This is a guest post from Gordon at We Fly Spitfires. A few weeks ago he asked his fellow bloggers if any of us would like him to guest post. I said sure! So here it is, and my thanks to Gordon, firstly for his offer and secondly for coming through with it. My apologies to my devout readers who will notice that we are missing the word, ‘fuck’. (See what I did there?)

“Phfft, bleh, ha!”. I used to make those sounds, scoffing at players who would whip out their damage meter charts at the end of the every encounter or boss kill. It reminded me off my (infrequent) times at the local gym, trying not to stare at the muscled meat bags who flexed and puffed towards each other like vain peacocks. I wasn’t one of them, I thought, I wasn’t a shallow gamer only interested in silly numbers on a chart. I valued the person behind the class, the player and their personality. I was better than those elitist maths morons and didn’t care about numbers or statistics.

And then one day, for no apparent reason I can recall, I installed Recount.

It started innocently enough out of simple curiosity – I was leveling my Mage alt and wanted to see what sort of damage he did in groups. That was all. I didn’t want to compare myself to others or feel more superior. But I did. After seeing my name at the top of a table of five other players, I was filled with a surprising sense of self-satisfaction. 35% of the entire damage dealt during that dungeon was mine.

It soon became a private game I played with myself. After every battle in a Dungeon Finder group I’d check the Recount chart to see what percentage of the entire group’s damage I’d done. Then one day a friend I was playing with asked me what percentage of the damage he’d done so, to oblige him, I published the results in party chat.. And then I published the results again after the next fight and then again and again. Soon it had became habitual and I did it constantly, regardless of who I was with.

And it didn’t just end there. I didn’t just publish the results and let them be, I used them to determine the “skill” and “worth” of the players I was with. Why was the Warlock doing so little damage? Why wasn’t the Rogue doing enough? I became annoyed when I thought players were slacking off or not doing enough damage. Soon I was judging everyone that I grouped with like some sort of sanctimonious overlord. It was wrong.

I can’t say what exactly lead to this revelation but one day I just realised that out of every group I’d had through the Dungeon Finder, we’d actually never failed to complete a dungeon. It hadn’t mattered I did lots of AE damage on big pulls or if someone hadn’t done what I had considered enough damage. We still finished the dungeon, we still got our rewards and we still had fun. Or rather everyone else had fun, I was too busy watching DPS charts and trying to judge my fellow players. It was shallow and superficial. It was ridiculous.

So I uninstalled Recount and never looked back. My brief stint as a damage meter mad man was enough to make me realise that it corrupts our sense of fun and camaraderie. I know it’s an old cliche about “it’s the taking part that matters” but it’s absolutely true. World of Warcraft is a hobby to me, a bit of fun and relaxation, not a chore or a job or a maths quiz. And the simple fact is that the game is actually flexible enough (in most situations, especially leveling up) to be able to accommodate a large degree of, well, slack. You don’t need to be the perfect player in the perfect party with the perfect gear to be able to succeed so don’t be fooled into thinking you do.

Now I don’t use Recount and I don’t care about damage meters and I’m back to having fun. Sometimes, when playing my Mage, I even take a break during my DPS rotating to take a moment to chat to my fellow players. It’s surprisingly good fun.

-Gordon