Back in Burning Crusade I didn’t have any problems finding a tank or a healer for a heroic run. I had a long list of them. They were found in my friends list in-game, and to the extent that a person can have friends online, they were indeed just that. I was not friends with them merely because they were a tank; the tank part was an added bonus. But I enjoyed their company, their gameplay, their personalities, and their selflessness above all other aspects. Some of those other aspects were indeed the ability to tank and heal. I myself brought the ability to play a rogue. Notice that I did not say, DPS. I was known on my realm as a most passable rogue. I could be counted on to kick, sap, kidney shot, pick locks, remove traps, stealth and scout and all other matter of abilities, including the good old fashioned one of doing some damage and not dying regularly in the attempt. I also didn’t ninja drops.
The vast majority of these friends were not in my guild. I did not meet them by raiding. I met them as I levelled up. The first of these friends I remember well. We met in Westfall, when I spied him being jumped upon and beat up by some nasty, nefarious gnolls. I rescued him from his predicament. I then helped him to complete his quest, and then he helped me to complete a few of mine. He was a priest. He went on my friends list and we ended up raiding karazhan together many months later. Another wonderful friend I met when I was asked to help in a Blackfathom Deeps run. He was a hunter, and he had the strange habit of being very effective, as well as a boon companion and ninja-free. He too was added to my friends list, as I was to his own. And he also made many an appearance in Karazhan as well as other raids later on.
There were many other friends that I found in this manner. They were found due to the necessity of seeking help, and the quick realisation on all of our parts that good players should be valued and friendships nurtured. The act of logging-on at that time was cause for a series of whispered hello’s, and a general ask-around of what everyone was doing. Perhaps a 5 man would be formed, perhaps not. But the opportunity was always there. Occasionally a bad apple would come sneaking in to our group of friends. But once this bad apple had been identified, they would have no other choice but to transfer realms. Bad behaviour was not tolerated, and there were consequences for being anti-social.
Because of the unique skills that I as a rogue brought to the table, there was never any talk of me not pulling my weight by playing a DPS class, purely because of the uniqueness of my skills. And because we were all friends and we had found each other on our own realm, (even using the realm unique dungeon/raid/quest/group search finder at the time), we were not only always available but our behaviour shaped the realm where we were. Actions had consequences, both good and bad.
Over the course of the last two expansions there have been two major changes that have broken this system of MMO gameplay. The first was the introduction of the cross-realm LFG system, and the dramatic effect that had on realm communities. The second has been the recent and ongoing homogenisation of the DPS classes in particular, to the extent that one is as good as another in any situation. Both of these changes have been made by Blizzard, not the players. The effects of these is the situation that we now find ourselves in:
1. The antisocial behaviour due to there being no reason to make friends and no consequences for actions.
2. The only two ways to find players to run something with is by the LFG tool or by joining a guild.
3. DPS find themselves in the situation where not only are their skills found in any other class, but with the introduction of dual specs many former tanks and healers are willing to jump in the queue as DPS when it suits them.
As a consequence of antisocial behaviour, many players who play tanks in particular are now unwilling to tank a run for anyone but those already known to them or in their guild. As tanks in particular are easy to run through the LFG system, tanks can gear up quickly in comparison to other roles, thus giving them the quick option of opting out of the entire LFG system.
The call by Tobold and other commentators for DPS players to shoulder the burden of playing a tank is a bandaid solution attempting to cover a gaping wound. Not only does it place the blame for the current situation on the wrong people, it does nothing to address the real and deep-rooted problems that plague the game. In the space of two expansions we have moved from a healthy and vibrant MMO community to a selfish and antisocial collection of unhappy and dissatisfied players. The rot is setting in, and the delusion that is felt is widespread. Turning on each other at this time is counter-productive. We need to understand if the current state of the game was in fact Blizzard’s intention. If it is, then it is better to walk away. If it is not then we would do well to try and understand how it can be resolved.