The other day I was having lunch with two of my colleagues, both of whom I like very much. While we share quite a bit in common professionally, our private lives are, shall we say, about as different as Northrend is from Outland.
They were talking about their favored past time — college basketball. One is an absolute University of North Carolina fanatic, the other is equally fanatic about the University of Kentucky. Me, the only thing I know about college basketball is that these are guys are getting a free ride to some pretty good schools, in the hopes that they will get a shot at multimillion dollar contracts, for whom many of us will pay good money to see them play.
It was funny to listen to them using the first person plural pronoun when talking about their perspective teams; or using the second person pronoun when addressing the other team. Me, I have never have been so fanatic about a sport (or anything else, for that matter) that I put myself on the team by using the first person plural pronoun; though I have enjoyed watching when the "we" changes to "they" when a team begins to lose, as "we" never lose, and "they" suck.
But, it was when Kentucky said that "we have some great battles and epic rivalries" that I had to say something. I went on a mini-tirade about their fanaticism about something that they don't have any stake in. They are not on the court, their lives are not dependent on how a team performs.
"What do you have to lose?" I asked.
"A TV," Carolina answered. And then went on to share with me that he had thrown something at a TV some six years ago, "a bit too hard," he said.
Kentucky responded after my mini-tirade that I could say nothing about wasting time spectating and being a fanatic because I play World of Warcraft. Not only do I take time out of my life to play it, he reminded me, but I also take time to write about it. I corrected him and said that, while I do write about the game, what I write about is social and cultural criticism, and use the game a vehicle to discuss bigger issues.
In the end, though, both sports and games serve as metaphors for what we do day in and day out. Of course, the big difference between the two is at least in Azeroth, we are doing something - while as a spectator we can only observe someone else, over whom we have no control or personal relationship, and worry about how well they are doing what they are doing. Moreover, we all have a need to belong to something, hence the "we," but, we never want to be a part of a losing team, thus "we" changes to "they" or "them."
The structure of WoW is more in tune with what happens in the real world, and no, I don't consider sports — professional or collegiate — to be a part of the real world, it is as imaginary as Azeroth. Unlike spectating, however, Azeroth has the ability to teach the importance of team work by actually working together, not just watching others work together. In real life situations, every day we are asked to complete some objective.
I think about battlegrounds and arena fights, and that success can only come when a faction or team works together. This can serve as a good example to make my point. The strategy for each battleground is rather simple. But, when players work for ego, the team loses (just like in reality). Which explains why the Horde (at least on my server) sucks at PVP. Here, a quick down and dirty guide to doing well in PVP (this is where "we" counts):
Arathi Basin: There are only 15 players and five bases. To succeed, one faction needs to maintain a hold on more bases than the other team. If your team holds on to three bases, your team wins. Divide in to three groups of five, take your three bases, hold them, and win. But, and this is what really happens: There are players who want it all. They don't have the patience to defend a base. They take the base and move on. Battle for Gilneas is similar, only smaller. Regardless, the strategy is the same. And, for the love of God, don't fight on the roads, your team needs you at the base.
Warsong Gulch and Twin Peaks are both "capture the flag" types of games. The idea here is to capture the opposing team's flag while your team is in possession of your flag. Honestly, these are fun games. The other night when I was in Twin Peaks, the Alliance did a wonderful job of setting up their flag carrier (a Druid, in this case), with two DPS and a healer protecting him. It was very hard to get our flag back from him and, yes, the Alliance won that fight. We could learn from that strategy: Have a tough as nails player hold the flag and protect her with a healer and at least one DPS, preferably two. Send the remaining players out to get your team's flag back.
Isle of Conquest is the latest rendition of Alertac Valley. Both battle grounds require one team to slay the opposing faction's boss, combined with this is a struggle to hold more reinforcements than the other team. The other night in Isle, both factions put up a strong defense, so strong that the Alliance won through holding reinforcements. To be honest, I had never seen the positive in holding these, but in the end, when both teams put up a strong defense, I guess field goals do count for something.
Eye of the Storm presents a fun challenge with an interesting strategy. A good tip to winning this one is holding the flag and not capping it. At the beginning of the battle, send three players to each of your closest bases and hold those. Send five to one opposing base, capture it and hold it with those five. The remaining four go to the middle, get a hold of the flag, and go to a base and protect that carrier, she should only cap it when there is no alternative.
Stand of the Ancients is fun and can go rather quickly. An easy tip here: Defend your tanks. Do that, and you win. Simple. Of course, many of us would rather fight other players to get that precious honor or to prove some sort of antiquated notion of manliness.
I wonder, if battlegrounds were televised, would people take time out of their lives to spectate like they do other sports and activities? I can see t-shirts, jerseys, and the like now. I would love to walk around and see people wearing a t-shirt sporting my arena team, The Young Frankensteins. It would be in my team colors (baby blue, there you go Mr. UNC, did that just for you) and our emblem, a robotic chicken. I would feel like Tim Tebow. People would alter their mood and perspective of reality based on how we perform, which has no impact whatsoever on their lives, just their hopes and wishes for my performance.
They would walk up to me in the streets and tell me, using the first person plural, that "we" did really well in that great battle against that pair from the other server. And, that if "we" keep it up, "we" might just make it all the way. Of course, The Young Frankensteins are still learning how to fight together, so the only first person plural will be between me and my friend. Because right now, "they" are still learning how to fight together, so "they" still have a way to go; however, once "they" start winning, then "we" might be able to go all the way. All we need now is a fight song.
What are you a fanatic about? Would you sport jerseys of arena teams or watch PVP if it were televised? Would you be willing to write a fight song for my arena team or your faction?
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Disclaimer: I own not one, but two Colorado Avalanche jerseys. Go Avs!