“Don’t Like”, Not “Can’t Do”

Image from musformation.com, used absolutely without permission.

There’s something that’s always vexed me about nerds, as a community.

We like to complain.  Generally speaking, a good whinge is a vital part of our daily routine; it clears the pores, loosens the cholesterol, and probably helps negate or negotiate the dreaded Gamer Angst.  That’s not the thing I don’t like.

What I don’t like is the logical leap that occurs in the minds of our peers upon witnessing the whinge.  For some reason, nerds – it may be people at large, but I notice it particularly in gaming groups, maybe because that’s where I do all my best whinging – automatically equate the concepts “X does not like something” with “X cannot do/cope with/beat something”.

The other day, for instance, I was having a good grumble about one of the dungeons in the WoW thing: the Oculus.  The Oculus annoys me.  Not because it’s particularly hard (after the first go when you’re used to its peculiar architecture) but because of its peculiar architecture, which necessitates flying between fights on the backs of dragons, occasionally fighting off patrolling dragons, and completing the final fight using the dragons.

I understand that it’s something different and, in theory, difference is fun.  The Oculus is not fun.  Partly because it’s very easy to get lost in and I get lost easily, partly because WoW flying vehicle controls leave a little to be desired (like effective control of a flying vehicle – and yes, the dragons are vehicles), partly because I spent eighty levels learning how to deliver burny burny Warlock death and now I’m controlling a bunch of unfamiliar dragon abilities and being shouted at by other nerds for not knowing them off by heart, but mainly because I don’t actually like vehicle combat games all that much (although it must be said, the siege engines in the later battlegrounds are growing on me), especially when they have handling issues and are sprung on me as an abrupt change of genre.

None of which means I can’t do it, or have masses of trouble with it (beyond poor navigation, which was sorted after the second go ’round) – but for some reason “I loathe the layout and gameplay of this instance” translates, in the minds of those reading it, to “WAAAA I can’t do the Oculus ever it’s rilly rilly hard”.  The appropriate response to which is, naturally, to offer useful advice to… I can’t even finish that sentence.  Of course it’s to tell people it’s not that hard, you did it on Heroic the other day and got the limit-yourself-to-one-type-of-dragon achievement without noticing…

That’s if you’re one of my guildmates, who are by and large decent people of known provenance who aren’t actively trying to offend.  If you’re the average battleground filth, a mention that one always finds Warsong Gulch to be a pain in the hole opens one up to a veritable tide of speculation concerning the provenance of the player, the player’s account, the player’s mother and the race of their ancestors, and the player’s dedication to and learning as regards the playing of World of Warcraft.  I paraphrase not out of concern for your delicate sensibilities, by the bye, we’re in the House of Paincakes now, but because I refuse to sully myself with such discourse.  I did quite like “I hope you’re all on trial accounts and never level past 20”, though.

This sort of thing happens all the time in tabletop gaming too – Shiny’s quite vulnerable to it, since he really loathes playing against WFB’s undead armies.  It’s not that he can’t beat them – he gave my long-departed Purple Dead a few good slaps around the table – but that he has moral objections to killing the entire army three times over, or throwing much of his combat potential into a single unit of Grave Guard only to have it munch through them and then be restored to full strength through vile necromancy.  I have probably – more than probably, CERTAINLY – been caught pro-offering advice on how to crack the Undead as a response, so let it not be said that I am some high and mighty Von who never gives advice when it hasn’t been directly requested.  I’m as bad as the rest of us for it.  It’s just something that we seem to do a lot, we nerds, and it’s been bothering me more than usual of late.

Incidentally, I’m still enjoying WoW despite having been playing it for a year.  The endgame leaves a little to be desired – time for purples is a thoroughly accurate description of my experience so far – but I’m experimenting with classes whose role extends beyond “hurt things ’til they can be hurt not more” and so far, that’s proving quite an experience.  It helps that I am in a guild now, with people who I actually know in Real Life, and so have some non-douchebags to talk to about how douchey the douchebags are.

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

You may now commence belching

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