There's been a lot of talk in the WoW blogosphere as of late about performance expectations in heroic groups, about how much dps you can expect from people depending on the gear they have, and how judgemental you should be when people don't live up to your expectations. At first I found myself agreeing a lot with the people who claimed that there's no excuse to do less than X dps no matter what, but after thinking about it some more, I came to the conclusion that all of these posts completely brush over one very important point: that WoW itself doesn't teach you how to play your class, at all.
Yesterday I was in a heroic Halls of Stone run with an enhancement shaman who did fairly poor dps, and after inspecting him it turned out that his gear was all over the place: a cloak made for tanking, some spell power here, and so on and so forth. I considered giving him a few friendly words of advice, but since I was the tank I didn't really want to stop the run dead by pausing to have a chat with him.
It made me think however: It's so easy to take the knowledge about which stats are best for which class for granted, but if I'm being honest I never would have learned these things if other people and external websites hadn't told me about them first. Abilities and talents have tooltips, yes, but to be honest they are often pretty poor. Whenever these things get changed in a major patch, people almost always have to do some theorycrafting and testing first to find out what's the new optimal spec and rotation, and yet we expect everyone to figure these things out on their own when it comes down to it?
When I log onto my level twenty-six rogue alt for example, his character panel tells me that he has 48 strength, which increases his attack power by 38, and 110 agility, which increases his attack power by 100. Using layman's math, agility comes out as being only marginally better than strength here, while "common knowledge" tells me that a rogue gets twice as much attack power from agility than from strength. How is the average player supposed to know that when the game tells them something else?
Back when I was a wee newbie priest, I also liked gear with agility on it, because the tooltip at the time told me that agility increased my chance to dodge and my ranged attack power. Yay, dodging attacks is always good, right? Except that obviously, as a priest I shouldn't find myself in a position where I have to dodge attacks very often, and I would get much better use out of other stats. But how should I have known that? As for the ranged attack power, I thought that increased my wand damage, which I think was a perfectly logical conclusion to come to. Except that once again, that's not how it actually works, but again there was nothing in the game that actually told me so.
Also, one of the earliest purchases I made as a newbie priest was a Quarter Staff. It had more dps than my old one, right? For some reason I assumed that having a weapon with X damage per second equipped would automatically mean that my character would do X damage per second while fighting, not realising that this only applied if I actually whacked things over the head with it (i.e. played a melee class). Very wrong, but again not exactly something that was completely illogical!
Similarly, knowing how much dps we do is something that most of us have become very used to, but fact of the matter is that Recount is an addon, not part of the default interface, and I'm sure I'm the not the only one who played without any addons whatsoever for a long time. Without a tool like that, there is no way to tell how much dps you do, the only measurement you have is whether a mob that you attack dies quickly or slowly. As long as it dies quickly enough, you have no reason to worry, and considering the ease of soloing in WoW, you can get away with just auto-attacking most of the time anyway. People accuse players with low dps of not even trying, when they might in fact not even know that they are doing something wrong in the first place!
The point is, you can get very far in WoW by just taking the game at face value, not understanding which stats are best for you and not knowing how much damage you do. It will most likely just make you a rather poor player in a group. Yes, I boggle at death knights doing 500 dps in heroics too, but that still doesn't necessarily make them lazy or stupid, most likely just ignorant, and ignorance about a game is hardly a crime. I know I didn't use to be the type who researched stuff online, the only reason I ended up doing so after a while was because a friend linked me to an article about priest healing, and others kept making references to this thottbot website that I should check out. I wouldn't have become the player I am today if I hadn't received so much help from others. I just feel sorry for those really poor dpsers in heroics for clearly not having any good friends that are willing to share their knowledge. Vote-kicking and berating them will teach them a new lesson for sure, but I don't think it's the right one.