Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who cries because of "welfare gear"?

Craig sent this article from the Economist to me. It publishes a really interesting result: any kind of welfare is most rejected by not the richest, but those who are just above the targeted group. The reason is called "last place aversion". If one is the second worst (or observe himself as such), he will strongly oppose any kind of help that the worst would receive, even if he would also receive some from that help. He will do so because the help may elevate the worst equal to him, placing him to the new "worst" place. Similarly the elevation of minimal wage if mostly opposed by the ones who earn a bit more than minimal.

This new result explains lot of things in both the real economy and the MMOs. The "game is easy because other people killed the LK HC" was often told by bloggers and even Blizzard posters to people who called the WotLK easy. However their comment was misplaced. These people were outraged exactly because they became indistinguishable from Arthasdklol. In BC, if you raided even just Karazhan, you had significantly better gear than those who couldn't do that. In WotLK and lesser extent in Cataclysm, unless you are in the top 5%, you are a member of the mass called "casuals". All having VP and reputation gear with similar ilvl. From gear level it's hard to tell if you are 2/7+Occu raider (top 20%), or a 5K DPS lolkid who can only finish a troll HC if everyone in his group has kick on cooldown. In WotLK, even he was 6/12.

The HM raiders are distinguished from the others by higher ilvl gear and special mounts. However the "others" are a nearly equalized mass. No wonder that the HM raiders don't care about "welfare gear", the low-raiders do. Their "efforts" and "skill" is unrewarded, despite they objectively have better skills and do more effort than a random "i cba 2 gem or read 4 a game lol" M&S with 5K DPS.

This logic leads to the "LFM BH 364 ilvl min" nonsense, where the recruiter is obviously having 364 ilvl. The reason is not that he thinks that a 363 ilvl can't do BH (333 can), nor the common disbelief that he wants to be boosted (a 375 does a few % better assuming equal skill). He wants to push the 363 guys down to distinguish himself from them. He doesn't want his 364 to be "on the bottom". The idea that others are below him makes him content with his situation. He rather see his raid dissolve waiting (losing on the loot), than letting a 363 "noob" to gear above him.

Of course it's a social nonsense for two reasons. At first, if you are reading this, you are most probably very far from the bottom, both in real life and in WoW. You have a computer and enough disposable income to play a game, you are in the top 10% wealthy of the mankind. Reading any game resource probably puts you to the top 20% of the WoW players. So trying to push another top 20% guy down to avoid the "last space" is stupid.

Secondly and more importantly, exactly because of this behavior you can't expect help from the ones directly above you. With 364 gear, you are the "pathetic slacker noob" in the eyes of the 365 "pros". So you have much easier time cooperating with the ones directly below you. They are not significantly worse than you, and are happy to work with you.

Even without knowing this study I inherently opened my guild to those who are slightly below me (for example new rerollers). I only exclude those who are far below me (for example lollers), as they really can't do anything for me. The leveling one will grow up some time so worth the little help of using the guild perks I contributed to create (and he did not). So the goblinish advice of the day is to actively fight the social idea of looking down those who are a bit below yourself and try to cooperate with them. Keep your rejection to the truly useless M&S...

... like this specimen:
The materials cost about 35K gold. He farmed 35K gold and spent it all on a cosmetic item, leaving himself totally broke. Maybe he should contact a bank that gives sub-prime loans.


Rohan said...

I don't really understand what's wrong with the guy you've singled out.

Money is a means to an end. His desired end was the Vial of the Sands, so he earned enough money to buy the mats for it. Then he asked a crafter how much it would cost to craft in order to find out how much more gold he needs to earn.

How does that make him an M&S? Should he have wasted hours of his time earning gold that he may not end up spending, because he someday theoretically might need it?

To me, he seems to be working in a logical, efficient manner. He is only spending as much time as he needs to achieve his goals.

Tuzvihar said...

I recently came back to play some WOW with my shammy, and experienced this right. I was wondering, why would anyone with ilevel 360 go to BoT or BWD where 359 ilevel stuff drops, this is a nonsense. 2 days after leveling I already had like 355 ilevel without much effort, but still couldn't do any instance bacause of the achievment, finally they invited me to one group (Underachiever + a little lie about ilevel) and the 360+ pros were doing the dumbest things.

Rodos said...

Are you sure your "specimen" had even spent 35k on the mats? I once had someone ask, in all sincerity, if I could build him a Chopper, with my mats, for 200g.

Anonymous said...

I have decided that is the best feature about games funded with micro transactions. The people whose self-image is affected by whether *I* am wearing 178 of 378 gear will not play. Which makes for a more pleasant game environment.

Bronte said...

1. Very interesting insight into MMO behavior, particularly in WoW. I would have to admit I am guilty of being in the same boat. When our guild was wrapping up the first tier content in TBC, Blizzard rolled out a patch that made dungeons a tad bit easier in addition to releasing the new ones. Our automatic defense mechanism was that Blizzard was too-casual friendly, and made things too easy, and now Arthasdklol was at the same progression level as us. Guess we didn't want to be a part of the welfare crew either!!

2. I know you didn't, but perhaps someone ought to talk some sense into Captain Vial of the Sands here?

Gevlon said...

@Rohan: his desire to get Vial of the Sands is itself makes him a moron.

Grim said...

That line is just tired.
People can have different goals. Its the route they take to get to them that distinguishes morons from smart people.
If he farmed that 35k by running LFD and vendoring whatever the mobs dropped, then he's a moron. If he got it by turning cheap ores into expensive gems (or anything else with high gold per hour), then he is not.

Pheredhel said...

you should really reconsider your definition of Moron. It is a game, so the only utility you may count is the amount of fun/relaxing/whatever he gets out of it.
In this case you can't even complain that he reduced the amount of fun of the crafter, so it is a perfectly valid behaviour.

Let's analyze that "Specimen" with your definition of M&S:

1. Is he a slacker? He worked to obtain the materials (assuming he has them) and wanted to know how much he is missing/if he has all he needs to get the reward for his work. By the definition in the blog, he is not a slacker.

2. Is he a moron? As of your definition, this would mean he refuses to learn. He showed he is willing to learn, by not arguing about the fee, and by realizing that he has to farm some more money.

He may have goals that differ (a lot) from yours, but by all means, he is NOT M&S.

@Gevlon: you may really want to reconsider who you name M&S... I agree with the definitions on the "about M&S" page, you use the term in a way that is not what you defined it to be.

if he would cry about the things beeing so expensive=> slacker
if he would complain about not having enough money for whatever => moron (he doesn't need the mount) but without those... it's just a player working towards his goals at no cost for the others.

Backthief said...

Is this a real life behavior, thanks to endeless decades of government welfare, or a virtual life behavior, due to people think they can be everything on the fantasy world?

Cathella said...

I agree that today's example does not qualify as a "moron", by Gevlon's own previous definition.

Mounts and pets are attractive to so many because they remain a part of your character for the rest of the game's existance. If hardcore BC raiders down Kael when it's new content, and one person gets the phoenix mount and another gets an epic chestpiece, I guarentee that the person with the mount will have longer satisfaction because it can never be replaced by something better.

True, anyone with half a brain can save 35k gold and get the Vial, it's not terribly rare, but if he instead used that money to buy a BOE epic, he's used it for temporary advancement. If he's constantly running Firelands and needs the slight boost to iLevel, that's money well spent. However, if he's constantly raiding he wouldn't need to buy a BOE in the first place.

Anyway, great post about welfare, I just disagree with Gevlon about issues such as mount collecting.

Anonymous said...

I think Gevlon forgets that there are other reasons to get mounts and vanity items than just to appear cool for peers.

A perfectionist, for example, might want to get all of them because without obtaining every mount (or perfectly min/maxing his character, playing as close to perfectly as possible etc.) his character is not "perfect". I have hard time understanding how being a perfectionist/completionist constitutes as being a moron.

And what about collectors (both "want every mount", but I think there's a different mindset)? I don't think collecting mounts for the sake of it is any different from collecting WoW gold you don't have any feasible uses for once you reach a certain amount, and I don't recall seeing Gevlon condemning such actions.

Achieve said...

A reasonable Ilvl and a consistent effort to improve, combined with a hearty dose of show up and sign up is far more valuable than achieves and uber ilvl... well played, or highly interested players willing to put in some time and effor are more valuable than any elitist with achieves and better than most gear... I play for fun... playing with peeps that dont have much humanity left in their sould when it comes to group efforts and raiding. Not much fun to play anymore, it becomes a job..

Jack Le Maniac said...

Great article. From the threads I've read on MMO-Champ from people whining that the entire tier X shouldn't be given to heroic farmers, this seems like a good reasoning behind why they care so much. At the very least, Blizzard will force people to get their shoulders and helm in raids.

About your specimen: He is a moron? IN YOUR OPINION. Not objectively. Wake up Gevlon, you're the one who doesn't want to live in a dreamworld, do you? People have different goals. Having a different goal than you doesn't make someone a moron. Methods used to reach your goal makes you a moron. Your goal does not. If your methods are uneffective, and you refuse to change, and adapt, or fail to realize they are uneffective, you are a moron.

Perhaps it is the fact he wants it to impress peers? That makes him a social, not a moron.

Not all morons are socials, and not all socials are morons. It's a very case by case thing.

Sheldon said...

If wanting to spend 35k for the vial makes you a moron, and M&S are to be rejected, then why do you allow people who have spent the 35k to remain in your guild? A quick scan of the armory shows at least four people with the achievement for getting it.

Gevlon said...

@Sheldon: he spent ALL his 35K on the vial. Not "just" 35K.

@Jack: if your "different goal" is to lick the window all day, wouldn't you be called a moron?

Steel H. said...

I agree with other posters about your vial "moron". According to your own definitions, the goals are not the relevant part, the expectations and effort invested are. If he is a casual/RPer/whatever, and has a goal to get a stone drake for whatever reason, doesn't care about raids or dungeons or PvP or whatever, and worked to get the mats, and is now negociating crafting fee, he's fine. If he then gets on his drake AND wants to be carried through raid/dungeon, AND is missing gems/enchants, has blues/greens in slots where epic BoEs are available, then he's a M&S.

Sometimes you rush to judgement and fail to account for the live and let live factor. Quote: "Careful spender: have Tundra Mammoth, Mechano Hog, or Red Drake, but miss enchants, gems or epic item in a slot where ilvl 200 BoE is available for your class/spec"

Sheldon said...

But you said, "@Rohan: his desire to get Vial of the Sands is itself makes him a moron."

That says it doesn't matter if 35k is all his money, half his money, a tiny fraction of his money, or more money than he will ever possess, you still think he's a moron. If you believe what you said, then you believe the people in your guild who are morons. And therefore should be rejected.

Steel H. said...

@Gevlon "if your "different goal" is to lick the window all day, wouldn't you be called a moron?" That's a cheap strawman. Nobody's talking about licking windows. Mounts/pets/whatever fluff is a LEGITIMATE part of the gaming experience, and if you are getting enjoyement from it, good for you. I wouldn't pay 35k for a "cool" mount in a million years, I'd much rather have a haste/crit BoE upgrade instead. But I'm not going to pass judgements on your mount, unless you want me to carry your 8k DPS through raids. And since I'm in a stable HC guild and don't pug anymore, I won't be doing that anyways, so don't care about that either...

Jack Le Maniac said...

The guy licking is doing a MORONIC ACTION, in your eyes. But doing stupid stuff doesn't make one a moron. A low intellectual capacity does. We all do stupid stuff, as a kid, under 20, you probably did. If you never learn and keep doing stupid stuff, you're a moron, though.

Seriously. There is a difference between being a moron in life, and a moron in game. I hope I'm not straw manning too much.

Certain activities are very negative to your life, and it is stupid to partake in them, for the sole reason it will ruin your health (doing drugs) cause you to get raped in prison or limit your field of action (criminality). But that comes from my own set of values.

For some people, it is stupid to follow laws from government that does jack for them. The morons are the dumbasses who follow the law.
The morons who are sad because they don't get the trip from drugs. The morons who will live, long, boring lives, instead of those who will live short, intense ones.

Dilemna goes both ways. Good to know.

It's a very, very complex and subjective context to objectively define a moron. From your own M&S Definition page, a Moron is someone who refuses to learn and adapt (9th paragraph) in order to succeed. The Slacker (5th paragraph) is someone who don't want to put in effort, but wants the rewards anyway.

What makes a moron & slacker are his methods, banging his head on a wall instead of doing what was proven to work, and his desire to get stuff without effort. That is according to your definition.
Nowhere in that page you talk about goals.

Goals is what you critic here. Goals which have no value in your eyes, you call moronic. That is not very objective and goblinish.
Goals are a subjective thing, and their purpose is to lead to satisfaction/happinness.

You can agree you do not want those goals. But some people want them. What makes them a moron is how they go about reaching these goals. Some people want to be popular, some people want to be rich, some people want a ferrari, some people want a big house, some people want their ideals to stay and change the world (you, greenpeace, ecological movements, political parties). I find it stupid to change the world. It's my own opinion. I prefer having a nice life with my stuff. But you don't see me go around calling their actions moronic because it may have no long term impact.

Profit isn't the only thing worth in life. At the very least, the constant pursuit of constantly increasing profit (money gain) isn't.

What is important for people is to be happy. You don't pursue profit because it's logical to do so (it's not), you pursue profit because it gives you satisfaction in it's own way. There is no logical reason to pursue constant profit.

I mean it in a sense that, past a certain yearly revenue, you don't need more money to be able to reach your goals (i.e get or/and do the things you want to get and/or to do) People get jobs for that purpose.

Goblins want money. Other people want other things. It doesn't make them morons. What makes them morons is how they go about their goals.

It's a complex subject. In short, your goals do not make you a moron. You're a moron if you have no goals, or you're a moron if you can't do what you can to reach those goals, DESPITE THE FACT YOU HAVE THE POTENTIAL IF YOU TRIED. (Some people just can't. Deficients and some other mental illnesses).

I can't speak for anyone else but it doesn't seem to me there's any reason we get dumped into the world.

But once you're here, you just do what you can to give this life everything you've got.

Anonymous said...

What Steel Said. I Would be very interested in knowing WHY the greedy goblin considers

"Mounts/pets/whatever fluff that are LEGITIMATE part of the gaming experience"

universally moronic.

Anonymous said...


Its not that he's "licking the windows" so to speak, but that the person "licking the walls" is calling him a moron for it.

Trelocke said...

The accumulation of gold beyond your day-to-day needs is unnecessary if you're "playing to win". You do not need hundreds of thousands of gold to beat Ragnaros (or the next end boss) any more than you need Vial of Sands. If your only criteria for him being M&S is buying Vial of Sands you might want to look in the mirror before you go calling the kettle black.

I would consider the person M&S for his simple cluelessness on what it was going to cost him to have the Vial made. Without knowing more information I'd actually say Rodos is probably closer to the truth of the situation.

Breevok said...

Did anyone consider that the so called 'M&S' might be wanting to sell the vials for a profit?

I love watching people jumping to conclusions - often the drop is a lot further than they think...

Anonymous said...
A gem or two missing, a few key enchants missing.
Overall, a PVPer. Since he's missing cheap enchants, money doesn't seem the limiting factor: He could've just picked up the last unenchanted pieces (although a pair are gemmed but not enchanted).
Doesn't seem to have meaningful ways of using 35k gold.

Anonymous said...

Good point and analogy.

However he is not M&S because he wants the mount. Tweeq, a good fire mage in guild, has the mount and isn't M&S.

You may find it stupid someone wants any mount be it expensive or not. That too doesn't make someone M&S (but it does make them less a goblin than you; not the same tho).

He _appears_ to be M&S because he _appears_ to want to use all his hard earned gold (35k + 0,2k to craft) to buy something which will yield him no ROI. In other words, after he'd have spend that 35k he worked hard for he is apparently flatbroke again. Instead, he should set up a viable business and invest in that, and then once he has 350k he could spend gold on say a mount.

In real life this type of person is the type of person who lives on debt with their credit card every month maxed out. I despise these people since they are partly the reason the economy is fucked up. However, every coin one has on bank the bank is allowed to spend in debt times X which also screws the economy so the analogy is flawed (there is no such mechanism in WoW, nor is there debt in WoW; but there is inflation). Since being in debt is also bad for economy the best way to utilize your bank account is to be near 0 as close as possible (while investing your money in useful endeavors such as real gold).

Possibly, he wanted to check how much the mount would cost for whatever reason. Or he was trying to bargain or beg for cheap craft. We assume he was serious, but we cannot know this for sure. I know I have asked people about price of certain things in past while not being seriously interested. I appear seriously interested though since I am interested in knowing the market value. If the seller knows I am not serious he may influence my perception of market value, possibly negatively affecting my perception of market value therefore manipulating whatever I planned to do with such (e.g. sell my version of the very item).

Anonymous said...

It is not unheard of to find someone crafting things for others for very low fees, even for free. While it could be that the person you talked to told the truth about his finances, it might as well be just the more socially acceptable way to say "I don't want to pay more than 200g". Sometimes that kind of tactic results in the other person doing the craft for that price.

Pheredhel said...

@Gevlon: no somone who's goal is "licking the window" is NOT a moron if he does it. Usually we would label him mentally ill, as his goals are strange, but he is not a moron. He is a moron if he tries to achieve his goal banging his head against the window.

A good example for this are the people trying to build a nuclear reactor at home. It's a very stupid idea to start with, it is dangerous, but hell, those guys make more progress than most of the people here could ever dream of.

One may question the goals of someone and give him some label based on this, but by your definition, the window licking guy is not a moron, and rightfully he is not.

Maybe it is time to add another definition for people with "strange goals"

Wilson said...


"Instead, he should set up a viable business and invest in that, and then once he has 350k he could spend gold on say a mount."

Why? So he could look at his remaining 315k just sitting there? Screw that. I'd rather turn into a freaking dragon today.

WoW is not the real world - in Azeroth, you don't need to pay rent or buy groceries or save for retirement or set money aside in case your company goes broke and you lose your job. There is no penalty for being broke. None. Zip. If you want to raid, you need gold for consumables and enchants but most people, including apparently this guy, don't raid. Since there is no penalty for being broke, then it is not moronic to be broke sometimes.

"while investing your money in useful endeavors such as real gold"

Gold is not a useful endeavor. It is a lump of metal which sits in a vault, doing nothing. Despite the recent boom, in adjusted dollars it's still only selling for about half what it was in 1980. Some investment.

Jon said...

"Gold is not a useful endeavor. It is a lump of metal which sits in a vault, doing nothing. Despite the recent boom, in adjusted dollars it's still only selling for about half what it was in 1980. Some investment."

If you took your 1980 dollars and put them under a mattress you would be worse off because of inflation. Perhaps it's not the best investment to buy gold, but it's not the worst either.

Wilson said...


The fact that you can think of worse investment does not change the fact that gold is a lousy investment. Actually, your mattress might even have outperformed gold overall, since it doesn't require broker's fees or storage costs. Close finish, either way. By comparison, the same money invested in the stock market in 1980 would be worth nearly 10x as much today (after adjusting for inflation). If you bought in 1987, just before Black Monday when prices were overinflated (ie, worst case timing), your money would still have quintupled in value.

Anonymous said...

"Gold is not a useful endeavor. It is a lump of metal which sits in a vault, doing nothing. Despite the recent boom, in adjusted dollars it's still only selling for about half what it was in 1980. Some investment."

Perhaps the history of (federal reserve) banking would teach you otherwise. Gold is stable and keeps its value even after an economy crashed. Way back in time, we used to have materials in the form of coins which we would store safely in the bank. Over time, banks have grown stronger. They have given us bank notes instead. And now even virtual numbers. Plus, for every coin we put in the bank the bank is allowed to create akin to X times of that. The more money exists, the less it gets worth, so this created inflation. I hope you're starting to see how evil such a system is? Especially compared to how the system once started more than 2000 years ago?