How the raiding scene is like the job market

Generally associating raiding with a job is not considered a good thing. After all the game is supposed to feel fun, not like work, and those two often appear to be mutually exclusive. Still, even if you feel that raiding is not a chore to you, certain parallels to a real-life job can't be denied. In most raiding guilds you have fixed times during which you're expected to show up and contribute your part to the team's success. Guild applications also have a lot in common with job applications - they are all about assessing the candidate's skill, experience and whether he fits in with the established crowd.

The similarity really hit home for me when I had a job interview the other day, during which the interviewer seemed really nice and pleased with me, but then mailed out a rejection e-mail without giving any reasons for the rejection almost the moment I left the building. I was quite pissed off, not so much about not getting the job, but by how dishonest it felt that he hadn't even given me the slightest hint that he didn't like something about the way I presented myself and that he didn't have the guts to tell me afterwards either. Give me feedback, people!

The next day my guild received a very lackluster application from a paladin, containing curt and badly spelled answers to our questions as well as a paragraph that was basically just slagging off his former guild. All officers agreed to reject him, so I did... but in my reply to him I only said that we didn't have room for another paladin and nothing else - which wasn't a lie, but not exactly the main reason either! The irony of me doing exactly the kind of thing that had pissed me off about my own job interview the day before didn't escape me.

Today Larísa made a very interesting post about what she called "the phobia of inefficiency", talking about the urge of the player base to min-max every little aspect of the game and berate or exclude everyone who doesn't. It was quite the epiphany for me when I realised that, even though I share Larísa's dislike for this particular behaviour, it makes perfect sense if you apply the "the raiding scene is like the job market" analogy once again.

First off, there's the simple matter of supply and demand. In the real world, if you need to hire someone for a specific purpose and you get ten different applicants, you can pretty much pick your favourite of them all, even if they are all theoretically capable of doing the job. Conversely, if you're desperate to fill the position and only one guy with mediocre qualifications applies, you might take him anyway just to have someone.

Back in BC, attunements and gear being hard to acquire limited the pool of raiders a lot, and people couldn't be as picky as they are now. Mind you, nobody pugged Black Temple when it was current content anyway, but even guilds that were looking for recruits couldn't necessarily afford to be too picky. Finding someone who had all or at least most of the necessary attunements and gear was rare enough, so you snatched them up if you got the chance and hoped that they were decent (though to be honest, it was quite hard to get that far in raiding without having any kind of clue back then anyway).

Nowadays, with people being ready for ICC after running a couple of heroic runs, the pool of potential raiders is absolutely huge, and it's often impossible to tell whether you're facing someone who dinged eighty two weeks ago and has never set foot into a raid in his life or an experienced long-term raider. No wonder people make up silly things like GearScore... but the point is, with so many people being good enough to go to ICC, the raid leaders can pick their favourites and a lot of people will be left out, even if they feel that they could do the job just or nearly as well.

But halt, you say, unlike jobs in the real world, raid IDs aren't limited! (As long as Blizzard's instance servers can keep up, anyway.) The problem is that way, way more people want to raid than actually lead a raid. So you end up with lots of people sitting around in Dalaran, moaning about not getting to go to ICC, but not feeling confident or motivated enough to actually put a raid together themselves. (Though to be fair, there probably wouldn't be enough tanks and healers for all the dps anyway.)

People also complain about many a raid leader's methods of selection, like the aforementioned GearScore, achievement linking or whatever else is en vogue on some servers. Again, I feel a very similar pain on the job market. For example I found that employers in the UK are really keen on personal and professional references, unlike in my home country. What do you do if your previous employer can't speak for you because they live in a different country and don't speak English? Well, then you're out of luck and your application goes straight in the bin.

Is it frustrating? Hell yes, but again, it makes sense. As annoyed as I am, can I really blame the employers for not caring to give me a chance when they have so many other applicants who fulfill their requirements perfectly? Again, it's a matter of supply and demand. You'll notice that tanks and healers are rarely scrutinised down to the last talent point for pugs, simply because there are fewer of them and the raid leaders can't be quite as picky.

I suppose another factor that adds to the frustration in WoW is that it wasn't always like this - simply because things like the armoury, achievements and GearScore didn't exist. Imagine a guild application in ye olden days... the guy could tell you some things about himself for sure, but you couldn't actually tell what gear he wore until you inspected him in-game, couldn't tell what spec he was until you saw him use some give-away ability, couldn't tell how good he was until you actually observed him or played with him. Large-scale pugging wouldn't have worked so well then, eh?

Knowledge is power and unfortunately, power often corrupts. People like to know as much about you as they can, but the more they know about you, the more reasons they can find to reject you. "What, he hasn't specced into talent X? Terrible!" In the past that kind of thing never even would have come up and you may have happily played alongside that person for years without knowing.

Again this is something that I've observed in my job search here as well, with companies presenting applicants with stupidly long application forms, asking questions that aren't even relevant to the job just because they can. I'd spend half an hour filling out a form for a job that I'm perfectly capable of, just to get an automated rejection the instant I hit the submit button, simply because the system clearly flagged me as unacceptable the moment I checked a ticky box answer they didn't like. Even the government recognises this, and I found out that it's technically illegal to ask about things like age, nationality or religious orientation during the interview process, in an attempt to weed out at least a couple of the most obvious factors that could lead to arbitrary rejections. ("Fifty-five? I don't want to hire such an old geezer!")

So, after all this rambling, what can we learn about WoW from these analogies? Several commenters on Larísa's post suggested to cut down on the publically displayed information and stats again - after all if they can't tell, they can't judge you by it. Likewise I reckon that simply making raiding less accessible again would alleviate this particular problem as well - though of course it would open a whole other can of worms. For this reason and because Blizzard generally doesn't like taking features out of the game, I don't think that they'll cut back on things like the armoury or achievements.

I believe that in theory the best solution would be to hook onto the fact that unlike the job market in the real world, the amount of total raid spots in WoW isn't limited; the problem is that people just expect raids to happen and way too few try to put them together themselves. Imagine turning supply and demand in WoW around... everyone making their own raid, struggling to get other people to join them! ("No no, join my raid, we have cleared the instance before!")

Unfortunately I can't ever see that happen simply because "leader" is a role that's impossible to qualify within the context of the game. This also came up during the discussion about the ten vs. twenty-five-man loot normalisation, when even most hardcore ten-manners admitted that perhaps the ones organising and leading twenty-five-man raids deserved some sort of extra reward, but that this was hard to measure - partly because a lot of raid organisation still happens outside of the actual game, but more importantly because in a raid, "leading" basically consists of thinking and communicating, which you really can't measure in game terms. And if you can't tell who's the leader, you can't give them special rewards either. The people at Blizzard are pretty clever, but I don't think even they could come up with something to produce a system like that.

Maybe we'll really have to reconsider whether we want to know all these things about other players, or if a little ignorance wasn't actually bliss in this case.


  1. Actually it wasn't me that came up with the expression "phobia for inefficiency". I was just quoting Ghostcrawler. But yes, I give him right in this. I think this mentality can hurt our game experience. It is a problem and it isn't entirely easy to solve.

    I agree that the game needs more good raid leaders and I wish we could come up with some kind of positive enforcement that would encourage people to try out the role and to strive to become better at it. Educate them. Leadership isn't something you're born with, it needs to be learned and practiced like anything else. But how to do that? Hm. I don't know.
    For a while they had the idea that the leaders in the 5 man instances should get extra rewards, but they skipped it in the end. Still it might be something to consider more. Everyone needs to start somewhere and the 5 mans could work as a good practicing ground for upcoming leaders.

  2. The problem I see is leadership isn't something you can teach like teaching which specs to pick and what rotation/priority to follow during gameplay. Ir requires the person's will to learn, to step up and face the odds, to recognize mistakes, not only the ones he may have done but mistakes from all the raiders and to correct them. It's not easy, I tell you.
    In my case I became raidleader because the former one left and nobody else wanted to take the role. The job isn't that difficult once you know how many tanks, healers, type of dps, etc you need and the strategy for every boss. In the past day that could only be learned by being there and wiping again and again, or following the strat the previous leader gave because it worked. Nowadays is easier thanks to the sites that posts strategy guides and videos, but still you need to pull up your sleeves an sink your hands in the dirt. Then will come the other skills needed: communication, empathy, etc.
    For me the hardest part of leading a raid was selecting the players who'd be in. Not because of the class combination, but because I felt bad to let any guildie out of a run when she had signed and it's a positive person who knows the drill.

  3. You can always call them up and ask why you were rejected.

  4. I agree with all you said and it's kinda sad that this highly impersonal way of treating and picking people has found it's way into wow that should be an escape from real life.
    it shares the same problem too: picking candidates by only looking at spreadsheets and gear level doesn't automatically tell you that person is competent, experience doesn't always equal knowledge and knowledge doesn't always equal skill. sometimes a quick to learn and willing candidate is worth a hundred over-confident 'pros'. but the market will never account for exceptions, it's easier to narrow everything down via researchable data first. it's this lazyness and risk avoidance that won't give really good players (or employees) a chance if there's anything lacking in their 'portfolio'.

    I was involved in the recruitment of my own guild and we always agreed that while things like a wrong gem or spec arent great, those can be amended. they're not the worst thing to teach somebody as long as the person is willing. they're not even a clear sign of a bad player, only of one that either isn't informed or didnt care to inform himself - maybe simply because he never needed it so far.

    we'd look for other things when deciding a candidate wasn't fit - things he most likely couldn't change and might become an issue in our guild (for ex. reputation, experience, attitude).

  5. But after 2 years of an expansion isn't "not having a cookie cutter spec" an attitude in itself?

    Someone applying for ICC and not having a cookie cutter spec either doesn't care and you have to babysit him or he thinks he is smarter then math and won't just change the spec.

  6. I consider the current methodology of min/maxing and the raid selection process akin to how MBAs are taught to manage. You use the data you are given in a cold, dispassionate way without letting your emotions into play.

    The problem is, the data given does not allow for skill. Anybody can build up enough Emblems and/or gold to buy a good gearscore, and anyone can follow the speccing rules over at E-J. That doesn't imply anything other than someone can read, run a 5-man (maybe), and work the AH.

    And people are judged on those criteria for getting into raids.

    The data doesn't allow for skill to enter the equation. There's a huge difference between the skillset needed to quest vs. 5-man pugs vs. raiding, and perhaps your own raiding experience calls for a slightly different spec than what is expected. Or maybe you know your class so well that you can more than carry yourself without the minimal GS.

    Then again, maybe you don't know Festergut from Falric. (I sure don't.)

    If min/maxing and the GS mafia want to be minimized, another way of approaching it is to obtain more practical data. There isn't a way to watch potential raid puggers in a dry run outside of a 5-man, but if there were practice raid rounds available where you could try out prospects before getting yourself locked into a raid, that might alleviate the problem.

  7. I believe that in theory the best solution would be to hook onto the fact that unlike the job market in the real world, the amount of total raid spots in WoW isn't limited; the problem is that people just expect raids to happen and way too few try to put them together themselves

    Well fact is amount of raids in wow is limited precisely because there is not enough people willing to lead!

    I like your idea though that the solution to problem is to increase amount of leaders. Possibly trough some incentive

    Overall though I dont really care about wow raids lol . whole game and its instance raid concept are dead to me