean and being neutral. I'm under the impression the goal here is a completely neutral guild doing what they can with what they have.

A lot of what people would consider rudeness or being mean in WoW is, as Gev described, only because of the pressure of current common guild social structures.

IRL Example: I live in NY city, I'm sure you've heard the rumors on what New Yorkers are like. Our unwritten rules on behavior and interaction with people isn't much unlike PuG's. We don't randomly make conversation with strangers, we have no problem saying "no" to people begging on the street or asking for us to sign up for some charity, we could care less if you're driving a 2011 Jaguar or a 1995 Civic.

This is, obviously, not the case elsewhere.

That doesn't mean we won't give directions if asked or help someone bleeding on the side-walk. But we're not gonna stand around and talk about cats or follow-up to find out if said bleeding person lived. We do what we gotta do and get on with it. It's very practical and efficient.

Anonymous said...

So.. what's going on with undergeared? Been 2 weeks and no logs or posts... is undergeared taking a break from progression raiding? It's a shame you couldn't down Halion but i imagine Lich King is loads easier, especially with the 30 percent buff.

Taemojitsu said...

40+ US billionaires have recently conspired to give away half their wealth to charity. Is this due to the influence of peers? Whom does a successful person consider to be a peer in the first place, is 'asocial behavior with peers' a real attitude or a perceived one? (As in the case of hereditary wealth)