You go to the eye doctor and he will have you behind the giant eye machine. “Better … or worse?” Cha-chick, another lens pops in front of your eye. “Better … or worse?” People in WoW often end up doing this with their gear. It’s kinda sad.
Your players should NEVER have to resort to third party applications or data sources to make decisions about their in-game character.
People in WoW run addons and consult external (non Blizzard) web sites to decide what gear is better for them. No wonder so many people see raiding as hard core! Nothing in the game can actually tell you how expertise rating will help, or hurt you. Nothing tells you if 25 agility is better than 25 critical strike rating.
If someone has to go to the Elitest Jerks forums and read five or six posts about their class before they can understand what gear is best for them, you have failed as a game designer. You have basically divided your community of players into knowledge rich and poor.
I see two ways to repair this in a game. One way is to make the game easier so that such decisions become less important. People can show up for raiding in whatever they want and manage to get through it. The other way would be to actually show all the data to people in a format that helps them make good decisions. Basically, every piece of gear should come down to “is this more or less DPS/healing/tanking?”
People say “control is an illusion” all the time. I don’t think many people actually believe it. Most people see control as people forcing them to do things. Things outside of their own sphere of influence. Things they can not … control.
Realizing that control is an illusion will help you control people. In other words, knowing you can’t force people to do what you want will help you get people to do what you want. I know it sounds like I’m just rambling on about some kind of mind game, but there is something to it. It’s all protocol and social skills that allow people to get what they want. Don’t confuse this with telling lies or deceiving people, that’s not required at all. Often, being direct and open about your intentions and how it can work out to others advantage is more than enough to get someone to do things they might not do on their own. Many people, like myself, are good at spotting lies and seeing through people. I know that trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes will often backfire and end up with someone actively trying to NOT do what you think is right. Getting someone to hand over their trust and accomplish a larger goal is work and I think it’s one of the most powerful aspects of modern society.
When you have a large group of people who want to accomplish the same overall goal, there are bound to be different ideas and opinions about how to reach that goal. If the goal requires a unified strategy, there will most likely need to be a single person who is making decisions about which strategy to use. As the goal becomes more complex and requires more unity, the benefits of a single person in control grows. At a certain point, it is more efficient to follow a single leader with an occasional poor plan than to never follow a single plan as people fight and argue over what to do. It can be really hard for people to accept this concept.